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Psychedelic rock

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Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs, most notably LSD. It often uses new recording techniques and effects and sometimes draws on sources such as the ragas and drones of Indian music.

It was pioneered by musicians including the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Byrds, emerging as a genre during the mid-1960s among folk rock and blues rock bands in the United Kingdom and United States, such as the 13th Floor Elevators, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, The Doors and Pink Floyd. It reached a peak in between 1967 and 1969 with the Summer of Love and Woodstock Rock Festival, respectively, becoming an international musical movement and associated with a widespread counterculture, before beginning a decline as changing attitudes, the loss of some key individuals and a back-to-basics movement, led surviving performers to move into new musical areas.

The terms "psychedelic rock" and "acid rock" are often deployed interchangeably, but "acid rock" sometimes refers to the more extreme ends of the genre. Psychedelic rock influenced the creation of psychedelic soul and bridged the transition from early blues- and folk music-based rock to progressive rock, glam rock, hard rock and as a result influenced the development of subgenres such as heavy metal. Since the late 1970s it has been revived in various forms of neo-psychedelia.


Main article: Psychedelic music

As a musical style, psychedelic rock attempted to replicate the effects of and enhance the mind-altering experiences of hallucinogenic drugs, incorporating new electronic sound effects and recording effects, extended solos, and improvisation, and it was particularly influenced by Eastern mysticism, reflected in use of exotic instrumentation, particularly from Indian music or the incorporation of elements of Eastern music. Major features include:


A sitar, much used on early records of the genre.

The term "psychedelic" was first coined in 1956 by psychiatrist Humphry Osmond as an alternative descriptor for hallucinogenic drugs in the context of psychedelic psychotherapy.[11] As the countercultural scene developed in San Francisco, the terms acid rock and psychedelic rock were used in 1966 to describe the new drug-influenced music[12] and were being widely used by 1967.[13] The terms psychedelic rock and acid rock are often used interchangeably,[8] but some commentators have distinguished the former, which generally evoked the effects of psychedelic drugs, and acid rock, which can be seen as a more extreme variation that was heavier, louder, relied on long jams,[14] focused more directly on LSD, and made greater use of distortion.[15]



Main article: Psychedelia

From the second half of the 1950s, Beat Generation writers like William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg[16] wrote about and took drugs, including cannabis and Benzedrine, raising awareness and helping to popularise their use.[17] In the same period Lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD, or "acid" (at the time a legal drug), began to be used in the US and UK as an experimental treatment, initially promoted as a potential cure for mental illness.[18]

In the early 1960s the use of LSD and other hallucinogens was advocated by proponents of the new "consciousness expansion", such as Timothy Leary, Alan Watts, Aldous Huxley and Arthur Koestler,[19][20] their writings profoundly influenced the thinking of the new generation of youth.[21] The sensory effects of LSD may include hallucinations of colored patterns, crawling geometric patterns, after image-like trails of moving objects ("tracers"), synthaesia and auditory effects such as an echo-like distortion of sounds and a general intensification of the experience of music.[citation needed]

By the mid-1960s, the psychedelic life-style had already developed in California, and an entire subculture developed. This was particularly true in San Francisco, due in part to the first major underground LSD factory, established there by Owsley Stanley.[13] There was also an emerging music scene of folk clubs, coffee houses and independent radio stations catering to a population of students at nearby Berkeley, and to free thinkers that had gravitated to the city.[22] From 1964, the Merry Pranksters, a loose group that developed around novelist Ken Kesey, sponsored the Acid Tests, a series of events based around the taking of LSD (supplied by Stanley), accompanied by light shows, film projection and discordant, improvised music known as the psychedelic symphony.[23][24] The Pranksters helped popularize LSD use through their road trips across America in a psychedelically-decorated school bus, which involved distributing the drug and meeting with major figures of the beat movement, and through publications about their activities such as Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968).[25]


The Beatles working in the studio with their producer George Martin, circa 1965

Music critic Richie Unterberger states: "Trying to pin down the first psychedelic record is nearly as elusive as trying to name the first rock & roll record. Far-fetched claims have been advanced for songs running from the Tornados' futuristic 1962 number one instrumental 'Telstar' to the Dave Clark Five's massively reverb-laden 'Any Way You Want It'."[10] There had long been a culture of drug use among jazz and blues musicians, and, in the early 1960s, use of drugs (including cannabis, peyote, mescaline and LSD[26]) had begun to grow among folk and rock musicians, who also began to include drug references in their songs.[27] The first mention of LSD on a rock record was the Gamblers' 1960 surf instrumental "LSD 25".[28][nb 1] New York folk musician Peter Stampfel claimed to be the first to use the word "psychedelic" in a song lyric (The Holy Modal Rounders' version of "Hesitation Blues", 1963).[29]

