The 1960's were a time of upheaval in society, fashion, attitudes and especially music. Before 1963, the music of the sixties still reflected the sound, style and beliefs of the previous decade and many of the hit records were by artists who had found mainstream success in the 1950s, like Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Dion, and The Everly Brothers. In 1963 and the years to follow, a number of social influences changed what popular music was and gave birth to the diversity that we experience with music today. The assassination of President Kennedy, the escalation of the war in Vietnam and the forward-progress of the Civil Rights Movement all greatly impacted the mood of American culture and the music began to reflect that change. The "British Invasion" also began around 1963 with the arrival of The Beatles on the music scene and the type of rabid fandom that followed them would change the way people would view and interact with music and musicians forever. In this section we will cover the history of the "British Invasion", Motown and R&B, Folk and Protest music, and the large amount of variation that emerged in Rock music throughout the sixties.
British Invasion Musicians
The Rolling Stones,
The Four Tops,
Gladys Knight & the Pips,
Surf Rock and Psychedelic Rock Musicians
The Beach Boys,
The Grateful Dead,
The Jimi Hendrix Experience,
Jan and Dean,
Roots Rock and Hard Rock Musicians
Creedence Clearwater Revival,
The Rolling Stones,
Folk Rock and Protest Music Musicians
Simon & Garfunkel,
The Mamas & the Papas,
Crosby, Stills & Nash,
The Lovin' Spoonful,
Paul and Mary
The Five Jades
The Five Sharks
The Royal Counts
The Five Fashions
The Del Capris
The "British Invasion" is the name given to the period of time in the early to mid-1960's, during which many British rock bands and pop artists found mainstream success in the United States and worldwide. Many of these bands first started by covering American songs and showcasing an American Rock 'n' Roll and R&B influence in their sounds. As these bands gained popularity, many of them ventured into new music territory and created their own unique styles. The one band that comes to mind when speaking of the British Invasion is The Beatles, who first broke into the US music scene in 1963, but really became popular in 1964 after appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show. The Beatles dominated worldwide charts from that point in time until they broke up in 1970. The phenomenon that surrounded them was known as Beatlemania and many up and coming music acts emulated their "Liverpool Sound". The band holds many musical records to this day reflecting album sales and number one singles and they're music remains some of the most popular of all time. They can be easily described as the most influential group of the 1960's. Some other notable British Invasion acts include The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Who, Herman's Hermits, Tom Jones, and Donovan, some of whom reached comparable success levels to the Beatles but had different influences on music all together.
The "Motown Sound" and popular R&B music had a major significance in terms of the Civil Rights movement and integration in American society during the sixties. Motown started as a Detroit-based record label in the late fifties and early sixties, but it quickly turned into much more as the acts gained popularity worldwide. Motown records consisted mainly of African-American groups, singers, songwriters and management and their musical and business success proved in breaking down the barriers of segregation and granted African-American performers and musicians a chances to reappropriate much of the success that had been credited to white rock 'n' rollers and pop artists who had success in singing "black music" during the previous decade. Two of the most influential groups to come out of the Motown sound were Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and Diana Ross and the Supremes, both of which had as much chart success as any of the rock groups that dominated the airwaves during the sixties. The success of Motown also paved the way for R&B singers and groups who were not necessarily a part of the movement to also enjoy mainstream success. Some other popular Motown and 60's R&B artists include The Temptations, The Marvelettes, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and the Jackson Five.
While rock 'n' roll music entered the popular music spectrum in the 1950s, rock music really came into its own in the 1960s. Rock music dominated the popular music scene during the decade and as the genre grew and changed, many diverse and new subgenres emerged, all tied to original rock but each with their own unique style and purpose. These specific subgenres also had varying levels of popularity throughout the decade and many are still popular today. Quite a few rock bands and musicians oscillated between these genres depending on what was popular at the time and used it as a way to experiment with finding their own true sound. Some of the rock subgenres that we will touch upon are surf, psychedelic, roots, and hard rock. It is important to remember that the specific artists we discuss in these various sections often fall into more than one category and it is up for debate amongst their fans what genre they best represent. We have tried our best to categorize these artists and realize there was much cross-over during the decade.
Roots rock emerged in the mid to late 1960s as a combination of several genres and subgenres of rock music that were popular at the time. Roots rock combined elements of folk music, blues, country and rock 'n' roll. And, the genre was exemplified by its "back to basics" sound. Bob Dylan is thought to have pioneered the genre with the release of his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde that demonstrated what roots rock was to become. Many of the most popular bands of the time joined the "roots revival" and crafted albums of their own that featured and experimented with a roots sound. Some of the bands that created music in the style of this broad genre included The Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Beatles, The Band, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Hard rock took the elements of rock 'n' roll and made them heavier as the genre formed in the middle of the decade. The sound is characterized by more aggressive tones and delivery. Hard rock vocalists are identified by their higher range and distinct and often raspy voices. The music was influenced heavily by blues rock, garage rock, and rhythm and blues. This style became associated with rebellious youth and an anti-authority demeanor, with a few acts even destroying their own instruments on stage (like The Who). Due to their hard-partying lifestyles, many musicians that were a part of the hard rock scene developed drug and alcohol problems. As a result of these problems, quite a few influential musicians died at a young age from substance abuse or accidents related to substance abuse like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Notable hard rock bands form the 1960s include The Who, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and Steppenwolf.
Folk rock came onto the scene as a popular genre in the mid-sixties and much of it grew out of the protest movements that were active during those turbulent times. Much of the folk rock and protest movement was born out of the emerging group of singer-songwriters that were influenced by the folk musicians of the 1930s. Bob Dylan became one of the most prominent songwriters of the decade with many popular groups such as The Byrds and Peter, Paul and Mary covering his songs successfully. Dylan even saw success as a solo performer and was recognized by his unusual voice. This genre was characterized by its melodic sound and did not necessarily have to connect to the protest movements at the time, although lyrically a lot of the folk rock contained protest messages.
