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Garage rock

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Garage rock (sometimes called '60s punk or garage punk) is a raw and energetic style of rock and roll that flourished in the mid-1960s, most notably in the United States and Canada. The style is characterized by the frequent use of basic chord structures played on electric guitars and other instruments, sometimes distorted through a fuzzbox, as well as often unsophisticated, occasionally aggressive, lyrics and delivery. The term "garage rock" derives from the perception that groups were often made up of young amateurs who rehearsed in the family garage, although many were professional.

In the US and Canada, surf rock—and later the Beatles and other beat groups of the British Invasion—motivated thousands of young people to form bands between 1963 and 1968. Hundreds of acts produced regional hits, and some had national hits. Though largely associated with North America, counterparts were present elsewhere as part of the worldwide "beat boom" of the era. Garage rock was a precursor to acid rock. With the advent of psychedelia, a number of garage bands incorporated exotic elements into the genre's primitive stylistic framework, but after 1968, as more elaborate forms of rock music overtook the marketplace, garage rock records largely disappeared from the national and regional charts.

During the 1960s the music was not recognized as a distinct genre and had no specific name, but critical retrospect in the early 1970s—and particularly the release of the 1972 compilation album Nuggets—did much to define and memorialize the style. As critics of the period began to prescribe a scope for genre, they sometimes used the term "punk rock", making it the first form of music to bear this description. Since then, the genre has sometimes been referred to as "garage punk", as well as subsequent labels such as "60s punk" or "proto-punk" which distinguish it from the more commonly known punk movement of the mid- to late-1970s that it influenced.

Garage rock has experienced various revivals in the ensuing years and continues to influence acts who prefer a "back to basics" and "do-it-yourself" musical approach. In the early- to mid-1980s, several garage revival scenes sprung up featuring acts that consciously attempted to replicate the look and sound of 1960s garage bands. Later in the decade, a louder, more contemporary garage/punk fusion style developed that combined garage rock with contemporary punk rock and other influences, lending an updated definition to the term "garage punk". In the 2000s, a wave of garage rock revival acts associated with the post-punk revival emerged, and a handful achieved airplay and commercial success.

Social milieu and stylistic features[edit]

The D-Men (later the Fifth Estate) in 1964

The term "garage rock" comes from the perception that its performers were young and amateurish, and often rehearsed in the family garage.[2] While numerous bands were made up of middle-class teenagers from the suburbs, others were from rural or urban areas or were composed of professional musicians in their twenties.[3] The term "garage band" often refers to musical acts in this genre.[4]

Though it is impossible to determine how many garage bands were active in the 1960s, according to Mark Nobles, it is estimated that over 180,000 bands formed in the United States,[5] among which several thousand made records.[6][a] Garage bands performed in a variety of venues. Less-established groups typically played at parties, school dances, and teen clubs.[8] For acts of legal age (and in some cases younger), bars, nightclubs, and college fraternity socials also provided regular engagements.[9][b][10] Occasionally, local groups had the opportunity to open at shows for famous touring acts.[11] Some garage rock bands went on tour, particularly better-known acts, but also lesser-known groups receiving bookings or airplay beyond their locality.[12][13] Groups often competed in "battles of the bands", which gave musicians an opportunity to gain exposure and a chance to win a prize, such as free recording time in a local studio.[14][15] Battles of the bands were held, locally, regionally and nationally, and two of the most prestigious contests were held annually by the Tea Council of the U.S.A.[15] and the Music Circus.[16]

Performances often sounded amateurish, naïve, or intentionally raw, with typical themes revolving around the traumas of high school life and songs about "lying girls" being particularly common.[2][17] The lyrics and delivery were notably more aggressive than the more polished acts of the time, often with nasal, growled, or shouted vocals, sometimes punctuated by shrieks or screams at climactic moments of release.[2][8][17] Instrumentation was characterized by basic chord structures played on electric guitars often distorted through a fuzzbox, teamed with bass and drums.[17][18] Guitarists sometimes played using aggressive-sounding bar chords, sometimes referred to as power chords.[19][20] Organs such as the Farfisa were commonly used as well as harmonicas or hand-held percussion such as tambourines.[17][21][c][22] Occasionally, the tempo sped up in certain passages, sometimes referred to as "raveups".[23]

Garage rock acts were diverse in both musical ability and in style, ranging from crude and amateurish to near-studio level musicianship. There were also regional variations in flourishing scenes, such as in California and Texas.[24] The north-western states of Idaho, Washington and Oregon had a distinctly recognizable regional sound with bands such as the Sonics and Paul Revere & the Raiders.[25]

Recognition and classification[edit]

The Music Machine, featuring Sean Bonniwell, in 1966

In the 1960s, garage rock had no name and was not thought of as a genre, but as typical rudimentary rock of the period.[26] "Garage rock" was not the first name applied to the style.[27][d] In the early 1970s certain rock critics began to speak nostalgically of mid-1960s garage bands (and artists perceived to be in their tradition) as a loosely defined genre and used the term "punk rock" to describe it,[28][29][e][28] making it the first rock genre to bear the description,[28][f] several years before the term came to be associated with the later punk rock movement.[31][g] Though the coinage of the phrase "punk rock" is unknown,[32] Dave Marsh was the first music critic to employ it in print, when in the May 1971 issue of Creem he described ? and the Mysterians as a "landmark exposition of punk rock".[33][h][i] Much of the revival of interest in 1960s garage rock can be traced to the release of the 1972 album Nuggets compiled by rock journalist and future Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye.[36][37][38] In the liner notes, Kaye used the term "punk rock" to describe 1960s garage bands, and used the phrase "classic garage-punk" to describe a song recorded in 1966 by the Shadows of Knight.[39][j] In 1973, Billy Altman launched the short-lived Punk Magazine, which pre-dated the better-known 1975 publication of the same name, but, unlike the later magazine, was largely devoted to discussion of 1960s garage and psychedelic acts.[41]

Though the phrase "punk rock" was the favored generic term in the early 1970s, "garage band" was also used.[4][k] The term "punk rock" was later appropriated for the genre of punk rock that emerged in the mid-1970s,[42] and is now most commonly applied to groups that emerged after 1974.[43] The term "garage rock" came into favor in the early 1980s.[44][l] According to Mike Markesich: "Initially launched into the underground vernacular at the start of the '80s, the garage tag had slowly sifted its way amid like-minded fans to finally be recognized as a worthy descriptive replacement".[27] The music of garage bands from the 1960s has been called "garage rock", "garage punk",[45] "'60s punk",[46] or "proto-punk".[47]

Early 1960s: Origins[edit]

Direct antecedents[edit]

Richard Berry, whose 1957 song "Louie Louie" inspired the Wailers, the Kingsmen, and in turn thousands of other garage bands

In the late 1950s, the initial impact of rock and roll on mainstream American culture waned as major record companies took a controlling influence and sought to market more conventionally acceptable recordings.[48] Electric musical instruments (particularly guitars) and amplification were becoming more affordable, allowing young musicians to form small groups to perform in front of local audiences of their peers; and in some areas there was a breakdown, especially among radio audiences, of traditional black and white markets, with more white teenagers listening to and purchasing R&B records. By the end of the 1950s regional scenes were abundant around the country and influenced much of the music of the 1960s.[49]

Some young people were still inspired by musicians such as Chuck Berry,[52] Little Richard,[53] Bo Diddley,[53] Jerry Lee Lewis,[52] Buddy Holly,[54] and Eddie Cochran,[55] whose recordings of relatively unsophisticated and hard-driving songs from a few years earlier[52] proclaimed personal independence and freedom from parental controls and conservative norms.[56] Ritchie Valens' 1958 hit "La Bamba" helped jump-start the Chicano rock scene in Southern California and provided a three-chord template for the songs of numerous 1960s garage bands.[57] Guitarist Link Wray, best known for his 1959 instrumental "Rumble", used innovative guitar techniques and effects such as power chords, distortion, and tremolo—an early influence in the development of the garage rock sound.[58][59]

Emergence of garage style[edit]

According to Lester Bangs, "the origins of garage rock as a genre can be traced to California and the Pacific Northwest in the early Sixties".[47] The Pacific Northwest, which encompasses Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, played a critical role in the inception of garage rock, hosting the first scene to produce a sizable number of acts, and pre-dated the British Invasion by several years. The signature garage sound of the Pacific Northwest is sometimes referred to as "the Northwest Sound" and had its origins in the late 1950s, when a handful of R&B and rock & roll acts sprung up in various cities and towns in an area stretching from Puget Sound to Seattle and Tacoma, and beyond.[60]

