The Band That Killed Psychedelic Rock

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The Band That Killed Psychedelic Rock is a new book by journalist Dan Epstein. It’s a fascinating look at how the popular music genre was destroyed by the very people who created it.

The Birth of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock, often called simply psychedelic rock or psych rock, is a style of rock music that attempted to replicate the effects of psychedelic drugs. It often used new recording techniques and effects, such as feedback and distortion, created a new musical style.

The Beatles and the British Invasion

In 1964, the Beatles came to America and started the British Invasion. The band’s arrival had a profound and lasting effect on the development of psychedelic rock. The Beatles were not the only British band to make an impact on American popular culture, but they were by far the most popular and influential during the 1960s.

The Beatles’ first album, Please Please Me, was released in 1963 and quickly rose to the top of the charts in both Britain and America. The album featured a number of songs with psychedelic elements, including “I Saw Her Standing There,” “She Loves You,” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” These songs would serve as examples for other bands looking to create their own psychedelic sound.

The band’s popularity continued to grow with each successive release. In 1965, they released their second album, With The Beatles, which included the song “Yesterday.” This song, written by Paul McCartney, featured a more personal and introspective lyrical style that would become synonymous with psychedelic music.

The Beatles’ third album, A Hard Day’s Night, was released in 1964 and showcased the band’s increasingly sophisticated songwriting ability. The album included the song “A Day In The Life,” which contained one of the most famous uses of backward masking in popular music. The backwards message at the end of the song, when played forwards, says “Turn me on dead man.” This phrase would later be used as an homage to John Lennon by George Harrison on his 1974 solo album Dark Horse.

The Beatles’ fourth album, Beatles For Sale, was released in 1964 and contained a number of songs with drug references, including “Doctor Robert” and “I’m Only Sleeping.” These songs further cemented the connection between psychedelia and mind-altering substances.

The release of Rubber Soul in 1965 marked a turning point for the band sonically. The album featured a more mature lyrical style and a more experimental approach to sound production. This new direction was continued on Revolver, which was released in 1966 and is widely considered to be one of the greatest albums ever made. Revolver featured a number of classic psychedelic songs like “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Yellow Submarine.”

The Beatles’ final studio album, Abbey Road, was released in 1969 and contained some of their most overtly psychedelic material. The album included such classics as “Come Together,” “Because,” and “Here Comes The Sun.” Abbey Road would be the last time John Lennon would record with the band before his untimely death in 1980.

The San Francisco Sound

The San Francisco Sound refers to rock music performed live and recorded by San Francisco-based rock groups of the mid-1960s to early 1970s. It was associated with the counterculture of the time and was distinguished by its extended compositions,towering amplifier feedback, eclectic tastes in non-rock music, use of drugs and activism, and elaborate live shows.

The San Francisco sound was nevertheless influential far beyond the Bay Area. Psychedelic rock bands from all over the world, including the United Kingdom and United States, adopted many of its innovations. The genre’s worldwide popularity led to a “British invasion” of San Francisco in 1967, when British bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Cream visited to play at the Fillmore Auditorium and other venues.

The Death of Psychedelic Rock

The band didn’t actually kill psychedelic rock. It was the sound that did it. Psychedelic rock was dying a slow, painful death by the time the band came along. The band just expedited its demise.

The demise of the Haight-Ashbury scene

The Haight-Ashbury scene, which was the epicenter of the American psychedelic rock movement in the 1960s, began to lose its luster in the early 1970s. By 1974, many of the seminal psychedelic rock bands had disbanded or relocated, and the Fillmore West, one of the most famous concert venues associated with the genre, closed its doors for good.

The death of psychedelic rock can be traced back to a number of factors, including the commercialization of the music industry, changing attitudes about drug use, and increasing opposition from law enforcement. The end of the Vietnam War also played a role, as many young people who had been drafted into military service returned home from overseas and lost interest in the countercultural lifestyle.

Whatever the reasons for its demise, psychedelic rock left a lasting legacy on popular music. The distinct sound and style of this genre inspired subsequent generations of musicians, and its influence can still be heard in today’s music.

