Psychedelic Rock Bands That Use an Organ

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Psychedelic rock bands have been around since the 1960s, and they’re still going strong today. Here are some of the best psychedelic rock bands that use an organ in their music.

The Doors

The Doors were an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1965, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore, and guitarist Robby Krieger. The band got its name, at Morrison’s suggestion, from the title of Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception, which itself was a reference to a line in William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” They were unique and among the most influential and controversial rock bands of the 1960s, mostly because of Morrison’s lyrics and stage antics.

The Doors’ use of the organ

The Doors were one of the first psychedelic rock bands to use an organ as a primary instrument. The band’s use of the organ helped to create their signature sound and defined their music as being uniquely psychedelic.

The Doors’ use of the organ was not limited to just creating a psychedelic sound; the band also used the instrument to create elaborate and sometimes wacky sound effects. This helped to further distinguish their music from other psychedelia bands of the time.

The Doors’ sound

The Doors’ sound was rooted in the blues, but also incorporated elements of jazz, classical music, and Latin rhythms. Jim Morrison’s baritone vocals were complimented by the organ playing of Ray Manzarek, and the duo’s songwriting often reflected Morrison’s interest in the occult and drug use. The band’s sound was further shaped by the addition of guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore.

The Grateful Dead

One of the most influential psychedelic rock bands of all time, the Grateful Dead, made great use of the organ in their music. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was the Dead’s original organist and he brought a unique sound to the band’s music. Pigpen was known for his bluesy style of playing and he was an essential part of the Dead’s sound in the early years.

The Grateful Dead’s use of the organ

The Grateful Dead were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. Ranging from quintet to septet, the band is known for its eclectic style, which fused elements of folk, country, bluegrass, blues, reggae, rock, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock,[2][3] and for live performances of long musical improvised jams,[4] yet their studio albums were generally concise[clarification needed] songs.[5]

The Grateful Dead developed a devoted fan base known as “Deadheads,” who followed their tours. The band toured steadily until Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995. They achieved commercial success with a number of gold and platinum albums and Top 40 singles; their 1967 debut album The Grateful Dead was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012. The Grateful Dead was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and their box set The Warner Bros. Years was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Historical Album. In 2015 they were awarded a National Medal of Arts by then-President Barack Obama.[6][7][8]

One of the band’s most distinguishing features was their use of the Hammond B-3 organ played by Robbie Taylor or Tom Constanten during most of their live shows and recordings from 1968 onward.[9][10][11] Originally used primarily as a rhythm instrument during psychedelic jams,[12] it soon became one of the most important instruments in the Dead’s sound as improvisations became more song-like.[13]

The Grateful Dead’s sound

The Grateful Dead’s sound was unique for a rock band in that they made extensive use of both an electric and an acoustic guitar, as well as a bass, drums, and keyboards. One of the things that set them apart from other bands was their use of an organ. The organ was used to provide a countermelody to the lead guitar, as well as to add texture and interest to the band’s sound. The Grateful Dead were one of the first bands to experiment with using an organ in this way, and their sound became one of the defining elements of psychedelic rock.

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd is a psychedelic rock band that is known for their use of an organ in their music. The organ is a key part of their sound and it helps to create a unique atmosphere in their songs. Pink Floyd is a great example of a band that uses an organ to create a distinctive sound.

Pink Floyd’s use of the organ

Pink Floyd was one of the first psychedelic rock bands to use an organ. The band’s use of the instrument helped to create their signature sound. The organ was used to great effect on Pink Floyd’s early recordings, such as “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and “Ummagumma.” The band’s use of the organ continued on their later albums, such as “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “The Wall.”

Pink Floyd’s sound

Pink Floyd’s sound is marked by the use of innovative recording techniques, philosophically oriented lyrics, and extended compositions, particularly their early work. Barrett’s Syd-era compositions and Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma tracks “Sysyphus” and “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” are examples of avant-garde music within rock. The group also radically transformed the concert experience with their multimedia shows. Their work is often associated with the993 visuals that accompanied their live performances as well as elements from their cornucopia of album covers designed by Hipgnosis.

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