There and elsewhere, groups of teenagers were inspired directly by touring R&B performers such as Johnny Otis and Richard Berry, and began to play cover versions of R&B songs.[62][o] During the late 1950s and early 1960s other instrumental groups playing in the region, such as the Ventures, formed in 1958 in Tacoma, Washington, who came to specialize in a surf rock sound,[64] and The Frantics from Seattle.[65] The Blue Notes from Tacoma, Washington, fronted by "Rockin' Robin" Roberts, were one of the city's first teenage rock & roll bands.[66] The Wailers (often referred to as the Fabulous Wailers) had national chart hit in 1959, the instrumental "Tall Cool One".[67] After the demise of Blue Notes, "Rockin' Robin" did a brief stint with the Wailers, and with him on vocals in 1962, they recorded a version of Richard Berry's 1957 song "Louie Louie", which became a standard for practically every band in the region.[68] It was Portland group the Kingsmen's 1963 off-the-cuff version of "Louie Louie", largely based on the Wailers' arrangement, that had the greatest impact, first as a regional hit in Seattle, then rising to No. 1 on the national charts and eventually becoming a hit overseas, making it the de facto "big bang" for three-chord rock.[69][p]

Elsewhere, regional scenes of teenage bands playing R&B-oriented rock were particularly well established several years before the British Invasion, in places such as Texas and the Midwest.[71][q] By 1963 singles by several such bands were began appearing on the national charts, including those by the Trashmen, from Minneapolis,[73][74] and the Rivieras, from South Bend, Indiana.[75] At the same time, in southern California bands formed, playing raucous guitar- and saxophone-driven instrumentals.[47] Many bands were heavily influenced by surf rock and hot rod music, and there was a cross-pollination between these influences resulting in an energetic and upbeat sound. This is sometimes referred to as frat rock, which can be viewed as an early subgenre of garage rock. It is often associated with many Pacific Northwest acts such as the Kingsmen, and also thrived elsewhere.[49][76][77] Writer Neil Campbell commented: "There were literally thousands of rough-and-ready groups performing in local bars and dance halls throughout the US prior to the arrival of the Beatles ... [T]he indigenous popular music which functioned in this way ... was the protopunk more commonly identified as garage rock".[78]

Impact of the Beatles and the British Invasion[edit]

The Standells in 1965

As the mid-1960s approached, garage rock entered a new period reflecting a different set of influences and circumstances.[79][r] On February 9, 1964, during their first visit to the United States, the Beatles made a historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show watched by a record-breaking viewing audience of a nation mourning the recent death of President John F. Kennedy.[81] For many, particularly the young, the Beatles' visit re-ignited the sense of excitement and possibility that had momentarily faded in the wake of the assassination.[82] Much of this new excitement was expressed in rock music, sometimes much to the chagrin of parents and elders.[83]

Following the Beatles' first visit, a subsequent string of successful and increasingly bold British Invasion acts emerged between 1964 and 1966. These had a profound impact, leading many (often surf or hot rod groups) to respond by altering their style, and countless new bands to form, as teenagers around the country picked up guitars and started bands by the thousands.[84] In many cases, garage bands were particularly influenced by the British "beat groups" with a harder, blues-based attack, such as the Kinks, the Who, the Animals, the Yardbirds, Small Faces, Pretty Things, Them,[85][86] and the Rolling Stones, often resulting in a raw and primitive sound. Numerous garage rock bands were formed in countries outside North America, such as England's the Troggs who enjoyed worldwide success with "Wild Thing".[87][s]

1964–68: Peak years[edit]

Success and airplay[edit]

Thousands of garage bands were active in the US and Canada and hundreds produced regional hits during the 1960s,[89] and often bands made records and received airplay on the local AM radio station.[90] Certain bands gained national exposure just long enough to have one or occasionally more hits in an era rife with one-hit wonders.[17][91][92] In 1965 the Beau Brummels broke into the charts with "Laugh, Laugh", followed by "Just a Little".[93] In April 1966, the Outsiders from Cleveland had a hit with "Time Won't Let Me".[94][95] In July, the Standells from Los Angeles almost made it into the top ten with "Dirty Water".[96] "Psychotic Reaction" by the Count Five went to No. 5 on Billboard's Hot 100.[97]

"96 Tears" (1966) by Question Mark and the Mysterians, from Saginaw, Michigan, was a No. 1 hit in the US. The song's organ riffs and theme of teenage heartbreak inspired a wave of garage acts in the decade.[99] Mentioned as a landmark recording of the garage rock era, "96 Tears" also has been recognized for influencing the works of acts as diverse as the B-52's, the Cramps, and Bruce Springsteen.[100] Two months later, "Talk Talk" a Top 20 hit by the Music Machine, was released and had immediate influence on acts such as the Doors and Iron Butterfly, as well as future punk rock groups.[101][102] The Syndicate of Sound's "Little Girl" reached No. 8 on the Billboard charts.[103] When it was discovered by a Pittsburgh disc jockey in 1965, the resulting success of "Hanky Panky" revived the career of Tommy James, who formed a new group, Tommy James and the Shondells, and followed it with twelve more top 40 singles.[104] From Ohio the Music Explosion from Mansfield had a breakout success in 1967 with "Little Bit O' Soul"[105][106] and the Human Beinz of Youngstown had a hit with the Isley Brothers' "Nobody But Me".[107]

Female garage bands[edit]

The Pleasure Seekers (Suzi Quatro far right) in 1966

Garage rock was not an exclusively male phenomenon—it fostered the emergence of all-female bands whose members played their own instruments. One of the first of such acts was New York's Goldie and the Gingerbreads, who made their debut at New York's Peppermint Lounge in 1964, and accompanied the Rolling Stones on their American tour the following year.[108] They had a hit in England with a version of "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat".[108] The Pleasure Seekers, from Detroit, later known as Cradle, featured Suzi Quatro and her sisters. Quatro went on to greater fame as a solo act in the early 1970s.[109] The Luv'd Ones, also from Michigan, signed with Chicago's Dunwich Records cut records that display a sometimes dark, moody sound, such as in "I'm Leaving You" and "Up Down Sue".[110][111]

San Francisco's the Ace of Cups became a fixture in the Bay Area scene in the late 1960s.[112] The Liverbirds hailed from the Beatles' home city of Liverpool, England, but became best known in Germany, often performing in Hamburg's Star-Club.[113] Other notable female groups were the Daughters of Eve, from Chicago, the Feminine Complex, from Nashville, and The Heart Beats from Lubbock, Texas. In many ways, bands such as these anticipated later all-female acts, such as the Runaways and the Slits, that were associated with the 1970s punk movement.[114]

Regional scenes in the United States and Canada[edit]

Pacific Northwest[edit]

In 1964 and 1965 the impact of the Beatles and the British Invasion shifted the musical landscape, presenting not only a challenge, but also a new impetus for teenagers in the Pacific Northwest to form bands, as many of the more experienced acts adapted to the new climate, often reaching greater levels of commercial or artistic success. The Kingsmen went through a significant roster shake-up in 1964, while unwittingly becoming the target of an FBI investigation in response to complaints about the alleged use of profanity in the nearly unintelligible lyrics of their ramshackle hit version of "Louie Louie".[115] With the new lineup featuring former drummer Lyn Eastman on vocals, they continued to be active until the end of the decade, recording a string of singles.[116]

After relocating to Portland, Paul Revere & the Raiders in 1963 became the first rock-and-roll act to be signed to Columbia Records, but did not achieve their commercial breakthrough until 1965 with the song "Steppin Out", which was followed by string of chart-topping hits such as "Just Like Me", originally recorded by the Wilde Knights, and "Kicks".[117] The Sonics from Tacoma had a raunchy, hard-driving sound that influenced later acts such as Nirvana and the White Stripes.[118] According to Peter Blecha, they "were the unholy practitioners of punk rock long before anyone knew what to call it".[119] Founded in 1960, they eventually enlisted the services of vocalist Gerry Rosalie and saxophonist Rob Lind and proceeded to cut their first single," The Witch" in 1964.[120] The song was re-issued again in 1965, this time with the even more intense "Psycho" on the flip side.[121] They released several albums and are also known for other "high-octane" rockers such as "Cinderella" and the power-chorded "He's Waitin'".[122] Prompted by the Sonics, the Wailers entered the mid-1960s with a harder-edged sound in the fuzz-driven "Hang Up" and "Out of Our Tree".[123]

New England and Mid-Atlantic[edit]

