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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. It emerged during the mid 1960s among garage and folk rock bands in Britainmarker and the United Statesmarker. Psychedelic rock bridged the transition from early blues-based rock to progressive rock, art rock, experimental rock, hard rock and eventually heavy metal. It also drew on non-Western sources such as Indian music's ragas, drone and sitar.


The musical style typically features:
  • electric guitars -- 12-strings being preferred for their 'jangle';
  • elaborate studio effects, such as backwards taping, panning (sound placement in the stereo field), phasing, long delay loops, and extreme reverb;
  • exotic instrumentation, with a particular fondness for the sitar and tabla;
  • a strong keyboard presence, especially Hammond, Farfisa, and Vox Organs, the Rhodes electric piano, Harpsichords, and the Mellotron (an early tape-driven 'sampler');
  • a strong emphasis on extended instrumental solos; and/or
  • modal melodies and surreal, esoterically-inspired, or whimsical lyrics;
  • Rather than writing about love or poverty they would write about literature. For example, White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane is based on the novel Alice in Wonderland.


In 1962, British rock embarked on a frenetic race of ideas that spread back to the U.S. with the British Invasion. The folk music scene also experimented with outside influences. In the tradition of jazz and blues many musicians began to take drugs and included drug references in their songs. Beat Generation writers like William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and especially the new exponents of consciousness expansion such as Timothy Leary, Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley profoundly influenced the thinking of the new generation.

The term "psychedelic" first appeared in the lyrics of "Hesitation Blues"., which was released by "acid-folk" group The Holy Modal Rounders in 1964. In late 1965, The Beatles unveiled their brand of psychedelia on the Rubber Soul album, which featured "The Word", John Lennon's first paean to universal love and "Norwegian Wood", a sitar-laden tale of attempted hippy hedonism, also written by John Lennon.

The first use of the term "psychedelic rock" was on the business card of the Texas-based band 13th Floor Elevators', designed by John Cleveland, and circulated in December 1965. The term was first used in print in the Austin Statesman in an article about the band titled "Unique Elevators shine with Psychedelic Rock" , dated 10 February 1966 and theirs was the first album to use the term as part of its title, in The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, released in August that year. Jeff Beck claimed that British rock act The Yardbirds were "the very first psychedelic band really" releasing singles: "Shapes of Things", "Over Under Sideways Down" and "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" in 1966.

Mid 1960s

United States

Psychedelia began in the United Statesmarker' folk scene with New York City's Holy Modal Rounders introducing the term in 1964 in its folk music of the first and second album. Other early New York bands included The Fugs and The Godz. A similar band called Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions from San Francisco were influenced by The Byrds and The Beatles to switch from acoustic music to electric music in 1965. Renaming themselves the Warlocks, they fell in with Ken Kesey's LSD-fueled Merry Pranksters in November 1965, and changed their name to the Grateful Dead the following month. The Grateful Dead played to s at the Pranksters' "Acid Tests", with pulsing images being projected over the group in what became a widespread practice.
Typical psychedelic style poster.
Iron Butterfly at the Carousel Ballroom.

Their sound soon became identified as acid rock, which they played at the first Trips Festival in January 1966, along with Big Brother and the Holding Company. The festival, held at the Longshoremen's Hall, was attended by some 10,000 people. For most of the attendees, it was their first encounter with both acid-rock and LSD. Another band called The Ethix, which originally played R&B, started to experiment with electronics, tape transformations and wild improvisations, and as their music transformed, The Ethix transformed into Fifty Foot Hose.

Throughout 1966, the San Francisco music scene flourished, as the Fillmore, the Avalon Ballroom, and The Matrixmarker began booking local rock bands on a nightly basis. The emerging "San Francisco Sound" made local stars of numerous bands, including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Charlatans, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe and the Fish, The Great Society, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off was the first album to come out of San Francisco during this era and sold well enough to bring the city's music scene to the attention of the record industry.

Jefferson Airplane gained greater fame the following year with two of the earliest psychedelic hit singles: "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love". Both these songs had originated with the band The Great Society, whose singer Grace Slick, left to join Jefferson Airplane, taking the two compositions with her.

Although San Franciscomarker receives much of the credit for jump-starting the psychedelic music scene, many other American cities contributed significantly to the new genre. Los Angeles boasted dozens of important psychedelic bands, including the Byrds, Iron Butterfly, Love, Spirit, the United States of America,The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and The Doors, among others. New York City produced its share of psychedelic bands such as the Blues Magoos, the Blues Project, Bermuda Triangle Band, Electric Prunes, Lothar and the Hand People. and the Third Bardo. The Detroit area gave rise to psychedelic bands the Amboy Dukes, Funkadelic and the SRC. Texas (particularly Austin) is often cited for its contributions to psychedelic music, being home to the groundbreaking 13th Floor Elevators, as well as Bubble Puppy, Shiva's Headband, The Golden Dawn, the Zakary Thaks, Red Krayola, and many others. Chicago produced the H. P. Lovecraft.

The Byrds went psychedelic in March 1966 with "Eight Miles High", a song with odd vocal harmonies and an extended guitar solo that guitarist Roger McGuinn states was inspired by Raga and John Coltrane.