Protest music was distinctly different in that it always had a message and was not confined to the sound and style of folk rock. This music was often a reaction to social injustice, cultural changes, and news events. And, in many cases, it brought awareness to the younger generation who would then join the protest, therefore growing the movements. This genre was not necessarily specific to certain artists either, as many mainstream musicians decided to contribute to the cannon with their own feelings. For example, R&B and Soul singer Same Cooke wrote and recorded "A Change Is Gonna Come" in 1963, a song that became an anthem for the Civil Rights movement in America, along with others like Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" and James Brown's "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud" from 1963 and 1968 respectively. Another issue that protest music was used to address was the war in Vietnam and its escalation during the decade. As more and more American troops were being sent to Vietnam with virtually no progress being made, an anti-war movement began to gain steam in the mid-sixties and protest music accompanied it. Some examples of anti-Vietnam songs were Pete Seeger's "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy from 1967, The Door's "The Unknown Soldier" from 1968, and Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" from 1963. Both folk music and protest music were connected to the "hippie" movement at the time and greatly influenced and were influenced by the feelings of freedom, love and peace that characterized the hippies. Some examples of folk rock and protest musicians from the 1960s include Peter, Paul and Mary, Cat Stevens, Buffalo Springfield, Simon and Garfunkel, and Pete Seeger.
The Golden Age of Acappella 1963-1973 exploded in urban America along the acappella corridor that stretched from Boston to Philadelphia; a regional sound that captured the heart and minds of young people in the inner cities. The birth of Acappella as a new urban music genre began in New York City in a small record shop called Times Square Records run and operated by Irving "Slim" Rose. The term Acappella was the word that Slim Rose came up with to promote music that was made without music. Recordings made without music was played on the radio by vocal groups, vinyl acappella records were sold in record stores and Acappella Shows drew hundreds of teenagers throughout New Jersey and New York. Thus a new urban sound created a niche in the music industry competing with Motown, British Invasion, folk and many other musical genres. Acappella became the starting point and catalyst for oldies radio programing, reissues of records of the late 40's and 50's and the preservation and promotion of rhythm and blues vocal groups. Amid the social and cultural revolution taking place during the 1960's acappella as a whole rose above ethnic and racial barriers and became a dynamic musical movement in American history. I would like to thank Abraham Santiago who wrote the paragraph about Acappella Music for us If you would like to find out much more about the subject please visit www.ricocreative.com/harmonyreview.htm
Popular songs from the Sixties Decade, arranged by year but in no particular order. Do you remember listening to these songs on the radio?
Some hits from the 60's I still listen to now more than 50 years later
Apache The Shadows 1960
The Lion Sleeps Tonight The Tokens 1961
Please Mr. Postman The Marvelettes 1961
Return To Sender Elvis Presley 1962
She Loves You The Beatles 1963
I Want To Hold Your Hand The Beatles 1963
Baby Love - The Supremes 1964
The House Of The Rising Sun - The Animals 1964
I'm Into Something Good - Herman's Hermits 1964
I Got You Babe Sonny & Cher 1965
Wild Thing The Troggs 1966.
Good Vibrations The Beach Boys 1966
These Boots Are Made For Walkin Nancy Sinatra 1966
A Whiter Shade Of Pale Procol Harum 1967
Lily The Pink Scaffold 1968
I Heard It Through The Grapevine Marvin Gaye 1969
Honky Tonk Women The Rolling Stones 1969
Something In The Air Thunderclap Newman 1969
In The Year 2525 Zager & Evans 1969
Bad Moon Rising Creedence Clearwater Revival 1969
1960 - The Twist - Chubby Checker (-) It’s Now or Never - Elvis Presley (-) Georgia On My Mind - Ray Charles (-) Cathy’s Clown - Everly Brothers (-) I’m Sorry - Brenda Lee,
1961 - Stand By Me - Ben E. King (-) Blue Moon - The Marcels (-) At Last - Etta James (-) Runaway - Del Shannon (-) The Lion Sleeps Tonight - The Tokens,
1962 - Love Me Do - The Beatles (-) Sherry - The Four Seasons (-) Surfin’ Safari - The Beach Boys (-) The Wanderer - Dion (-) Soldier Boy - The Shirelles,
1963 - Louie Louie - The Kingsmen (-) It’s My Party - Lesley Gore (-) Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash (-) Hey Paula - Paul & Paula (-) She Loves You - The Beatles,
1964 - Twist and Shout - Chubby Checker (-) Oh, Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison (-) You Really Got Me - The Kinks (-) House of the Rising Sun - The Animals (-) Where Did Our Love Go - The Supremes,
1965 - Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones (-) My Generation - The Who (-) Sounds of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel (-) My Girl - The Temptations (-) Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan,
1966 - Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys (-) Eleanor Rigby - The Beatles (-) Wild Thing - The Troggs (-) Last Train to Clarksville - The Monkees (-) Mellow Yellow - Donovan,
1967 - Happy Together - The Turtles (-) For What It’s Worth - Buffalo Springfield (-) Light My Fire - The Doors (-) Respect - Aretha Franklin (-) Somebody to Love - Jefferson Airplane,
1968 - The Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding (-) Piece of My Heart - Janis Joplin (-) Hey Jude - The Beatles (-) Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong (-) Born to Be Wild -- Steppenwolf,
1969 - Sugar Sugar - The Archies (-) Aquarius - The Fifth Dimension (-) My Way - Frank Sinatra (-) Space Oddity - David Bowie (-) Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond