If you are a fan of the best psychedelic rock artists, then you have come to the right place. Or if you are new to psychedelic music and want to know more, then keep reading. In the late 1960s, it was all going on and rock music was at its best.
That trend has kept going and it is still strong today. Do you want to know what is the best guitar for psychedelic rock? There are many bands to mention and so we will try and mention them all for you here.
What Is A Psychedelic Rock Band?
It was the late 60s and people were looking for something new, as well as psychedelic drugs being in abundance, which then definitely affected the types of bands out there at the time. What made these rock bands stand out were the trippy studio effects such as reverb, phasing, reversed sound and distortion and musicians such as Jim Morrison, Roger Daltrey and Mick Jagger became household names – to name just a few.
The electric guitar with feedback was an essential component to any rock band along with the wah-wah pedal. Improvisation and extended guitar solos made these songs! People went crazy for this music and current bands like Tame Impala have found a similar vibe as the classic bands back then. The Summer of love and the 60s and 70s were the most famous for this sort of music, but bands like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have been around since 2010 and are still going strong. They are on their world tour this year – give them a listen right now!
The Most Famous Rock Bands
Here are a few of the best psychedelic rock bands and a little about them!
Jim Morrison led on vocals, with keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore. They formed the band back in 1965 in Los Angeles and caused a stir with Jim’s erratic behavior on stage. Their hits like ‘Touch Me’, ‘Riders On A Storm’ – which lasts for over 7 minutes – were hits with their fans. They started playing at the London Fog Club in LA and they kept playing there in 1966.
They played at The Matrix Club in San Francisco back in 1967, The Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970. They definitely had their ups and downs, especially Jim’s wild gig with the band in Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami in 1969, but by the end of 1972, they had sold over 4 million albums in the US and nearly 8 million singles, which is quite a feat.
The band was formed in 1966 in the UK and consisted of bassist Jack Bruce, guitarist Eric Clapton, and drummer Ginger Baker, with Jack Bruce on lead vocals. They were known for many types of genres of rock music, but in terms of psychedelic rock music, and songs such as ‘Tales of Brave Ulysses’, ‘White Room’ – were just a few that contributed to 15 million records being sold worldwide. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and came back together to perform at the ceremony.
They didn’t last that long as a band as of 1968, they performed their farewell tour 22 shows at 19 venues in the US from 4 October to 4 November, and two final farewell concerts at the Royal Albert Hall on 25 and 26 November 1968. On the radio, psychedelic rock has featured songs by Cream, such as ‘ Sunshine Of Your Love’ was on Online Radio Box.
The Rolling Stones
Formed in 1962, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood all Now if you haven’t heard of the Rolling Stones, then where have you been? You don’t have to have been around in the 1960s to appreciate the talent this one band had and the effect they had and still do on their fans. Were they the top psychedelic rock band of all time? ‘Paint It, Black’, ‘Satisfaction’, ‘Brown Sugar’, are just some of their hits.
They performed at Glastonbury back in 2017 and would be considered music icons. They were active for 60 years and performed for the last time together in May 2018 as part of the No Filter Tour European leg, which ended at the London Olympic Stadium, before Watts’ death in 2021.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
This Australian rock band, formed in 2010, in Melbourne is made up of Stu Mackenzie, Ambrose Kenny-Smith, Cook Craig, Joey Walker, Lucas Harwood, and Michael Cavanagh. Their latest album Omnium Gatherum was released in April this year and they are touring across Europe this summer.
Where did that name come from you may be wondering? Well, it was completely by chance as Mackenzie wanted to name the band ‘Gizzard Gizzard’, while another band member wanted Jim Morrison’s nickname ‘Lizard King’. So they compromised and well the rest is history.
Songs such as ‘Crumbling Castle’, ‘If Not Know, Then When?’ and ‘Rattlesnake’ are probably their most popular songs.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
So, everybody knows Jimi Hendrix, the best guitarist for the psychedelic rock of the 20th century, and so this band was formed in 1966, with Jimi as the lead guitarist, songwriter and singer, with backing singer and bassist Noel Redding, and drummer Mitch Mitchell.
They performed until 1969, and their first gig was at the Novelty in Évreux, France, on October 13, 1966, and then only 6 days later they were playing at a private show in London. Fans loved their three albums which featured on the top 100 of the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. ‘Are You Experienced’ – 1967, ‘Axis: Bold as Love’ – 1967, and ‘Electric Ladyland’ – 1968.