The Remains in 1966

The Barbarians from Cape Cod, wearing sandals and long hair, and cultivating an image of "noble savages", recorded an album and several singles, such as the partly self-referential "Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl".[124] In 1964 the group appeared on the T.A.M.I. Show on same bill as famous acts such as the Rolling Stones and James Brown, playing the joyfully primitive "Hey Little Bird".[125] At the height of their popularity, the band was touted as an American counterpart of the Rolling Stones.[125] In 1966, while the other members of the band were away, Moulton recorded "Moulty", a spoken monologue set to music, in which he recounted the travails of his disfigurement, released under the Barbarians' name, but backed by future members of the Band.[125] The Remains (sometimes called Barry and the Remains) from Boston, led by Barry Tashian, were one of the region's most notable bands, and in addition to touring with the Beatles in 1966, recorded songs such as "Don't Look Back", as well as a self-titled album.[126][127] Also from Boston, the Rockin' Ramrods released the distortion-driven "She Lied" in 1964, which Rob Fitzpatrick has called "a truly spectacular piece of proto-punk, the sort of perfect blend of melody and aggression that the Ramones would go on to transform the planet with a dozen or more years later".[128] The Squires from Bristol, Connecticut, issued a song now regarded as a garage rock classic, "All the Way".[129][t]

Garage bands flourished up and down the Atlantic coast. From the Bronx, New York, came the Blues Magoos, who had a hit with the psychedelically-tinged garage classic "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet".[131] The Vagrants were a popular band in Long Island and featured Leslie West, later in Mountain, on lead guitar.[132] They cut a version of "Respect", which was later included on Nuggets.[132] Richard and the Young Lions from Newark, New Jersey, had a hit in 1966 with "Open Up Your Door".[133]


The Seeds in 1966

The garage craze came into full swing in California, particularly in Los Angeles.[134][135][136] The Sunset Strip was the center of L.A. nightlife, providing bands with high-profile venues to attract a larger following and the attention of record executives.[137] Exploitation films such as Riot on Sunset Strip, Mondo Hollywood, and the documentary Mondo Mod, captured the musical and social milieu of life on the strip.[138][139] In Riot on Sunset Strip, several bands make appearances at the Pandora's Box, with the Standells supplying the theme song and later appearances by the Chocolate Watchband and others.[140][141][142] The Seeds and the Leaves were favorites with the "in-crowd" and managed to achieve national hits with songs that have come to be regarded as garage classics: the Seeds with "Pushin' Too Hard" and the Leaves with a hit version of the oft-recorded "Hey Joe".[143][144]

Love, a racially integrated band headed by African-American musician Arthur Lee, was one of the most popular bands in the scene.[145] Their propulsive 1966 protopunk anthem "7 and 7 Is" became a staple in countless other bands' repertoires.[146] The Music Machine, led by Sean Bonniwell, employed innovative musical techniques, sometimes building their own custom-made fuzzboxes.[147] Among their numerous recordings they are best known for their 1966 hit "Talk Talk".[147] The Sons of Adam were another popular band on the strip cut recorded several hard-rocking songs such as "Feathered Fish", written by Arthur Lee, and "Saturday's Son".[136] The band is notable for the presence of guitarist Randy Holden, who in 1966 left the band to join the San Francisco-based the Other Half and later Blue Cheer, and drummer Michael Stuart, who left to join Love and record on their acclaimed 1967 album Forever Changes.[136]

Garage rock was present in the Latino community in East L.A.[148][149] The Premiers, who had a hit in 1964 with "Farmer John", and Thee Midniters are considered notable figures in Chicano rock,[150][151] as are the San Diego-based, Cannibal & the Headhunters, who had a hit with Chris Kenner's "Land of a Thousand Dances".[47]

San Jose and the South Bay area had a bustling scene featuring the Chocolate Watchband, the Count Five, and the Syndicate of Sound.[152] From the East Bay came Harbinger Complex, whose "I Think I'm Down" was described by Stansted Montfichet as "kick-ass proto-punk at its finest."[153] Though San Francisco was primarily known for sophisticated acid rock, the garage sound was detectable in a handful of bands such as the Great Society, featuring Grace Slick before she joined Jefferson Airplane,[154] and the Brogues.[155]


The Shadows of Knight in 1966

Chicago, known for electric blues, continued to have a strong recording industry in the 1960s and was also a hotbed of activity for garage rock bands, providing hits for the American Breed,[156] the Buckinghams,[157] and the Cryan' Shames.[158] Chicago blues as well as the Rolling Stones influenced the Shadows of Knight, who recorded for Dunwich Records.[159] In 1966 they had hits with their versions of Them's Van Morrison-penned "Gloria", and Bo Diddley's "Oh Yeah", as well as the more aggressive "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" ,[159] which Mike Stax remarked "...was recorded live in the studio with the amps cranked beyond distortion, this is 60s punk at its sexually charged, aggressive best."[160] Also for Dunwich that same year, the Banshees released the cathartic "Project Blue",[161][162][u] and the Del-Vetts issued the fuzz-driven "Last Time Around", which topped local charts and reached the national top 30.[163] Other notable Chicago acts were the Little Boy Blues[164] and the New Colony Six.[165]

Michigan had one of the largest scenes in the country. In early 1966, Detroit's MC5 released a version of "I Can Only Give You Everything" before they went on to greater success at the end of the decade.[166] The Unrelated Segments recorded a string of songs beginning with local hit "You Can't Buy Love", followed by others such as "Where You Gonna Go".[167] Terry Knight and the Pack were from Flint and formed the basis of what later became the successful 1970s group Grand Funk Railroad.[168] The Rationals from Ann Arbor, fronted by Scott Morgan, gained regional airplay and have been mentioned as a band of particular interest amongst garage rock collectors.[169] Fenton Records was a "pay-and-record" label owned by Dave Kalmbach[170] that issued singles by some West Michigan bands, such as the JuJus.[171] The Litter from Minneapolis had a harder sound and released the distortion-laden "Action Woman" in 1966—a song which Michael Hann described as "one of garage's gnarliest, snarliest, most tight-trousered pieces of hormonal aggression".[172] In addition to the Outsiders, Ohio, was also the home to groups such as the Choir, also from Cleveland, who had a regional hit with "It's Cold Outside".[173][174]


Texas had several burgeoning scenes, with much of the action happening in Dallas–Fort Worth,[175][176] Houston, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Austin. Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs were from Dallas and were fronted by Domingo "Sam" Samudio.[177] They had two breakout hits with "Wooly Bully" and "Little Miss Riding Hood".[177] Kenny and the Kasuals were another popular band in Dallas, whose album Impact has attracted the interest of garage rock collectors.[178] The Moving Sidewalks from Houston featuring Billy Gibbons on guitar, later of ZZ Top, had a top local hit with "99th Floor".[179][180] The 13th Floor Elevators from Austin featured Roky Erickson on guitar and vocals and are perhaps the best-remembered Texas band of the era.[181] The Outcasts from San Antonio cut five singles including "I'm in Pittsburgh and It's Raining" and "1523 Blair", which Jason Ankeny described as "Texas psychedelia at its finest".[182] The Gentlemen from Oak Cliff, a suburb of Dallas, cut the fuzz-drenched "It's a Cry'n Shame", which was ranked by a panel of garage rock writers and experts in Mike Markesich's Teenbeat Mayhem as one of the top two garage rock songs of all time.[183][v] With numerous teen clubs and venues such as Panther Hall, Fort Worth had a bustling scene and was the home groups such as Larry and the Blue Notes.[186][187]

Florida was rife with activity, particularly on the Peninsula.[188] We the People, a popular fixture in the Orlando area, came about as the result of the merger of two previous bands and featured songwriters Tommy Talton and Wane Proctor.[189][w] "I'm Movin' On and "From a Curbstone" were by Evil from Miami, who had a reputation for musical mayhem.[190] The Painted Faces from Fort Myers released the single "Anxious Color",[191] which Mojo magazine included in its 1997 list "Psychedelia: The 100 Greatest Classics".[192] The Gants from Greenwood, Mississippi, were one of the relatively few garage bands from the Deep South to make a national impression in the mid 1960s.[193] Memphis, which had established a reputation for blues and rockabilly, became a major center of soul music in the 1960s, with Stax Records,[194][195][196] but also had an prolific garage scene.[197] The Guilloteens went to Los Angeles, where they recorded the Phil Spector-produced "Hey You" at the Gold Star Studios, then returned to Tennessee to record in Nashville.[198] The Hombres were another popular Memphis group and had a hit with their song "Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)", which reached No. 12 on the national charts.[199] North Carolina experienced its own garage rock boom.[200] In Charlotte, the Paragons (not to be confused with the Jamaican ska group of the same name) were one of the most popular bands in the city, and went to Arthur Smith's studio to record their single "Abba", which reached No. 1 on the local charts.[201][202]

