The 5 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,


Psychedelic rock is a genre of music that first came to prominence in the 1960s. It is characterized by its use of distorted guitars, trippy sound effects, and mind-bending lyrical themes.

While there are many great psychedelic rock bands out there, these five are the best of the best. So sit back, turn on some tunes, and enjoy a trip down memory lane.

The Beatles

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. They became the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed act in the history of popular music. They are frequently cited as the greatest and most influential band of all time.With a line-up comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are commonly known as the Fab Four. The Beatles built their reputation playing clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg over a three-year period from 1960 onwards, gaining a following as a garage band before they achieved international mega-stardom with their 1964 recordings of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You”.

The Beatles were pioneers in many areas of pop music, including songwriting, vocal harmonies, sound recording techniques and studio techniques. They also popularised the use of feedback and distortion with their guitars on “I Feel Fine” (1964) and “She’s a Woman” (1964), two songs which made innovative use of feedback respectively by using an incorrectly connected guitar amplifier and by smashing Paul McCartney’s bass guitar against an amplifier.

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys are an American rock band made up of brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Formed in 1961, they are often cited as the preeminentilled psychedelic pop band of the early 1960s. The Beach Boys ended up being more influential to later generations than to their own: by the time Psychedelia became a full-blown cultural phenomenon in 1967, the Beach Boys were no longer involved with it.

The Doors

Formed in Los Angeles in 1965, The Doors were one of the most influential and controversial rock bands of the 1960s. The band was composed of lead singer and songwriter Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore.

The Doors’ debut album, The Doors, was released in 1967 and featured their signature song “Light My Fire.” The album was a commercial success, reaching number two on the Billboard 200 chart. The band’s follow-up album, Strange Days, was released in 1967 and reached number three on the Billboard 200.

The Doors’ third album, Waiting for the Sun, was released in 1968 and reached number one on the Billboard 200. The album included the singles “Hello, I Love You” and “Touch Me.”

The band’s fourth album, The Soft Parade, was released in 1969 and reached number six on the Billboard 200. The album included the single “Tell All the People.”

The Doors’ fifth and final studio album, Morrison Hotel, was released in 1970 and reached number four on the Billboard 200. The album included the singles “Roadhouse Blues” and “L.A. Woman.”

Pink Floyd

The legendary Pink Floyd needs no introduction. One of the most influential and commercially successful psychedelic bands of all time, Pink Floyd’s 1973 album, “The Dark Side of the Moon,” is one of the best-selling albums of all time. Other notable albums include “Wish You Were Here” (1975) and “The Wall” (1979).

The Grateful Dead

No band exemplifies the hippie counterculture and the psychedelic jam band movement better than the Grateful Dead. TheSan Francisco-based band was founded in 1965 by Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Phil Lesh, and Bill Kreutzmann. The Dead were known for their original songs like “Casey Jones,” “Friend of the Devil,” “Sugar Magnolia,” and “Touch of Grey,” as well as their lengthy improvised jams. They also popularized many traditional songs like “Mama Tried,” “Big River,” and “Iko Iko.” The Grateful Dead toured relentlessly throughout their career and were one of the most successful touring bands of all time. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

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