In terms of bridging the relationship between music and hallucinogens, the Beatles and the Beach Boys were the most pivotal.[30] In 1965, the Beach Boys' leader Brian Wilson started experimenting with song composition while under the influence of psychedelic drugs,[31] and after being introduced to cannabis by Bob Dylan, members of the Beatles also began using LSD.[10] The phenomenal success of these two bands allowed them the means to experiment with new technology over entire albums.[32] The Beatles introduced guitar feedback with "I Feel Fine" (1964)[10] and incorporated drug-inspired drone on "Ticket to Ride" (1965).[33] The Kinks and the Yardbirds also incorporated droning guitars to mimic the qualities of the sitar,[34] but the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" (1965) marked the first released recording on which a member of a Western rock group played an Indian instrument.[35] The song is generally credited for sparking a musical craze for the sound of the sitar in the mid-1960s – a trend which would later be associated with the growth of the essence of psychedelic rock.[34][nb 2] The Beatles' May 1966 B-side "Rain" was the first pop recording to include reversed sounds.[36] Drug references began to appear in the Beatles' songs with "Day Tripper" (1965)[37][nb 3] and the Beach Boys' "Sloop John B" (March 1966).[38][nb 4]

Producer Terry Melcher in the studio with the Byrds' Gene Clark and David Crosby, 1965

In Unterberger's opinion, the Byrds, emerging from the Californian folk scene, were more responsible than the Beatles for "sounding the psychedelic siren".[10] Drug use and attempts at psychedelic music moved out of acoustic folk-based music towards rock soon after the Byrds "plugged in" to produce a chart topping version of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" in the summer of 1965, which became a folk rock standard.[39][40] In the song's lyric, the narrator requests: "Take me on a trip upon your magic swirling ship".[13][nb 5] A number of Californian-based folk acts followed the Byrds into folk-rock, bringing their psychedelic influences with them, to produce the "San Francisco Sound".[10][23][nb 6]

Local scenes[edit]

United States[edit]
Typical psychedelic style poster. Iron Butterfly at the Carousel Ballroom.

The San Francisco music scene continued to develop as The Fillmore, the Avalon Ballroom, and The Matrix began booking local rock bands on a nightly basis. The first Trips Festival, sponsored by the Merry Pranksters and held at the Longshoremen's Hall in January 1966, saw The Grateful Dead, and Big Brother and the Holding Company play to an audience of 10,000, giving many their first encounter with both acid rock, with its long instrumentals and unstructured jams, and LSD.[41][nb 7]

A major figure in the expansion of the genre was promoter Bill Graham, whose first rock concert in 1965 was a benefit that included Allen Ginsberg and the then unknown Jefferson Airplane on the bill. He produced shows attracting most of the major psychedelic rock bands and operated The Fillmore. When this proved too small he took over Winterland and then the Fillmore West (in San Francisco) and the Fillmore East (in New York City), where the major rock artists, from both the US and the UK, came to play.[44]

Although San Francisco was the centre of American psychedelic music scene, many other American cities contributed significantly to the new genre.[8] Los Angeles boasted dozens of important psychedelic bands.[according to whom?][nb 8] New York City produced their share of psychedelic bands,[citation needed][nb 9] as did the Detroit area,[citation needed][nb 10] and Chicago (H. P. Lovecraft).[52][further explanation needed] Texas (particularly Austin) is often cited[by whom?] for its contributions to psychedelic music.[53][verification needed][nb 11]

United Kingdom[edit]

Before 1967, British media outlets for psychedelic culture were limited to stations like Radio Luxembourg and pirate radio like Radio London, particularly the programmes hosted by DJ John Peel.[54] The growth of underground culture was facilitated by the emergence of alternative weekly publications like IT (International Times) and OZ magazine which featured psychedelic and progressive music together with the counterculture lifestyle, which involved long hair, and the wearing of wild shirts from shops like Mr Fish, Granny Takes a Trip and old military uniforms from Carnaby Street (Soho) and Kings Road (Chelsea) boutiques.[55]

Soon psychedelic rock clubs like the UFO Club in Tottenham Court Road, Middle Earth Club in Covent Garden, The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, the Country Club (Swiss Cottage) and the Art Lab (also in Covent Garden) were drawing capacity audiences with psychedelic rock and ground-breaking liquid light shows.[56] A major figure in the development of British psychedelia was the American promoter and record producer Joe Boyd, who moved to London in 1966. He co-founded venues including the UFO Club, produced Pink Floyd's first single, "Arnold Layne" (1967), and went on to manage folk and folk rock acts including Nick Drake, the Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention.[57][58]

