Psychedelic Rock: Examples and Origins

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as simply psyrock or psychedrock, is a subgenre of rock music that is inspired, or influenced by, psychedelic culture.

Psychedelic Rock Defined

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s and was popularized in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The term is often used interchangeably with “acid rock” and “acid rock”, but the former is more accurately used to describe a subgenre that developed from psychedelic rock.

Characteristics of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s. Its core sound combines the retrogressive tendencies of traditional rock music with elements of Eastern musical traditions, such as sitar-like drones and tonalities. Psychedelic rock is often characterized by extended improvisation, unusual instrumentation, and distorted or electronic production techniques.

Origins of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock, also known as garage rock or acid rock, is a style of music that emerged in the mid-1960s and became prominent in the countercultural movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The style is characterized by its use of feedback, extended guitar solos, and unusual sounds, such as reverse tape effects and sitar.

Psychedelic rock emerged in the wake of the British Invasion, when American bands began playing music that was influenced by British bands such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The first psychedelic band to achieve mainstream success was the San Francisco-based band Jefferson Airplane, whose 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow included the hits “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” Other important psychedelic bands of the era include the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and the Doors.

Psychedelic rock fell out of favor in the early 1970s as disco and punk rock became more popular. However, in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the genre, with bands like Tame Impala and Pond drawing inspiration from classic psychedelic acts.

Early Psychedelic Rock Bands and Songs

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s and was inspired by psychedelic culture. The earliest examples of psychedelic rock were released in 1966. The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” and Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love” are often cited as early examples of the genre.

The Beatles

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they became widely regarded as the foremost and most influential music band in history. Rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later utilised several genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical elements and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways. In 1963 their enormous popularity first emerged as “Beatlemania”; as the group’s music grew in sophistication following their debut album Please Please Me (1963), led by primary songwriters Lennon and McCartney, the band were integral to pop music’s evolution into an art form and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones are considered by many to be one of, if not the, greatest rock & roll band of all time. They released their debut album in 1964 and have continued to make music ever since. The Stones were one of the first bands to experiment with psychedelia in their music, and they are credited with helping to popularize the genre. Some of their most well-known psychedelic songs include “Paint It Black,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

The Doors

The Doors were an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1965, with 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 due to Morrison’s wild, poetic lyrics and charismatic but unpredictable stage persona. After Morrison’s death in 1971 at the age of 27, the remaining members continued as a trio until finally disbanding in 1973.

The Doors released eight studio albums between 1967 and 1971: The Doors (1967), Strange Days (1967), Waiting for the Sun (1968), The Soft Parade (1969), Morrison Hotel (1970), L.A. Woman (1971), Other Voices (1971), and Full Circle (1972). They were one of the first American bands to achieve widespread commercial success while incorporating elements of psychedelia into their music. In addition to their studio work, they were one of the most prolific live bands of their era, performing over 500 concerts between 1967 and 1970.

Some of their best-known songs include “Break on Through (To the Other Side)”, “Light My Fire”, “The End”, “People Are Strange”, “Touch Me”, and “L.A. Woman”. The Doors have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and they were ranked number 41 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.

Jimi Hendrix

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as psychedelia, is a diverse style of rock music that originated in the mid-1960s. Musically, psychedelic rock incorporates a number of elements, including distorted guitars, feedback, sitars, and electronic effects. The genre is generally characterized by extended improvisation, unusual or innovative sound textures, and fantasy- or drug-related lyrics.

Psychedelic rock developed out of the early British R&B and beat music scenes and was influenced by a number of factors, including the work of American musician Chuck Berry and English band The Beatles. The Beats were instrumental in introducing the concept of drug-induced expanded consciousness to Western youth culture in the late 1950s through their explorations of Eastern philosophy and religions. In turn, the Beatles’ use of mind-altering substances such as LSD inspired other musicians to experiment with drugs as a means of expanding their own consciousness.

One of the most influential figures in psychedelic rock was American guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix’s psychedelic blues guitar style combined with his flamboyant stage presence helped to make him one of the most popular musicians of his time. His best-known songs include “Purple Haze,” “Foxy Lady,” and “All Along the Watchtower.”