In 1965, members of Rick And The Ravens and The Psychedelic Rangers came together with Jim Morrison to form The Doors. They made a demo tape for Columbia Records in September of that year, which contained glimpses of their later acid-rock sound. When nobody at Columbia wanted to produce the band, they were signed by Elektra Records, who released their debut album in January 1967. It contained their first hit single, "Light My Fire." Clocking in at over 7 minutes, it became one of the first rock singles to break the mold of the three-minute pop song, although the version usually played on AM radio was a much-shorter version. Later, in the summer of 1967, the group's second album Strange Days further explored the psychedelic sound.

In 1966 The Beach Boys, with their squeaky-clean image, seemed unlikely as psychedelic types. Their music, however, grew more psychedelic and experimental, perhaps due in part to writer/producer/arranger Brian Wilson's increased drug usage and burgeoning mental illness. In 1966, responding to the Beatles' innovations, they produced their album Pet Sounds and later that year had a massive hit with the psychedelic single "Good Vibrations". Wilson's magnum opus SMiLE (which was never finished, and was remade by Wilson with a new band in 2004), Smiley Smile and Wild Honey also shows this growing experimentation.

The psychedelic influence was also felt in some mainstream R&B music, where record labels such as Motown dabbled for a while with psychedelic soul, producing such hits as "Ball of Confusion " and "Psychedelic Shack" (by The Temptations) and "Reflections" (by Diana Ross & the Supremes). Although not a Motown product the 11-minute-long "Time Has Come Today" by The Chambers Brothers falls in the same category. Sly and the Family Stone, a racially integrated group whose roots were in soul and R&B, created music influenced by psychedelic rock. This is especially evident on their breakthrough second album, Dance to the Music.


A major difference between psychedelic rock in Britain and its American counterpart is the role it played in a media revolution that changed the face of musical broadcasting, the music business and to a lesser degree, music publications nationwide.
This 'gate fold' record sleeve features UV/stroboscopic photography.
Prior to the launch of BBC Radio 1 on 30 September 1967, BBC radio consisted of three stations. The Home Service was devoted to news and current events (roughly equivalent to today's Radio 4), the Third Programme covered classical music etc. (equivalent to the modern Radio 3), and the Light Programme carried popular entertainment, with very little aimed at teenagers or younger listeners, having just two pop shows, Saturday Club and Easy Beat. With the new stations, the Light Programme was split into the chart-oriented Radio 1 for a younger audience, and Radio 2 for more traditional popular entertainment. These shows were ultra-conservative and almost (if not completely) ignored the "progressive" or "underground" groups both from America (Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, Doors, Byrds etc.) and those in England like Hawkwind, The Move, and The Yardbirds. , which reached most of England, was a little more progressive but still largely ignored the new music scene.

The only real exposure that these groups could get was live performances in a handful of small clubs, mostly in London, with a few in other major cities. The advent of Pirate Radio and in particular a pirate disc jockey, John Peel, Ex Radio London of the 1960s changed all that. Suddenly these progressive bands were able to reach a mass audience, and at their peak the pirates were boasting greater audiences than the BBC. Adding to the impact and impression of a cultural revolution was the emergence of alternative weekly publications like IT (International Times) and OZ magazine which featured psychedelic and progressive music together with the counter culture lifestyle. Soon psychedelic rock clubs like the UFO Club in Tottenham Court Roadmarker, Middle Earth Club in Covent Gardenmarker, The Roundhousemarker in Chalk Farm, the Country Club (Swiss Cottage) and the Art Lab (also in Covent Garden) were drawing capacity audience with psychedelic rock and ground-breaking liquid light shows.

Psychedelic rock audiences were also a major break with tradition. Wearing long hair and wild shirts from shops like Mr Fish, Granny Takes a Trip and old military uniforms from Carnaby Streetmarker (Sohomarker) and Kings Road (Chelsea) boutiques, they were in stark contrast to the slick, tailored Teddyboys or the drab, conventional dress of most teenagers prior to that.

Psychedelic rock in Britain, in common with its American counterpart, had its roots in the progressive folk and folk rock genres, and in the beat music of the early 1960s. In much the same way that The Great Society and the original Jefferson Airplane were electrified folk bands, the same was true of many early psychedelic bands in the Britain. In the folk scene itself blues, drugs, jazz and eastern influences had featured since 1964 in the work of Davy Graham and Bert Jansch. Folk singer Donovan's transformation to 'electric' music gave him a 1966 hit with "Sunshine Superman," one of the very first overtly psychedelic pop records. In 1967 the Incredible String Band's The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion developed this into full blown psychedelia.

In December 1965, The Beatles' "Rubber Soul" album, marked the beginning of the demise of their pop 'mop-tops' image. "Norwegian Wood", is one of the first rock songs that used an Indian Sitar. The August 1966 album by The Beatles, Revolver, shows a psychedelic influence with songs like "Tomorrow Never Knows", "I'm Only Sleeping", "Love You To" and "Yellow Submarine". The Yardbirds released Roger the Engineer in the same year. Jeff Beck's experimentation with fuzz-tone, feedback and distortion along with his trademark note-bending style set a high standard for future psychedelic experimenters. Hearing "Still I'm Sad" made Daevid Allen decide to form his first rock band.

Eddie Phillips, guitarist of The Creation, developed the technique of scraping a violin or cello bow across guitar strings to produce surreal sounds during their live performances of the time. Jimmy Page later popularised this technique.

Pink Floyd began developing s to go with their experimental rock music as early as 1965, and in 1966 the Soft Machine formed. From a blues rock background, the British supergroup Cream debuted in December. The Jimi Hendrix Experience with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell brought Jimi Hendrix fame in Britain, and later in his American homeland.