British psychedelic rock, like its American counterpart, had roots in the folk scene. Blues, drugs, jazz and eastern influences had featured since 1964 in the work of Davy Graham and Bert Jansch.[59] However, the largest strand was a series of bands that emerged from 1966 from the British blues scene, but influenced by folk, jazz and psychedelia, including Pink Floyd, Traffic, Soft Machine, Cream, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience (led by an American, but initially produced and managed in Britain by Chas Chandler of the Animals).[60]

1966: Beginnings[edit]

See also: Psychedelic pop
"Eight Miles High" is often cited as the first psychedelic rock song due to its impressionistic lyrics and and modal jazz influences.[61]

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Author Jim DeRogatis says the birth date of psychedelic (or acid) rock is "best listed at 1966".[62] In March 1966, the Byrds moved rapidly away from folk rock with their single "Eight Miles High", which made use of free jazz and Indian ragas, and the lyrics of which were widely taken to refer to drug use.[10] The result of this directness was limited airplay, and there was a similar reaction when Dylan, who had also electrified to produce his own brand of folk rock, released "Rainy Day Women ♯ 12 & 35" (April 1966), with its repeating chorus of "Everybody must get stoned!".[63]

The Beach Boys' album Pet Sounds (May 1966) is often considered one of the earliest in the canon of psychedelic rock.[64][nb 12] It contained many elements that would be incorporated into psychedelia, with its artful experiments, psychedelic lyrics based on emotional longings and self-doubts, elaborate sound effects and new sounds on both conventional and unconventional instruments.[66][67] Scholar Philip Auslander explains that even though psychedelic music is not normally associated with the Beach Boys, the "odd directions" and experiments in Pet Sounds "put it all on the map. ... basically that sort of opened the door — not for groups to be formed or to start to make music, but certainly to become as visible as say Jefferson Airplane or somebody like that."[30] According to The Kindland's Mike McPadden, the album "ignited a psychedelic pop revolution", inspiring mainstream pop acts to take part in the psychedelic culture.[68]

Like Pet Sounds, the Beatles' album Revolver (August 1966) explored musical soundscapes that could not be replicated on stage, even with the help of an orchestra,[69] and it helped precipitate the psychedelic pop style.[70][nb 13] That same month, the Texas band 13th Floor Elevators debuted with The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. They were the first group to advertise themselves as psychedelic rock, having done so since the end of 1965.[5][nb 14] Psychedelic Sounds was the first album to use "psychedelic" as part of its title.[5] Wondering Sound contributor Rachael Maddux writes that even though Pet Sounds and Psychedelic Sounds are considered early psychedelic rock albums, there are "obvious differences" in their music: "Even the album covers are a study in contrasts."[64]

The first acid (or psychedelic) rock single to break into the top 10 in popular music charts[not in citation given] was Count Five's "Psychotic Reaction" (June 1966). As in most early acid rock music, the song's most characteristic element was its replacement of the melodic electric guitar with howling feedback and distortion.[8] By the end of the year, the Beatles and the Beach Boys were the only acts to have high-charting psychedelic rock songs.[72] The Beach Boys' October 1966 single "Good Vibrations" was one of the first pop songs to incorporate psychedelic lyrics and sounds.[73][74][verification needed] As psychedelia gained prominence, Beach Boys-style harmonies would be ingrained into the newer psychedelic pop.[70]

1967–69: Peak years[edit]

Psychedelic rock reached its apogee in the last years of the decade.[citation needed] Key recordings included Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow (February 1967), the first album to come out of San Francisco during this era, which sold well enough to bring the city's music scene to the attention of the record industry: from it they took two of the earliest psychedelic hit singles: "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love".[75] The Doors' first hit single "Light My Fire" (May 1967), running for over seven minutes, became one of the defining records of the genre, although their follow up album Strange Days (September 1967) only enjoyed moderate success.[76]

February 1967 saw the Beatles release the double A-side "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane", opening a strain of British "pastoral"[77] or "nostalgic"[10] psychedelia, followed by the release of what is often seen as their definitive psychedelic statement in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (June 1967), including the controversial track "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".[78] The Small Faces managed to get drug references past the censors with their first single "Here Come the Nice" (June 1967).[79] Existing "British Invasion" acts now joined the psychedelic revolution, including Eric Burdon (previously of The Animals) and The Who, whose The Who Sell Out (December 1967) included psychedelic influenced tracks "I Can See for Miles" and "Armenia City in the Sky".[80] The Incredible String Band's The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (July 1967) developed their folk music into full blown psychedelia, which would be a major influence on psychedelic rock.[81]

