The Best Psychedelic Rock Bands in San Francisco

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


San Francisco is home to some of the best psychedelic rock bands in the world. From the Grateful Dead to the Jefferson Airplane, these bands have defined an entire genre of music. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the best psychedelic rock bands in San Francisco.

The Grateful Dead

No band is more associated with the San Francisco Sound and the psychedelic scene that developed there in the mid- to late 1960s than the Grateful Dead. The band’s music was inspired by a wide variety of sources, including blues, folk, country, and rockabilly, and they integrated these influences into a unique and distinctive style that made them one of the most popular live bands of their era. The Dead’s improvisational approach to their music was a major factor in their popularity; fans never knew what they were going to play next, and each performance was a unique experience. The band’s legendary live shows were often enhanced by the use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs, which added to the feeling of spontaneity and adventure.

The Jefferson Airplane

The Jefferson Airplane was a psychedelic rock band formed in San Francisco in 1965. The group was one of the pioneers of the psychedelic sound and their landmark 1967 album, Surrealistic Pillow, is considered one of the defining works of the genre. The Airplane continued to be a touring and recording force into the 1970s, when they experienced a series of lineup changes and internal turmoil that led to their eventual dissolution.

Quicksilver Messenger Service

Quicksilver Messenger Service is often considered one of the pioneers of the psychedelic rock sound. Formed in San Francisco in 1965, the band was heavily influenced by the Grateful Dead and often performed with them in the early days. Quicksilver’s music was characterized by extended jams and multi-layered guitar work, and they were one of the first bands to truly experiment with mixing different genres like blues, country, and Eastern music. The band released several acclaimed albums in their short time together, including their 1968 debut album ” Adamantium.” They disbanded in 1974 but have since reunited for occasional tours.

Big Brother and the Holding Company

Big Brother and the Holding Company is a San Francisco psychedelic rock band that was active in the 1960s. The band is best known for their association with Janis Joplin, who was the lead singer of the band from 1966 to 1968. Big Brother and the Holding Company’s music is characterized by a heavy blues influence, as well as a heavier sound than many of their contemporaries.

The Great Society

The Great Society was a San Francisco-based psychedelic rock band active in the mid-1960s, led by singer Grace Slick and guitarist Darby Slick. The band also featured bassist Jerry Scheff and drummer Don Stevenson. They were one of the first bands to be signed to Bill Graham’s Fillmore Records label. The Great Society’s music was influenced by world music, such as Indian ragas and East Asian rhythms, as well as Western classical music. Their best-known song is “Somebody to Love”, which was later covered by Jefferson Airplane.

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