Pink Floyd's "Arnold Layne" in March 1967 only hinted at their live sound; the Beatles' ground-breaking album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was recorded on nearly all of the same dates as Pink Floyd's first album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Cream unveiled their own psychedelic sounds with the release of Disraeli Gears in the same year. Other artists joining the psychedelic revolution included Eric Burdon (previously of The Animals), and The Small Faces. The Who's Sell Out had two early psychedelic tracks, "I Can See for Miles" and "Armenia City in the Sky", but the album concept was out of tune with the times, and it was their later album Tommy that established them in the scene. The Crazy World of Arthur Brown added surreal theatrical touches to its dark psychedelic sounds, such as the singer's flaming headdress.

One of the most influential records of 1967 was "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum, which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart on 8 June 1967, and stayed there for six weeks.

The Rolling Stones had drug references and psychedelic hints in their 1966 singles "19th Nervous Breakdown" and "Paint It, Black", then released the fully psychedelic Their Satanic Majesties Request the next year. They followed this with the release of Jumpin' Jack Flash and Beggars Banquet in 1968. Their disastrous concert at Altamontmarker in 1969 appears to mark the end of the Stones' psychedelic period.

With their 1967 releases, The Beatles set the mark for this genre. "Strawberry Fields Forever" was originally intended for an album about nostalgia and childhood. It was released as a double-A sided single along with "Penny Lanemarker" on February 13, 1967 in the UK and on February 17, 1967 in the U.S. "Strawberry Fields Forever" induced a "magic carpet" of sound, with its unusual chord progression, a kaleidoscope of instruments and effects, and an unusual edit of two completely separate versions (the latter of which had to be slowed down to fit.) topped off with a false ending. The album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (partially influenced by their studio neighbours Pink Floyd - then recording The Piper at the Gates of Dawn - and vice versa) was a veritable encyclopaedia of psychedelia (among other elements), as well as an explosion of creativity that would set the standard for rock albums decades later. From the title track to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" to "Within You Without You" to "A Day in the Life", the album showcased a wildly colourful palette, with unpredictable changes in rhythm, texture, melody, and tone colour that few groups could equal. The single "All You Need Is Love", debuted for a worldwide audience on the "Our World" television special, restated the message of "The Word" but with a Sgt. Pepper style arrangement. The Beatles continued in the style of "Strawberry Fields Forever" with the EP Magical Mystery Tour and the number one single "Hello, Goodbye" with its avant-garde B-side "I Am The Walrus". After the death of Brian Epstein and the unpopular television film, Magical Mystery Tour, the band returned to a more raw style in 1968, albeit a more earthy and complex version than had been heard before Rubber Soul.

Around the same time The Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper, another British group, The Bee Gees, were recording their first international album. Upon returning to England from Australia, they wrote and recorded their debut LP, Bee Gees' 1st, which contained such psychedelic songs such as "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You", "New York Mining Disaster 1941" and "Turn of the Century". The Bee Gees continued throughout the remainder of the 60s in the psychedelic/baroque rock style with albums such as Horizontal, Idea and the classic double album Odessa. After a 16 month break-up and reunion, The Bee Gees reinvented their sound in a more R&B/Soul style. Many rock critics consider the 1960s era Bee Gees as their classic period.

1968 produced further innovative UK releases, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Tomorrow recorded one of the most eccentric offerings of the season. The Small Faces released one of rock's first concept albums, Ogden's Nut Gone Flake (at least on side two), with its tale of Happiness Stan's search for the missing half of the moon. "Itchycoo Park" was the first song to use flanging - the effect discovered by British recording engineer George Chkiantz in 1967. Odessey and Oracle by The Zombies, which was recorded at Abbey Road immediately after Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, was the first album to seriously feature the Mellotron, an innovation brought about because they couldn't afford to pay for session musicians. Meanwhile, The Moody Blues went off In Search of the Lost Chord. As Psychedelia had become more mainstream, many of the phenomenon's originators were spending more and more time on extensive tours, and further influencing the development of new groups all over the globe.

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealandmarker have long been overlooked in the history of popular music, especially in relation to psychedelic rock and pop, although it was a fertile region for recordings in this genre. One of the main reasons for the relative obscurity of Australian psychedelia was that few bands from the region had any significant commercial success outside their home countries; the most notable exception was The Easybeats, who scored an international hit in late 1966 with their classic single "Friday On My Mind" (which was in fact recorded in the UK).Another limiting factor was that some of the best Australasian psychedelic records were pressed in tiny quantities (sometimes as few as 250 copies) and very few ever gained significant overseas distribution (if any). As a result, releases from these countries were for many years known only to a small coterie of international music fans and, not surprisingly, their rarity means that they now command high prices on the collector's market. However, since the advent of the CD and the re-release of many of these important recordings, the original psychedelic rock of the 1960s from Australia and New Zealand has gradually gained wider recognition, culminating in the inclusion of a number of seminal tracks on the second volume of the famous Nuggets series, originated by US musician Lenny Kaye.