The Redmond Stage at the Woodstock Festival in 1969

In America the Summer of Love of 1967 saw a huge number of young people from across America and the world travel to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, boosting the population from 15,000 to around 100,000.[82] It was prefaced by the Human Be-In event in March and reached its peak at the Monterey Pop Festival in June, the latter helping to make major American stars of Janis Joplin, lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jimi Hendrix, and the Who.[83] Santana, led by guitarist Carlos Santana, used Latin rhythms as the basis for their psychedelic music.[8]

These trends climaxed in the 1969 Woodstock festival, which saw performances by most of the major psychedelic acts, including Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead.[84] Psychedelic rock was glamorized on screen in Easy Rider (1969), which used songs including Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild" as part of its soundtrack.[8]

International expansion[edit]

The US and UK were the major centres of psychedelic music, but in the late 1960s scenes began to develop across the world, including continental Europe, Australasia, Asia and south and Central America.[85]


In the later 1960s psychedelic scenes developed in a large number of countries in continental Europe, including the Netherlands with bands like The Outsiders,[86] Denmark where it was pioneered by Steppeulvene,[87] and Germany, where musicians began to fuse music of psychedelia and the electronic avant-garde. 1968 saw the first major German rock festival in Essen,[88] and the foundation of the Zodiak Free Arts Lab in Berlin by Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and Conrad Schnitzler, which helped bands like Tangerine Dream and Amon Düül achieve cult status.[89]

Australia and New Zealand[edit]

The Bee Gees, one of the most commercially successful survivors of the psychedelic era, performing on Dutch television in 1968

Although only a few singles gained recognition outside the region, the thriving Australian and New Zealand rock scenes that formed in wake of Beatlemania produced a wealth of inventive and original psychedelic pop and rock music. Much of this was strongly influenced by British psychedelia, since many bands included first-generation British (and European) immigrants, and bands such as The Twilights, whose members were British immigrants, were able to keep up to date on current musical developments, thanks to regular "care packages" of the latest singles and albums, tapes and cassettes of radio broadcasts, and even the latest Mod fashions, sent to them by family and friends back in the UK.[90] After gaining local success, a number of these groups returned to the UK further their musical careers.[91] The most internationally successful Australian pop-rock band of this period were The Easybeats, formed in Sydney in 1964 by a group of English, Scottish and Dutch immigrants, who scored a string of local hits in Australia and became hugely popular there before travelling to the UK. They recorded their international hit "Friday on My Mind" (1966) in London and remained there for their forays into psychedelic-tinged pop until they disbanded in 1970.[92] A similar path was pursued by the Bee Gees, formed in Brisbane, but whose first album Bee Gees' 1st (1967), was recorded in London, and gave them three major hit singles and contained folk, rock and psychedelic elements, heavily influenced by the Beatles.[93]

Two bands that formed in Adelaide in the mid-1960s also figured prominently in Australian psychedelic pop/rock. The Masters Apprentices started out as a gritty R&B band in the style of the early Rolling Stones and the Pretty Things, but they rapidly absorbed the changes in music spearheaded by The Beatles, and during 1967 they released several accomplished psychedelic singles - "Wars or Hands of Time" (the B-side of their 1966 debut single "Undecided") is generally regarded as the first Australian pop single to address the Vietnam War; their second single "Buried and Dead" (1967), showed the unmistakable influence of the nascent "Raga rock" genre, and their third single, the psych-pop classic "Living In A Child's Dream", became a major national hit and was voted "Single of the Year" by the readers of the Australian pop magazine Go-Set. The group also performed at one of the first psychedelic "happenings" in Australia, the "Living In A Child's Dream Ball", staged on 14 October 1967 at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, which featured a full psychedelic light-show, with liquid slide projections, smoke machines and mirror balls, with the band wheeled to the stage inside a specially-constructed giant die.[94] All the groups' early singles tracks were penned by rhythm guitarist Mick Bower, who was sadly forced to quit the music scene for health reasons soon after "Living In A Child's Dream" was released, but after a period of upheaval, the band was able to continue with new members, scoring another Australian psych-pop hit in late 1967 with the classic Brian Cadd song "Elevator Driver".[95] The Twilights, also formed in Adelaide and likewise became nationwide pop stars in the mid-1960s before making the trip to London. Here they recorded a series of minor hits, and absorbing the psychedelic scene, before returning home in mid-1967, where they performed the entire Sgt Pepper's album live on stage some weeks before its official release in Australia. This was followed by the release of their psychedelic 1968 concept album Once upon a Twilight.[96]

