The Best of Classic 60s Psychedelic Rock

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A look at the best of classic 60s psychedelic rock, from The Beatles to The Doors to Jimi Hendrix.

The Beatles – “A Day in the Life”

The Beatles – “A Day in the Life”: The final track on 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “A Day in the Life” is an ambitious, five-minute-long psychedelic tour de force that features some of the most complex studio production of any Beatles song. The track opens with a series of Ringo Starr’s drum fills, which are then followed by a series of piano chords played by John Lennon. The song then moves into its first verse, which is sung by Paul McCartney. After the first verse, the song enters into a surreal middle section which features a children’s choir singing the words “I read the news today, oh boy.” The final verse is sung by John Lennon, and the song ends with a crescendo of orchestral instruments playing a C major chord.

The Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations”

“Good Vibrations” is one of the most well-known and beloved songs of all time, and it’s impossible to think of the 60s without thinking of The Beach Boys. The song was released in 1966, and it quickly became a hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was The Beach Boys’ first single to reach number one, and it stayed there for six weeks. The song was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, and it was produced by Wilson. “Good Vibrations” is considered to be one of the first psychedelic pop songs, and its unique sound was created using a theremin, which was an early electronic instrument.

The Doors – “Light My Fire”

The Doors’ classic “Light My Fire” is a perfect example of psychedelic rock. The song features a number of elements that typify the genre, including distorted guitars, extended improvisation, and lyrical themes of drug use and mind expansion.

Jimi Hendrix – “Purple Haze”

Often referenced as one of the most influential and important figures in rock history, Jimi Hendrix’s signature song “Purple Haze” is a perfect example of his genius and the 60s psychedelic sound. Though it was only a minor hit when it was first released in 1967, the song has since become one of Hendrix’s most well-known tunes and an iconic piece of 60s culture.

Jefferson Airplane – “Somebody to Love”

One of the first big hits to come out of the 60s psychedelic rock scene, “Somebody to Love” was written by Darby Slick and performed by Jefferson Airplane. The song is noted for its use of harmony vocals, as well as its poppy, catchy chorus. It’s a classic example of the genre and still holds up today.

The Kinks – “You Really Got Me”

One of the biggest hits of the 60s, “You Really Got Me” was released in 1964 by The Kinks. It was one of the first songs to feature power chords and helped popularize the use of distortion in rock music. The song was ranked #42 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Love – “Alone Again Or”

Love was one of the most influential and important psychedelic bands of the 60s. Their music is characterized by its dense, psychedelic arrangements and often haunting lyrics. “Alone Again Or” is a perfect example of their unique sound, and is one of their most well-known and beloved songs.

The Moody Blues – “Nights in White Satin”

The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” is one of the most enduring Psychedelic anthems of the 60s. It is a beautiful and haunting song that exemplifies the best of what Psychedelic Rock has to offer. The melody is unforgettable, and the lyrics are both thought-provoking and evocative. The song has been covered by many artists over the years, but the original remains the best.

Procol Harum – “A Whiter Shade of Pale”

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” is a song by the British rock band Procol Harum. It was released on 12 May 1967 and rose to number one in the UK Singles Chart on 8 June 1967 and stayed there for six weeks. The single also reached number one in the USA, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, and Australia. It has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.

The song was written by Gary Brooker and Keith Reid and was inspired by a line from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. The lyrics describe a man’s first encounter with love and his overwhelming happiness. The verses refer to medieval colour symbolism to describe the man’s state of mind; the “strange” dust refers to falling snow; scarlet is synonymous with love or desire; while ivory can signify both purity and coldness.

The song has been covered by many artists, including Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, and Engelbert Humperdinck. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked it number 57 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The Rolling Stones – “Paint It, Black”

The Rolling Stones were one of the most influential bands of the 60s, and “Paint It, Black” is one of their most iconic songs. The song is a perfect example of the Psychedelic Rock genre, with its dark and haunting lyrics, and its signature sound. The Rolling Stones are one of the few bands that managed to keep their popularity through the decades, and “Paint It, Black” is one of the reasons why.

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