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Short history of Psychedelic Music (1965 - 1969) « Picture yourself in a boat on a river With tangerine trees and marmalade skies Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly, A girl with caleidoscope eyes »

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psichedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. It emerged during the mid 1960s among folk-rock and blues-rock bands in United Stated and Britain.


It often used new recording techniques and effects and drew on non-Western sources such the ragas and drones of Indian music. Psychedelic rock bridged the transition from early blues and folk music as a result influenced the development of sub-genres such as heavy metal. Since the late 1970s it has been revived in various forms of neo-psychedelia.

The Psychedelic scene was primarily a plethora of HIPPIES playing music to augment their LSD and hallucinatory experiences: in the 1960s, in the tradition of jazz and blues, many folk and rock 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 proponents of consciousness expansion such as Timothy Leary, Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley (“THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION”, 1954), profoundly influenced the thinking of the new generation, helping to popularise the use of LSD.

The music that the hippies listened to was designed to enhance the mind altering experiences of “Psychedelic” drugs (such as LSD or mescaline), characterized by (or generating): hallucinations, distortions of perception, altered states of awareness, and occasionally states resembling psychosis.

The bands that made the music happen were seriously Psychedelic with colourful eyeball searing acid soaked album covers and trippy light shows with a whimsical SURREAL lyrical nature.

The music had to have certain aspects to be good enough for the new psych generation of listeners: as a musical style Psychedelic rock often contains some of the following features:

- The electric guitars were DISTORTED with feedback, wah wah and fuzz boxes.


- The mixing in the studio was not just about putting down vocals and music, but very complex and elaborate effects were added such as backward tapes and long delay loops, panning and phasing sounds, extreme reverb on the guitars and the vocals, even vocals that were backmasked or fed through effects machines. The music had to sound otherworldly and off the planet!!!

- The use of exotic instrumentation was a key factor particularly the sitar and tabla and other Eastern, or Indian musical instruments.

 There was an emphasis on the keyboard that dominated the music at times, especially mellotron, electric organs and harpsichord.

To enhance the experience of tripping out the music too was replete with lengthy instrumental and jamming and improvisation with lead and keyboard soloing and extended musical passages with varying time signatures, like a multi movement suite of songs merged together into one LONG TRACK. - The COMPLEX song structures depended on changes in key, modal melodies, drones and time signatures.

- The lyrics were surreal or dreamlike, esoterically, inspired and based on fantasy or non-sensical, and at times whimsical and humorous. The most significant it’s maybe “white rabbit” (referred of ALICE IN WONDERLAND) by Jefferson Airplane

- Album covers featured trippy multi coloured images with Psychedelic references.

- The concert performances were a light show to augment the music and LIQUID LIGHT SHOWS REPLICATED ACID TRIPS. Such as this one of Zappa and the Mothers of Inventions:


- the IMAGE OF THE BAND was transformed, no longer wearing suits like The Beatles, Kinks, Animals or the other British Invasion bands, but now wearing multi coloured mesmirising silk shirts and very long hair became the norm. (Pink Floyd with Syd Barret the master of psych)

The origins

The Byrds, emerging from the CALIFORNIAN FOLK SCENE, and the Yardbirds from the BRITISH BLUES SCENE, have been seen as particularly influential on the development of the genre.

The psychedelic life style had already developed in California, particularly in San Francisco, by the mid-60s, where there was also an emerging music scene. This moved out of acoustic folk-based music towards rock soon after The Byrds "plugged in" to produce a chart topping version of Bob Dylan's "Tambourine Man" in 1965. A great number of Californian-based folk acts followed them bringing their psychedelic influences with them to produce the "San Francisco Sound". Particularly prominent products of the scene were The Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish, The Great Society, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Charlatans, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jefferson Airplane.

Members of the Beatles began experimenting with LSD from 1965 and the group introduced many of the major elements of the psychedelic sound (using guitar feedback and sitar) to audiences in this period. Drug references began to appear in their songs from "Day Tripper" (1965).