Local musicians and producers were heavily influenced by innovations in British and American psychedelic music, although, for several reasons, British music had a somewhat stronger influence. One major factor was that the EMI company had long enjoyed the dominant market position in both countries. Another influence was that many Australasian bands like The Easybeats and The Twilights included members who were recent immigrants from the UK. Also, it was common for many groups to receive regular "care packages" from relatives and friends in Britain, containing singles, albums, the latest Carnaby Streetmarker fashions and even off-air tape recordings of British and European radio broadcasts. As a result, considering the distance and travel times involved, local Australian and New Zealand bands were kept remarkably up to date with the latest trends. The Bee Gees (then living in Australia) are known to have recorded cover versions of Beatles songs like "Rain" and "Paperback Writer" within days of the singles being released in the UK.

Several Australian groups traveled to the UK during this fertile period -- The Easybeats went to London in late 1966, and around the same time Australia's other leading pop band The Twilights won the inaugural Hoadleys National Battle of the Sounds competition, enabling them to also travel to the UK. As they were signed to EMI, The Twilights were able to record at the legendary Abbey Road during the period of the making of Sgt Peppers. On returning to Australia in early 1967, they wowed audiences in Melbourne by performing complete live renditions of the entire Sgt Peppers album, weeks before it was even released in the UK.

Although the standard of recording studios in Australia and New Zealand lagged several years behind those in the UK and the USA, local producers and engineers like Pat Aulton kept in close touch with the latest overseas trends and worked hard to fashion equivalent sounds for local acts, despite many technical challenges (including the fact that Australia did not get its first commercial 8-track studio until 1969). Local producers and musicians created a significant body of psychedelic recordings, and notable albums and singles recorded by Australian/New Zealand acts in the late 1960s include:

  • "Friday On My Mind", "Land of Make Believe", "Heaven and Hell", "Pretty Girl", "Peculiar Hole In The Sky" (The Easybeats)
  • "Early In The Morning" ( )
  • "The Loved One", "Everlovin' Man", Magic Box (The Loved Ones)
  • "Living In A Child's Dream", "Elevator Driver" (The Masters Apprentices)
  • "What's Wrong With The Way I Live", "Cathy Come Home", "9:50", "Comin' On Down", Once upon A Twilight LP (The Twilights)
  • "The Happy Prince" (The La De Das)
  • "The Real Thing", "Part Three: Into Paper Walls" (Russell Morris)
  • "Lady Sunshine", Evolution LP (Tamam Shud)

Other countries

The invention of psychedelic music in the US quickly spread and was followed all over the world. The first continental Europe band was Group 1850, of The Netherlandsmarker, formed in 1964, first album in 1968. The Brazilian psychedelic rock group Os Mutantes formed in 1966, and although little known outside Brazil at the time, their recordings have since accrued a substantial international cult following. Erkin Koray, a famous Turkishmarker Anatolian Rock artist released his first psychedelic rock track Anma Arkadaş in 1967 and subsequently became a Turkish music legend. Many Turkish bands followed his example and during the late 60's psychedelic rock became very popular in Turkey.

In the late 1960s, a wave of Mexican rock heavily influenced by psychedelic and funk rock emerged in several northern border Mexican states, in particular in Tijuana, Baja California. Among the most recognized bands from this "Chicano Wave" (Onda Chicana in Spanish), there is one in particular that was recognized by their originality. The band Love Army derived from the Tijuana Five and was formed by Alberto Isiordia (aka El Pajaro), Salvador Martinez, Jaime Valle, Fernando Vahaux, Ernesto Hernandez, Mario Rojas and Enrique Sida.

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" inspired many 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."

Meanwhile in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires, a burgeoning psychedelic scene gave birth to three of the most important bands in Argentine Rock: Los Gatosmarker, Manal and perhaps most importantly Almendra. Almendra was fronted by Luis Alberto Spinetta who penned most of the band's songs on their two albums released in 1969 and 1970, drawing on a number of influences including Blues, Jazz and Folk. Spinetta's first solo release in 1971 "Spinettalandia y Sus Amigos - La Búsqueda de la Estrella" is also notable for its strong psychedelic influences. Spinetta has since gone on to enjoy a long and successful career in Argentina.

A thriving psychedelic music scene in Cambodiamarker was pioneered by Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea. In 1972, from Canada, Frank Marino's Mahogany Rush, named for Marino's experience while doing LSD, offered the album "Maxoom" in the psychedelic genre. The title song Maxoom is another early psychedelic song. The band followed this release with Child of the Novelty in 1974. The cover art is an artists representation of Marino's description of an acid trip.

A typical psychedelic rock band emerged in Pakistanmarker in 1985 by the name of Junoon. Junoon characteristically used tabla and other folk instruments in their albums. Because of the psychedelic nature and heavy sufi lyrics, the band was labeled as a sufi rock band in their tours through out the world.

Late 1960s

Many of the bands that pioneered psychedelic rock had moved on to explore other styles of music by the end of the 1960s. The increasingly hostile political environment and the embrace of amphetamines, heroin and cocaine by the underground led to a turn toward harsher music. At the same time, Bob Dylan released John Wesley Harding and the Band released Music from Big Pink, both albums that followed a roots-oriented approach. Many bands in England and America followed suit. Eric Clapton cites Music from Big Pink as a contributory factor in quitting Cream, for example. The Grateful Dead who had been a strong force in the Haight-Ashburymarker psychedelic scene also went back to basics and had major successes with Workingman's Dead and American Beauty in 1970, then continued to develop their live music and produce a long string of records over the next twenty-five years.

Miles Davis released In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew in 1969. These two releases brought Jazz-Rock Fusion to the attention of the Flower-Power generation, electrifying Jazz in the same way that Dylan had electrified Folk music several years earlier. Acid jazz was another outgrowth of this musical interaction. Within the rock camp, musical styles diverged between wild progressive experimentation and back-to-roots fundamentalism, but with an all-round increase in sophistication.

