Many psychedelic rock groups borrow imagery from the writings of authors like Aldous Huxley and Carlos Castaneda. This can be seen in the artwork and lyrics of bands like The Doors, Pink Floyd, and The Grateful Dead.
The Psychedelic Movement
The psychedelic movement was a youth-driven subculture of the mid-1960s that advocated the exploration of altered states of consciousness, primarily through the use of psychedelic drugs. Psychedelic rock groups such as the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane began to popularize the use of psychedelic imagery in their music.
Origins of Psychedelic Rock
Psychedelic rock, often shortened to psychedelia, is a wide-ranging style of rock music inspired, influenced, or representative of psychedelic culture, which is centred on perception-altering hallucinogenic drugs. The music is intended to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs, most notably LSD. Psychedelic rock developed during the mid 1960s amid the rise of the counterculture of the time and experimental subgenres like acid rock.
Psychedelic rock reached its apogee in the last years of the decade. Its golden age is usually considered to be between 1966 and 1969. Psychedelic bands used distorted electric guitars, sonic effects, feedback, and complex studio manipulation with reverb and tape echo to create soundscapes that tended to be much more dynamic than those of their American contemporaries. British psychedelic groups such as Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Donovan and Traffic released landmark records during this period. American groups included Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane, Railway Spineand The Doors.
The term “psychedelic” was first coined in 1956 by British psychiatrist Humphry Osmond as an alternative descriptor for hallucinogenic drugs in reference to their effect on perception but was first used in relation to music by critic Gilbert Audette in a 1959 issue of Downbeat magazine. psychedelia began to achieve mainstream attention and popularity with releases such as The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), The Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations (1966) and Donovan’s Sunshine Superman (1966). By 1967, it had become an established movement with growing media exposure and participation from a wider public outside of just the underground scene. From its origin in live performances at San Francisco’s Summer of Love Love-In’sand Human Be-Ins through1969’s Woodstock Music & Art Fair festival which popularized many previously lesser known artists such as Jimi Hendrix he Woodstockfestivalestablished many new musical acts and marked a shift in popular music from folk rock towards a heavier sound which would be labelled Sister University sites such as Washington D.C.’s Georgetown University also held Psychedelic dances starting in 1968 which frequently featured rival bands battling for supremacy during multi-hour long sets where whichever band could maintain the interest of the audience longest would be declared victorious..
The Psychedelic Sound
Psychedelic music is a style of rock music that became popular in the mid-1960s and originated on the West Coast of the United States. The sound of psychedelic music is characterized by its use of electronic instruments, distorted guitars, and mind-altering lyrics. Psychedelic rock groups often borrowed imagery from the writings of psychologist Carl Jung and used it to enhance their lyrics and stage performances.
Some well-known psychedelic rock groups include The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Beach Boys, and The Doors. The Psychedelic Sound was also influenced by jazz, folk, and classical music. Psychedelic music reached its peak in popularity in the late 1960s but has continued to influence musicians in all genres of rock music.
Psychedelics have been used for centuries by various cultures for their medicinal and spiritual properties. In the 1960s, Westerners began to explore the potential of psychedelics for therapeutic and recreational use. Psychedelic rock groups began to emerge in the mid-1960s, and they borrowed much of their imagery from the writings of psychedelics advocates such as Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, and Alan Watts.
Themes and Motifs
Psychedelic imagery often includes themes and motifs such as:
This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a sampling of some of the more commonly used images in psychedelic artwork. Many psychedelic rock groups borrow imagery from the writings ofpsychedelic pioneers such as Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary, as well as from Eastern philosophies such as Hinduism and Buddhism.
Sources of Inspiration
Psychedelic music is often inspired by (or attempt to sonically recreate) psychedelic experiences, and is intended to replicate and enhance the experience of states of consciousness induced by psychedelic drugs. The term “psychedelic” was coined in 1956 by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond, for therapeutic use. A wide variety of musical genres have been influenced significantly by psychedelic music, including rock, jazz, country, folk, R&B, hip hop, and disco. Psychedelic rock reached its apogee in the last years of the decade.
Psychedelic groups borrowing from literary sources include the 13th Floor Elevators (whose name was derived from Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception), Love (Forever Changes album cover), and Jefferson Airplane ( Surrealistic Pillow album cover).Many songs make direct or indirect references to Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll; the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High”, Paul McCartney’s “I’m Down”, Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On”, Grateful Dead’s “Alice D. Millionaire”, Pink Floyd’s “Alice In Wonderland” and Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” are some examples.
The Legacy of Psychedelic Rock
Psychedelic rock, also called simply psychedelic rock, is a style of rock music inspired by or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. Psychedelic rock often usesnew instruments, recording effects and untraditional song structures. This is all in order to create a ” trip-like ” listening experience. Many psychedelic rock groups borrow imagery from the writings of pulp science fiction and fantasy authors, as well as from Eastern religious or philosophical traditions.
The Influence of Psychedelic Rock
Psychedelic rock, also referred to as psychedelia, is a wide-ranging style of rock music characterized by the creation of an unorthodox and often aesthetic musical experience that attempts to mirror the mind-altering effects of psychedelic drugs. The genre surfaced in the early 1960s and reached its peak popularity between 1965 and 1969.
Psychedelic rock borrows heavily from the legacy of earlier rock and roll pioneers such as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Jimi Hendrix, as well as from classical Eastern influences. Groups such as the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane were all major exponents of psychedelic rock. The term “psychedelic” was first coined by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond in 1956 to describe the effects of mescaline, but it was soon adopted by the subculture that developed around this type of music.
Psychedelic rock often employs extensive use of electronics, resulting in a sound that can be both garish and expansive. Instruments such as keyboards and feedback-laden guitars are commonly used to create sonic landscapes that are designed to disorient and bewilder the listener. The lyrics of psychedelic songs are often concerned with mind-expanding themes such as madness, drug use, hallucinations, dreams, and transcendence.
The visual elements of psychedelic culture are just as important as the music itself. Psychedelic groups often made use of light shows and crude animation projected onto walls or ceilings in order to create an immersive environment for their concerts. Album covers and band logos frequently made use of trippy images and fluorescent colors in order to capture the essence of what was often described as “mind-expanding” music.
The influence of psychedelic rock can still be felt today in many different genres of music. Psychedelic themes and imagery continue to be popular among Concerts are commonly held in dimly lit clubs where light show equipment can be easily set up, providing an optimal environment for creating an immersive experience for concertgoers.]
The End of an Era
By the early seventies, the dream of the counterculture had faded. The Beatles had broken up, and psychedelic rockers like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin had died of drug overdoses. The hippie movement had lost its momentum, and America was embroiled in the Vietnam War. Amid this climate of disillusionment, many psychedelic rock groups turned to more dark and reflective themes in their music. This shift in tone marks the end of the psychedelic era in rock music.