In Britain The Yardbirds, with Jeff Beck as their guitarist, increasingly moved into psychedelic territory, adding up-tempo improvised "rave ups", Gregorian chant and world music. They were soon followed into this territory by bands such as Procol Harum, The Moody Blues and The Nice.
Development in the USA


The SAN FRANCISCO music scene continued to develop and The first Trips Festival 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.

Psychedelic music also began to have an impact on pop music, with The Beach Boys under the leadership of Brian Wilson, who had been experimenting with LSD from 1965, and psychedelic sounds and lyrical hints were a major part of the songs on Pet Sounds (1966) and the single "Good Vibrations", one of the first pop records to use a THEREMIN (he controlling section usually consists of two metal antennae which sense the position of the player's hands and control oscillators for frequency with one hand, and volume with the other, so it can be played without being touched. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker)

Although San Francisco was the centre of American psychedelic music scene, many other American cities contributed significantly to the new genre. Los Angeles boasted dozens of important psychedelic bands (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) perhaps the most commercially successful were The Doors. New York City produced its share of psychedelic bands, also Detroit, Texas and Chicago.


Development in the UK

In the UK before 1967 media outlets for psychedelic culture were limited to PIRATE RADIO stations like Radio Luxembourg and Radio London, particularly the programmes hosted by DJ John Peel.

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 counter culture 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 in Soho and Kings Road in Chelsea boutiques, Britain's hippies comported themselves in stark contrast to the slick, tailored teddyboys (dandies) or the drab, conventional dress of most teenagers prior to that. 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 in Swiss Cottage and the Art Lab also in Covent Garden) were drawing capacity audiences with psychedelic rock and ground-breaking LIQUID LITH SHOWS.

British psychedelic rock, like its American counterpart, had roots in the folk scene. However, the largest strand was the series of acts 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).


The Crazy World of Arthur Brown added surreal theatrical touches to its dark psychedelic sounds, such as the singer's flaming headdress. Existing British Invasion acts now joined the psychedelic revolution, including Eric Burdon (previously of The Animals), and The Small Faces and The Who whose The Who Sell Out (1967, in which are included psychedelic influenced tracks "I Can See for Miles" and "Armenia City in the Sky"). The Rolling Stones had drug references and psychedelic hints in their 1966 singles ("19th Nervous Breakdown" and "Paint It, Black", the latter featuring drones and sitar).

GONG are a Franco-British progressive/psychedelic rock band formed by Australian musician Daevid Allen and their music has also been described as SPACE PSYCHEDELIC ROCK: Gong's mythology in their 3 CONCEPT ALBUM is not universally serious. Great amounts of the story pertain in some way to the production and consumption of tea (perhaps suggesting mushroom tea, although the word tea has also long been a word to describe cannabis, especially in the 1940s and 1950s). The characters of the story are often based on or used as pseudonyms for band members, and the story begins with a flying teapot…

The climax (1967)

Then the album to follow knocked the Psychedelic wave out of the park with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".


Psychedelic rock reached its apogee in the last years of the decade.

1967 saw the Beatles release the double A-side "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane", opening a strain of British "nostalgic" psychedelia, followed by the release of what is often seen as their definitive psychedelic statement in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, including the controversial track "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".They continued the psychedelic theme later (with the EP Magical Mystery Tour and the number one single "Hello, Goodbye" with its B-side "I Am The Walrus"). The Rolling Stones responded to Sgt Pepper later in the year with Their Satanic Majesties Request, and Pink Floyd produced what is usually seen as their best psychedelic work The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum reached number one in the UK.

was a three-day concert event held June 16 to June 18, 1967 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California

In America the SUMMER OF LOVE OF 1967 saw huge number of young people from across American and the world travel to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, boosting the population from 15,000 to around 100,000. 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.