In 1992 the band was inducted into the Roll And Roll Hall Of Fame. They were also known for wearing psychedelic clothes and Mitch Mitchell followed in Bob Dylan’s footsteps of getting a perm. If you are looking for the best guitar for psychedelic rock, you may want to look at buying yourself something close to Jimi’s guitar, the Olympic White Stratocaster. You can buy a Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster for £344 online.
So it’s the early 60s and in a time where the old concepts of sex, drugs and rock and roll were all being explored to the fullest, a group of young men wanted to be part of it. Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright met in 1965 and what can I say the rest is history.
Album sales have surpassed 15 million and even when Barrett’s behaviour caused the band members to change, he was the force behind the vision of the band. In live gigs, the trippiness of the songs, including tape-loops, feedback and echo delay was what made them so popular. David Gilmour joined in 1967, shortly before Syd Barrett left. Their hits over the past 30 years include ‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Wish You Were Here’, ‘Time’, ‘Another Brick In The Wall’.
I am a firm favourite of Tame Impala – I even saw them live at Glastonbury and it was a feeling I will never forget. So there is a lot to be said about psychedelic indie rock being passed down through generations.
In this modern psychedelic rock music band, the frontrunner Australian multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, writes, sings and records music in the studio and then as a touring act they are made up of Parker, Dominic Simper, Jay Watson, Cam Avery, and Julien Barbagallo. Famous songs are songs like, ‘Elephant’, ‘The Less I Know The Better ’, ‘New Person, Same Mistakes’ and ‘Let It Happen’.
The Flaming Lips
The American band formed a little later than most of the bands on this list in 1983 and consists of Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd, Derek Brown, Matt Duckworth Kirksey and Nicholas Ley. Experimental and psychedelic rock is what they are known for and their hits like ‘Feeling Yourself’, ‘Suddenly Everything Has Changed’ and ‘Do You Realize??’ made them famous. They became more well-known in the aftermath of their album ‘The Soft Bulletin’ and even in the early 2000s their album ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’ was a massive hit with their fans.
The Velvet Underground
This American rock band was formed in 1964 in New York. It was made up of singer/guitarist Lou Reed, multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Angus MacLise. In 1966, Andy Warhol became their manager and they were the house band for his studio and even toured for his travelling multimedia show.
The band broke up in the early 1970s as all of the band apart from Doug Yule – who replaced John Cale in 1969 – left, but there were reunions in the early 1990s of Reed-Cale-Tucker-Morrison where they played a few well received shows. They even played for David Bowie’s 50th birthday bash in 1997.
Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon made a name for themselves back in 1964 in London. They were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1990 and their music is still being played to this day. They have sold 100 million songs worldwide and played around the world, including The Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock, Isle Of Wight, Live At Leeds just to name a few. ‘I Can’t Explain’ was their first single and it reached the top 10 in the UK charts, which is pretty incredible. Further hits were, ‘My Generation’, ‘Substitute’ and ‘Happy Jack’.
13th Floor Elevators
The band from Austin, Texas formed in 1965 and is known to be the first band to call their music psychedelic. This term was coined by Tommy Hall. It was well known that their lyrics promoted the use of drugs (particularly LSD) to improve human consciousness. The term was even on their business card in 1966. Roky Erikson as lead guitarist and lead vocalist, Tommy Hall as electric jug player and guitarist Stacy Sutherland.
They played together until 1969 and people loved their songs like ‘You’re Going To Miss Me’, ‘Slip Inside This House’, ‘Nobody To Love’, ‘I Had To Tell You’. There was even a very intimate documentary made called You’re Going To Miss Me and released in 2005 about the troubled life of rock pioneer and ‘psychedelic hero’ Roky Erikson.
The Dandy Warhols
One of the more recent psychedelic rock bands is The Dandy Warhols formed in Portland, Oregon and started out back in 1994. The band is made up of Courtney Taylor-Taylor and guitarist Peter Holmström. They were later joined by keyboardist Zia McCabe and drummer Eric Hedford. On their website’s main page, it reads, ‘get ready for a massive concussion of rock and roll with The Dandy Warhols’ which I quite like. You will have heard of some of their songs like, ‘Bohemian Like You’, ‘Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth’ and ’We Used To Be Friends’. They are still touring now and have dates this summer and later into the year in the UK and Australia.
Now I’m sure that there are some psych rock bands missing, but this popular music has so many that I had to keep it short. However, If you want to listen to more psychedelic rock artists, all you need to do is download The Nuggets Psychedelic Rock Album, where you will find even more famous songs that were released in the mid-to-late 60s. It has to be said, this genre of music has been going on for nearly 60 years and it will continue if fans want it. So keep listening!