The Top Modern Psychedelic Rock Bands

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re a fan of psychedelic rock, then you’ll want to check out our list of the top modern psychedelic rock bands. From Tame Impala to The Flaming Lips, these bands are keeping the genre alive and well.

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 and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later utilised several genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical elements in innovative ways during the height of their popularity. In 1964, they obtained the Guinness World Record for being the “world’s most commercially successful band”.

The Beatles are recognised for leading the mid-1960s musical “British Invasion” into the United States. They are one of the most commercially successful and musically influential bands of all time. They have had more number-one albums on the UK Albums Chart, 15, and held the record for most weeks at number one on Billboard’s The Billboard 200 with 177 weeks from 1966 to 1988. In 2008 they were ranked #1 artist of all time by Billboard magazine. In 2012 Rolling Stone magazine ranked them at #2 on its list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and #1 on its list of The 100 Greatest Pop Artists of All Time. In 2014 they were inducted into the Roll Hall of Fame.

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys are an American rock band formed in Hawthorne, California, in 1961. The group’s original lineup consisted of brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Distinguished by their vocal harmonies and early surf songs, they are one of the most influential acts of the rock era. The band drew on the music of jazz-based vocal groups, 1950s rock and roll, and black R&B to create their unique sound.

With Brian as producer, the Beach Boys achieved their initial success with two hit singles from their 1961 album Surfin’ Safari: “Surfin'” and “409”. Their 1962 album Surfin’ U.S.A. yielded three more charted singles – “Surfin’ U.S.A.”, “Surfer Girl”, and “Be True to Your School” – earning them international acclaim. It was followed by 1964’s All Summer Long, which featured the hit title track written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, plus additional charting singles “I Get Around” and “Fun, Fun, Fun”. After 1964’s Shut Down Volume 2 peaked at number 163 on the US charts; subsequent albums were less successful in the US but found greater success in other countries particularly Australia where 1965’s Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) topped the charts.

In 1966, Pet Sounds was met with a highly positive critical response–particularly for its ambitiousTop 100-charting lead single “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”–and reached number two on Billboard200 while yielding additional charting singles: the title track (US number 10), as well as “Sloop John B” (US number 3). The album is considered to be one of rock music’s most influential recordings; renowned musician Bob Dylan stated that it “changed my idea about what record making could achieve.” Following its release, Capitol Records expressed interest in signing the Beach Boys; however instead he intended to produce adouble album Smile with Smile having been slated as a follow-up to Pet Sounds. Recording sessions for Smile began on December 22nd 1966 but due to various creative differences between Wilson andLove progress on Smile stalled then stopped altogether by May 1967 resulting in one confirmed/completed song –the Number One hit single “Good Vibrations”.

The Doors

The Doors were an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1965, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger. They were one of the most controversial and influential rock acts of the 1960s because of 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 disbanding in 1973.

While the Doors’ active career ended in 1973, their popularity has persisted. According to the RIAA, they have sold 33 million records in the US and over 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. Rolling Stone ranked them 41st on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and number 70 on their list of the “100 Greatest Albums of All Time”. In 1993, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd is a psychedelic rock band which was formed in London, England in 1965. The members of the band are Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright. The band is considered to be one of the most influential rock bands of all time, and they have sold over 200 million records worldwide. They are best known for their albums The Wall, Dark Side of the Moon, and Wish You Were Here.

The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead was an American rock bandformed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. Ranging from quintet to septet, the band is known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of country, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, rock, improvisational jazz, psychedeliaand space rock,[1][2]for live performances of lengthy instrumental jams,[3]and for their devoted fan base, known as “Deadheads”. “Their music”, writes Lenny Kaye, “touches on ground that most other groups don’t even know exists”.[4] These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead “the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world”.[5] The band was ranked 57th by Rolling Stone magazine in its The Greatest Artists of All Time issue. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and their longtime lead guitarist Bob Weir was inducted into the same institution as a member of the Grateful Dead in 2015.

The Grateful Dead have sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.[6][7][8] The Grateful Dead was founded in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area just as the counterculture explosion was starting to build. Members Jerry Garcia (guitar rhythm/vocals), Bob Weir (guitar rhythm/vocals), Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (keyboards/ harmonica/percussion/vocals), Bill Kreutzmann (drums), and Phil Lesh (bass guitar/vocals) formed the core quintet of the band throughout its 30-year history. Garcia would play a pivotal role as frontman for their concerts; his personality as well as his ability to sustain long jams with his guitar-playing mates earned him widespread admiration among both fans and peers.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin was an American singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the late 1960s as the lead singer of the psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. She was known for her powerful, bluesy vocals and intense stage presence. Joplin released four solo albums, including the posthumous Pearl, which topped the charts one year after her death from a heroin overdose at age 27.

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin was an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bass player and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. The band’s heavy, guitar-driven sound, rooted in blues and psychedelia on their early albums, has earned them recognition as one of the progenitors of heavy metal. Their later works, particularly those from the late 1970s and early 1980s, incorporated elements of arena rock and more pop-oriented formats.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix is indisputably one of the most important and influential electric guitarists of all time. He was a pioneer in the development of psychedelic rock, and his innovative style of playing paved the way for many other greats. Though he only released three studio albums during his lifetime, his legacy continues to live on through his music.

The Who

The Who is an English rock band formed in 1964. The primary 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 rose to fame in the United Kingdom with their 1965 single “My Generation”, which peaked at No. 2 in the UK charts. Their 1967 album The Who Sell Out was a commercial and critical success. They followed this with 1968’s Tommy and 1969’s rock opera concept album, Lifehouse. In 1970, the group released their seventh album, Who’s Next, which featured the singles “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Behind Blue Eyes”. The group continued to tour throughout the 1970s and released Quadrophenia in 1973 and The Who by Numbers in 1975.

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