Psychedelic Rock Vertreter: The Best of the Genre

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re a fan of psychedelic rock, then you know that there are a lot of great bands out there representing the genre. But who are the best of the best? In this blog post, we’ll countdown the top 10 psychedelic rock bands of all time.

Psychedelic Rock – Definition and Origins

Psychedelic rock, also known as acid rock, is a type of rock music that is inspired by or attempts to replicate the psychedelic experience. Psychedelic rock usually made use of long jams, distorted guitars, and mind-altering lyrics. The genre is often associated with the subculture of the 1960s counterculture, particularly the hippie subculture.

What is Psychedelic Rock?

Psychedelic rock is a musical genre that emerged in the late 1960s that was influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. The style is typified by electric guitars playing drone-like chords, keyboards creating hallucinogenic sound effects, extended soloing, and an overall trippy atmosphere.

Psychedelic rock developed out of the early British R&B and rock and roll scenes of the mid-1960s, when artists began experimenting with feedback, distorted guitars, and new studio techniques to create more mind-expanding sounds. The first wave of psychedelic bands included The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Cream, Donovan, and The Kinks. In the United States, Psychedelic Soul (sometimes called Funk or P-Funk) emerged out of the work of James Brown and Sly & The Family Stone. Other important American acts included Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Van Morrison’s band Them, Iron Butterfly, Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, Country Joe & The Fish Psychedelic bands often used illegal drugs such as LSD to achieve a heightened state of consciousness while performing or creating music. This “drug culture” aspect of psychedelia was later downplayed as the scene became more commercialized in the early 1970s.

Psychedelic rock reached its peak popularity in 1967 with releases such as Pink Floyd’s debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles. By 1968 however, much of the initial energy and innocence of the genre had dissipated, leading to a more cynical outlook characterized by artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. In the early 1970s acts such as David Bowie and Roxy Music took psychedelic sounds in new directions with a more theatrical approach; while others such as Alice Cooper brought elements of shock rock to the genre. Psychedelic rock became less popular in the late 1970s but was revived in the 1980s by neo-psychedelia bands such as Echo & The Bunnymen and Jesus & Mary Chain; while 1990s grunge groups such as Pearl Jam blended psychedelic sounds into their music. Psychedelic rock has also been an influence on subsequent genres including acid house, shoegaze, dream pop, space rock (often referred to as “psychadelic”), jam band (most notably Phish), ambient music (such as Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks album), post-rock (such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor), indie pop (such as Tame Impala) stoner metal/rock (such as Kyuss), neo-psychedelia (such as Animal Collective) ,and hip hop specifically West Coast G-funk (such as Dr Dre).

Where did Psychedelic Rock originate?

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as “acid rock” or simply “psychedelia”, is a style of rock music that became popular in the mid-1960s and reached its peak in the late 1960s. The style is largely influenced by Indian classical music and incorporates elements of Eastern religion and philosophy. Psychedelic rock is often associated with the use of psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, and is therefore sometimes referred to as “acid rock”.

The first psychedelic rock band was The Yardbirds, who released their debut album, Five Live Yardbirds, in 1964. The album featured the song “I’m a Man”, which contained lyrics that caused controversy due to their reference to drug use. The song’s success led to other bands recording psychedelic rock songs, such as The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, both of which were released on the album Revolver in 1966.

Psychedelic rock became increasingly popular in the late 1960s, with bands such as Pink Floyd, The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix Experience all releasing successful albums. The genre reached its peak in 1967-68, known as the “Summer of Love”, when bands such as The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane performed at the Monterey Pop Festival.

The popularity of psychedelic rock began to decline in the early 1970s, due to a number of factors including the demise of the hippie culture, increased law enforcement pressure on drug users, and a general feeling that the style had become overexposed. Nevertheless, some bands continued to record successful albums throughout the 1970s and beyond, including Led Zeppelin (whose album Physical Graffiti contained the psychedelic track “Kashmir”), Queen (whose album News of the World included the hit single “We Will Rock You”), and Aerosmith (whose album Toys in the Attic featured the classic track “Walk This Way”).