Great Plains and Southwest[edit]

The Five Americans were from Durant, Oklahoma, and released a string of singles, such as "I See the Light" and "Western Union", the latter being a top 10 hit in 1967.[203] From Phoenix, Arizona, came the Spiders, who featured Vincent Furnier, later known as Alice Cooper. The group recorded two singles, most notably "Don't Blow Your Mind", which became a local hit in Phoenix.[204] They ventured to Los Angeles in 1967 in hopes of achieving greater success, which the group found not there, but in Detroit in the early 1970s, re-christened as Alice Cooper.[204][205]

The Grodes (sometimes credited as the Tongues of Truth) were from Tucson, Arizona, and recorded the original version of "Let's Talk About Girls", later covered by the Chocolate Watchband, and "Cry a Little Longer".[206][207] The Dearly Beloved were also a top band in Tucson.[208] In 1967 the Chob from Albuquerque cut the frantic "We're Pretty Quick".[209][210] Norman Petty, who earlier recorded many of Buddy Holly's famous hits at his studio in Clovis, remained active there in the 1960s, cutting records for various garage bands in the region.[211]

Canada, islands, and territories[edit]

The Paupers in 1967

Like the United States, Canada experienced a large and vigorous garage rock movement. Vancouver's the Northwest Company, who recorded "Hard to Cry", had a power chord-driven approach.[212] The Painted Ship were known for primal songs such as the angst-ridden "Frustration" and "Little White Lies", which Stansted Montfichet called a "punk classic".[213] The Guess Who from Winnipeg, Manitoba, began in 1958 and entered the mid-1960s with a hit, Johnny Kidd & the Pirates' "Shakin' All Over".[214]

In 1966 the Ugly Ducklings from Toronto had a hit with "Nothin'" and toured with the Rolling Stones.[215][216][217] The Haunted from Montreal specialized in a gritty blues-based sound influenced by the Rolling Stones and released the single "1–2–5".[218] Two other bands from Toronto were the Paupers and the Mynah Birds. The Paupers released several singles and two albums.[219][220] The Mynah Birds featured the combination of Rick James on lead vocals and Neil Young on guitar, who both went on to fame as solo acts, as well as Bruce Palmer who later accompanied Young to California to join Buffalo Springfield in 1966.[221][222] They signed a contract with Motown Records and recorded several songs including "It's My Time".[221][222]

Outside of the mainland, garage rock became a fixture in the islands and territories adjacent to the continent.[223] The Savages from Bermuda recorded the album Live 'n Wild,[224] which features "The World Ain't Round It's Square", an angry song of youthful defiance.[225][x]

International scenes and counterparts[edit]

The garage phenomenon, though most often associated with North America, was not exclusive to it. Its attributes were present in much of the beat music played in various countries throughout the world, as bands proliferated in the wake of the British Invasion.[226][y][227][228][z] The particular countries involved had grass-roots rock movements which closely mirrored what was happening in the North America, several of which are sometimes retroactively referred to as freakbeat, Nederbeat, Uruguayan Invasion, or Group Sounds, or in other cases as "beat" or "garage rock".[229][228]

United Kingdom[edit]

Them, featuring Van Morrison (center), in 1965

Although Britain did not develop a distinctly defined garage rock genre in the same way as the United States, some British bands shared characteristics with the American bands who often attempted to emulate them, and are sometimes seen as counterparts to US garage bands,[226][aa][230] particularly in the subgenre known retrospectively as "freakbeat".[231]

Beat music emerged in Britain in the early 1960s, as musicians who originally come together to play rock and roll or skiffle assimilated American rhythm and blues influences and adopted the more powerful amplification becoming available. The genre provided the model for the format of many later rock groups, based around a lead singer with guitars and drums.[232] Many groups formed to play this music in local establishments – the Liverpool area alone had a particularly high concentration of acts and venues.[233] The Beatles emerged from this beat music boom, and their energetic approach served as a template for the formation of countless groups.[234] Some bands developed a distinctively British blues style.[235] Nationally popular beat and R&B groups included the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds from London, the Animals from Newcastle, and Them (featuring Van Morrison), from Belfast in Northern Ireland. From about 1965, bands such as the Who and the Small Faces tailored their appeal to the burgeoning mod subculture in London.[236][237][238]

Particularly after the "British Invasion" of the US, musical cross-fertilization developed between the two continents. In their 1964 transatlantic hits "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All of the Night", the Kinks took the influence of the Kingsmen's version of "Louie Louie" and applied greater volume and distortion, which in turn, influenced the approach of many American garage bands.[239] Their influence continued with several more hard-driving, yet increasingly despondent songs, such as "Where Have All the Good Times Gone", as well as "I'm Not Like Everybody Else", later covered by the Chocolate Watchband.[240][241][242] The Pretty Things were known for their raw approach to blues-influenced rock, exhibited in songs such as "Midnight to Six Man" and "Don't Bring Me Down".[243][244] The Downliners Sect were even more raw in their approach.[245] Northern Ireland's Them recorded two songs that were widely covered by American garage bands: "Gloria", which became a big hit for Chicago's the Shadows of Knight, and "I Can Only Give You Everything" which was covered by numerous American acts.[246][247] The Wheels, who were also from Belfast, recorded the original version of "Bad Little Woman", which like Them's "Gloria" was covered in 1966 by the Shadows of Knight.[248]

The Troggs in 1966

The Troggs had a worldwide hit in 1966 with "Wild Thing" (written by American Chip Taylor).[249] Extolling the virtues of their seemingly unrepentant primitivism and sexually charged innuendo, the Troggs were the British band that Lester Bangs singled out as perhaps the quintessential "punk" [i.e. garage] band of the 1960s.[30][230][250] The Equals, a racially integrated band from North London featuring guitarist Eddy Grant, specialized in an upbeat style of rock; their 1966 recording "Baby Come Back" was a hit in Europe before becoming a British number one in 1968.[251][252] In keeping with the popularity of blues-based rock and the onset of psychedelic music in the mid-1960s, some of the harder-driving and more obscure bands associated with the mod scene in the UK are sometimes retroactively referred to as Freakbeat, which is sometimes viewed as the more stylish British parallel to garage rock.[231][253][254] Several bands often mentioned as Freakbeat are the Creation, the Action, the Move, the Smoke, the Sorrows, and Wimple Winch.[255] Rhino Records' 2001 box-set compilation Nuggets II: Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond, 1964–1969 contains many of the better-known songs performed by obscure British beat and freakbeat acts of this era.[256][257]

Continental Europe[edit]

Q65 in 1967

The beat boom swept through continental Europe, resulting in the emergence of numerous bands who played in styles sometimes cited as European variants of garage rock.[258][259] The Netherlands had one of the largest scenes, sometimes retroactively described as Nederbeat.[259][260] From Amsterdam, the Outsiders, who Richie Unterberger singled out as one of the most important 1960s rock acts from a non-English Speaking country, featured Wally Tax on lead vocals and specialized in an eclectic R&B and folk-based style.[261][262] Q65 from the Hague recorded extensively and lasted well into the 1970s, releasing the invective "I Despise You" in 1966.[263][264] Also from the Hague, the Golden Earrings, who later gained international fame in the 1970s and 1980s as Golden Earring, had a top ten hit in the Netherlands in 1965 with "Please Go", followed by "That Day", which went to number two on the Dutch charts.[265][266]

Having nurtured the Beatles' early development in Hamburg, Germany was well-positioned to play a key role as the beat craze overtook the continent. Bands from Britain and around Europe traveled there to gain exposure, playing in clubs and appearing on popular German television shows such as Beat Club and Beat! Beat! Beat!.[267][268] The Lords, founded in Düsseldorf in 1959, pre-dated the British Invasion by several years, and adapted their sound and look to reflect the influence of the British groups, even singing in English, but providing a comic twist.[269] The Rattles from Hamburg also had a lengthy history, but were more serious in their approach.[270] Even during the Franco regime there were numerous bands active in Spain, such as Los Bravos, who had a worldwide hit with "Black Is Black",[271] and other bands such as los Cheyenes.[272] The Trans World Punk Rave-Up series is devoted to covering 1960s garage rock and primitive beat music in continental Europe.[258]

Latin America[edit]

Los Mockers, from Uruguay in 1965

Latin America had a significant amount of musical activity in the worldwide beat craze. Mexico had its own equivalent of American garage.[273][274] The nation's proximity to the United States was detectable in the raw sounds produced by a number of groups.[275][276] Mexico often absorbed American musical influences and trends, and embraced the British Invasion.[275][276] One of Mexico's most popular acts were Los Dug Dug's, who recorded several albums and stayed active well into the 1970s.[277]