Although The Easybeats were the only Australian band working in the psychedelic style to score a major international hit, many other Australian bands scored local or national hits with singles that were strongly influenced by psychedelic trends. This included the cult Brisbane-based group The Wild Cherries, led by guitarist Lobby Loyde, whose 1967 single "Krome Plated Yabby"/That's Life" combined influences from R&B, soul and psychedelia, and the single's driving B-side, "That's Life" is believed to be the first Australian pop single to employ phasing in its production.[97] The most successful New Zealand band of the period, The La De Das, produced the psychedelic pop concept album The Happy Prince (1968), based on the Oscar Wilde children's classic, but failed to break through in Britain and the wider world.[98]

Although British influences were predominant, a number of progressive Sydney-based groups such as Tamam Shud and Tully produced music that combined influences from Eastern mystical philosophy, avant-garde jazz and American psychedelic groups like The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Both bands also regularly collaborated with the experimental Sydney film and light-show collective Ubu, and Tully were also notable for being the first Australian group to buy and use a Moog synthesiser, as well as performing as the house band in the original Australian stage production of Hair, which premiered in Sydney in 1969.[99] Australian psychedelic music in the late 1960s peaked with the two singles by Melbourne singer Russell Morris. His 1969 solo debut "The Real Thing" (penned by mid-Sixties pop star Johnny Young) broke new ground in Australian popular music, both for its lavish production by Ian Meldrum and John L. Sayers - it was reputedly the most expensive Australian single ever produced up to that time - and for its running time of almost seven minutes, unprecedented for an Australian pop single. It became a national number one hit in Australia, where it charted for 23 weeks, and also went to number one on local charts in New York, Houston and Chicago. It was followed by "Part Three Into Paper Walls" (co-written by Young and Morris), which was deliberately crafted as a virtual "sequel" to "The Real Thing", featured similarly dazzling production, was just over seven minutes long, and gave Morris his second consecutive number one hit in Australia.[100]


A thriving psychedelic music scene in Cambodia, influenced by psychedelic rock and soul broadcast by US forces radio in Vietnam,[101] was pioneered by artists such as Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea.[102] In South Korea, Shin Jung-Hyeon, often considered the godfather of Korean rock, played psychedelic-influenced music for the American soldiers stationed in the country. Following Shin Jung-Hyeon, the band San Ul Lim (Mountain Echo) often combined psychedelic rock with a more folk sound.[103] In Turkey, Anatolian rock artist Erkin Koray blended classic Turkish music and Middle Eastern themes into his psychedelic-driven rock, helping to found the Turkish rock scene with artists such as Cem Karaca, Mogollar and Baris Manco.[104]

Latin America[edit]

Latin America proved a particularly fertile ground for psychedelic rock. The Brazilian psychedelic rock group Os Mutantes formed in 1966, although little known outside Brazil at the time (due to the fact that they recorded in Portuguese), they have since accrued a substantial international cult following.[105] Os Mutantes also played a central role in the short-lived but revolutionary Brazilian aesthetic movement Tropicália, also known as 'Tropicalismo' (Tropicalism), an anti-authoritarian artistic reaction to the repressive military junta that seized power in Brazil in 1964. Encompassing visual art, theatre, poetry and music, Tropicália combined the popular and the avant-garde, and fused traditional Brazilian culture with foreign influences, including contemporary developments in British and American psychedelic music, and above all the music of The Beatles.[106] As well as recording their own material, Os Mutantes collaborated with other key figures in the burgeoning Tropicalist movement, including singer-songwriter Gilberto Gil, whom they backed on Gil's second LP.[107]

The musical manifesto of the Tropicalist movement was the landmark 1968 collaborative LP Tropicália: ou Panis et Circencis ("Tropicalia: or Bread and Circuses") which brought together the talents of Os Mutantes, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Tom Zé and Gal Costa, with arrangements by avant-garde composer-arranger Rogerio Duprat (who had studied with Pierre Boulez) and lyrical contributions from poet Torquato Neto. The album's group cover photograph depicted the collective holding a variety of objects and images, in a deliberate reference to the cover of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The collective also performed a number of concert "happenings" which were intended to both involve and provoke audiences, and these reportedly had a similar effect on Brazilian audiences to that experienced by folk purists who witnessed Bob Dylan's early "electric" concerts - the performers sported long hair, wore outlandish psychedelic costumes, used electric guitars and amplification, and played at full volume. Brazil's military junta was becoming increasingly suspicious of the anarchic anti-establishment attitudes of the Tropicalistas, who also found themselves at odds with the nationalistic student left-wing, who favoured traditional Brazilian musical forms, and rejected what they saw as the corrupting influence of Western pop music.[citation needed]

