Totally 60s: Psychedelic Rock at the BBC

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The Psychedelic Rock Movement

Psychedelic rock, also commonly referred to as simply “psychedelia”, is a subgenre of rock music that incorporates sonic elements of psychedelic music.Psychedelic rock developed in the United Kingdom and the United States during the mid-1960s. The genre is generally characterized by electronically enhanced instrumentation and by the use of feedback and various sound effects.

The Beatles’ influence

Although The Beatles had experimented with acetates and demos of psychedelic-tinged songs as early as 1965, their official foray into the genre came with their landmark album, Revolver. The record contained several songs that were drenched in the newly popular sound, most notably “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “Taxman,” and “Eleanor Rigby.” The album’s release in August 1966 coincided with LSD becoming illegal in the UK, which only added to the drug’s allure. The Beatles’ use of sitars and varioussound effects on Revolver also inspired many other British bands to experiment with regional music from India and the Far East.

The Rolling Stones’ influence

The Rolling Stones were a British rock band that formed in London in 1962. The first stable line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar, vocals), Bill Wyman (bass) and Charlie Watts (drums). Veteran musician Ian Stewart was a frequent collaborator with the band until his death in 1985. Brian Jones was the original leader of the group. The band rose to prominence in the United Kingdom during the mid-1960s and developed a following in the United States.

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s, characterized by sonic experimentation and extended improvisation. The genre is generally associated with a set of artists who used psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and mescaline to experientially enhance their performances. Psychedelic rock often sought to replicate or enhance the experience of altered states of consciousness, such as those produced by LSD or psilocybin mushrooms.

In 1965, The Rolling Stones began dabbling with psychedelic sounds on their album Out of Our Heads. The following year they released Their Satanic Majesties Request, which featured experimental production techniques like reverse tapes and sound effects added to existing tracks. Despite its commercial failure, the album’s influence can be heard on later works by Pink Floyd and The Beatles.

The Doors’ influence

The Doors were an American rock band which formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1965. The group consisted of Jim Morrison (vocals), Ray Manzarek (keyboards), John Densmore (drums) and Robby Krieger (guitar). They were one of the most controversial and influential rock acts of the 1960s, mostly because of Morrison’s lyrics and on-stage antics, which included a propensity for indecency and simulating orgasms.

The band released eight studio albums between 1967 and 1971. All of their studio albums were co-produced by Bruce Botnick, who also worked as their engineer for all but their debut album. The first two albums, The Doors and Strange Days, were highly successful and contained their two biggest hits: “Light My Fire” and “People Are Strange”. After the release of their third album Waiting for the Sun, critical acclaim steadily increased but sales continued to decline; 1968’s Soft Parade was the first Doors album to miss the top ten of the Billboard 200 chart. By 1969, Morrison had become a self-destructive alcoholic; he would often drink excessively before performing, frequently becoming belligerent towards audience members and sometimes wandering off stage mid-concert.

In early 1970, the band released Morrison Hotel, which returned them to commercial success with the hit singles “Love Her Madly” and “Riders on the Storm”. Shortly afterwards, Morrison was diagnosed with what was assumed to be hepatitis; he died two years later in Paris at the age of 27 from heart failure brought on by his years of substance abuse. After his death, remaining members Densmore and Krieger continued as a duo before recruiting Manzarek’s brother Ricky as a replacement keyboardist in 1974; they recorded three more albums before disbanding in 1978.

The BBC and Psychedelic Rock

The BBC has always been on the forefront of music, and they were no different when it came to psychedelic rock. The BBC allowed bands like Pink Floyd and The Grateful Dead to reach a wider audience, and they were also able to experiment with their sound without having to worry about offending anyone. Psychedelic rock at the BBC was a time when music was changing and the BBC was at the forefront of it all.

