Psychedelic Rock in the 1970s

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Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that was popular in the 1970s. It is characterized by its use of psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD.

Psychedelic Rock in the 1970s

Psychedelic rock, also simply called psychedelia, is a style of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s. This style is influenced by rock music and the psychedelic culture of the time. Psychedelic rock music often uses distorted guitars,echoes, and other effects to create a “trippy” or “mind-expanding” sound. The genre is also known for its often drug-inspired lyrics.

The Beatles and Psychedelic Rock

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. They became the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed band in the history of popular music. With a lineup of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are regarded as the foremost and most influential music band of all time. The group’s best-known lineup consisted of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr. The Beatles are recognized for leading the mid-1960s musical “British Invasion” into the United States.

Psychedelic rock is a diverse style of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s, inspired by American psychedelic culture. It generally attempted to replicate, enhance, or sometimes subvert, the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs such as LSD. Many psychedelic groups differ in style, and the label is often applied spuriously.

The Doors and Psychedelic Rock

The Doors were an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1965. The group was Manzarek’s idea, as he wanted to create a group that would fuse the counterculture energy of the times with a hard rock sound. The members consisted of Manzarek on keyboards, Morrison on vocals, Krieger on guitar, and Densmore on drums. The Doors became one of the most popular bands of their era. They were also one of the most controversial, as their music and stage act incorporated a sexually suggestive elements that was uncommon for mainstream bands at the time.

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, feedback, extended solos, and elements of other genres such as blues, Indian music, and jazz. Psychedelic rock developed from folk rock and blues-rock, and was also influenced by garage rock and acid rock.

The Doors were one of the most successful bands of the psychedelic rock era. Their music incorporated elements of other genres such as blues and jazz, which helped them to create a unique sound. They also used feedback and extended solos to create a more psychedelic sound.

Pink Floyd and Psychedelic Rock

While the influence of drugs on rock music had been evident since the genre’s inception in the 1950s, it was in the 1960s that drug use among musicians became more widespread and conspicuous. Psychedelic drugs such as LSD, marijuana, and psilocybin mushrooms were central to the “mind-expanding” experiences sought by members of the counterculture. The use of these drugs, combined with various danceable music genres such as R&B, Soul, and Funk, resulted in a new form of concert experience that came to be known as the “light show.”

During this period, Pink Floyd began to experiment with new sonic possibilities made available by advances in recording technology. The band made use of feedback, reverb, delay, and other effects to create a “wall of sound” that was designed to envelop the listener in a reposed state. This approach was influenced by the philosophy of Syd Barrett, who believed that music could be used as a tool for achieving altered states of consciousness.

The band’s 1967 debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, is often cited as one of the finest examples of psychedelic rock. The album’s standout track, “Interstellar Overdrive,” is a nine-minute journey through space and time that includes some of Pink Floyd’s most mind-bending sonic experimentation.

Following Barrett’s departure from the band in 1968, Pink Floyd continued to explore new sonic territory on their subsequent albums with Roger Waters at the helm. With each release, they pushed the boundaries of what was possible in rock music from a technical standpoint while also expanding the consciousness of their listeners. Some of their most well-known Psychedelic Rock classics include “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun,” “Atom Heart Mother,” and “Echoes.”

The Psychedelic Movement

While the use of psychedelic drugs has been recorded throughout history, the psychedelic movement of the 1960s and 1970s was a time when their use became more widespread and accepted. This timeframe saw the rise of a number of iconic bands who would come to be known for their exploration of psychedelic sounds and themes in their music.

The Summer of Love

The psychedelic movement began in the mid-1960s and reached its peak in 1967, commonly known as the Summer of Love. Psychedelic rock, a subgenre of rock music, was created by bands who combined elements of Western pop music with Eastern influences, such as the sitar and tabla. The Beatles were at the forefront of this new sound with their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which contained several psychedelic songs.

Psychedelic music was often used as a tool for social change, with bands such as the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane using their music to promote peace and love. The use of drugs such as LSD and mushrooms also played a role in the psychedelic movement, with many people using them to achieve altered states of consciousness.

The psychedelic movement came to an end in the early 1970s, but the influence of psychedelia can still be seen in many aspects of popular culture today.

