Psych Rock: The Psychedelic Sound of the 60s and 70s

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A blog about the history and resurgence of psych rock music.

What is Psych Rock?

Psych rock, also known as psychedelic rock, is a style of rock music that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. The sound is characterized by distorted guitars, mind-bending lyrics, and trippy sound effects. The genre is often associated with the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. If you’re a fan of psych rock, then you’re in for a treat!

The sound of Psych Rock

Psych rock is a genre of rock music that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, characterized by its use of psychedelic sounds and themes. The genre is often considered to be a subgenre of psychedelic rock, but some scholars have argued that it should be considered a separate genre altogether.

The sound of psych rock was typically achieved through the use of extended guitar solos, heavy doses of feedback, and the use of electronic effects such as reverb and delay. Psych rock songs often explored trippy, surreal, or cosmic themes, and many bands in the genre used stagecraft and theatricality to enhance their live performances.

Pscyh rock was initially popularized in the underground scene of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, but it soon spread to other parts of the United States and Europe. Some of the most well-known psych rock bands include The Grateful Dead, The Doors, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin.

The look of Psych Rock

Psych rock is often typified by its use of bright, trippy colors and visuals. This can be seen in album artwork, music videos, and even the clothing that bands wear. Think tie-dye shirts, flowers in your hair, and peace signs galore.

The History of Psych Rock

The history of Psych rock is a long and winding one, with the genre taking influence from a wide variety of music styles. In the late 60s and early 70s, Psych rock was at its peak, with bands like Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, and The Doors all releasing groundbreaking albums that would go on to influence generations of musicians.

The 60s

The psych rock sound of the 60s was characterized by its use of heavy distortion, feedback, and experimental production techniques. Bands like The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience were all pioneers of the genre, helping to shape the sound that would come to be known as psychedelia.

The 60s were a time of great social and political upheaval, and many believe that the psychedelic music of the era was reflective of this. Psych rock lyrics often dealt with themes of love, peace, and mind-expanded consciousness, which aligned with the countercultural values of the time. The music was also often used as a tool for political activism, with many bands using their platform to raise awareness about issues like the Vietnam War and racism.

Though it would eventually fall out of favor with the mainstream, psych rock would go on to influence a wide variety of subsequent genres, from punk to metal to indie rock. Its legacy is still very much alive today, and many modern bands are carrying on the spirit of experimentation that made the genre so special in the first place.

The 70s

During the early 1970s, a number of bands began pushing the limits of blues-based Hard Rock, creating a more psychedelic sound. This new sound was originally called “acid rock”, due to its association with the drug culture of the time. The genre would come to be known as Psychedelic Rock, or “psych rock” for short.

Psychedelic Rock reached its commercial peak in 1967 with classics like The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Are You Experienced?”, The Doors’ “Light My Fire”, and Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play”. But the genre continued to evolve throughout the 1970s, as bands experimented with new sounds and song structures.

In 1971, Led Zeppelin released their fourth album, which featured the song “Stairway to Heaven”, one of the most popularRock songs of all time. The album was a commercial and critical success, cementing Led Zeppelin’s status as one of the biggest rock bands in the world.

David Bowie also achieved great success in the 1970s with his brand of glam rock. His 1974 album Diamond Dogs featured the hit single “Rebel Rebel”, which is still popular today. Diamond Dogs was followed by 1975’s Young Americans, which contained Bowie’s first number one single in the US, “Fame”.

The 1970s saw the rise of a number of important punk rock bands, including The Ramones, Patti Smith Group, and Television. These bands would go on to have a major influence on subsequent generations of musicians.

So sit back, put on your favorite psych rock album, and enjoy a trip down memory lane.

The Legacy of Psych Rock

Psych rock, also known as psychedelic rock, is a subgenre of rock music that emerged in the 60s and 70s. The sound is characterized by distorted guitars, mind-altering melodies, and drug-inspired lyrics. The genre is often seen as a precursor to punk rock and is credited with influencing a number of subsequent musical movements.

The influence of Psych Rock

Psych rock, short for psychedelic rock, is a style of rock music that became popular in the 1960s and 1970s. The genre is characterized by its use of unusual sounds, such as feedback, distorted guitars, and backwards tapes, as well as its experimentation with drugs and Eastern philosophy.

Though it was short-lived, psych rock had a profound influence on the development of subsequent genres like punk rock, krautrock, and ambient music. Many of the bands who pioneered the genre have since been cited as influence by some of the most popular groups of the last few decades, including Radiohead, Pixies, and Animal Collective.

The legacy of Psych Rock

The legacy of Psych Rock is the enduring influence of the psychedelic sound of the 60s and 70s on popular music. This genre of music is characterized by its trippy, mind-bending soundscapes and exploration of altered states of consciousness. While Psych Rock has largely faded from the mainstream, its impact can still be heard in today’s music.

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