The 10 Best Psychedelic Rock Artists of 2018

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Looking for some new psychedelic rock to check out? Here are our picks for the 10 best psychedelic rock artists of 2018!

The Doors

The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore. They were among the most controversial and influential rock acts of the 1960s because of Morrison’s lyrics and his erratic, musical performances. After Morrison’s death in 1971 at age 27, the remaining members continued as a trio until disbanding in 1973.

While the Doors’ primary musical style was psychedelic rock, they incorporated elements of jazz, blues, classical music and Latin styles into their sound. The band is Cars influenced garage rock and created “a towering wall of sound”.

Jimi Hendrix

1. Jimi Hendrix- Though he only recorded four studio albums before his untimely death in 1970, Jimi Hendrix was without question the most influential electric guitarist of the psychedelic rock era. His blues-based, feedback and distortion-heavy style laid the foundation for much of what would come later in the genre, and his performances at Monterey Pop and Woodstock are among the most iconic in rock history.

2. The Beatles- The Fab Four need no introduction, but their influence on psychedelic rock cannot be overstated. While Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is often cited as the first true psychedelic rock album, it was preceded by a series of mind-bendingly innovative singles like “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” and “A Day in the Life.” The Beatles would continue to push boundaries with 1968’s The Beatles (aka The White Album) and Abbey Road before finally calling it quits in 1970.

3. Pink Floyd- Another essential act of the 1960s, Pink Floyd began as a purveyor of experimental psychedelic rock before hitting their commercial and critical stride with 1973’s The Dark Side of the Moon. Over the next decade, they would release a string of successful albums including Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall before formally disbanding in 1995.

4. The Doors- One of the most popular bands of the late 1960s/early 1970s, The Doors’ blend of psychedelia, blues-rock, and frontman Jim Morrison’s dark poetry made them one of the most distinctive and controversial acts of their era. Despite Morrison’s untimely death in 1971, the band continued to tour and release new music until finally disbanding in 1973.

5. Grateful Dead- Influenced equally by psychedelia, folk music, country music, and jazz, The Grateful Dead were truly one of a kind. They became one of America’s most beloved live acts thanks to their legendary concert performances which often featured extended improvisational jamming sessions. They released a series of successful studio albums throughout the late 1960s/1970s including Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty before disbanded following Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995.

6. Cream- Formed in 1966 by bassist/singer Jack Bruce, drummer Ginger Baker, and guitarist Eric Clapton, Cream was one of the first supergroups and also one of the first power trios. They combined elements of blues-rock with psychedelia on classic albums like Disraeli Gears and Wheels Of Fire before breaking up in 1968 due to creative differences.


Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin was an English rock band active in the late 1960s and 1970s. Formed in 1968, the group consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bass player John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. The band’s style has been variously described as hard rock, blues rock, and psychedelic rock. Their sound incorporated elements of a wide range of genres, including folk music, jazz, and world music.

Pink Floyd

The greatest psychedelic band of all time, Pink Floyd was started by Syd Barrett in 1965. The band’s classic lineup consisted of Barrett (guitar, vocals), Roger Waters (bass, vocals), Rick Wright (keyboards, vocals) and Nick Mason (drums). Barrett left the band in 1968 due to mental health issues, and was replaced by David Gilmour.

With Gilmour now on board, the band began to explore more experimental and avant-garde sounds on their albums, while still maintaining a strong commercial appeal. Their 1973 album “The Dark Side of the Moon” became one of the best-selling albums of all time, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest albums ever made. Other classic Pink Floyd albums include “Wish You Were Here” (1975), “Animals” (1977) and “The Wall” (1979).

Pink Floyd continued to make music into the 1990s and 2000s, with Waters leaving the band in 1985. Despite Waters’ departure, Pink Floyd remained hugely successful, releasing two more classic albums: “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” (1987) and “The Division Bell” (1994). Pink Floyd were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco. The band’s primary songwriters were Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. The Grateful Dead has been credited as one of the pioneers of jam band music, as they often invited their fans to record and share their concerts, and as they encouraged extended musical improvisation during their live performances. They were ranked 57th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” The band has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.


Cream was a British rock power trio formed in London in 1966. The group consisted of bassist/singer Jack Bruce, drummer Ginger Baker, and guitarist/singer Eric Clapton. Cream’s music combined elements of blues rock, hard rock, pop, psychedelia, and heavy metal into a hybrid that made it the world’s first successful supergroup.