The Best Psychedelic Rock Bands

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. The genre originated in the mid-1960s with the British band The Smoke, and reached its peak in popularity in the late 1960s with bands such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and The Grateful Dead.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

The Jimi Hendrix Experience was an American-English rock band active in the late 1960s. Originally comprising singer-songwriter and guitarist Jimi Hendrix, bassist and backing vocalist Noel Redding, and drummer Mitch Mitchell, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Rolling Stone ranked the band’s 1967 debut album, Are You Experienced, among the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

The Experience was Hendrix’s first and only band during his lifetime; however, he maintained a close musical relationship with Redding, often jamming together even after the Experience disbanded. Despite having five studio albums released during their lifetime, they were only moderately successful in commercial terms; three of their most successful singles were “Hey Joe” (1967), “Purple Haze” (1967), and “All Along the Watchtower” (1968).

Pink Floyd

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as psychedelia, is a subgenre of rock music that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Musically, psychedelic rock incorporates a number of elements from other genres, including garage rock, blues, folk, and country. In addition, it is characterized by extended instrumentation, unusual recording techniques, and criticized for its perceived drug-related lyrical content.

Pink Floyd is one of the most well-known and respected psychedelic rock bands. Formed in 1965, the band achieved international success with their concept albums The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967), A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), Meddle (1971), and Dark Side of the Moon (1973). They are also renowned for their live performances, which often included extensive visual projections and light shows.

Other influential psychedelic rock bands include The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, The Byrds, and The Beatles.

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin was an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bass player and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. The band’s heavy, guitar-driven sound, rooted in blues and psychedelia on their early albums, has earned them recognition as one of the progenitors of heavy metal, though their unique style drew from a wide variety of influences, including folk music.

The Doors

The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore. They were among the most controversial and influential rock acts of the 1960s and 1970s, mostly because of Morrison’s lyrics and his erratic stage persona. After Morrison’s death in 1971 at age 27, the remaining members continued as a trio until finally disbanding in 1973.

Although the Doors’ active career ended in 1973, their popularity has persisted. The band has sold over 100 million records worldwide,[1] making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. In 2002, Beat magazine named them “the most pop culturally significant band of the past quarter century.”[2] In January 2015, the doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[3][4]

The Legacy of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock was a genre that emerged in the 1960s and quickly gained popularity with young people across the world. The genre is known for its use of drugs and exploration of transgressive themes.Psychedelic rock was a genre that challenged the status quo and paved the way for other genres of rock music.

How did Psychedelic Rock influence subsequent genres?

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as psychedelia, is a diverse style of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s. The genre is characterized by a distorted or extended guitar sound, repetitive structures, and often unconventional songwriting. It drew influences from many other genres of music, including folk, jazz, and blues.

Psychedelic rock was a major force in the development of subsequent genres such as acid rock, krautrock, and jam band. The genre also had a significant impact on fashion and pop culture. Psychedelic-inspired clothing and accessories became popular among young people in the 1960s and 1970s. The genre continues to influence music today.

What is the legacy of Psychedelic Rock?

Psychedelic rock, sometimes called simply “psychedelia”, is a style of rock music that incorporates musical and sonic elements of psychedelia, a subculture associated with the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline and DMT.

The genre arose during the mid-1960s among folk rock and blues rock bands in Britain and the United States. It reached its peak in popularity during the “Summer of Love” of 1967, when multimedia presentations and experimental films accompanied many performances by bands such as The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Psychedelic rock often uses distorted electric guitars, sitars, and other stringed instruments, played with feedback problems to create unique sound textures. Horns are also sometimes used as soloing instruments.

The genre is generally credited with being the first to bring significant changes to western pop music, helping to pave the way for genres such as punk rock, new wave and heavy metal. Psychedelic rock’s influence can also be found in other genres such as krautrock, jam band music and even disco.

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