The beat boom flourished in Uruguay during the mid-1960s in a period often referred to as the Uruguayan Invasion. Two of the best known acts were Los Shakers and Los Mockers.[278][279] In Peru, los Saicos were one of the first bands to gain national prominence.[280] Their 1965 song "¡Demolición!" with its humorously anarchistic lyrics was a huge hit in Peru.[280] AllMusic, writing about Los Saicos, noted that "The guitars sound like nothing so much as fountains of sparks, the drums have a tribal post-surf throb, and the vocals are positively unhinged" and "These guys were a punk rock band, even if nobody outside Lima knew it at the time".[281] Los Yorks became one of Peru's leading groups.[282] Colombia had bands such Los Speakers from Bogata.[283] Los Gatos Salvajes, who came from Rosario, Argentina, were one of the country's first beat groups,[284] and two of their members went on to form Los Gatos, who became a popular act in Argentina during the late 1960s.[284] The Los Nuggetz compilation series covers Latin American beat and garage rock of the 1960s.[273]


The Spiders in 1966

The far East was not immune to the beat craze, and Japan was no exception, particularly after the Beatles' 1966 visit, when they played two shows at Tokyo's Budokan arena.[285] The popular 1960s rock movement in Japan is often referred to as Group Sounds (or GS). The Spiders were one of the better-known groups.[286] Other groups were the Golden Cups[287][288] and the Tigers.[289] [290] Two compilations, GS I Love You: Japanese Garage Bands of the 1960s and its successor GS I Love You Too, feature Group Sounds songs from the period.[291][289]

Despite famine, economic hardship, and political instability, India experienced its own proliferation of garage bands in the 1960s, even persisting into the beginning of the next decade with the 1960s musical style intact, after it had fallen out of favor practically everywhere else.[292][293][294] The Beatles' mid-1960s success had a major impact on India's youth and resulted in the formation of numerous groups.[295] Mumbai, with its hotels, clubs, and nightlife, had a large beat group scene. The Jets, who were active from 1964 to 1966, were perhaps the first beat group to become popular there.[296] Also popular in Mumbai were the Trojans, featuring Biddu, originally from Bangalore, who later moved to London and become a solo act.[297] Every year the annual Simla Beat Contest was held in Bombay by the Imperial Tobacco Company.[298][299] Groups from around India competed in it.[300] The Simla Beat 70/71 compilation includes recordings of some of the bands who competed in 1970 and 1971.[294]

Australia and New Zealand[edit]

The Easybeats in 1966

Australia and New Zealand experienced a garage and beat explosion in the mid-1960s.[228] The garage boom in those countries has been the subject of compilations such as Down Under Nuggets: Original Australian Artyfacts 1965–1967.[301][302] Before the British Invasion hit, the land down under enjoyed a sizable surf rock scene, with popular bands such as the Atlantics, who had several instrumental hits, as well as the Aztecs and the Sunsets.[303][304] In late 1963 and early 1964 British Invasion influence started permeating the music scenes there.[304][305] In June 1964 the Beatles visited Australia as part of their world tour and were greeted by a crowd of an estimated 300,000 in Adelaide.[305] [ab]

Sydney was the host to numerous acts during this time. Though the Atlantics had begun as an instrumental surf group, after the advent of the British Invasion, they brought in veteran singer Johnny Rebb, formerly with Johnny Rebb and His Rebels, to supply vocals on songs such as "Come On".[307] The Easybeats became the most popular group in Australia during the mid-sixties.[308] Most of their pre-1967 songs were written by vocalist Stevie Wright and guitarist George Young, the older brother of Angus Young and Malcolm Young, later of AC/DC.[308] In late 1966, they re-located to London and had a worldwide hit with "Friday on My Mind".[308] One of Sydney's most notorious acts was the Missing Links, who throughout 1965 went through a complete and total lineup change between the release their first single in March and on the subsequent releases later that year, such as the primitivist anthems "Wild About You", as well as their self-titled LP.[309][310] Also in 1966, The Throb had a hit in Australia with their version of "Fortune Teller", and later that year released "Black", a brooding version of a traditional folk ballad noted for its expressionistic use of guitar feedback.[311] The Black Diamonds issued the "I Want, Need, Love You" in 1966, a song which featured an intense and hard-driving guitar sound that Ian D. Marks described as "speaker cone-shredding".[312]

From Brisbane came the Pleazers[313][314] and the Purple Hearts,[315] and from Melbourne the Pink Finks, the Loved Ones,[316] Steve and the Board,[317] and the Moods.[318] Like Sydney's the Missing Links, the Creatures were another notorious group of the period, who Iain McIntyre remarked "Thanks to their brightly coloured hair and bad-ass attitude, the Creatures left in their wake a legacy of multiple arrests, bloodied noses and legendary rave ups".[319][320] The Masters Apprentices' early sound was largely R&B-influenced garage and psychedelic, and their career stretched into the 1970s.[321][322]

From New Zealand, the Bluestars cut the defiant "Social End Product", that with its line "I don't stand for the queen" aimed at social oppression and anticipated some of the anti-royalist sentiments of the Sex Pistols and other 1970s punk rock acts.[323][324] Chants R&B were known for a raw R&B-influenced sound.[325][326] The La De Das recorded a version of the Changin' Times' "How is the Air Up There?", which went to No. 4 on the nation's charts.[327]

Integration with psychedelia and counterculture[edit]

Historical and cultural associations[edit]

Increasingly throughout 1966, partly due to the growing influence of drugs such as marijuana and LSD,[328] many bands began to expand their sound, sometimes employing eastern scales and various sonic effects to achieve exotic and hypnotic soundscapes in their music.[329][330][ac] As the decade progressed, psychedelic influences became pervasive in much garage rock.[229][338] Garage rock helped lay the groundwork for acid rock.[339]

By the mid-1960s numerous garage bands began to employ tone-altering devices such as fuzzboxes on guitars often for the purpose of enhancing the music's sonic palate and adding an aggressive edge, using loudly amplified instruments to create a barrage of "clanging" sounds, often expressing anger and defiance.[18][152][340] A sense of despondency and restlessness entered the psyche of the youth in the United States and elsewhere, with a growing rise of alienation creeping into the collective mindset—even in the largely conservative suburban communities which produced so many garage bands.[49][152][341] The garage bands, though generally apolitical, nonetheless reflected the tenor of the times.[49][152] Nightly news reports had a cumulative effect on the mass consciousness.[152][341] Detectable in much of the music from this era is a combination of disparate emotions, particularly in light of President Kennedy's assassination and the ongoing of increase of troops sent to the Vietnam War,[152][341][342] yet was often mixed with an accompanying innocence.[343]

In 1965, the influence of artists such as Bob Dylan, who moved beyond political protest by experimenting with abstract and surreal lyrical imagery, then switched to electric guitar, became increasingly pervasive across the musical landscape, affecting a number of genres, including garage rock.[49][344] The members of garage bands, like so many musicians of the 1960s, were part of a generation that was largely born into the paradigm and customs of an older time, but grew up confronting a new set of issues facing a more advanced and technological age.[49][152][341] With the advent of television, nuclear weapons, civil rights, the Cold War, and space exploration, they began to conceive of a higher order of human relations and attempted to reach for a set of transcendent ideals.[49][152][341] Though set to a backdrop of tragic events that ultimately proved disillusioning, various forms of personal and musical experimentation held promise, at least for a time, in the minds of many.[49][152][341] While testing the frontiers of what the new world had to offer, 1960s youth ultimately had to accept the limitations of living in the new reality, yet often did so while experiencing the ecstasy of a moment when the realm of the infinite seemed somehow possible and within reach.[152][56][345]

Garage-based psychedelic/acid rock[edit]

Tapping into the psychedelic zeitgeist, musicians pushed boundaries and explored new horizons. Garage acts, while generally lacking the budgetary means to produce musical extravaganzas on the scale of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band or the instrumental virtuosity of acts such as Jimi Hendrix or Cream, nonetheless managed to combine esoteric elements with basic primitive rock.[346] The 13th Floor Elevators from Austin, Texas, led by Roky Erickson, infused their garage sound with psychedelic impulses, and are usually thought of as the first band to use the term "psychedelic" in their promotional literature with the phrase "psychedelic rock" appearing on their business card as early as January 1966.[347] The band used the term in the title of their debut album released in November, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. The album featured the track "You're Gonna Miss Me", a regional hit for the band.[347][348] In August 1966, the Deep traveled from New York to Philadelphia to record a set of hallucinogenic songs for the album Psychedelic Moods: A Mind-Expanding Phenomena, released in October 1966, one month before the 13th Floor Elevators' debut album, and whose all-night sessions produced mind-expanding stream of consciousness ramblings.[346][349]