The band’s third and final studio album, Wheels of Fire (1968), is the world’s first platinum-selling double album. Cream also became the first band to have three albums reach #1 on the US Billboard charts. The band is widely regarded as being the pioneers of the power trio format.

Jefferson Airplane

Jefferson Airplane was an American rock band formed in San Francisco, California, in 1965. A pioneer of the psychedelic rock movement, the group was the first band from the San Francisco scene to achieve mainstream commercial and critical success. They were headliners at the three most famous American rock festivals of their era—Monterey (1967), Woodstock (1969) and Altamont (1969) —and performed at both the Monterey Pop Festival and the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Their 1967 record Surrealistic Pillow is regarded as one of the key works of psychedelic rock.

The group members were CEO Marty Balin (vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion), Grace Slick (vocals, tambourine), Paul Kantner (lead guitar, vocals, rhythm guitar), Jorma Kaukonen (lead guitar, vocals), Spencer Dryden (drums, percussion), and Signe Toly Anderson (vocals). They were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

The Byrds

The Byrds were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple line-up changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn (known as Jim Mcguinn until mid-1967) being the sole consistent member. Although they only managed to achieve commercial success in the United States, the Byrds were a major influence on the American and United Kingdom music scenes of the mid-1960s, helping to popularize the genre of folk rock. Their signature blend of clear harmony singing and McGuinn’s jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar sound became known as the “Byrd sound”, and was a major component of the early psychedelic rock style.

The original five-piece lineup of the Byrds consisted of McGuinn on lead vocals and guitar, Gene Clark on harmonica and vocals, David Crosby on guitar and vocals, Chris Hillman on bass and vocals, and Michael Clarke on drums and percussion. This version of the band was relatively short-lived; however, they released two albums that would later be considered classics: Mr. Tambourine Man (1965) and Turn! Turn! Turn! (1965).

In 1966, Gene Clark left the group due to creative differences; he was replaced by Gram Parsons. The new lineup released one album together: Younger Than Yesterday (1967). Shortly thereafter, Hillman and Parsons left to form the Flying Burrito Brothers; they were replaced by Clarence White and Kevin Kelley. This version of the band recorded three more albums: The Notorious Byrd brothers (1968), Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968), and Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde (1969). McGuinn’s drug abuse issues led to his firing from the group in late 1968; he was replaced by country rock pioneer Gram Parsons for a brief period before returning to lead the band in early 1969.

The group disbanded in 1973, but reemerged in 1988 with a new lineup featuring singer/guitarist McGuinn as the only original member. The Byrds have released twelve studio albums since their reunion albumfreedom (1988), including two Number 1 Billboard 200 albums: first self-titled album The Byrds(1989) which included their hit single “She Don’t Love Nobody”, followed by Again Again(1990) featuring “I Still Believe”.

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 experimented with several genres, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock, often incorporating classical elements in innovative ways. In 1963, their enormous popularity first emerged as “Beatlemania”; as the group’s music grew in sophistication, led by primary songwriters Lennon and McCartney, the band were integral to pop music’s evolution into an art form and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London, England, in 1962. The first stable line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar, vocals), Bill Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ian Stewart (piano). Stewart was removed from the official line-up in 1963 but continued to work with the band as a contracted musician until his death in 1985. The band’s primary songwriters, Jagger and Richards, assumed leadership after Andrew Loog Oldham became the group’s manager. Jones left the band less than a month before his death in 1969, having already been replaced by Mick Taylor, who remained until 1974. After Taylor left the band, Ronnie Wood took his place in 1975 and continues on guitar in tandem with Richards. Since Wyman’s departure in 1993, Darryl Jones has served as the main bassist.

The Stones were at the forefront of the British Invasion of bands that became popular in the United States in 1964. They established themselves as a premier live act with successful tours throughout the world during this period. recordings of songs such as “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Paint It Black” became international hits. During this time, they were first introduced on stage as “the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.” From 1983 to 1987, tensions between Jagger and Richards almost caused them to break up; however they managed to patch up their friendship after both had quit using drugs for good. They experienced a comeback with Steel Wheels (1989), followed by a large stadium and arena tour which was one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time by grossing $320 million. Since 2002 recording material has been less frequent; despite this hiatus their 2002–2005 Licks Tour was another massive success grossing $558 million dollars over its length.

In December 2016 it was reported that Jagger would undergo heart surgery which required rescheduling their upcoming Latin America tour dates; he successfully underwent surgery on 4 April 2017

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