The Hippie Movement

The Hippie movement was a social and political movement that originated in the United States in the early 1960s and spread around the world. The movement began as a reaction to the boredom, conformity and consumerism of mainstream society. Young people sought out new experiences and new ways of living that were more in line with their own values.

Hippies believed in peace, love, exploration, experimentation and self-sufficiency. They rejecting traditional ideas about religion, politics, fashion and morality. They promoted “free love” and sexual freedom, experimented with recreational drugs and advocated for ecological conservation. The hippie movement had a profound effect on popular culture, influencing fashion, music, art and film.

The Counterculture Movement

The Psychedelic Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s reached its peak in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. This counterculture mecca was home to a number of bands who would come to be known as some of the most influential in Psychedelic Rock, including The Grateful Dead, Santana, and Jefferson Airplane.

Psychedelic Rock is characterized by extended jams, use of feedback and distortion, layered instrumentation, and (often) drug-inspired lyrics. It was largely a product of the drug-induced hallucinations experienced by its performers and listeners, many of whom were part of the counterculture movement.

The Psychedelic Movement came to an abrupt end with the onset of the War on Drugs in the early 1970s. Psychedelic Rock went out of fashion almost overnight, and many of its key performers either disbanded or switched to other genres. However, its influence can still be felt in a number of contemporary musical styles.

Psychedelic Drugs

Psychedelic drugs are a class of drugs that act on the nervous system to produce changes in perception, mood, and cognition. These drugs are often used for recreational purposes, but they can also be used to treat psychiatric disorders. Psychedelic drugs include LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA.


Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), also known as acid, is a psychedelic drug known for its psychological effects, which can include altered thoughts, feelings, and awareness of one’s surroundings. It is commonly used as a party drug or for spiritual purposes. LSD is typically swallowed in tablet form, but it can also be injected, snorted, or smoked. Its effects usually last for 8-12 hours.

LSD is non-addictive and does not cause physical dependence. However, it can cause tolerance, meaning that users need to take increasingly larger doses to achieve the same effect. LSD use can also lead to psychological dependence and flashbacks.


Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic drug found in certain mushrooms. It is best known for its ability to produce powerful visual and auditory hallucinations in users. The effects of psilocybin are similar to those of other psychedelics, such as LSD, and can include heightened states of awareness, spiritual experiences, and paranoia. Psychedelic rock is a genre of music that emerged in the 1960s and was influenced by psychedelic drugs like psilocybin. The genre is characterized by distorted guitars, trippy sound effects, and catchy melodies. Psychedelic rock reached its peak popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s with bands like The Beatles, The Doors, and Pink Floyd.


DMT is a powerful psychedelic drug that is found in many plants and animals, including humans. The drug has been used for centuries by indigenous people in South America for religious and spiritual purposes.

DMT affects the nervous system, causing a person to see and hear things that are not real. The effects of DMT can last for several hours. The drug is often smoked or injected, but it can also be snorted, swallowed, or via an enema.

DMT is classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

Psychedelic Music

Psychedelic music is a genre of rock music that emerged in the late 1960s. The style is characterized by distorted guitars, feedback, and complex song structures.Psychedelic music is often associated with the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s.

The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band is known for its eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, country, jazz, bluegrass, blues, and gospel. They also became renowned for their extended live jams, which were inspired by the improvisational style of jazz.

The Grateful Dead’s music has been described as ” psychedelic AMC kitch-core.” The band’s live shows were experimental and incorporated improvisation, which drew influence from jazz and blues jamming. They were also one of the earliest adopters of the Moog synthesizer.

Jimi Hendrix

Although psychedelic music was initially associated with the 1960s hippie movement, it continued to be influential in the 1970s, particularly in the development of progressive rock and heavy metal. One of the most important psychedelic rock artists of the 1970s was Jimi Hendrix, who blended elements of blues, rock, and R&B to create a unique and distinctive sound. His experimental approach to songwriting and guitar playing inspired many other artists to explore new sonic possibilities.

The Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground was an American rock band formed in 1964 in New York City by singer/guitarist Lou Reed, multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Angus MacLise (replaced by Maureen Tucker in 1965). The band was initially active between 1965 and 1973 and was briefly managed by the pop artist Andy Warhol, serving as the house band at his nightclub The Factory and headlining the bill of his 1967 concert series “The Pop Group”. Their debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico was released in 1967 to critical indifference and poor sales but have since become one of the most acclaimed and influential rock albums.

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