The Electric Prunes were one of the more successful garage bands to incorporate psychedelia into their sound. Producer and recording engineer David Hassinger helped them tailor their psychedelic soundscapes, such as in the hit "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)", whose opening featured a buzzing fuzz-toned guitar.[350][ad] The Chocolate Watchband was another notable group to integrate garage rock with psychedelia.[353][354]{{efn|Lead by guitarist Mark Loomis and fronted by charismatic lead singer David Aguilar signed with Capitol's Tower label in 1966 and released several singles in 1967, including "Are You Gonna Be There (at the Love In)", which was also featured on their debut album No Way Out, which came out that same year.[354][355] The album's opening cut was a feverish rendition of "Let's Talk About Girls", previously recorded by the Tongues of Truth (aka the Grodes).[356] The Blues Magoos came from the Bronx and had a breakout hit in 1966 with "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet".[357][ae] Strawberry Alarm Clock emerged from the garage outfit Thee Sixpence and had a No. 1 hit in 1967 with "Incense and Peppermints".[360][361] The Third Bardo from New York City released the 1967 single "I'm Five Years Ahead of My Time", that according to Richie Unterberger is regarded by many record collectors as one of the greatest psychedelic garage songs.[362]

Primitivist avant-garde acts[edit]

Certain acts conveyed a world view removed from the implicit innocence of much psychedelia and suburban-style garage, often infusing their work with subversive political or philosophical messages, dabbling in concepts then considered radical, such as nihilism and New Left ideology.[363][364] Such artists shared certain characteristics with the garage bands in their use of primitivistic instrumentation and arrangements, while displaying psychedelic rock's affinity for exploration—essentially creating a more urbanized, intellectual, and avant garde version of garage rock.[365][366][367]

New York City was the home to several such groups. The Fugs, who formed in 1963, were one of rock's first experimental bands and its core members were singer, poet, and social activist Ed Sanders, along with Tuli Kupferberg and Ken Weaver.[368] They specialized in a satirical mixture of amateurish garage rock, jug, folk, and psychedelic laced with political commentary, as on their 1965 debut The Fugs First Album, and their self-titled second album.[367][368][369][af]

The Monks's music imbued garage rock with avant garde elements.

The Velvet Underground, whose best-known lineup consisted of Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Moe Tucker, are now generally considered the foremost experimental rock group of this period.[375] At the time of recording their first album, they were involved with Andy Warhol, who produced some its tracks, and his assemblage of "scenesters" at the Factory, including model-turned-singer Nico.[376] She briefly accompanied them on the resulting album, The Velvet Underground & Nico.[376] The album's lyrics, though generally apolitical, depict the world of hard drugs in songs such as "I'm Waiting for the Man" and "Heroin", and other topics considered taboo at the time.[376] Their follow up, White Light/White Heat, saw the group stretching even further into the experimental realm, but after John Cale's subsequent departure from the group, they moved into a less avant-garde direction.[375][377][ag] Outside of New York were the Monks from Germany, whose members were former US servicemen who chose to remain in Germany, where in 1965 they developed an experimental sound on their album Black Monk Time.[365][380][381] The group, who sometimes wore habits and partially shaven tonsures, specialized in a style featuring chanting and hypnotic percussion.[380]


In the wake of psychedelia, as rock music became increasingly sophisticated, garage rock began to decline in popularity. Though scores of garage bands had been signed to regional and major labels during 1963–1968, most failed to achieve national success. For instance, "Going All the Way" by the Squires was issued on a national label under Atco and is now regarded as a genre classic, but was not a hit anywhere.[382] It is generally agreed that garage rock peaked both commercially and artistically around 1966.[17] In the wake of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club and other late-1960s big-production spectaculars, rock albums became increasingly elaborate and were expected to display maturity, complexity, and sophistication, while the 45-inch single ceded to the long-play album as the preferred medium.[383]

Progressive album-oriented FM stations eventually overtook AM radio in popularity, and as the large major-label record companies became more powerful and less willing to sign new acts, the once plentiful "mom and pop" independent labels of the mid-1960s began to fold.[383][384] Teen clubs that had served as reliable and steady venues for young groups began to close their doors.[385] The garage sound disappeared at both the national and local level as amateur musicians faced college, work or the Vietnam War draft.[17][386][36][37] New styles had either evolved out of garage rock or replaced it, such as psychedelic rock, acid rock, progressive rock, heavy metal, country rock, and bubblegum.[17][36][387] By the end of 1968 the style had largely disappeared from the national charts.[387]

Later developments[edit]

Garage-based proto-punk 1969–1974[edit]

Iggy Pop was a member of the Stooges, who are considered one of the preeminent proto-punk acts.

The garage rock boom faded at the end of the 1960s, but a handful of maverick acts carried its impetus into the next decade, seizing on the style's rougher edges, but brandishing them with increased volume and aggression.[388][389][390] Such acts, often retroactively described as "proto-punk", worked in a variety of rock genres and came from disparate places, notably Michigan. Such bands specialized in an energetic and hard-rocking style that was heavy, but more primitive than most of the sophisticated rock sounds typical of the time, which often relied on extended instrumental soloing and jams.[391][392]

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, several Michigan bands rooted in garage rock[393][394][395] recorded a works that became highly influential, particularly with the 1970s punk movement.[396][397] In 1969, MC5 issued their live debut LP, Kick Out the Jams, which featured a set of highly energetic, politically-charged songs.[388][398] The Stooges, from Ann Arbor were fronted by lead singer Iggy Pop,[389] Describing their approach, Stephen Thomas Erlewine commented: "Taking their cue from the over-amplified pounding of British blues, the primal raunch of American garage rock, and the psychedelic rock (as well as the audience-baiting) of the Doors, the Stooges were raw, immediate, and vulgar." The group released three albums during this period, beginning with the self-titled The Stooges in 1969[389][399] and culminating with Raw Power (now billed as Iggy and the Stooges) in 1973, which featured the cathartic opeing cut, "Search and Destroy".[400] The Alice Cooper band relocated to Detroit, where they began to gain success with a new "shock rock" image, and recorded 1971's Love It to Death, which featured their breakout hit "I'm Eighteen".[395][205][401]

Other notable bands came from Michigan, such as the Up, who lived with members of MC5 in John Sinclair's commune, released their 1970 debut single, "Like an Aborigine", which according to Jason Arkeny, shares key characteristics with later punk.[402][403][404] The Punks, who formed in 1973 during the waning days of the Detroit scene, created a sometimes thrashing sound that rock journalist Lester Bangs described as "intense" in songs such as "My Time's Comin'", which was featured in a 2016 episode of HBO's Vinyl.[405] In 1974, Death, whose membership was made up of brothers David, Bobby, and Dannis Hackney, recorded tracks for an album that remained unreleased for over 30 years, ...For the Whole World to See, which, along with their other subsequently-issued tracks, finally earned them a reputation as pioneers in punk rock.[406][407][408]

In Boston, the Modern Lovers, led by Velvet Underground devotee Jonathan Richman, gained attention with their minimalistic style.[409][410] In 1974, an updated garage rock scene began to coalesce around the Rathskeller club in Kenmore Square.[411][412] The Real Kids were founded by former Modern Lover John Felice.[413] Between 1969 and 1974, there were other movements further removed from the American garage rock tradition, such as Glam and pub rock in Great Britain, as well as Krautrock in Germany, that nonetheless displayed hallmarks of proto-punk and had an influence on 1970s punk.[414][415]

Emergence of punk aesthetic and movement 1975–1978[edit]

The Ramones (pictured in 1977), who were influenced by garage rock, spearheaded the mid-1970s punk movement in New York.

