Top 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,


A list of the top Psychedelic Rock bands in San Francisco, including The Grateful Dead, The Jefferson Airplane, and The Steve Miller Band.

The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco. The band is known for its unique and experimental style, which blended elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, jazz, and space rock. They are considered one of the most influential bands of their time, and have been credited with helping to shape the San Francisco sound. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Jefferson Airplane

Some of the earliest and most influential bands of the psychedelic movement were based in San Francisco. The vibrant music scene of the 1960s and ‘70s included many different genres, but psychedelic rock was one of the most popular. From Jefferson Airplane to Grateful Dead, these are some of the best psychedelic rock bands from San Francisco.

Jefferson Airplane: One of the first and most successful psychedelic rock bands, Jefferson Airplane was formed in 1965 and released their debut album ‘Jefferson Airplane Takes Off’ the following year. Their 1967 album ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ is considered one of the defining records of the genre.

Grateful Dead: Another hugely influential band, Grateful Dead were closely associated with the counterculture movement of the 1960s. They released their debut album ‘The Grateful Dead’ in 1967, which featured their iconic song ‘Dark Star’.

Santana: Formed in 1966, Santana combined elements of Latin American music withpsychedelic rock to create a unique sound. Their 1969 debut album ‘Santana’ contained their breakthrough hit ‘Evil Ways’, which reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Quicksilver Messenger Service: One of the lesser-known bands on this list, Quicksilver Messenger Service was formed in 1965 and released their self-titled debut album in 1968. Although they never achieved mainstream success, they are revered by many fans of psychedelic rock for their lengthy improvisational jams.

Quicksilver Messenger Service

Quicksilver Messenger Service is considered one of the top psychedelic rock bands in San Francisco. Formed in 1965, the band was a key player in the region’s nascent psychedelic music scene. The band’s debut album, “Quicksilver Messenger Service”, is widely considered a classic of the genre and earned them a cult following. The band continued to release well-received albums throughout their career, but disbanded in 1975. In recent years, their music has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity, with many younger bands citing them as an influence.

The Great Society

The Great Society was a San Francisco-based psychedelic rock band active in the mid-1960s. The band was led by vocalist Grace Slick and keyboardist Darby Slick, and also featured guitarist David Minor, bassist Peter van Gelder, and drummer Jerryhand. The band’s music was characterized by its use of distorted guitars, feedback, and unconventional song structures.

The Great Society released two albums on the Columbia label, Face the Music (1965) and How It Was (1966). The band is best known for its association with Grace Slick, who would go on to join Jefferson Airplane in 1966. The Great Society disbanded in 1966, after which Grace Slick joined Jefferson Airplane.

Big Brother and the Holding Company

Formed in San Francisco in 1965, Big Brother and the Holding Company was one of the first bands to bring psychedelic rock to a mainstream audience. The band’s best-known lineup included singer Janis Joplin and guitarist Sam Andrew, both of whom went on to successful solo careers. Big Brother’s signature sound encompassed a wide range of influences, from blues and R&B to folk and country. The band’s 1967 album, Cheap Thrills, is considered one of the most important psychedelic rock records of all time.

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