Psychedelic Rock in the 1970s

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that was popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The style is characterized by distorted guitars, psychedelic effects, and drug-related lyrics. The first psychedelic rock band was The Grateful Dead, who formed in 1965.

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd was an English rock band formed in London in 1965. They achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic music. Pink Floyd were founded by students Syd Barrett on guitar and lead vocals, Nick Mason on drums, Roger Waters on bass and vocals, and Richard Wright on keyboards and vocals. Barrett left the band in April 1968 due to deteriorating mental health. Waters became the band’s primary lyricist and conceptual leader, devising the concepts behind their albums The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967), A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), Ummagumma (1969), Atom Heart Mother (1970), Meddle (1971), The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977) , The Wall(1979) and The Final Cut(1983).

The Dark Side of the Moonembraced by music fans and critics alike, is one of Pink Floyd’s best-known albums. It topped the Billboard 200 chart for a then-record 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988, making it one of the longest-running number-one albums in history. With more than 45 million copies sold worldwide, it is Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums of all time.

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin was an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of singer Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. With their heavy, guitar-driven sound, they are regularly cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal, although their style drew from a variety of influences, including blues and folk music.

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 rock, folk, country, jazz, bluegrass, blues, gospel, and psychedelic rock; for its protracted performances of lengthy instrumental jams; and for its devoted fan base, known as “Deadheads.” “Their music,” writes Lenny Kaye, “was like a twisting of the American melodic and lyrical tradition in the service of extended internal journeys.” They were ranked 57th in the issue The Greatest Artists of all Time by Rolling Stone magazine. They have sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.

Psychedelic Rock Today

Psychedelic rock is a very popular genre of music today. You can hear it in the music of popular bands such as Tame Impala, The Flaming Lips, and The Black Keys. Psychedelic rock is known for its trippy, mind-bending sound. It often incorporates elements of other genres, such as garage rock, blues, and even jazz.

Tame Impala

Tame Impala is an Australian rock band formed in 2007. The group’s sound has been described as a mix of 1960s psychedelic pop and 1990s alternative rock. They are often cited as one of the leading neo-psychedelic acts. The band’s third studio album, Currents, was released in 2015 to widespread critical acclaim. It was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 58th Grammy Awards.

The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips are an American rock band formed in 1983 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The group’s lineup currently consists of Wayne Coyne (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), Michael Ivins (bass guitar), Brandon Coleman (keyboards), Derek Brown (drums) and Matt Berninger (vocals). The band is best known for their 1984 hit single “She Don’t Use Jelly” as well as their 2002 experimental album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which features the singles “Do You Realize??”, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1” and “Fight Test”.


MGMT is an American psychedelic rock band formed in 2002 at Wesleyan University. The band consists of Andrew VanWyngarden (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Ben Goldwasser (keyboards, guitar). They are joined live by James Richardson (guitar, keyboards) and Will Berman (drums). Originally with Cantora Records, they signed with Columbia Records in 2006. After the release of their debut album Oracular Spectacular in 2007, they toured worldwide extensively until 2010. In April 2010, MGMT announced that Richardson had left the band and was replaced by Hank Sullivant. The band’s second album, Congratulations, was released on April 13th2010. In mid-2013 Norton mixed MGMT’s 3rd LP “MGMT,” which was released September 17th 2013 by Columbia/Red Ink.

Psychedelic rock is a cross-genre of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s with the goal of expanding rock’s artistic potential and making it more avant-garde. Psychedelic rock deals with a wide range of topics including the mind, the body, nature, the cosmos, politics and religion while attempting to sonically encompass them all. Psychedelic music often contains elements of pop music;indeed “psychedelia” is sometimes used interchangeably with “pop music” or “rock music” from a period typically known as psychedelia. Psychedelic musicians attempted to enhance the experience of psychedelic drugs often through feedback looping less common in other genres; early examples include Cream’s use of looping during their song Sunshine of Your Love on their 1967 debut album Fresh Cream as well as The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s use during Voodoo Child (Slight Return).

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