Identification of garage rock by certain critics in the early 1970s (and their use of the term "punk rock" to describe it), as well as the 1972 Nuggets compilation exerted a marked degree of influence on the subsequent punk movement of the mid-to-late 1970s.[37][416][ah][417] As a result of the popularity of Nuggets and critical attention paid to primitive-sounding rock of the past and present, a self-conscious musical aesthetic began to emerge around the term "punk"[418][ai][419] that, with the eventual arrival of the New York and London punk scenes, grew into a subculture, with its own look, iconography, identity, and values.[420][421]

The mid- to late-1970s saw the arrival of the bands most often viewed as the quintessential punk rock acts. Most notable is the Ramones from New York, some of whose members had played in 1960s garage bands,[422][423] and who are usually considered the first punk band as the term is now commonly understood.[424] They are followed by the Sex Pistols from London, who struck an even more defiant pose and effectively herald the arrival punk as a cause célèbre in the larger public mind.[425] Both bands spearheaded the popular movement from their respective locations.[424][425] Though garage rock and protopunk influenced many of the bands from the New York and London scenes of this period,[416][417][426] punk rock now emerged as a movement with a subculture all of its own,[420] and the garage band era of the 1960s came to be viewed as a distant forerunner.[416][427][aj]

Revivalist and hybrid movements 1980–present[edit]

Garage rock has experienced various revivals in the ensuing years and continues to influence numerous modern acts who prefer a "back to basics" and "do it yourself" musical approach.[428][429] The earliest group to attempt to revive the sound of 1960s garage was the Droogs, from Los Angeles, who formed in 1972 and pre-dated many of the revival acts of the 1980s.[430] In the early 1980s, revival scenes linked to the underground music movements of the period sprang up in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, and elsewhere, with acts such as the Chesterfield Kings, the Fuzztones, the Pandoras, and the Lyres earnestly attempting to replicate the sound and look of the 1960s garage bands.[431] This trend fed in into the alternative rock movement and future grunge explosion, which embraced influenceces by 1960s garage bands such as the Sonics and the Wailers.[432]

The Black Keys performing in 2011

Out of the garage revival, a more aggressive form of garage rock known as garage punk emerged in the late 1980s. It differed from the "retro" revival in that its acts did not attempt to replicate the exact look and sound of 1960s groups, and their approach tended to be louder, often infusing garage rock with elements of Stooges-era protopunk, 1970s punk rock, and other influences, creating a new hybrid.[433][434] Several notable garage punk bands were the Gories, thee Mighty Caesars, the Mummies and thee Headcoats.[435] Garage punk and revival acts persisted into the 1990s and the new millennium,[433] with independent record labels releasing records by bands playing fast-paced, lo-fi music.[436] Some of the more prolific independent labels include Estrus,[437] Get Hip,[438] Bomp!,[439] and Sympathy for the Record Industry.[440]

In the early 2000s, a garage rock or post-punk revival[441] achieved the airplay and commercial success that had eluded garage rock bands of the past. This was led by four bands: the Strokes of New York City, the Hives of Fagersta, Sweden, the Vines of Sydney, and the White Stripes from Detroit, Michigan.[442] Other products of the Detroit rock scene included the Von Bondies, Electric 6, the Dirtbombs, the Detroit Cobras, and Rock 455[443] Elsewhere, acts such as Billy Childish and the Buff Medways from Chatham, England,[444] the (International) Noise Conspiracy from Umeå, Sweden,[445] and Jay Reatard and the Oblivians from Memphis, enjoyed moderate underground success and appeal.[446] Out of Japan came Guitar Wolf from Nagasaki[447] and the's from Tokyo.[448] A second wave of bands that gained international recognition as a result of the movement included the Black Keys,[449] Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Death from Above 1979, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Killers, Interpol, and Kings of Leon from the US,[450] the Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party, Editors, and Franz Ferdinand from the UK,[451] Jet from Australia,[452] and the Datsuns and the D4 from New Zealand.[453]

The mid-2000s saw several underground bands achieve mainstream prominence. Artists such as Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Black Lips[454] and Jay Reatard,[455] who initially released their records on traditionally garage punk labels such as In the Red Records, began signing to larger, more well-known independent labels.[456] Several bands followed them in signing to larger labels such as Rough Trade[457] and Drag City.[458]

