The Best Psychedelic Rock Bands of the 60s

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Psychedelic rock bands were at the forefront of the 60s music scene, and their influence is still felt today. Here are some of the best psychedelic rock bands of the 60s.

The Beatles

No list of the best psychedelic rock bands of the 60s would be complete without The Beatles. The band’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album is often credited with ushering in the psychedelic era, and songs like “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” are classics of the genre. The Beatles’ influence on psychedelia was immense, and their influence can still be felt in modern bands that incorporate elements of the style.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones are often cited as one of the best psychedelic rock bands of the 60s. They were certainly one of the most influential bands of the decade, and their music has stood the test of time. The Stones’ psychedelic period began with their 1967 album, “Their Satanic Majesties Request.” The album was not a commercial success at the time, but it is now considered one of the greatest psychedelic albums ever made. The album features some of the band’s most experimental music, including the track “2000 Light Years from Home,” which is considered one of the first ever psychedelic songs.

The Doors

The Doors were an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1965. The group consisted of vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore. They were one of the most controversial and influential rock bands of the 1960s, mostly because of Morrison’s lyrics and his erratic stage persona. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

The Doors achieved national prominence after signing with Elektra Records in 1967 and releasing their self-titled debut album that same year. The album featured their breakthrough single “Light My Fire” and became one of the best-selling debut albums of all time. Due to creative differences, Morrison left the band in 1971 and was later found dead in Paris, France at the age of 27. The remaining members carried on as a trio until disbanding in 1973.

Despite their relatively short career, The Doors are considered one of the most important and influential rock bands of all time. Their unique blend of blues, rock, jazz, folk and psychedelia created a sound that was ahead of its time and has since been imitated by countless other artists.

Pink Floyd

Often cited as one of the most influential bands of all time, Pink Floyd was founded in London in 1965. The band earned critical acclaim for their innovative and experimental approach to music, and they quickly became one of the most popular bands of the 1960s. They are best known for their concept albums, including The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, A Saucerful of Secrets, and The Dark Side of the Moon. Pink Floyd continued to produce successful albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including Wish You Were Here and The Wall. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Jimi Hendrix

One of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of rock music, Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle, Washington, on November 27, 1942. His father, Al Hendrix, was a struggling musician who left the family when his son was just a toddler. His mother, Lucille, worked several jobs to support her children. Hendrix began playing guitar as a teenager and taught himself how to play by listening to records and emulating the style of his favorite blues guitarists. He dropped out of high school and joined the Army in 1961 but was discharged after one year for breach of contract after riding in a Jeep with fellow soldiers that hit a tree.

Hendrix returned to Seattle and worked odd jobs while playing in local clubs. In 1964 he moved to New York City, where he gigged regularly and recorded with little success. The following year he moved to England, where he formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. The band became popular in Europe before gaining attention in the United States with their hit single “Hey Joe” (1966). They released their debut album Are You Experienced? (1967), which included such classics as “Purple Haze” and “The Wind Cries Mary.” The band reached new heights with their performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and their follow-up album Axis: Bold as Love (1967).

Hendrix achieved his greatest commercial success with his third album, Electric Ladyland (1968), which included the hits “All Along the Watchtower” and “Crosstown Traffic.” He also made headlines for lighting his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival and for playing it behind his back at the Toronto Rock n’ Roll Revival concert. In 1970 Hendrix toured with American singer-songwriter Joe Cocker and recorded his final studio album, First Rays of the New Rising Sun. He died from asphyxia due to inhaling vomit after taking too many barbiturates on September 18, 1970, at age 27.

The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco. The band is known for its eclectic style, which fused elements of country, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, rock, improvisational jazz, and spacey studio effects. The band was ranked 57th by Rolling Stone magazine in its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. They have sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.

The Who

The Who is an English rock band formed in London in 1964. The classic lineup consisted of lead singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist and singer Pete Townshend, bass guitarist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. They are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century, selling over 100 million records worldwide. The Who is also known for their unique stage shows and live performances, which often featured instrument destroying and onstage antics.

Led Zeppelin

When most people think of the best psychedelic rock bands of the 60s, the first band that comes to mind is often Led Zeppelin. The English rock band formed in 1968 and is widely considered to be one of the most influential bands of all time. Led Zeppelin’s music incorporates elements of blues, folk, and so-called “hard” rock, and their sound was often described as “heavy.” The band was incredibly popular in the United States, where they frequently toured during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Led Zeppelin’s best-known songs include “Stairway to Heaven,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Kashmir.”

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