How Psychedelic Rock Was Created

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


How did psychedelic rock come to be? What were the key elements that made it such a unique and influential genre of music?

The Birth of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock, also known as mind-expanding rock, consciousness-expanding rock, acid rock, and psychedelic pop, is a style of popular music that originated in the late 1960s. The term “psychedelic” refers to the experience of altered consciousness, which can be induced by the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin. Psychedelic rock music often employs electronic effects such as feedback, echo, and phasing, which create a “trippy” or “acid” sound. The Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States of America, was inspired by a psychedelic experience.

The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

The Beatles’ album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is often cited as the birth of psychedelic rock. The album, which was released in 1967, features a number of songs with psychedelic elements, including “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Within You Without You,” and “A Day in the Life.” While the album was not the first to feature psychedelic elements, it was the most popular and influential at the time, and helped to popularize the genre.

The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds”

The Beach Boys’ album “Pet Sounds” is often cited as the first psychedelic rock album. The album was released in 1966 and featured a much more sophisticated sound than the band’s earlier surf rock hits. The use of complex harmonies, unconventional instrumentation, and studios techniques (such as using a theremin to create eerie sound effects) led many critics to label “Pet Sounds” as the band’s best work.

Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited”

In 1965, Dylan released his sixth album, “Highway 61 Revisited.” The title track, a 11-minute ode to the storied highway that runs from Dylan’s home state of Minnesota to the Mississippi Delta, became one of the most influential songs in rock history. The song is a defiant statement about America’s need for change, with Dylan howling, “God said to Abraham, ‘Kill me a son’/ Abe said, ‘Man, you must be puttin’ me on.'”

But it’s the album’s opening track, “Like a Rolling Stone,” that cemented Dylan’s place in rock music. The six-minute song is an unapologetic attack on anyone who’s ever sold out or compromised their principles. Dylan spits out the lyrics with such venom that it’s difficult to believe he was only 24 years old at the time. “How does it feel/ To be without a home/ Like a complete unknown/ Like a rolling stone?” he sneers.

The song was too long for radio at the time, but that didn’t stop it from becoming an instant classic. It entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #41 and eventually peaked at #2. In September of 1965, “Like a Rolling Stone” was named the greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.

Dylan followed up “Highway 61 Revisited” with the even more experimental “Blonde on Blonde” in 1966. The double album featured some of Dylan’s most iconic songs, including “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” and “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again.” By this point, Dylan was fully immersed in the world of psychedelia and his lyrics reflected that: “Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free/ Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,” he sang on “Blonde on Blonde’s” closing track, “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.”

The Sound of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a subgenre of rock music that emerged during the mid-1960s. The sound of psychedelic rock was created by artists who were influenced by psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline, and DMT. Psychedelic rock often incorporates elements of other genres, such as folk music, blues, and electronica.

Electric guitars

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that was popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It started in the United States and Britain, and spread to other countries. Psychedelic rock is often used to describe the music of bands such as The Beatles, The Doors, and Pink Floyd.

Electric guitars are the most important instrument in psychedelic rock. Psychedelic rock is known for its “walls of sound”, which means that there are many guitar parts playing at the same time. This create a ” hallucinogenic ” effect, which makes the listener feel like they are on a trip . Psychedelic rock is also known for its use of feedback, which is when the guitar makes a loud noise by itself.

The first psychedelic rock song is usually considered to be “I Can See for Miles” by The Who. It was released in 1967.


mind-bending sounds of psychedelic rock were originally created with feedback, by turning up electric guitars to the point where they produced wild, uncontrolled distortion. The technique was first used by blues guitarists in the early 1950s, who discovered that if they cranked up their amplifiers and let the notes ring out for a long time, they would start to get a fuzzy, “wowing” sound. This was due to the fact that the signal was being amplified so much that it was beginning to “break up” and create new harmonics.

Reverb and delay

The sound of psychedelic rock is often characterized by a strong use of reverb anddelay. These effects were originally created with tape machines, which weremastering outboard reverb and delay units. The use of these effects helped tocreate the “trippy” sound that was characteristic of psychedelic music. Today,reverb and delay are still used in psychedelic rock, but they are often createdwith digital effects processors.

The Visuals of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock was created as a result of the interplay between the music and the visuals of the time. The music was designed to be experienced with the use of psychedelic drugs, and the visuals were created to reflect and enhance the experience of the music.

Album covers

Psychedelic rock is a subgenre of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s. It is characterized by sonic experimentation, drawn-out instrumentals, and altered states of consciousness. The genre is associated with the uptake of drugs like LSD and marijuana, collectively known as ” psychedelics.” Psychedelic rock was further popularized in the 1960s by artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and The Beatles.

album covers are often regarded as one of the most important aspects of psychedelic rock. They were designed to be eye-catching and visually arresting, using bright colors and trippy imagery. Many of these covers have become iconic in their own right, and have come to symbolize the psychedelic era.

Concert posters

Psychedelic rock was a music genre that was popular in the 1960s. The music was characterized by its experimental and often trippy sound. Many of the bands that played this type of music were from the UK and US.

Psychedelic rock concert posters were often brightly colored and featured images of animals, flowers, and other trippy visuals. They were often created by artists who were associated with the hippie movement.

The visuals of psychedelic rock were an important part of the music’s appeal. They helped to create an atmosphere of freedom and experimentation that was perfect for the kind of music being made at the time.

Light shows

In the early days of psychedelic rock, some concert promoters began to use light shows, which were projected onto the walls and ceiling of the concerts, as a way of further enhancing the audience’s experience of the music. At first, these light shows were simply colorful and abstract patterns that pulsated in time to the music; later, more elaborate shows were created that includedwords and images that were intended to complement or enhance the lyrics of the songs being performed.

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