CharacteristicsAs a musical style psychedelic rock often contains some of the following features:
- electric guitars, often used with feedback, wah wah and fuzzboxes;
- elaborate studio effects, such as backwards tapes, panning, phasing, long delay loops, and extreme reverb;
- exotic instrumentation, with a particular fondness for the sitar and tabla;
- a strong keyboard presence, especially organs, harpsichords, or the Mellotron (an early tape-driven 'sampler');
- a strong emphasis on extended instrumental solos or jams;
- complex song structures, key and time signature changes, modal melodies and drones;
- primitive electronic instruments such as synthesizers and the theremin;
- surreal, whimsical, esoterically or literary-inspired, lyrics;
Originsjazz 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, Aldous Huxley and Arthur Koestler, profoundly influenced the thinking of the new generation, helping to popularise the use of LSD.
Psychedelic music's LSD-inspired vibe began in the folk scene, with the New York-based Holy Modal Rounders using the term in their 1964 recording of "Hesitation Blues". The first group to advertise themselves as psychedelic rock were the 13th Floor Elevators from Texas, at the end of 1965. 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, 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.
After being introduced to cannabis by Bob Dylan, members of the Beatles began experimenting with LSD from 1965 and the group introduced many of the major elements of the psychedelic sound to audiences in this period, with "I Feel Fine" (1964) using guitar feedback; "Norwegian Wood" from their 1965 Rubber Soul album using a sitar, and the employment of backwards spooling on their 1966 single B-side "Rain". Drug references began to appear in their songs from "Day Tripper" (1965) and more explicitly from "Tomorrow Never Knows" (1966) from their 1966 album Revolver.
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. As a number of Californian-based folk acts followed them into folk-rock they brought 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. The Byrds rapidly progressed from purely folk rock in 1966 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. 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 in particular Indian influences to songs including "Still I'm Sad" (1965) and "Over Under Sideways Down" (1966) and singles: "Heart Full of Soul" (1965), "Shapes of Things" (1966) and "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" (1966). They were soon followed into this territory by bands such as Procol Harum, The Moody Blues and The Nice.
Influenceprogressive 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. While bands such as Hawkwind maintained an explicitly psychedelic course into the 1970s, most dropped the psychedelic elements in favour of wider experimentation. 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". 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 synth rock. In Japan, Osamu Kitajima's 1974 psychadelic rock album Benzaiten utilized electronic equipment such as a synthesizer and drum machine, and one of the record's contributors was Haruomi Hosono, who later started the electronic music band Yellow Magic Orchestra (as "Yellow Magic Band") in 1977.
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. 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. Other major pioneers of the genre had begun as blues-based psychedelic bands, including Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest and UFO. 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.
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. 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.