Fairport Convention released What We Did On Our Holidays in January and Dr. Strangely Strange followed suit with Kip of the Serenes later in the year. British Folk-Rock artists eschewed the Country-Rock styles of their American counterparts in favour of traditional British folk tunes and tended to be lyrically less political and more prone to flights of magical fantasy. This whimsical branch of Psychedelia bore much equally strange fruit over the next decade, including releases by Alan Stivell, Comus, Fotheringay, Gentle Giant, Gryphon, Jethro Tull, Mellow Candle, Nick Drake, Pentangle, Roy Harper, Sandy Denny, The Incredible String Band and Trees. The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band has to be mentioned somewhere round here along with Syd Barrett's two solo albums.

Woodstock Music and Art Fairmarker (Woodstock Festival) took place in August 1969 and became one of the most celebrated events in Rock music history which had notable performers such as Jimi Hendrix and Santana. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, The second Isle of Wright attracted notable performers such as Bob Dylan and The Who.

The positive atmosphere was sadly not to last long; News of the Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca murders committed by Charles Manson and his "family" of followers, claiming to have been inspired by Beatles' Songs, such as Helter Skelter, darkened the horizon. At the end of the year, a free concert was heldmarker at the Altamont Speedwaymarker in California. The concert, which was headlined by The Rolling Stones, was marred by crowd violence. The event became notorious for the now-famous "Gimme Shelter" incident because of the fatal stabbing of black teenager Meredith Hunter in front of the stage by Hells Angel security guards after he allegedly pulled out a revolver during the Stones' performance.

The Flower Power era had inspired many new bands to experiment with sound in ways that went beyond the fashion of the times. Despite these set-backs, the psychedelic soup continued to bubble away. Bubble Puppy's album A Gathering of Promises demonstrates the degree of sophistication that Psychedelic Pop had reached by the end of the '60s.

German band Can instantiated the development of Krautrock with the release of their Monster Movie album. Along with European experimentalists Amon Düül II, Ash Ra Tempel, Guru Guru, Harmonia, Neu! and Xhol Caravan they incorporated avant-garde composition techniques, improvisation and experimental rhythms into their music. Neu!'s 'Motorik' beat was an influential precursor to the drum-machine grooves of the '80s. Can's adoption of World Music influences and particularly North African rhythms lent releases such as Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi, and Future Days a particularly unique sound.

Other artists like David Vorhaus and Delia Derbyshire pursued the potential of new soundscapes made possible by the development of electronic musical instruments, as the Silver Apples had done before them, in their album of experimental electronica An Electric Storm - released under the moniker of White Noise. During the 1970s, pure synthesiser music would be further developed by artists like Tangerine Dream and Tim Blake.

In Brazil, Os Mutantes were drawn into the Tropicália movement, while Santana adopted electrified Latin rhythms to form the basis of their music on Abraxas and Caravanserai.


In March 1970, the new super-group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released Deja Vu. CSNY was formed from members of The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Hollies and went on to become one of the biggest selling artists of this era. In May four students at Kent State University in Ohio were killed by National Guardsmen at a demonstration to protest against The USA's invasion of Cambodia, the subject was covered by Neil Young in his song Ohio. He split Crosby, Stills, and Nash to pursue a solo career and release many albums over the next couple of decades. Many of the original Psychedelic bands like The Beach Boys, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Spirit, Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Nazz and Vanilla Fudge were still producing albums in the early '70s. Todd Rundgren left Nazz and released numerous solo albums such as: A Wizard, A True Star; Faithful; and Initiation, earning himself a dedicated cult following.

In mid 1970, The Beatles announced that they had split up. All of the remaining members went on to pursue solo careers. The groups last studio album Let It Be went straight to number one as did the singles "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road".

Whereas American psychedelia was informed by radical politics and the experience of war in Vietnam, British Psychedelia expressed much more of a whimsical domesticity, a fascination with childhood as a lost age of innocence and a hankering after the pastoral idyll. Lyrical ideas were inspired by a healthy dose of fantasy from the likes of Tolkien, Lewis Carrol and the Wind in the Willows, and further modulated by the free availability of magic mushrooms. As the 1970s progressed, Glam rock, Heavy metal, Progressive rock, Folk and Jazz rock styles took over the fashionable focus, but many artists still held to Hippy ideals, producing some of their finest work in this era.

The third Isle of Wight festival took place over 5 days in August 1970. Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, The Doors, The Who, Procol Harum, Tony Joe White and Redbone were the main headliners. Hawkwind played for free outside the gates in protest against ticket prices and to promote their eponymous first album. Festivals became regular fixtures during the British summers of the 1970s. The first Glastonbury Festival was held in 1971 on a little farm in Somerset. Hawkwind became champions of the Free Festival movement, playing at Windsor Free Festival and subsequently regularly headlined Stonehenge Free Festival. They released numerous albums: Doremi Fasol Latido; In Search of Space; Space Ritual; Warrior On The Edge Of Time; In The Hall Of The Mountain Grill; Astounding Sounds Amazing Music; and Quark Strangeness and Charm and were a major influence in the development of Space Rock and Heavy metal along with High Tide and Blue Cheer. This period of Hawkwind's long history is also notable for the particular contribution of Robert Calvert as vocalist and lyricist.