In September 1968 Caetano Veloso gave two tumultuous performances at the third annual International Popular Song Festival in Rio, where the audience included a large contingent of left-wing students who were vehemently opposed to the Tropicalistas. When Veloso (backed by Os Mutantes) performed in the first round of the Festival's song competition on 12 September, he was initially greeted with enthusiastic applause, but the situation soon turned ugly. Dressed in a shiny green plastic suit, festooned with wires and necklaces strung with teeth, Veloso provoked the students with his sensual movements and startling new psychedelic music. He was bombarded by insults, jeers and boos from the students, who became even more incensed when American pop singer John Dandurand made a surprise appearance during the song. The ideological conflict climaxed three days later when Veloso returned for the second round of the competition on 15 September, at which he performed a new song entitled "Prohibido a Prohibir" ("It is Forbidden to Forbid"), which was recorded live and later released as single.[citation needed]

The students began hissing and booing as soon as Veloso's name was announced, and when he began his performance, his overtly sexual stage moves and the experimental music of Os Mutantes provoked an outpouring of anger - the audience began booing so loudly stood that Veloso could barely be heard, and a large number then stood and turned their backs on the performers, prompting Os Mutantes to turn their backs on the audience. As the song continued, the students pelted the stage with fruit, vegetables, eggs, paper balls and anything else that came hand. Veloso stopped playing and launched into a furious monologue, in which he excoriated the students for their conservatism. After being joined by Gilberto Gil, who came on stage to show his support, Veloso finished his diatribe by telling the students "... if you are the same in politics as you are in aesthetics, we’re done for!" and declaring he was withdrawing from the competition. He then deliberately finished the song out of tune, angrily shouted "Enough!" and walked off arm-in-arm with Gil and Os Mutantes.[108]

Tropicália had a major effect on the Brazilian music scene during its brief heyday (1967–68), and the main performers made regular appearances on Brazilian stage, television and radio, but the movement was abruptly shut down in early 1969, following a provocative December 1968 TV performance which parodied the Brazilian national anthem. Gil and Veloso were both arrested in February 1969 on the orders of the military junta - they were held in prison for three months without charge or trial, and after a further four months under house arrest, they were released on condition that they leave the country, and they spent the next few years in exile in the UK.[107] Others in the Tropicalist movement were treated even more harshly - several were arrested and tortured, or forced to undergo psychiatric 'treatment'.[citation needed]

Los Gatos in 1967

In the late 1960s, a wave of Mexican rock, heavily influenced by psychedelia and funk emerged, especially in northern border Mexican states, in particular, Tijuana, Baja California. Among the most recognized bands from this "Chicano Wave" (Onda Chicana in Spanish) were Three Souls in my Mind, Love Army, El Ritual[109] and Los Dug Dug's.[110] In Chile from 1967 to 1973, between the ending of the government of President Frei Montalva and the government of President Allende, a cultural movement was born from a few Chilean bands that emerged playing a unique fusion of folkloric music with heavy psychedelic influences. The 1967 release of Los Mac's album Kaleidoscope Men (1967) inspired bands such as Los Jaivas and Los Blops, the latter going on to collaborate with the iconic Chilean singer-songwriter Victor Jara on his 1971 album El derecho de vivir en paz.[111] Meanwhile, in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires, a burgeoning psychedelic scene gave birth to three of the most important bands in Argentine rock: Los Gatos, Manal and Almendra.[112]


By the end of the 1960s, psychedelic rock was in retreat. LSD had been made illegal in the US and UK in 1966.[113] In 1969, the murders of Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca by Charles Manson and his "family" of followers, claiming to have been inspired by Beatles' songs such as "Helter Skelter", has been seen as contributing to an anti-hippie backlash.[114] At the end of the same year, the Altamont Free Concert in California, headlined by the Rolling Stones, became notorious for the fatal stabbing of black teenager Meredith Hunter by Hells Angel security guards.[115] Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys (whose much anticipated Smile project would not emerge until 2004),[116][73] Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd were early "acid casualties", helping to shift the focus of the respective bands of which they had been leading figures.[117] Some groups, such as the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream, broke up.[118] Jimi Hendrix died in London in September 1970, shortly after recording Band of Gypsys (1970), Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose in October 1970 and they were closely followed by Jim Morrison of the Doors, who died in Paris in July 1971.[119] Many surviving acts moved away from psychedelia into either more back-to-basics "roots rock", traditional-based, pastoral or whimsical folk, the wider experimentation of progressive rock, or riff-based heavy rock.[10]

Jody Grind's One Step On gatefold record sleeve features UV/stroboscopic photography.