List of bands[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Markesich mentions that the number of bands/acts included in the book's discography amounts to over 4,500.[6] His discography on pages 53–281 is devoted strictly to US acts.[7]
  2. ^ Nobles describes the Celler, a rowdy and popular nightclub in Fort Worth owned by Pat Kirkwood, which was where President Kennedy's Secret Service detail supposedly went the night before the assassination when the Knightbeats were playing a gig. Nobles mentions that the Knightbeats' leader Arvel Strickland later played in the Neurotic Sheep, who also performed at the Cellar. Nobles also mentions other "teen-scene" acts that played there, such as the Warlocks from Irving.
  3. ^ Roller mentions the Farfisa organ.[21]
  4. ^ On pp. 294–295, Markesich quotes Greg Shaw: "I don't think we ever called it garage then ... punk, later appropriated for the next genre in that long lineage ..."
  5. ^ Conjuring up a more innocent time, on p. 8, Bangs in his June 1971 Creem essay, "Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung", remarked about mid-1960s garage bands: "... then punk bands started cropping up who were writing their own songs but taking the Yardbirds' sound and reducing it to this kind of goony fuzztone clatter ... oh, it was beautiful, it was pure folklore, Old America, and sometimes I think those were the best days ever". Critics also used the word "punk" for certain current bands that they perceived as operating in the primitivist tradition of 1960s garage such as the Stooges.[30]
  6. ^ On pp. 22–23, Laing states "The word 'punk' was not used generically until the early seventies when critics began applying it to unregenerate rock-and-rollers ..." then he quotes Greg Shaw: "Punk rock in those days was a quaint fanzine term for a transient form of mid-'1960s music ..."
  7. ^ On p. 51, Aaron says that the term "punk rock" was later "co-opted by the very wave it inspired".
  8. ^ Taylor (2003) misidentifies the year of publication as 1970 (p. 16).
  9. ^ Later in 1971, in the fanzine Who Put the Bomp, Greg Shaw wrote about "what [he had] chosen to call 'punkrock' bands—white teenage hard rock of '64–66".[34] Robert Christgau writing for the Village Voice in October 1971 referred to "mid-1960s punk" as a historical period of rock and roll.[35]
  10. ^ In the January 1973 Rolling Stone review of Nuggets, Greg Shaw commented "Punk rock at its best is the closest we came in the 1960s to the original rockabilly spirit of Rock 'n Roll ..."[40]
  11. ^ In John Mendelsohn's March 1971 Rolling Stone review of a Faces album where he alluded to "every last punk teenage garage band having its Own Original Approach".[4] Later the same year, Lenny Kaye used the term "garage band" in the same magazine.[4]
  12. ^ In the 1980 edition of The Rolling Stone History of Rock and Roll, Lester Bangs uses the terms "garage rock" and "protopunk" in his chapter about the genre.
  13. ^ According to Whiteside, a Farfisa organ was used on "Let's Dance".[50]
  14. ^ In a review of one of Montez's later albums, Viglione describes his earlier 1962 hit "Let's Dance" as "a proto garage rock song".[51]
  15. ^ The Playboys were a racially integrated R&B group hailing from Seattle and featured Ron Holden and were one of the popular bands that also influenced later acts.[63]
  16. ^ Paul Revere & the Raiders, who also recorded a version of "Louie Louie" around this time, were originally from Boise, Idaho, but relocated to Portland, Oregon in 1962.[70]
  17. ^ In Milwaukee, the Nomads were formed in the late 1950s, influenced by rockabilly and blues recordings. A rival band were the Bonnevilles, a band led by guitarist Larry Lynne and based in a newly built middle-class suburb.[72]
  18. ^ Accoring to Gilmore, "It shouldn't be too difficult to understand why The Beatles arrival in America was such a sociological as well as musical phenomenon. The shooting of president John F. Kennedy just eight weeks or so earlier ... The Beatles not only gave music a much-needed shot in the arm, but also provided a new kind of optimism for young people ... The Beatles as well as their other British and German contemporaries, played American rock 'n roll with an intensity that had sorely been missed on our own shores and provided thousands of American teenagers with the impetus to play rock 'n roll themselves."[80] The Beatles's first Ed Sullivan appearance and date are mentioned. According to Gilmore: "Within days it was apparent that a genuine upheaval was underway, offering a frenetic distraction to the dread that had set into America after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and a renewal of the brutally wounded ideal that youthfulness carried our national hope...the Beatles were showing us how style could have the impact of cultural revelation — or at least how a pop vision might be forged into an unimpeachable consensus. Virtually overnight, the Beatles' arrival in the American consciousness announced not only that the music and times were changing but also that we were changing. Everything about the band — its look, sound, style and abandon — made it plain that we were entering a different age, that young people were free to redefine themselves in completely new terms."
  19. ^ Hicks remarks the Troggs are "often considered Britain's first garage band".[88]
  20. ^ According to a panel of noted garage rock writers and experts who voted, "All the Way" is rated at a 10 out of 10 and ranked number 3 in the list of 1000 greatest garage rock records of all time.[130]
  21. ^ On p. 381 in Markesich's book, Project Blue is ranked at No. 114 out of the 1000 greatest garage rock songs voted on by a panel of garage rock experts and writers. The book lists over 16,000 garage rock records.
  22. ^ On page 118, the song is given a rating of 10 out of 10. In the section listing the 1,000 greatest garage rock songs of all time (voted on by a panel of garage rock writers, noted collectors, and experts), the song is ranked in the top two garage rock songs of all time at number 2 ,[130] second only to "You're Gonna Miss Me", by the 13th Floor Elevators.[184] The cabinet ranking committee is mentioned on pg. 7. Jeff Lemlich, author of Savage Lost and Mike Dugo, owner and director the 60s Garage Bands website, were two members on the twelve-member committee.[185]
  23. ^ They went to Nashville and recorded a batch of self-composed songs for the Challenge and RCA labels, such as primitive rockers, "You Burn Me Upside Down" and "Mirror of my Mind", as well as eclectic pieces such as "In the Past", later covered by the Chocolate Watchband.[189]
  24. ^ In Mike Markesich's Teenbeat Mayhem, according to the polling of a handful of preeminent garage rock writers, collectors, and experts, the song is rated as a ten out of ten, and ranked at number 4 in the list of the 1000 greatest garage rock records, placing it in the top five of all time, according to that poll.[130]
  25. ^ Lester Bangs, one of the first writers to define genre, in his article "James Taylor Marked for Death", which appeared in the Spring 1971 edition of Grag Shaw's publication, Who Put the Bomp, wrote that he considered British band the Troggs quintessential to the genre. He constantly uses the word "punk" (which at the time was the term used for the garage rock genre) to describe them (pages 56–57, 61, 64). On page 101 he uses the word "punk" again and even goes to the extreme of calling them its "supreme archetype" and also equates them with the Stooges and Modern Lovers, whom he holds in similar but lesser regard in that respect.
  26. ^ Marks' and McIntyre's entire 352-page book is devoted to garage rock in Australia during the 1960s. Ian McFarland, one of the best known writers covering Australian rock, uses the term "garage, "garage punk" or "punk" repeatedly in his Forward on pp. 7–9 when describing the Australian 1960s bands; his first sentence reads: "When the subject of 1960s Aussie garage-punk-/R&B/psych comes up in conversation, most aficionados of the genre will grin knowingly, nod enthusiastically and immediately rattle of a list of their personal fave raves". The main text by Marks and McIntyre uses these same terms constantly throughout the whole book, whose central purpose is to address the Australian garage rock bands. The book in its coverage of numerous acts, underscores the scope and size of the Australian garage rock scene in the mid-'60s. Also see: Everett True's Australian Garage Rock Primer (website)[
  27. ^ Lester Bangs, one of the first writers to define genre, in his article, "James Taylor Marked for Death", which appeared in the Spring 1971 edition of Grag Shaw's publication, Who Put the Bomp, extolls the virtues of British band, the Troggs', seemingly unrepentant primitivism and sexually charged innuendo (pp. 54, 57) and wrote that he considered them not only of the genre, but quintessential to it. He constantly uses the word "punk" (which at the time was the term used for the garage rock genre) to describe them (pages 56–57, 61, 64). On page 101 he uses the word "punk" again and even goes to the extreme of calling them its "supreme archetype" and also equates them with the Stooges and Modern Lovers, whom he holds in similar but lesser regard in that respect.
  28. ^ In response, many of the prior surf bands adapted by adding vocals over guitars, and a plethora of new bands formed.[305] The first wave of British-inspired bands tended to be more pop-oriented in the Merseybeat mold.[306] With rise in popularity of bands such as the Rolling Stones and the Animals, a second wave of Australian bands emerged that favored a harder, blues-influenced approach.[306]
  29. ^ In the spring of that year, the Byrds had a hit with the musically innovative "Eight Miles High".[331] That year the 13th Floor Elevators released The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators.[332] It was nonetheless the result of a longer musical evolution growing out of folk rock and other forms—with certain early elements detectable even in surf rock, such as the mention of LSD in the title of the Gamblers' 1960 instrumental "LSD-25" and Dick Dale's use of the Phrygian scale in 1962's "Miserlou".[333][334][335] The first musical act to use the term "psychedelic was the New York-based folk group the Holy Modal Rounders on their version of Lead Belly's "Hesitation Blues" (there pronounced as "psycho-delic") in 1964.[336][337]
  30. ^ They followed it up with "Get Me to the World on Time", and both songs were included on their self-titled debut album.[351] Their second album, Underground, saw the band exercise a greater degree of creative freedom.[351][352]
  31. ^ They cut several albums, including Psychedelic Lollipop, released in 1966, which featured their extended version of the "Tobacco Road", formerly recorded by England's the Nashville Teens and the follow-up, Electric Comic Book.[358][359]
  32. ^ Their second album, The Fugs (afterward re-titled The Fugs Second Album) was released in 1966 and included "Kill for Peace", "Dirty Old Man", "Group Grope", and "Frenzy".[370] In a 1970 interview, Ed Sanders became the first known musician to describe his music as "punk rock".[371][372] The Godz were another New York group who specialized in an experimental mixture of sounds, beginning with their rough-hewn folk-influenced first album Contact High with the Godz, followed by Godz II in 1967, which made greater use of electric amplification.[373][374]
  33. ^ Henry Flynt & The Insurrections were another New York-based experimental rock combo headed by philosopher and multi-media artist Henry Flynt, who had spent time working with fluxus artists such as Yoko Ono, and is sometimes credited with coining the phrase "conceptual art" and whose philosophy he has described as "cognitive nihilism".[364][378] Flynt briefly played with the Velvet Underground in 1966 before forming his own group and proceeding record a series of tracks later that year, subsequently released almost forty years later on the retrospective album I Don't Wanna.[378][379] Like the Fugs, Henry Flynt & the Insurrections' lyrics were laced with agit prop and antiwar sentiments.[378]
  34. ^ In Ch. 1, Gray recounts the influence of garage rock and the Nuggets compilation on Mick Jones, later of the Clash; he mentions on page 27 that in the early 1970s Jones' mother, who was living overseas in Detroit, sent him copies of Creem magazine – he read articles by Lester Bangs using word "punk rock" to describe 60s garage bands and early 1970s Detrit acts. Gray discusses how the perception of punk later shifted away from its previous 1960s and early 1970s associations after the rise of the Sex Pistols and the whole "year zero" outlook that took shape in the late 1970s.
  35. ^ Laing discusses the beginning of the punk aesthetic in the early 1970s, which he describes on page 22 as at first strictly musical, not cultural. On page 23, after providing quotes from Greg Shaw and Billy Altman, he discusses the genesis of the punk aesthetic: "The construction of punk as a musical type and ideal, then took place in America in the early '70s as part of the reaction against the centrality of progressive rock in its various forms".
  36. ^ Greg Shaw describes how, after the rise of the Sex Pistols, critics moved away from using the term "punk rock" for 60s garage bands and began to speak of the 60s bands as "garage rock". This tendency clearly reflected the larger public perception—these critics did not want to detract from what was perceived as an exciting new movement (i.e. 1975–1978) or confuse readers who generally understood punk in terms of current trends.


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Suggested reading[edit]

  • Unterberger, Richie (1998) Unknown Legends of Rock 'n' Roll: Psychedelic Unknowns, Mad Geniuses, Punk Pioneers, Lo-Fi Mavericks & More. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-534-7 / ISBN 978-0-87930-534-5 – covers lesser known and overlooked rock artists from the 1960s, including garage and psychedelic
  • Unterberger, Richie (2000) Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-616-5 / ISBN 978-0-87930-616-8 – covers more lesser known and overlooked rock artists from the 1960s, including garage and psychedelic

External links[edit]

  • '60s Garage Bands – histories of local and regional bands of the 1960s
  • Beyond the Beat Generation – interviews with former members of 1960s garage bands
  • Everett True's Australian Garage Rock Primer - covers Australian garage rock bands of the 1960s and later
  • G45 Central - website and blog which hosts discussions on various topics related to garage rock
  • Garage Hangover – garage bands of the 1960s by state, province and country
  • GS - covers the group sounds ("G.S.") garage/beat boom in Japan
  • It's Psychedelic Baby - articles, interviews, and reviews of 1960s psychedelic and garage acts
  • Start - Website devoted to covering as many as 1400 Dutch Nederbeat bands of the 1960s (in both Dutch and English)
  • Ugly Things - magazine that provides information on garage rock and vintage from the 1960s and other eras