Jimi Hendrix died in London in September, shortly after recording Band of Gypsies and Janis Joplin Died of heroin overdose in October 1970. The two were closely followed by Jim Morrison, who died in Paris in July 1971. The Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll lifestyle had started to take its toll.

Alongside the progressive stream, space rock bands such as Hawkwind, Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come and Gong maintained a more explicitly psychedelic course into the 1970s. 1971 saw the release of Camembert Electrique by Gong, who combined World Music with Jazz Rock and an absurdist storyline to produce the Radio Gnome trilogy: Flying Teapot; Angel's Egg; and You. Gong were loosely aligned with a musical collective based in the 'Home Counties' of England that became known as the Canterbury Scene. The music of Arthur Brown, Arzachel, Caravan, Egg, Hatfield & the North, Kevin Ayers, Khan, Matching Mole, National Health, Robert Wyatt, Soft Machine and Steve Hillage is unified to some degree by its experimentation with odd time-signatures, jazz structures and it's rather homely, dadaist lyrical concepts.

Many of the musicians and bands that continued to embrace psychedelia went on to create progressive rock in the 1970s, which maintained the love of unusual sounds and extended solos but added jazz and classical influences to the mix. For example, progressive rock group Yes sprang out of three British psychedelic bands: Syn (featuring Chris Squire), Tomorrow (featuring Steve Howe) and Mabel Greer's Toy Shop (Jon Anderson). Also, psychedelic rock strongly influenced early heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath. Psychedelic rock, with its distorted guitar sound and adventurous compositions can be seen as an important bridge between heavy metal and earlier blues oriented rock.

In 1973, Pink Floyd released their epic album, The Dark Side of the Moon which would later be called by Rolling Stone Magazine as "the Ultimate concept album". The Dark Side of the Moon would spend a record breaking 14 years in the music charts.

Psychedelia resurfaced in the work of other Progressive Rock acts like Curved Air, King Crimson, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, Quiet Sun, Supersister and The Enid. The Moody Blues continued to develop their symphonic themes over the course of several albums: A Question Of Balance; Every Good Boy Deserves Favour; On The Threshold of a Dream; Seventh Sojourn; and To Our Children's Children. Traffic also produced several classics of the genre during this time including John Barleycorn Must Die and Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory.

Brian Eno released Here Come the Warm Jets in February 1974, followed by Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy in November. Albums released by 801, Phil Manzanera, Roy Wood and Wizzard during this time period also display strong Psychedelic tendencies.

In February 1974, Jefferson Airplane changed their name to Jefferson Starship for legal reasons. In 1970 the Airplane's Paul Kantner released the psychedelic-influenced concept album Blows Against The Empire that included members of the Grateful Dead. Detailing the hijack and takeover of a spacecraft by a group of angry hippies, the album marked the first use of the Jefferson Starship moniker.

Albums released before the mid 1970s name change include: Volunteers, B.A.R.K. and Sunfighter.

The Grateful Dead took 1975 off from touring. The pressure of the ever-expanding organization required to produce albums and deal with the logistics of touring was getting out of hand. The "Wall of Sound" PA that dominated live shows was stretching their resources beyond endurable limits and forcing them to play bigger and bigger halls. Notable albums from this period include: Europe '72; Blues For Allah; and Terrapin Station.

In November 1976 the Sex Pistols released their first single, Anarchy in the UK. Some punk and hardcore bands were influenced by psychedelic rock, such as The Dead Kennedys. Their notorious song, Holiday in Cambodia, has flanging on the lead guitar riff and a psychedelic guitar solo. Punk bands who drew on psychedelic rock either did so as parody or out of a genuine affection for the music and an interest in experimentation, which would continue in post-punk. Though Paisley Underground artists like The Three O'Clock were rooted in 1960s psychedelia, they played it with an approach and energy that was taken directly from punk. This was evidenced in playing it at punk tempos and a fascination with punk rock's roots in psychedelia and garage rock. Psychedelic rock also influenced garage punk of the 1980s onwards.

Roland released the first programmable drum machine, the CR-88 and the DR55 in the following year.

Gryphon released their last album Treason and were then dropped by EMI to make way for the Sex Pistols.

Sandy Denny died aged 31 of a cerebral haemorrhage, after falling down a flight of stairs on 21 April .

Psychedelia gained a new lease of life by merging with Festival Punk in the UK, giving birth to Space Punk bands such as Here & Now and Nik Turner's Sphynx, who had taken their lead from bands like the Pink Fairies and Hawkwind. Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth hooked up with Here & Now to make the Planet Gong album Live Floating Anarchy '77.

In 1979, Pink Floyd released The Wall. The most famous song off of that album, "Another Brick in the Wall, Part Two," is still played by the mainstream media to a large extent.

John Lennon died in December 1980 after being shot outside his home in New York City.


In the mid 1980s, a Los Angelesmarker-based movement named the Paisley Underground acknowledged a debt to the Byrds, incorporating psychedelia into a folksy, jangle pop sound. The Bangles were arguably the most successful band to emerge from this movement; amongst others involved were Rain Parade, Green on Red, The Three O'Clock, The Dream Syndicate, Milwaukee's Plasticland, The Secret Syde, The Inn and Lord John. Although not directly involved in the movement, Australian band The Church (who formed in 1980) were also heavily influenced by psychedelia and their early recordings, had much in common with their Paisely Underground contemporaries.