In 1966, even while psychedelic rock was becoming dominant, Bob Dylan spearheaded the back-to-basics roots revival when he went to Nashville to record the album Blonde on Blonde.[120][121] This, and the subsequent more clearly country-influenced albums, John Wesley Harding (1967) and Nashville Skyline (1969), have been seen as creating the genre of country folk.[121] Dylan's lead was also followed by The Byrds, joined by Gram Parsons to record Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968), helping to define the genre of country rock,[122] which became a particularly popular style in the California music scene of the late 1960s, and was adopted by former folk rock artists including Hearts and Flowers, Poco and New Riders of the Purple Sage.[122] Other acts that followed the back to basics trend in different ways were the Canadian group The Band and the Californian-based Creedence Clearwater Revival.[123] The Grateful Dead also had major successes with the more reflective and stripped back Workingman's Dead and American Beauty in 1970.[124] The super-group Crosby, Stills and Nash, formed in 1968 from members of The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Hollies, were joined by Neil Young for Deja Vu in 1970, which moved away from many of what had become the "clichés" of psychedelic rock and placed an emphasis on political commentary and vocal harmonies.[125]

After the death of their manager Brian Epstein and the unpopular surreal television film, Magical Mystery Tour, the Beatles returned to a raw style with The Beatles (1968), Abbey Road (1969) and Let It Be (1970), before their eventual break up.[10] The back to basics trend was also evident in The Rolling Stones' albums starting from Beggar's Banquet (1968) to Exile on Main St. (1972).[10] Fairport Convention released Liege and Lief in 1969, turning away from American-influenced folk rock toward a sound based on traditional British music and founding the subgenre of electric folk, to be followed by bands like Steeleye Span and Fotheringay.[126] The psychedelic-influenced and whimsical strand of British folk continued into the 1970s with acts including Comus, Mellow Candle, Nick Drake, The Incredible String Band, Forest and Trees and with Syd Barrett's two solo albums.[81]


Other genres[edit]

The Monkees, one of the most successful acts to delve into psychedelic pop, pictured in 1967

As psychedelia emerged as a mainstream and commercial force, particularly through the Beatles' Revolver, it began to influence pop music, which incorporated hippie fashions, as well as the sounds of sitars, fuzz guitars, and tape effects.[127] Scottish folk singer Donovan's transformation to 'electric' music gave him a series of pop hits, beginning with "Sunshine Superman", which reached number one in both Britain and the US, to be followed by "Mellow Yellow" (1966) and "Atlantis" (1968).[10][128] American pop-oriented bands that followed in this vein included the Electric Prunes, the Blues Magoos and the Strawberry Alarm Clock.[129] International acts such as the Bee Gees and the Easybeats were also prominent in the development of psychedelic pop.[92][130] Psychedelic sounds were also incorporated into the output of early bubblegum pop acts like The Monkees and The Lemon Pipers.[131]

Following the lead of Hendrix in rock, psychedelia began to influence African American musicians, particularly the stars of the Motown label.[132] This psychedelic soul was influenced by the civil rights movement, giving it a darker and more political edge than much acid rock.[132] Building on the funk sound of James Brown, it was pioneered from about 1968 by Sly and the Family Stone and The Temptations. Acts that followed them into this territory included the Supremes, The Chambers Brothers, The 5th Dimension,[133] Edwin Starr and the Undisputed Truth.[132] George Clinton's interdependent Funkadelic and Parliament ensembles and their various spin-offs took the genre to its most extreme lengths making funk almost a religion in the 1970s,[134] producing over forty singles, including three in the US top ten, and three platinum albums.[135] While psychedelic rock began to waver at the end of the 1960s, psychedelic soul continued into the 1970s, peaking in popularity in the early years of the decade, and only disappearing in the late 1970s as tastes began to change.[132] Acts like Earth, Wind and Fire, Kool and the Gang and Ohio Players, who began as psychedelic soul artists, incorporated its sounds into funk music and eventually the disco which partly replaced it.[136]

Rock music[edit]

