Why Did Many Folk-Music Enthusiasts of the Mid-1960s

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Why did many folk-music enthusiasts of the mid-1960s turn to country music? The answer may surprise you.

The Rise of Folk Music

Folk music experienced a revival in the mid-1960s, after being overshadowed by other genres for many years. This revival was due in part to the increasing popularity of Dylan and other folk musicians, as well as the growing interest in social and political issues. The folk-music revival of the 1960s was an important part of the counterculture movement.

The Weavers gain popularity

The Weavers gain popularity
The Weavers, an American folk music quartet, became one of the most commercially successful folk music groups of the 1950s. Starting out as an informal group that met to sing around a piano in Greenwich Village, New York City, they began performing professionally in 1948. Their popularity soared after they were featured on a national radio show in 1950 and signed a recording contract with Decca Records the following year. The Weavers’ progressive political views also gained them a large following among young people in the United States during the tumultuous decade of the 1950s.

The Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley” hits the charts

On December 27, 1957, Billboard magazine published its first Folk Albums chart. The Kingston Trio’s debut album, Folk Songs from the original Kingston Trio was in the number 5 position. This was the first LP album by the Kingston Trio and it was a collection of traditional folk songs. The trio’s arrangement of the traditional song “Tom Dooley” was released as a single and it quickly rose to the number 1 position on the Billboard pop charts, making it the first folk song to hit the top of the pop charts.

The Kingston Trio’s success helped to fuel the rising popularity of folk music in the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Folk music had been popular among college students and other young people in the 1930s and 1940s, but it experienced a decline in popularity in the 1950s due in part to the rise of rock and roll music. The success of “Tom Dooley” and other folk songs recorded by the Kingston Trio, as well as other folk groups such as Peter, Paul & Mary, showed that there was still an audience for this type of music.

The popularity of folk music coincided with a renewed interest in social and political issues among young people in the United States. Many young people were concerned about such issues as racism, poverty, and nuclear proliferation, and they saw folk music as a way to express their views on these topics. This was one of the factors that led tothe civil rights movementandthe anti-war movementofthe 1960s.

The Fall of Folk Music

In the mid-1960s, Folk music was at the height of its popularity. Folk-rock bands like The Byrds and Simon and Garfunkel were topping the charts, and artists like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were household names. But by the end of the decade, the Folk scene had all but disappeared. What happened?

The British Invasion takes over

The British Invasion of the mid-1960s was a commercial and cultural phenomenon in which British rock and pop music became increasingly popular in the United States, Australia and other countries. The wave of British groups and solo artists that followed in the wake of The Beatles’ success began in earnest with the arrival of The Rolling Stones in early 1964. By 1966, British bands such as The Who, Small Faces, Cream and The Kinks were well-established members of the American concert scene.

Folk music’s popularity began to decline in the mid-1960s. This was caused by several factors, including the increase in the number of rock and pop bands, the rise of electric folk music, and the growing popularity of other genres such as jazz and blues. Additionally, many folk-music enthusiasts became disillusioned with the genre as it became more commercialized. As a result, folk music fell out of favor with many listeners, and its popularity has never recovered.

The Resurgence of Folk Music

In the middle of the twentieth century, folk music was enjoying a resurgence in popularity. This was due in part to the increase in cultural awareness and pride among the American people. Folk music had always been a part of the American culture, but it was not until the mid-1960s that it became widely popular again. This newfound popularity can be attributed to a number of factors, including the rise of the counterculture, the growing anti-war sentiment, and the popularity of folk-rock artists like Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan goes electric

Bob Dylan’s switch to electric guitars and drums in 1965 created a stir among folk music fans. Some thought he was selling out to commercial interests, while others believed he was simply evolving as an artist. Dylan’s “going electric” was a key moment in the history of folk music, and it helped to bring the genre to a wider audience.

Folk music experienced a resurgence in popularity in the mid-1960s, due in part to the success of folk-rock bands such as The Byrds and Simon & Garfunkel. Folk music had been declining in popularity since the early 1950s, when it was eclipsed by rock and roll. However, the British Invasion of 1964 brought a new wave of folk-influenced bands to the United States, and folk music enjoyed a renewed popularity.

The folk-music revival of the 1960s was spearheaded by a new generation of young people who were interested in American roots music. These young people were often inspired by the political messages of Guthrie and other folk musicians. The civil rights movement and the anti-war movement also helped to fuel the resurgence of interest in folk music.

Many college radio stations began playing folk music in the mid-1960s, and festivals such as Newport Folk Festival and Chicago Folk Festival became popular destinations for fans of the genre. The success of bands like The Byrds and Simon & Garfunkel helped to bring folk music into the mainstream, and artists such as Joni Mitchell and James Taylor created their own brand of folk-inspired pop music.

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