The 10 Best Psychedelic Rock Bands of All Time

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Here are the 10 best psychedelic rock bands of all time, as decided by you, the readers! These bands have been nominated by you and voted on by you, so make sure to check them out if you’re a fan of psychedelic rock music!

The Beatles

1. The Beatles – They are, quite simply, the greatest and most influential band of all time. Without them, there would be no Rolling Stones, no Led Zeppelin, no Pink Floyd… and maybe even no Rock and Roll at all. From the early days of their career playing Hamburg’s seedy Star Club to their last live performance on the roof of Abbey Road Studios, they were always innovators, always pushing the envelope both musically and lyrically.

2. Pink Floyd – Like The Beatles, Pink Floyd was a band that just kept getting better and better as they went along. With a string of classic albums like “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” “Meddle,” “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall,” they became one of the most successful and influential bands in history.

3. The Rolling Stones – With their raw blues-influenced sound, The Rolling Stones were one of the key bands in the development of psychedelic rock. They released a string of classic albums in the 1960s including “Beggars Banquet,” “Let it Bleed” and “Exile on Main Street” that are considered among the greatest rock albums ever made.

4. Led Zeppelin – Another band that took the blues as their foundation, Led Zeppelin created a heavier, more psychedelic sound that would come to dominate rock music in the 1970s. Albums like “Led Zeppelin IV” and “Physical Graffiti” are essential listening for any fan of rock music.

5. The Doors – One of the most controversial bands of all time, The Doors combined blues, jazz and classical influences to create a unique brand of psychedelic rock that was both dark and atmospheric. Lead singer Jim Morrison’s enigmatic persona and poetic lyrics helped create some of rock’s most unforgettable moments.

6. Jimi Hendrix – Jimi Hendrix was without doubt one of the greatest guitarists in history and his short-lived but highly influential band redefined what could be done with the electric guitar. Albums like “Are You Experienced?” And “Axis: Bold as Love” are essential listening for any fan of psychedelic rock.

7.(The) Grateful Dead – One of the most important bands in creating the Grateful Dead’s unique sound was Jerry Garcia’s creative approach to playing lead guitar which often involved playing two parts at once or using feedback to create new sounds.” Their sprawling jams often took on a life of their own live onstage, leading many fans to see them as much as a community or family as a band.” Garcia’s playful yet masterful approach to his instrument helped make The Grateful Dead one of psychedelia’s defining bands.” He is truly missed.”

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 their 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’s complex creative process often resulted in fractures within the group; as they frequently disagreed about the direction of their music.

Love re-formed the group along with Bruce Johnston in 1985 for a reunion tour and recorded new material with them for a 2006 album called That’s Why God Made the Radio.

The Doors

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

Although the Doors’ active career ended in 1973, Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore reunited in 2000 for a one-off performance to celebrate their 30th anniversary. The band has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and their recordings are preserved in the United States National Recording Registry. In 2015, a fixed lineup featuring two new members was announced for a U.S. summer tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of the band’s debut album.

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd was founded in 1965 and is one of the most successful and influential psychedelic rock bands of all time. They achieved mainstream success with their second album, atoms, but it was their third album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, that truly cemented their place in psychedelic history. The Piper is a masterpiece of psychedelic rock, blending elements of jazz, classical music, and experimental sound collages. It is one of the most essential psychedelic albums ever made.

The Grateful Dead

No band is more synonymous with the psychedelic experience than the Grateful Dead. Forming in the San Francisco bay area in the mid 1960’s, the Dead were originally a folk rock band heavily influenced by the bluegrass and country music they heard growing up. It wasn’t until they met Ken Kesey, author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and a major figure in the early days of LSD use, that they began to experiment with mind-altering substances themselves and incorporate them into their music. The rest, as they say, is history. The Dead’s long, improvised jams featuring their trademark “wall of sound” made them one of the most popular concert acts of all time, and their influence can still be felt today in the jam bands that continue to carry on their tradition.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

The Jimi Hendrix Experience was an American-English rock band that formed in London in 1966. The group was active until 1969 and featured Jimi Hendrix on lead guitar, Noel Redding on bass, and Mitch Mitchell on drums. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

The Experience was the first psychedelic rock group to achieve widespread commercial success, and their 1967 album Are You Experienced became one of the most influential debuts in rock music history. Hendrix’s virtuosic technique, combined with his eclectic approach to songwriting and arrangement, laid the foundation for much of electric rock and blues rock. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

The Kinks

The Kinks are an English rock band formed in Muswell Hill, North London, in 1964 by brothers Ray and Dave Davies. They are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960s. The band emerged during the height of British rhythm and blues and Merseybeat, and were briefly part of the British Invasion of the US until their American success peaked with “You Really Got Me” in 1964. Their third single, the Ray Davies-penned “All Day and All of the Night”, became an international hit in 1965.

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin is often cited as one of the progenitors of psychedelic rock, particularly thanks to their classic song “Stairway to Heaven.” The band’s use of distorted guitars and drum effects helped to create the signature sound of psychedelic rock. Led Zeppelin’s approach to music was also influenced by Eastern music, which added to the psychedelic feel of their songs.

The Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground was an American rock band formed in New York City in 1964 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 notable for its mixed genres, often crossing between rock, pop, experimental music, and garage rock.

The Who

The Who is an English rock band which formed in 1964. The primary lineup consisted of lead vocalist Roger Daltrey, guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend, bassist 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’s signature sound was a blend of Moon’s powerful drumming style, Townshend’s distinctive rhythm guitar playing, Entwistle’s melodic bass lines, and Daltrey’s dynamic lead vocals.

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