Roxy Music in 1973

Many of the British musicians and bands that had embraced psychedelia went on to create progressive rock in the 1970s, including Pink Floyd, Soft Machine and members of Yes. King Crimson's album In the Court of the Crimson King (1969) has been seen as an important link between psychedelia and progressive rock.[137] While bands such as Hawkwind maintained an explicitly psychedelic course into the 1970s, most dropped the psychedelic elements in favour of wider experimentation.[138] The incorporation of jazz into the music of bands like Soft Machine and Can also contributed to the development of the jazz rock of bands like Colosseum.[139] As they moved away from their psychedelic roots and placed increasing emphasis on electronic experimentation, German bands like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Can and Faust developed a distinctive brand of electronic rock, known as kosmische musik, or in the British press as "Kraut rock".[140] The adoption of electronic synthesisers, pioneered by Popol Vuh from 1970, together with the work of figures like Brian Eno (for a time the keyboard player with Roxy Music), would be a major influence on subsequent electronic rock.[141] In Japan, Osamu Kitajima's 1974 psychedelic rock album Benzaiten utilized electronic equipment such as a synthesizer and drum machine, and one of the record's contributors was Haruomi Hosono,[142] who later started the electronic music band Yellow Magic Orchestra (as "Yellow Magic Band") in 1977.[143]

Psychedelic rock, with its distorted guitar sound, extended solos and adventurous compositions, has been seen as an important bridge between blues-oriented rock and later heavy metal. American bands whose loud, repetitive psychedelic rock emerged as early heavy metal included the Amboy Dukes and Steppenwolf.[8] From England, two former guitarists with the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, moved on to form key acts in the genre, The Jeff Beck Group and Led Zeppelin respectively.[144] Other major pioneers of the genre had begun as blues-based psychedelic bands, including Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest and UFO.[144][145] Psychedelic music also contributed to the origins of glam rock, with Marc Bolan changing his psychedelic folk duo into rock band T. Rex and becoming the first glam rock star from 1970.[146] From 1971 David Bowie moved on from his early psychedelic work to develop his Ziggy Stardust persona, incorporating elements of professional make up, mime and performance into his act.[147]


Main article: Neo-psychedelia

Neo-psychedelia (or acid punk)[148] is a diverse subgenre of alternative/indie rock that originated in the 1970s as an outgrowth of the British post-punk scene. Its practitioners drew from the unusual sounds of 1960s psychedelic music, either updating or copying the approaches from that era. Neo-psychedelia may include forays into psychedelic pop, jangly guitar rock, heavily distorted free-form jams, or recording experiments.[149]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Their keyboardist, Bruce Johnston, would go on to join the Beach Boys in 1965. He would recall: "[LSD is] something I've never thought about and never done."[28]
  2. ^ Previously, Indian instrumentation had been included in Ken Thorne's orchestral score for the band's Help! film soundtrack.[35]
  3. ^ And more explicitly in "Doctor Robert" (August 1966)[37]
  4. ^ The Rolling Stones had drug references and psychedelic hints in their singles "19th Nervous Breakdown" (February 1966) and "Paint It, Black" (May 1966), the latter featuring drones and sitar.[10]
  5. ^ Whether this was intended as a drug reference was unclear, but the line would enter rock music when the song was a hit for the Byrds later in the year.[13] Dylan indicated that he had smoked cannabis, but has denied using hard drugs. Nevertheless, his lyrics would continue to contain apparent drug references.[25]
  6. ^ Particularly prominent[according to whom?] products of the scene were The Grateful Dead (who had effectively become the house band of the Acid Tests),[24] Country Joe and the Fish, The Great Society, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Charlatans, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jefferson Airplane.[10]
  7. ^ Also from San Francisco, Blue Cheer played psychedelic-influenced rock in a blues-rock style.[42][43][further explanation needed]
  8. ^ Besides the Byrds, these included Iron Butterfly, Love, Spirit, Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, The United States of America, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and the Electric Prunes;[45] perhaps[according to whom?] the most commercially successful were The Doors.[46] Frank Zappa and his group The Mothers of Invention began to incorporate psychedelic influences in their first two albums Freak Out! (1966) and Absolutely Free (1967).[47][further explanation needed]
  9. ^ Including folk pioneers the Fugs, the Godz, and Pearls Before Swine, besides the Blues Magoos, the Blues Project,[48] Lothar and the Hand People[49] and the blues-influenced Vanilla Fudge.[50]
  10. ^ Including the Amboy Dukes, and the SRC,[51]
  11. ^ Along with the 13th Floor Elevators, it produced acts including Bubble Puppy, Lost and Found, The Golden Dawn, The Zakary Thaks, and Red Crayola.[53]
  12. ^ Brian Boyd of The Irish Times credits the Byrds' Fifth Dimension (July 1966) with being the first psychedelic album.[65]
  13. ^ Revolver also featured the Beatles' first psychedelic song: "Tomorrow Never Knows".[71]
  14. ^ The term was first used in print in the Austin American Statesman in an article about the band titled "Unique Elevators shine with psychedelic rock", dated 10 February 1966.[5]


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