Psychedelic Rock in Communist Countries: A Brief History

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

A brief history of Psychedelic Rock in Communist countries and how it influenced the music scene.


Psychedelic rock, also known as “acid rock” or “garage rock”, is a style of music that was popularized in the 1960s. The genre is characterized by its use of heavy distortion, feedback, and extended improvisation. Psychedelic rock began to fall out of favor in the 1970s, but it has seen a resurgence in recent years with the rise of “stoner rock” and “psychedelic metal”.

Psychedelic rock first emerged in communist countries such as the Soviet Union, China, and Yugoslavia in the late 1960s. In these countries, the genre was used as a form of political protest against the restrictive regimes. Psychedelic rock bands such as The Velvet Underground (USA), The Grateful Dead (USA), Pink Floyd (UK), and Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd (UK) were all highly influential in the development of the genre.

The first psychedelic rock band from a communist country was probably Zlatni Dečaci from Yugoslavia. Formed in 1966, the band combined elements of garage rock and psychedelia to create a sound that was both catchy and experimental. Zlatni Dečaci’s popularity led to them being featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 1968.

Since then, many other psychedelic rock bands have emerged from communist countries. Some notable examples include Kvambrani from Bulgaria, Rote Gitarren from East Germany, Plastic People of the Universe from Czechoslovakia, Spleen United from Denmark,and Pussy Riot from Russia.


Psychedelic rock, also called acid rock, is a style of rock music that was inspired by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. Psychedelic rock reached its peak popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and was associated with a number of fashion and lifestyle trends, such as the use of psychedelic drugs, free love, and expanded consciousness.

The Plastic People of the Universe

The Plastic People of the Universe were a Czechoslovak rock band that was active from 1968 to 1988. They were one of the most famous underground bands in Czechoslovakia, and their music was banned by the communist government.

The band’s name was inspired by a novel by Milan Kundera, The Joke, in which a character is sent to a labor camp for making a joke about the plastic people who make up the Communist Party.

The Plastic People’s music was heavily influenced by Western psychedelic rock and roll, and they were one of the first Czech bands to use electric guitars and drums. They also incorporated elements of jazz and classical music into their sound.

The band was persecuted by the communist government, and their music was banned from the airwaves. In 1976, six members of the band were arrested and imprisoned for “subversive activity.” The trial and imprisonment of the Plastic People became known as “thetrial of art.”

After the fall of communism in 1989, the Plastic People were able to release theirmusic officially, and they toured Europe and the United States. They continued to play together until 2001, when they finally disbanded.


In 1968, the Czechoslovakian government began a process of liberalization known as the Prague Spring. This led to a loosening of restrictions on cultural expression, and a wave of creativity swept the country. One of the most important and influential bands to emerge from this period was Garáž.

Garáž was formed in 1969 by Milan Hlavsa, Jiří Šlitr, and Vladimír Mišík. They were heavily influenced by western psychedelic rock bands such as The Doors, Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Cream. They quickly developed a loyal following among young Czechoslovakians who were hungering for something different from the staid, government-approved music that was being churned out by the state-run record label Supraphon.

Garáž’s first album, eponymously titled Garáž (1970), is considered one of the classic albums of Czechoslovakian rock music. It is a mind-bending mix of driving rhythms, searing guitar work, and trippy lyrics that transport the listener to another place entirely. The album was so popular that it was reissued four times over the next two years.

Sadly, Garáž only released one more album before dissolving in 1974 due to disagreements within the band. Their short time together left an indelible mark on Czechoslovakian culture, though, and their influence can still be felt today in the work of modern Czech bands like Kryštof and Nvmeri.

East Germany

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as acid rock or simply psychedelia, is a musical style associated with the subculture of psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD. The style is typified by a preoccupation with hallucinogenic experiences and drug-induced states, often manifested in traditional rock instrumentation.


Silly was a psychedelic rock band from East Germany. Formed in 1966, the band was one of the first East German bands to embrace the psychedelic sound. Though their music was banned by the communist government, the band became hugely popular among young people in East Germany. In 1968, the band released their debut album, Freak Out!, which featured the hit single “Ha Ha Ha.” The album was a huge success, and Silly quickly became one of the most popular bands in East Germany.

However, as the band’s popularity grew, so did the scrutiny of the communist government. In 1970, Silly was banned from performing and recording. Despite the ban, the band continued to perform underground, and their music continued to be popular among young people in East Germany. In 1989, following the fall of communism in East Germany, Silly reformed and released a comeback album, Smile. The album was a huge success, and Silly remains one of the most popular bands in Germany today.


Rammstein is a German rock band from Berlin, formed in 1994. The band consists of six members: lead vocalist Till Lindemann, guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe, bassist Oliver “Ollie” Riedel, drummer Christoph “Doom” Schneider, and keyboardists Christian “Flake” Lorenz and Paul Landers. Rammstein’s live shows are renowned for their pyrotechnic elements and theatrics.

The band rose to prominence with their debut album, Herzeleid (1995), which topped the German albums chart upon its release. Their next album, Sehnsucht (1997), also debuted at number one in Germany and did likewise internationally. To date, Rammstein has released seven studio albums, three live albums, and four video albums. They have sold over 90 million records worldwide


When it comes to psychedelic rock, few countries have as much of a rich and varied history as Poland. From the early days of psych rock in the 1960s to the more recent resurgence in popularity, Poland has always had a strong scene. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at the history of psychedelic rock in Poland.


