The Psychedelic Rock Music

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Psychedelic rock is a style of music that became popular in the late 1960s and was majorly inspired by mind-expanding drugs such as lysergic acid diethylamide and marijuana. Also, the music was marked by states that were drug-induced through the use of intense volume, electronics, and feedback. Psychedelic rock became the landmark soundtrack and the origin of the cultural exploration, especially for the hippie movement. The west coast of the United States was the origin of the culture and then spread to San Francisco Bay and the rest of the country. Later, the musical culture spread to Europe, where it became a fundamental rock music phenomenon in the late 1960s (Laing 245). Most of the famous Psychedelic rock bands included the Grateful Dead, Doors, Charlatans, Love, and the Jefferson Airplane. Notably, Grace Slick was among the last groups that featured in the culture and had stunning vocals and won among the top ten singles in 1967, with tracks such as “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love.” The Thirteenth Floor elevator band from Austin, Texas elevated the Psychedelic rock music to higher levels by introducing more psychotic frenzy, which was characterized by amplified feedback, overdriven guitars, and droning guitar motifs, which were primarily influenced by Eastern music. Roky Erickson, a wayward talented musician, who was later diagnosed with mental illness and other musicians released a series of frantic albums that featured blues music before dwindling in fame in 1969 (Laing 245). Notably, during the time, some of the established rock bands adopted the introduction of psychedelic elements into their musical works. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and Byrds were some of the musical groups that ventured into a more commercial version of raw psychedelia.

In the mid to late nineteen-sixties, the young generation used to converge Haight-Ashbury in Francisco to participate in the political and cultural rebellion, whose apex was marked by the release of “Summer of Love” in 1967. The music scene was among the growing counter-culture, and psychedelic dances were held in most parts of the city especially at dance halls such as Fillmore, Ballroom, Winterland, and Matrix auditoriums (Fishwick 26). The music concerts featured most of the iconic bands such as the Holding company and Big Brother. Majority of the musical groups and shows involved absolute auditory and visual experiences, which were characterized by colorful bubbling, artistic vision, and overhead projections. As a strategy of event promotion, a series of posters were commissioned to advertise the musical concerts and were distributed at campuses, headshops, poster stores, dancehalls, and various public places. 

San Francisco in the 1960s was the destination of those musicians who sought to become the real beat generation of poets, artists, and jazz players. The Beatles was one of the bands that were pioneers of psychedelic rock in San Francisco. The group originated from England and formed in Liverpool in 1960. Beatles band members included Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and John Lenon (Fishwick 27). The band grew to become one of the renowned and most influential music groups and were the ones that pioneered the change of music into an art form and also the development of the 1960 counterculture. The Beatles based their music in rock and roll, beats, and skiffle. The team also experimented popular music styles such as hard rock, psychedelia, Indian music, and pop ballads and incorporated most of the classical elements and unique recording techniques in new ways. Additionally, Bob Dylan was among the favorite song artists who contributed to counterculture through music. Bob was a songwriter, singer, and accomplished author who mainly influenced music and culture for many years. Some of his songs like the “The Times They Are a-Chain” and “Blowing in the wind” became popular during the famous civil rights and anti-war movements (Fishwick 23). Also, his single “Like Rolling Stone” enlarged the nature of the rock music and his lyric included a wide range of issues ranging from politics, social, literary influences, and philosophy.

Notably, the success of the Beatles in America inspired many other musical groups that hoped to offer the much needed Merseybeat sound. Also, many loud garage pop bands were motivated to venture in music, and the punk movement added to their inspiration (James 435). Remarkably, most of the psychedelic bands transformed into rock groups that aided in carrying the San Francisco’s sound to the entire country and Europe. Height-Ashbury neighborhood was the home for the new hippies that sought to find the true meaning of life, counterculture, and acid. Most of the improvisational music was inspired by psychedelic experience and jamming that enabled rock to have an entirely different sense. The thematic issues in the lyrics went beyond the conventional relationship between boys and girls and fast-car and tended to describe a more inward journey of the mind and counterculture style (James 435). Some of the bands were committed to lifestyle, while others were dedicated to having more sound effects and less orchestration. San Francisco was a favorite city where most of the experimental music originated. Any of the improvisational music, especially on the west coast, started with jazz scene in the Fillmore district in San Francisco.

The beach boys are also part of the artists that affected the acid era in San Francisco and the west coast. The American rock band was started in Hawthorne in California state in 1961. The group members included a family of four brothers, Carl, Wilson, Dennis, Brian, their friend Jardine, and cousin Mike Love (Laing 245). Beach boys were known for their distinguished early surf songs and their vocal harmony. Notably, the band was one of the most influential groups in the rock era. Besides, to create their unique sound, they utilized locally based vocal groups and black R&B artists. The group was under the leadership of Brian who was the original composer, producer, and arranger. Most of their favorite songs included “God Only Knows,” “Good Vibrations,” “surfing’ U.S.A,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and “Little Saint Nick.” Also, the “Beach Boys with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” was one of their most famous music albums (Laing 245). James Marshall Hendrix was also among the famous musicians who helped to spread the counterculture through music in San Francisco and West coast in the late 1960s. James was a guitarist, songwriter, and a singer and despite his brief career in music, which lasted for only four years, he is referenced as one of the most popular electric guitarists in the since the inception of popular music. The Rock and Hall of Fame refer to Hendrix as one of the best instrumental guitarist rock music has ever experienced. Hendrix as a musician was inspired by high gain and volume amplifiers and was known to popularize the dreaded amplifier feedback of the guitar. Therefore, James used various instruments as the primary source of the sound.  

Works Cited

Fishwick, Marshall. "Pop Art And Pop Culture". The Journal Of Popular Culture, III, no. 1, 2013, pp. 23-27. Wiley, doi:10.1111/j.0022-3840.1969.0301_23.x.

James, Stuart. "Artists’ Books In The Modern Era 1870‐2000: The Reva And David Logan Collection Of Illustrated Books200212robert Flynn Johnson; Essay By Donna Stein. Artists’ Books In The Modern Era 1870‐2000: The Reva And David Logan Collection Of Illustrated Books. San Francisco, CA And London: Fine Arts Museums Of San Francisco And Thames And Hudson 2002. 302 Pp., ISBN: ISBN 0 500 23794 8 £35.00". Library Review, vol 51, no. 8, 2002, pp. 435-435. Emerald, doi:10.1108/lr.2002.51.8.435.12.

Laing, Dave. "Popular Culture. Unit 5. The Music Hall. Unit 16. ‘Reading’ Popular Music. Units 19/20. Pop Culture, Pop Music And Post-War Youth. Unit 24. The Rock Music Industry. Milton Keynes: The Open University Press, 1981–1982.". Popular Music, vol 5, 2014, p. 245. Cambridge University Press (CUP), doi:10.1017/s0261143000002038.

October 05, 2023


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