The BBC’s support of the genre

In the late 1960s, the BBC completely changed its approach to pop music. The corporation had long been accused of ignoring contemporary trends, and in 1967 the BBC’s head of music William Glock instigated a major review, which resulted in sweeping changes. Pop music was no longer considered a passing fad, and the BBC committed itself to covering it in all its forms. Radio 1 was launched in September 1967 as a dedicated pop music station, while popularshows such as Top of the Pops were given greater prominence on television.

One area that the BBC particularly embraced was psychedelic rock. This was a genre that was characterised by its use of mind-altering drugs, lavish production values and extended jams, and it was pioneered by bands such as Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues and The Incredible String Band. The BBC gave these bands regular airtime on both radio and television, and in doing so helped to legitimise them in the eyes of a sceptical mainstream audience.

On radio, John Peel became an important champion of psychedelic rock; he regularly played tracks by Pink Floyd, Soft Machine and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd on his show Top Gear (later rebranded as The Sunday Show). Roger Scott also championed the genre on his show Sounds of the Seventies (later rebranded as Sounds of the 80s).

The BBC also broadcast numerous live concerts by psychedelic rock bands. In 1968, they televised a spectacular performance by Pink Floyd at London’s Roundhouse, which featured elaborate set pieces such as an inflatable pink pig floating above the audience. This concert was later released commercially as Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii. In 1971, they televised another landmark performance, this time by The Moody Blues at the Edinburgh International Festival. This concert featured an orchestra and choir, and it included renditions of some of The Moody Blues’ most iconic tracks, such as ‘Nights in White Satin’ and ‘Tuesday Afternoon’.

The BBC’s support for psychedelic rock continued into the early 1970s with programmes such as Marc Bolan’s TV Show (which featured regular performances by Bolan’s band T Rex) and The Old Grey Whistle Test (which featured appearances from numerous Psychedelic Rock musicians).

The BBC’s first steps into psychedelic rock

In the summer of 1967, the BBC took its first steps into psychedelic rock. The change in direction was partly due to the commercial success of The Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album, and partly due to the growing number of young people taking illegal drugs such as LSD. The BBC’s two main music programmes at the time – “Top of the Pops” and “Washington Square” – began to feature more psychedelic rock acts, and in September 1967, the BBC launched a new late-night programme called “Colour Me Pop”, which was dedicated to psychedelic rock.

The BBC’s move into psychedelic rock was not without its controversy. Some members of the public were shocked by the new music, and there were calls for the BBC to ban it from its programmes. However, the BBC defended its decision to broadcast psychedelic rock, arguing that it was important to reflect the changing times.

Despite the controversy, psychedelic rock quickly became one of the most popular genres on British radio, with acts such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, and Jefferson Airplane regularly appearing on BBC programmes. In 1968, the BBC even staged its own psychedelic rock concert, called “The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream”, which featured some of the biggest names in the genre.

AlthoughPsychedelic rock’s popularity began to decline in the early 1970s,the genre left a lasting legacy on British music,and many of the bands that started out playing psychedelic rock went on to enjoy long and successful careers.

The BBC and the psychedelic rock boom

Between 1967 and 1969, BBC Radio 1 played a pivotal role in the rise of psychedelic rock, with programmes such as John Peel’s Top Gear and Jimmy Young’s Midday Spin championing the new sounds emanating from Britain and America. The BBC’s vast archive of recordings captures the dizzying energy and experimentation of this musical period, with performances by some of the biggest names in Psychedelic Rock.

The Legacy of Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock, also known as “acid rock”, is a style of rock music that became popular in the late 1960s. The style is characterized by the use of psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, and is often associated with the counterculture of the 1960s. The style was pioneered by bands such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

The influence of psychedelic rock on subsequent genres

Psychedelic rock, or “psychedelia”, is a style of rock music that was popularised in the 1960s and which saw a resurgence of popularity in the late 1980s. The term is used to describe both the musical style and the subculture that was associated with it. Psychedelic rock is often characterised by extended improvisation, unusual instrumentation, altered states of consciousness and an emphasis on “non-musical” elements such as drug use, anti-authoritarianism and taboos against established social mores.