The Doors' first hit single "Light My Fire" (1967), clocking in at over 7 minutes, became one of the defining records of the genre.

The Redmond Stage at the Woodstock Festival in 1969

music festival, billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music". It was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre in the town of Bethel, New York, from August 15 to August 18, 1969.

These trends climaxed in the 1969 WOODSTOCK FESTIVAL, which saw performances by most of the major psychedelic acts, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Santana.

Later that year the ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL in UK (was held on August 30 - August 31, 1969, at Wootton, and attracted an audience of approximately 150,000) attracted notable performers such as Bob Dylan and The Who.

Decline

By the end of the decade psychedelic rock was in retreat. LSD had been made illegal in the US and UK from 1966. 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.

At the end of the 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.

Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, 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.

Some bands like the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream broke up.


Jimi Hendrix died in London in September 1970, shortly after recording Band of Gypsies (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.

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-laden heavy rock.

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. 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. Dylan's lead was also followed by The Byrds, and 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, The Grateful Dead also had major successes with the more reflective and stripped back work 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.

After the death of Brian Epstein and the unpopular surreal television film, Magical Mystery Tour, the Beatles returned to a more raw style with The Beatles (1968), Abbey Road (1969) and Let It Be (1970), before their eventual break up. 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).



Psychedelic rock emerged in the mid-'60s, as British Invasion and folk-rock bands began expanding the sonic possibilities of their music. Instead of confining themselves to the brief, concise verse-chorus-verse patterns of rock & roll, they moved toward more free-form, fluid song structures. Just as important -- if not more so -- the groups began incorporating elements of Indian and Eastern music and free-form jazz to their sound, as well as experimenting with electronically altering instruments and voices within the recording studio. Initially, around 1965 and 1966, bands like the Yardbirds and the Byrds broke down the boundaries for psychedelia, creating swirling layers of fuzz-toned guitars, sitars, and chanted vocals. Soon, numerous groups followed their pattern, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, both of whom recorded psychedelia in 1966. In no time, groups on both sides of the Atlantic embraced the possibilities of the new genre, and the differences were notable. In Britain, psychedelia tended to be whimsical and surrealistic. Nevertheless, bands -- most notably Pink Floyd and Traffic -- played extended instrumentals that relied on improvisation as much as their American contemporaries the Grateful Dead, the Doors, Love, and Jefferson Airplane. In other corners of America, garage bands began playing psychedelic rock without abandoning their raw, amateurish foundation of three-chord rock -- they just layered in layers of distortion, feedback, and effects. Eventually, psychedelic evolved into acid rock, heavy metal, and art rock, but there continued to be revivals of psychedelia in the decades that followed, most notably in the American underground of the mid-'80s.      Garage Rock was a simple, raw form of rock & roll created by a number of American bands in the mid-'60s. Inspired by British Invasion bands like the Beatles, Kinks, and Rolling Stones, these midwestern American groups played a variation on British Invasion rock. Since they were usually young and amateurish, the results were much cruder than their inspirations but that is what made the sound exciting. Most of the band emphasized their amateurishness, playing the same three chords, bashing their guitars and growling their vocals. In many ways, the garage bands were the first wave of do-it-yourself punk rockers. Hundreds of garage bands popped up around America and a handful of them -- the Shadows of Knight, the Count 5, the Seeds, the Standells -- had hits, but most were destined for obscurity. In fact, nearly all of the bands were forgotten in the early '70s, but the Nuggets compilation brought them back to the spotlight. In the '80s, there was a garage rock revival that saw a number of bands earnestly trying to replicate the sound, style, and look of the '60s garage bands.                                                                                                    Acid Rock was the heaviest, loudest variation of psychedelic rock. Drawing from the overblown blues improvisations of Cream and Jimi Hendrix, acid rock bands relied on distorted guitars, trippy lyrics, and long jams. Acid rock didn't last too long -- it evolved and imploded within the life span of psychedelia -- and the bands that didn't break up became heavy metal bands.



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