In 1967, the Polish band Niebiesko-Czarni became the first in the Eastern Bloc to release a psychedelic rock song with their track “Niebo z pianą” (“Heaven with Foam”). Ryszard Siwiec, the group’s manager, had been inspired by a 1966 trip to London where he saw The Beatles and The Who perform. Despite the fact that rock music was officially banned in Poland at the time, Niebiesko-Czarni’s single was a big hit, selling over 100,000 copies.

The success of “Niebo z pianą” led to a number of other Polish bands releasing psychedelic rock songs, including Czerwone Gitary (Red Guitars) and SBB. These bands were able to find an audience despite the government’s attempts to suppress them; for example, Czerwone Gitary’s concerts were often raided by the police and their albums were smuggled into the country.

The popularity of psychedelic rock in Poland continued into the 1970s with bands like Kierunek Berlin (Berlin Direction) and Dżem. In 1977, Dżem released their album “Jam”, which featured the track “Whisky”. The song became a huge hit in Poland and helped to cement Dżem’s reputation as one of the leading psychedelic rock bands in the country.

However, by the late 1970s, punk rock was beginning to gain popularity in Poland and many of the country’s psychedelic rock bands started to change their sound. As a result, psychedelic rock began to decline in popularity and it was no longer as prevalent in Poland by the 1980s.


Formed in Warsaw in 1981, Tilt was one of the first Polish bands to embrace a distinctly Western sound. Influenced by the likes of Joy Division, Talking Heads, and Television, the group developed a dark, atmospheric sound that quickly gained them a following in Poland’s underground music scene. Despite their popularity, Tilt were never able to achieve mainstream success due to the restrictions placed on them by the Communist government. In 1985, the band was forced to change their name to avoid being banned outright; they chose the less-than-subtle moniker “Tylko We Wloszech Graja Lepiej” (“Only in Italy Do They Play Better”), which translates roughly to “Fuck the Communists.”

Tilt continued to produce new music throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, despite growing frustration with the censoriousness of the authorities. In 1991, they released their most political album to date, “Kompania Braci,” which included such songs as “Komunistyczna Milosc” (“Communist Love”) and “Rewolucja” (“Revolution”). The album was a big success in Poland’s underground music scene, but it also attracted the attention of the country’s censors; several members of the band were arrested and questioned by the secret police after its release.

Despite these setbacks, Tilt remained one of Poland’s most popular underground bands throughout the early 1990s. They continued to experiment with their sound, incorporating elements of jazz and avant-garde music into their increasingly eclectic style. In 1995, they released their final album, “Transmissions from Underground,” which was widely praised by critics but failed to find a wider audience. The band disbanded soon afterwards.


Psychedelic rock enjoyed a brief moment of popularity in socialist Yugoslavia during the late 1960s. The trend was started by a band from Belgrade called Smak, who combined hard rock with elements of psychedelia. The band’s popularity spurred other groups to experiment with similar sounds, and soon psychedelic rock became a fixture on the Yugoslav rock scene. However, the trend was short-lived; by the early 1970s, most Yugoslav bands had abandoned psychedelia in favor of more traditional rock sounds.


The Yugoslavian band Smak are one of the most important and influential rock bands to come out of the former Yugoslavia. Formed in 1971, the band became a major force in the Yugoslavian music scene with their mix of hard rock, blues, and psychedelia. They were one of the first Yugoslavian bands to sign with a major label and release an album outside of Yugoslavia.

Smak’s self-titled debut album was released in 1974 and was an instant hit in Yugoslavia. The album combined elements of hard rock, blues, and psychedelia to create a sound that was unique to the Yugoslavian music scene. Smak quickly became one of the most popular bands in Yugoslavia and began touring extensively throughout the country.

In 1975, Smak released their second album, Kako je sada?, which was even more successful than their debut. The album featured longer and more complex songs that showcased the band’s musicianship. Kako je sada? solidified Smak’s position as one of the leading bands in Yugoslavia and helped to spark a resurgence in interest in psychedelic rock in the country.

Smak continued to release successful albums throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1982, they released their fourth album, Bitanga i princeza, which was their most commercially successful release. The album featured a more pop-oriented sound and spawned several hit singles, including “Bitanga i princeza” and “Ljubav je samo reč”.

Bitanga i princeza marked a change in direction for Smak, who began moving away from their harder rocking roots and towards a more pop-oriented sound. This change in direction proved to be unpopular with some fans, but Smak remained one of the most popular bands in Yugoslavia throughout the 1980s.

The collapse of communism in Yugoslavia in 1991 led to a decline in interest in Smak’s brand of pop-oriented rock music. The band continued to release albums throughout the 1990s, but they failed to regain their former popularity. In 2001, Smak decided to call it quits after 30 years together.

Bijelo Dugme

One of the most popular and well-known Yugoslavian bands of the 1970s was Bijelo Dugme. The band’s music was a mix of hard rock, blues, and folk, with lyrics that were often sharp social commentary. They were particularly known for their live performances, which were full of energy and often featured extensive improvised sections.


Psychedelic rock music flourished in many Communist countries during the 1960s and 1970s despite the fact that the genre was often seen as a symbol of Western cultural imperialism. In some cases, such as Czechoslovakia, psychedelic rock bands were actively encouraged by the government as a way to assert the country’s cultural independence from the West. In other cases, like Poland and Hungary, underground psychedelic rock scenes developed in opposition to the dominant regime.

Regardless of their relationship to the government, psychedelic rock bands in Communist countries faced a number of challenges, including censorship and lack of access to Western musical resources. Nonetheless, they persevered, developing their own distinctive takes on the genre that continue to influence musicians today.

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