Psychedelic Rock Bands of the 80s

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Psychedelic rock was a popular genre in the 1980s, and many great bands made their mark during that time. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the best psychedelic rock bands of the 80s.

The Psychedelic Furs

The Psychedelic Furs were one of the most successful and influential bands of the 1980s. They were fronted by singer/songwriter Richard Butler and his brother Tim on guitars. The band’s sound was a unique blend of punk energy, new wave pop hooks, and edgy post-punk dynamics. The Furs scored several hits in the UK and US with songs like “Love My Way,” “Pretty in Pink,” and “The Ghost in You.” They continued to be a popular live act until their dissolution in 1991.

Echo & the Bunnymen

Echo & the Bunnymen are an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1978. The original line-up consisted of singer Ian McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant and bass player Les Pattinson, supplemented by a drum machine. By 1979, Pete de Freitas had joined as the band’s drummer. They released their debut album, Crocodiles, in July 1980 and had their first UK Top 40 hit with “The Puppet”. The band shifted gears with their next album, Heaven Up Here (1981), which reached the Top Ten and resulted in several singles, including “All My Colours”, which peaked at No. 9 in the UK Singles Chart.

The band’s next two albums Ocean Rain (1984) and Echo & the Bunnymen (1987), were also commercial successes. The 1984 single “The Killing Moon” appeared on the soundtrack to the film Don’t Look Now and helped to bring them some mainstream attention; it peaked at No. 11 on the UK chart and No. 2 on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart. In 1988, de Freitas was killed in a motorcycle accident; Sergeant and McCulloch recruited former Stiltskin drummer Noel Burke for 1989’s Reverb Conspiracy EP and 1990’s self-titled album before Pattinson rejoined later that year. The 1990s saw a series of changes in personnel: Burke was replaced by Rob Crafton; Sergeant left to form Artificial Joy Club while Pattinson took over full-time guitar duties; porl Thompson briefly joined as a fourth guitarist during live performances; and keyboardist Nigel Ipince left following 1994’s Luna.

1999’s What Are You Going to Do with Your Life? marked a return to commercial success for Echo & the Bunnymen; it was followed by Flowers (2001), Siberia (2005), The Fountain (2009) and Meteorites (2014). Ian McCulloch has remained the primary singer-songwriter throughout Echo & the Bunnymen’s history; other notable members have included lead guitarists Will Sergeant (1978–1988) and Porl Thompson (1990–1993), as well as drummers Pete de Freitas (), who died aged 27 in 1989 following a motorcycle accident, Rob Crafton () and Noel Burke ().

The Cult

The Cult is a British rock band formed in 1982. The band gained a devoted following in Britain during the mid-1980s as a post-punk/gothic rock band. The current lineup includes vocalist Ian Astbury, guitarist Billy Duffy, bassist Chris Wyse, drummer John Tempesta and keyboardist Damon Johnson. They released their debut album Dreams of Millenium Dawn in November 1983. The album was poorly received by critics and failed to chart. After signing with Beggars Banquet Records, they released their second album Electric in 1987 to commercial and critical success. The single “Love Removal Machine” became a top 40 hit in several countries.

Siouxsie and the Banshees

Siouxsie and the Banshees were an English rock band, formed in London in 1976 by Siouxsie Sioux and Steven Severin. Initially associated with the punk rock scene, the band rapidly evolved to create “a form of post-punk discord full of daring rhythmic and sonic experimentation”. With their first hit single, “Hong Kong Garden”, reaching the top 10 in the UK charts in 1978, they became an important influence on the emerging gothic rock scene.

The Banshees recorded 11 studio albums between 1981 and 1996, releasing 27 UK Top 40 singles, beginning with “Spellbound” in 1981. The band suffered a number of line-up changes throughout its career, with Siouxsie and Severin being the only constant members. They disbanded in 1996 after Siouxxie left to pursue a solo career; however, they reunited for one final show in 2002.

The Banshees are considered one of the most influential bands of the 1980s. Their music was described as dark and challenging, dealing with topics such as religion, mental illness, child abuse and love gone wrong. They were also praised for their use of bold musical experimentation, often using unconventional time signatures and structures.

The Cure

The Cure is a British rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex, in 1976. The band has experienced several line-up changes, with vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Robert Smith being the only constant member. The Cure first began releasing music in the form of singles in the late 1970s. The band’s debut album was Three Imaginary Boys (1979) and this, along with several early singles, placed the band as part of the post-punk and new wave movements that had started to shape the United Kingdom music scene of the time.

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