A harder edged strain of psychedelia was present in the Bakersfield sound of Thin White Rope, Green on Red and Gun Club. Hardcore punk and Noise rock bands such as Hüsker Dü, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Sonic Youth were also influenced by psychedelia. This sound would eventually evolve into Grunge rock and Alternative rock.

In counterpoint to the Paisley Underground were a number of British post-New Wave bands, including The Soft Boys and the solo albums of their singer Robyn Hitchcock, and The Teardrop Explodes and its vocalist Julian Cope. Hitchcock was heavily influenced by Syd Barrett and John Lennon. In the mid 1980s, The Shamen began with a self-consciously psychedelic curriculum influenced by Barrett and Love, before reorienting themselves towards rave. Other British dabblers in psychedelia included Nick Nicely, XTC and Martin Newell with The Cleaners from Venus, The Barracudas, Mood Six, The Prisoners, Echo & the Bunnymen, Doctor and the Medics, the Cardiacs and The Brotherhood of Lizards.

British band XTC made a number of recordings in the late 1980s which both parodied and affectionately imitated the sound and form of late Sixties psychedelic rock. Released under the pseudonym The Dukes of Stratosphear and produced by former Abbey Road engineer John Leckie, the EP 25 O'Clock (1985) and the LP Psonic Psunspot (1987) employ all of the classic songwriting and production features of the style. XTC leader Andy Partridge has claimed that he always wanted to play in a psychedelic band.

In the mid-eighties and early nineties The Flaming Lips (and later, Mercury Rev) played psychedelic guitar rock, but by the late nineties both bands had largely abandoned an electric guitar-effects driven sound, instead incorporating orchestral and electronica influences into their music. Phish, a jam band active from the early 1980s, played psychedelic rock with a strong jazz influence, utilizing elaborate modal melodies and complex rhythmic accompaniment.

In Australia in the 1980s, bands such as The Tripps, Prince Vlad & the Gargoyle Impalers, and most notably Tyrnaround and The Moffs, explored and reinvigorated the psychedelic genre. Japan has had a rich history of psychedelic music, dating back to the 1960s. Starting with the "Group Sounds" movement, which mainly included psychedelic-garage acts, such as The Mops and most notably . The 1970s introduced the element of sonic experimentation and noise manipulation into the realm of Japanese psychedelic rock, with groups like Les Rallizes Denudes, Fushitsusha, Kousokuya, and the Faust inspired Magical Power Mako emerging from the Japanese underground. The 1980s brought with it Japan's first record label dedicated to folk, noise, experimental, and most prominently, psychedelic music -- PSF Records. Rising from the Japanese noise underground, Acid Mothers Temple mix the subtle resonance of Blue Cheer, the Grateful Dead's psychedelic sound, the thought-provoking melodies of French folk, and concrete bursts of noise that run through music of Boredoms.

Beginning in the late 1980s, travelers, musicians, and artists from around the world formed a new form of psychedelic music in the Indian state of Goamarker. Initially called Goa trance, this psychedelic music was the result of mixing the 1960s influences with industrial music and electronica. Popular hard rock artists also made several psychedelic songs, including R.E.M. and Prince, who released several Psychedelic-styled records including Around the World in a Day.


The influential 1980s Space Rock band Spacemen 3 created a unique psychedelic drone sound that was influenced by many of the dark primitive psychedelic/garage bands of the 1960s and 1970s, such as The Stooges, MC5, The Velvet Underground, Red Krayola, and The 13th Floor Elevators. Spacemen 3's live shows would often consist of them jamming out on one chord for over forty-five minutes. Primal Scream included psychedelic themes throughout much of their later music, as after experimenting with drugs, their music took a much more vivid, expressed approach, as seen from the album Screamadelica onwards.

British band Anomie and Irish band My Bloody Valentine played British garage psychedelia, citing Pink Floyd and Hawkwind as musical influences with My Bloody Valentine helping to popularize the psychedelia influenced genre of shoegazing. Kula Shaker, under the leadership of Crispian Mills, created much Indian-influenced psychedelic music, such as the singles "Tattva" and "Govinda," both sung in Sanskrit, and the albums K, Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts and Strangefolk. Ozric Tentacles, Sun Dial, The Bevis Frond, Black Sun Ensemble, The Magic Mushroom Band and the Welsh Gorky's Zygotic Mynci played psychedelic music in a tradition that went back to the 1960s via acts such as Steve Hillage, Arthur Brown, Ash Ra Tempel, Bubble Puppy, Dr. Strangely Strange, Gong and their assorted side projects, Guru Guru, Harmonia, Hawkwind, Here & Now, High Tide, Holger Czukay, King Crimson, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Neu!, Pink Floyd, Roy Harper, The Enid, Tim Blake and Todd Rundgren who all continued to tour and/or release albums in the '90s.

The 1990s were home to Phish and the burgeoning jam band scene. These jam bands were directly influenced by The Grateful Dead. Other bands included The Disco Biscuits, Sound Tribe Sector Nine , Gov't Mule, moe. and Widespread Panic; Animal Collective, The Coral, The Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev were also heavily influenced by psychedelic rock.

New American bands such as The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols achieved success in America and Europe throughout the Nineties And Noughties.

During the 1990s, there was a resurgence of interest in experimental rock with psychedelic influences. A new generation of artists arose from the post-rock of Sigur Rós, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky and Mum, to The Apples in Stereo, of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel, Beulah, Elf Power, The Gerbils, The Ladybug Transistor and The Olivia Tremor Control, who worked together to form the Elephant 6 musical collective, which is headquartered in Athens, Georgia.