The end of the Summer of Love

At the end of the Summer of Love in 1967, two very different bands released debut albums that would come to define opposite ends of the psychedelic rock spectrum. The Jimi Hendrix Experience unleashed ‘Are You Experienced’, a mind-blowing assault of feedback, fuzz and pure unadulterated sonic mayhem. The Grateful Dead followed up with ‘The Grateful Dead’, a laid-back collection of folk and blues tunes infused with just the right amount of acid-drenched weirdness. From that point on, Hendrix and the Dead came to personify two very different approaches to making psychedelic music.

Hendrix was all about excess and pushing the limits of what could be done with an electric guitar. He approached his instrument like a wild animal, taming it with his virtuosic chops and then setting it loose to run riot in a sonic landscape of feedback, distortion and pure unadulterated noise. His playing was so over-the-top that it often verged on self-parody, but there was always a sense that he was in complete control of his madness. He was the undisputed king of psychedelic rock.

The Grateful Dead, on the other hand, took a more relaxed and organic approach to making music. They explored uncharted territory with their extended jams, but always managed to keep one foot planted firmly in the tradition of American folk and blues music. Their music never felt like it was going off the rails; even at their most psychedelic moments, there was always a sense of solid musicianship and tight interplay between the band members. They may not have had Hendrix’s virtuosic chops, but they more than made up for it with their ability to transport listeners to another place entirely with their extended jams.

In retrospect, it’s clear that Hendrix and the Dead represented two different sides of the same coin. One could argue that Hendrix killed psychedelic rock with his excesses, while the Dead kept it alive with their more organic approach. But ultimately, both bands made essential contributions to the development of one of rock’s most fascinating subgenres.

The Legacy of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a music genre that is often misunderstood. It is not simply music that makes you feel “stoned” or “trippy.” Rather, it is a genre that is marked by its use of extended improvisation, experimental soundscapes, and often, political lyrics. The band that killed psychedelic rock was the Grateful Dead.

The influence of psychedelic rock on subsequent genres

Psychedelic rock, also referred to as acid rock, is a subgenre of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s and reached its peak popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The genre is generally characterized by distorted guitars, druggy lyrics, and extended improvisation sessions.

Psychedelic rock was a major force in shaping the course of popular music in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix were all highly influential in the development of psychedelic rock. However, it was the band that killed psychedelic rock, Cream, who may have had the biggest impact on subsequent genres.

Cream’s 1968 album Wheels of Fire is often cited as the beginning of the end for psychedelic rock. The album featured a more heavy metal sound than previous psychedelic records and became one of the first mainstream popular music albums to do so. This heavier sound would go on to great popularity in the 1970s with bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

While some argue that Cream’s sound signaled a return to more traditional hard rock values after the excesses of psychedelia, others contend that their innovations laid the groundwork for subsequent developments in heavy metal. Whatever one’s opinion on the matter, there is no doubt that Cream was a major influence on both psychedelic rock and heavy metal music.

The enduring popularity of psychedelic rock

Despite its reputation as a relic of the past, psychedelic rock remains popular today, with various bands continuing to experiment with the genre’s sound. While some groups have simply copied the style of their predecessors, others have taken a more innovative approach, creating new sounds that still retain the essence of what made psychedelic rock so intriguing in the first place.

Psychedelic rock first gained popularity in the 1960s, when bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones began experimenting with drugs like LSD and marijuana. These substances had a profound effect on the music of the time, causing artists to explore new sonic territory. Psychedelic rock soon spread beyond its British and American origins, with groups in countries like Japan and Brazil began creating their own unique takes on the sound.

Today, there are numerous bands that count psychedelic rock as one of their primary influences. American groups like Tame Impala and The Growlers have built careers off of their nostalgic take on the genre, while Australian outfit King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have garnered acclaim for their more experimental approach. No matter what form it takes, it’s clear that psychedelic rock still has a place in today’s music landscape.

Similar Posts