Acid rock

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This article is about the rock music genre. For the geologic term, see Igneous rock#Chemical classification.

Acid rock is a subgenre of psychedelic rock, which is characterized by long instrumental solos, few (if any) lyrics, and musical improvisation.[1] The LSD-influenced music of bands such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Doors, Iron Butterfly, Black Sabbath,[2][3][4][5] Big Brother & the Holding Company, Cream, Jefferson Airplane, Ultimate Spinach, Blue Cheer, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Great Society, Deep Purple and the Grateful Dead has been described as "acid rock," with Tom Wolfe identifying most of these bands as "acid rock" in his book about Ken Kesey and the Acid Tests, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.[6]

"Acid rock" also refers to the subset of psychedelic rock bands that were part of, or were influenced by, the San Francisco Sound,[7] and which played loud, "heavy" music featuring long improvised solos.[8]

History and use of the term[edit]

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Acid rock got its name because it served as "background" music for acid trips in underground parties in the 1960s (e.g. the Merry Pranksters' "Acid Tests").[6] In an interview with Rolling Stone, Jerry Garcia quoted Grateful Dead band member Phil Lesh stating, "acid rock is what you listen to when you are high on acid." Garcia further stated there is no real psychedelic rock and that it is Indian classical music and some Tibetan music that are examples of music "designed to expand consciousness."[9]

Former Atlantic Records executive Phillip Rauls is quoted saying, "I was in the music business at the time, and my very first recognition of acid rock — we didn't call it progressive rock then — was, of all people, The Beach Boys and the song 'Good Vibrations'."[10] In 1984, writer Vernon Joyson observed flirtations with acid rock in the Beach Boys' albums Pet Sounds (1966) and the unfinished Smile.[11]

Generally, the term "acid rock" is roughly equivalent to psychedelic rock, with "acid rock" defining psychedelic rock with a harder, heavier attack. Rolling Stone magazine includes early Pink Floyd as "acid-rock".[12] In July 1967 Time magazine wrote, "From jukeboxes and transistors across the nation pulses the turned-on sound of acid-rock groups: the Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Moby Grape".[13] In 1968 Life magazine referred to The Doors as the "Kings of Acid Rock".[14] In 1969, Playboy Magazine referred to Led Zeppelin as "acid rock". When hard rock and heavy metal became prominent in the early and mid-1970s, the phrase "acid rock" was sometimes applied to these genres. Over time, these bands such as Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath fell in under the term "heavy metal" which replaced "acid rock" for these styles of music.[15]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Acid rock at AllMusic.
  2. ^ Popoff, Martin (2011). Black Sabbath FAQ: All That's Left to Know on the First Name in Metal. Backbeat Books. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Wiederhorn, Jon; Turman, Katherine (2013). Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal. Harper Collins. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Patoski, Joe Nick (Feb 1979). "Gather Ye Records While Ye May". Texas Monthly 7 (2). Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Browne, Ray Broadus; Browne, Pat (2001). The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Popular Press. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Wolfe, Tom (1968). The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Black Swan. p. 223. ISBN 0-552-99366-2. 
  7. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 41 – The Acid Test: Psychedelics and a sub-culture emerge in San Francisco. [Part 1] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  8. ^ Lucky, Jerry (2003). The Psychedelic Rock Files. Collector's Guide Publishing Inc. p. 262. ISBN 1-896522-97-1. 
  9. ^ Rolling Stone Magazine Staff. "Talking with the Legend of Rock and Roll (Jerry Garcia)". The Rolling Stone Interviews: 1967–1980. p. 195. ISBN 0-312-03486-5. 
  10. ^ Romano, Will (2010). Mountains Come Out of the Sky: The Illustrated History of Prog Rock. Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books. p. 17. ISBN 978-0879309916. 
  11. ^ Joyson 1984, p. 8.
  12. ^ "Pink Floyd Biography".  Portions of this biography appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001). Andy Greene contributed to this article.
  13. ^ "Youth: The Hippies". Time (July 7, 1967). 
  14. ^ Powledge, Fred. "Wicked Go The Doors". Life (April 12, 1968). 
  15. ^ Buckley, Peter (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. p. 224. ISBN 1-84353-105-4.