The influence of psychedelic rock has been felt in many subsequent genres, including but not limited to: acid rock, art rock, avant-garde music, bubblegum pop, hard rock, heavy metal, jam bands, new wave music, punk rock, shoegaze and studio 54.

Psychedelic rock, sometimes called acid rock, developed out of the early 1965 garage rock scene in the United States and Britain. It was influenced by composers such as John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and La Monte Young; jazz musicians such as Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis; Indian classical music; and electronic music. The first use of the word “psychedelic”, referring to a type of experience brought on by chemicals, was in 1956 by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond. Psychedelic rock was marked by extended guitar solos, improvised performances, unusual sound effects using electronic devices such as feedback and reverb chambers, and lyrics that often evoked drug-induced states of mind or dealt with social issues like peace and love.

Psychedelic rock attained mainstream popularity in the late 1960s with bands such as The Beatles, The Byrds, Cream, The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, and The Rolling Stones. It provoked reaction from establishment figures such as newspapers’ Edward R. Murrow decrying its appeal to drug users and religious leaders who denounced it as immoral. By 1967 psychedelic rock was becoming commercially successful in Britain with hits by British bands such as “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (Procol Harum), “All You Need Is Love” (The Beatles), “I Can See for Miles” (The Who), “Paint It Black” (The Rolling Stones), “Somebody to Love” (Jefferson Airplane), and “Sunshine of Your Love” (Cream). American groups such as Santana experienced chart success with their debut album in 1968 which contained the Latin-tinged hit single “Evil Ways”. Australian bandOsibisa also had success with their self-titled debut album in 1971 which included the hit singles “Sunshine Day”, “Mr. Sunshine”, and “Woyaya”. Psychedelic soul developed out of psychedelic rock when black musicians added elements from other genres including R&B’s call-and-response vocals to create a new type of music called psychedelic soul. The genre reached its peak in the late 1960s with hits by groups such as Sly & The Family Stone (“Everyday People”), The Temptations (“Cloud Nine”), Marvin Gaye (“I Heard it Through the Grapevine”), Booker T & The MGs (“Green Onions”), Aretha Franklin (“Respect”), Gladys Knight & The Pips (“Friendship Train”), Undisputed Truth (“Smiling Faces Sometimes”), Staple Singers (“I’ll Take You There”)

In 1968 Bob Dylan caused controversy when he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival performing his song “Maggie’s Farm” backed by an electric band which included Michael Bloomfield on guitar. Some members of the audience booed while others cheered Dylan’s move away from acoustic folk music towards electric rock music. Psychedelic lifestyles were often associated with illegal drug use which led to media coverage denouncing drug use within the subculture which caused many young people to distance themselves from it despite not engaging in criminal activity themselves. This resulted in a backlash against psychedelic culture known as the “straight world” or “straights” which led to violent confrontations between them and members of the counterculture at events such as Altamont Speedway Free Concert in 1969 where four people were killed by members of Hells Angels who had been hired to provide security for the event.

The popularity of psychedelic rock waned at the end of the 1960s but some artists continued to record albums in the style including Jimi Hendrix (Electric Ladyland), Pink Floyd (Ummagumma), Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin II) Procol Harum (A Salty Dog), Santana (Abraxas), Traffic (John Barleycorn Must Die) Osibisa (Woyaya) Sly & Family Stone (There’s A Riot Goin’ On) Janis Joplin (‘Pearl’), Grateful Dead (‘Workingman’s Dead’) Jefferson Airplane (‘Volunteers’). In subsequent decades there has been a revival of interest in psychedelic rock culminating in reissues of classic albums on CD and new bands influenced by the style including Tame Impala , Pond , MGMT , Foxygen , Temples , Allah Las Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats .

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