Oasis' fourth and seventh studio albums Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, released in 2000, and Dig Out Your Soul, released in 2008, respectively, are noted for their heavy psychedelic influences.

Some electronic or electronic-influenced music termed "ambient" or "trance" such as Aphex Twin or Orbital, had it been written between 1966 and 1990, would have fallen within the category of psychedelia. Later Psychedelic trance artists such as Hallucinogen and Shpongle have continued the psychedelic music tradition within a dance-oriented context.

Massive Attack with their album Blue Lines are credited with creating the new sub-genre trip hop or Bristol Sound which feature a more meditational sound than Hip-hop which they are associated with.A later album Mezzanine feature "eerie atmospherics, fuzz-tone guitars, and a wealth of effects" on many tracks.They influenced The Gathering along with shoegazing artists such as Slowdive especially since their album How to measure a planet?.They called their new approach to their rock music Trip rock.Trip rock has also been used to describe groups like Unkle who are a collaboration of musicians featuring Trip-hop DJ's including James Lavelle and also a leader in the development of U.S. trip-hop DJ Shadow and rock musicians from various genres.Robert Del Naja from Massive Attack also featured in the later works by the collaboration.

Pink Floyd continued on strong in the 90s, the music becoming more melody driven as opposed to the elaborate eccentricity of their earlier albums. A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell were major commercial successes.

Stoner rock acts like Kyuss, Nebula and their successors also performed explicitly psychedelic music. Bands such as The Smashing Pumpkins and Tool fused psychedelic rock sounds with heavy metal, becoming highly successful alternative rock acts in the 1990s. Popular 90's rock band Stone Temple Pilots also included heavy influences from psychedelic rock in their third album, Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop. Porcupine Tree, Spock's Beard and Umphrey's McGee incorporated progressive rock with psychedelia and brought the genre up-to-date with an eclectic fusion of more modern musical styles.


In recent years, many inventive artists from the Perth-scene in Western Australia, notably the Sleepy Jackson, The Panda Band, The Silents, Tame Impala and The Panics have experimented with lush, neo-psychedelic harmonies and avant-garde instrumentation. Sydney bands such as The Lovetones have attempted to revive the psychedelic-folk sound of the 1960s.

The grunge band Screaming Trees is noted for its unique fusion of grunge (a genre the band itself had a part in pioneering) and psychedelic rock. The psychedelic influence is especially evident on their later albums, namely Sweet Oblivion. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a new psychedelic scene flourished in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles. Another band in the scene was Beachwood Sparks. Beachwood Sparks' influences were the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and Gram Parsons and his Flying Burrito Brothers group. Spinning off from the Beachwood Sparks is a band called The Tyde. Producer and musician Rob Campanella played guitar in the jangly Byrds-influenced pop group the Quarter After.

A new British psychedelic scene also re-emerged amongst the London electronica movement in the late 1990s, giving birth to bands like desert rockers MJ13, where the British interpretation of the Kyuss influx showed more psychedelic sensibilities than the American Stoner rock sound was originally attributed to.

A resurgence of psych folk both in the UK and in "New Weird America" has led to rock albums by Comets on Fire, Black Lips,Six Organs of Admittance, Bardo Pond and Josephine Foster.

Rx Bandits, although starting out as a southern California ska-punk band, have now begun fusing psychedelic rock with punk and reggae, especially on the band's 2006 album ...And the Battle Begun.

In 2001, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez formed the psychedelic/progressive rock band The Mars Volta. The Mars Volta are notable for fusing psychedelic music with Jazz fusion, Punk rock and Latin American Music. They are also known for obscurely based concept albums and lyrics written in both English and Spanish.

In 2006 The Black Angels released their debut album Passover, which brought back a very heavy drone sound fused with 60's psychadelia.

In 2006, John Gourley of Anatomy of a Ghost started the band Portugal. The Man. Portugal. The Man fuzzed the elements of Psychedelic, Soul, Pop, Funk, Blues, and Southern Rock. Their live shows also utilized elements of Progressive and psychedelic rock.

In 2008, American band MGMT brought neo-psychedelia back into the public eye, with high ranking hits Time to Pretend and Electric Feel.

In 2009 there is a bulging international psychedelic rock including bands such as The Dandy Warhols and White Hills (USA), Mugstar (UK), Free Ticket (USA) and Acid Mothers Temple (Japan) amongst others.

The group Black Lips categorizes themselves as 'flower punk' and many of their songs are very psychedelic and trippy. their influences include The 13th Floor Elevators, The Lollipop Shoppe, Los Saicos, and The Troggs. One of their albums, Let It Bloom is influenced by psychedelic music.

See also


  1. Head Sounds
  2. M. Hicks, Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions (University of Illinois Press, 2000), pp. 59-60; for lyrics see
  3. M. Hicks, Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions (University of Illinois Press, 2000), pp. 59-60.
  5. M. Hicks, Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions (University of Illinois Press, 2000), pp. 59-60.
  6. Pirate Radio.
  7. The Look. Adventures in Pop & Rock Fashion. Paul Gorman. ISBN 1-86074-302-1
  8. J. DeRogatis, Turn on Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock (Hal Leonard, 2003), p. 120.
  10. Psychedelic Sight web site, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
  11. Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush -Band History

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