A Chronology of Rock Music - The 1960s

Excerpted from my book "A History of Rock and Dance Music"

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These, of course, are my personal opinions on when genres where invented, who invented them, and which were the most significant events. To understand how I justify these opinions you have to read my book "A History of Rock Music".

1960
  • Twist is the biggest dance-craze in the year of the dance-crazes
  • Larry Parnes, Britain's most famous impresario, arranges a show for the Silver Beetles in Liverpool
  • The Shirelles' Will You Love Me Tomorrow coins a form of romantic multi-part vocal harmonies
  • The British producer Joe Meek uses the recording studio like an instrument for the space opera I Hear a New World
  • Eddie Cochran dies at 22
  • The word "reggae" is coined in Jamaica to identify a "ragged" style of dance music, with its roots in New Orleans rhythm and blues
  • The movie-jukebox "Scopitone" is invented in France (a refinement of the Panoram)
  • Russ Solomon opens the first Tower Records in Sacramento (California), the first music megastore
  • Philips buys Mercury
  • Frank Sinatra founds Reprise Records
1961
  • Dick Dale uses the term "surfing" to describe his instrumental rock and roll
  • Bob Dylan arrives at New York's Greenwich Village
  • British bluesman Alexis Korner forms the Blues Incorporated, with a rotating cast that will include Charlie Watts, John Surman, John McLaughlin, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richard, Eric Burdon, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, etc
  • Howling Wolf cuts the Rocking Chair album, the masterpiece of rhythm'n'blues
  • July: The magazine "Mersey Beat" is founded in Liverpool
  • The Tokens' The Lion Sleeps Tonight uses operatic singing, Neapolitan choir, yodel, proto-electronics
  • Stax begins to produce soul records in Memphis
  • Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff found Philadelphia International to produce soul records with orchestral arrangements
  • Roger Reynolds, Robert Ashley and Gordon Mumma organize the first ONCE festival of avantgarde music at Ann Arbor (Michigan)
  • LaMonte Young creates the "dream house", where the environment is part of the music
  • MGM buys Verve
  • ABC-Paramount starts a sub-label for jazz, Impulse
  • The IFPI established an international standard for the protection of music recordings
  • The "Peppermint Lounge" opens in New York
1962
  • The Beach Boys' Surfin (released in december 1961) launches surf-music in the charts
  • The American producer Phil Spector creates a style of production named "wall of sound"
  • the Tornado's futuristic instrumental Telstar is the first British record to top the USA charts
  • Most pop hits are written and produced at the Brill Building
  • Robert Wyatt and others form the Wilde Flowers, the beginning of the dynasty of the Canterbury school
  • Seattle guitarist Jimi Hendrix begins working as a session-man
  • The bishop of New York forbids Catholic students from dancing the Twist
  • Golden age of the girl-groups
  • The San Francisco Tape Music Center for avantgarde music is established by composers Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender
  • Boom of the Tamla Motown record label
  • MCA buys the American recording company Decca
  • The US market share of the four "majors" drops to 26%
  • Murray Gershenz opens a used record store in Hollywood, Music Man Murray
1963
  • "Beatlesmania" hits Britain
  • The Trashmen's Surfin' Bird and the Surfaris' Wipe Out extend the scope of surf music
  • Davy Graham in Britain and Sandy Bull in the USA fuse folk, blues, jazz and Indian raga
  • Eric Clapton joins the Yardbirds
  • Daevid Allen of the Wilde Flowers experiments with tape loops
  • A soul record, Marvin Gaye's Can I Get A Witness, becomes the anthem of British mods
  • The Kingsmen stage the first Louie Louie marathon (playing the song over and over again for one hour), and garage-rock is born
  • Pierre Henry's Rock Electronique employs electronic riff and rhythm
  • Charlotte Moorman organizes the first "Annual New York Avant-Garde Festival"
  • 50% of American recordings are made in Nashville
  • Elmore James dies at 45
  • The FBI spies on folksingers such as Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs.
  • Warner buys Reprise
1964
  • Don Van Vliet forms the Magic Band and adopts the nickname Captain Beefheart
  • Jesse Colin Young's The Soul Of A City Boy is a folk album that employs jazz musicians
  • The Holy Modal Rounders' cover of Hesitation Blues is the first song to use the term "psychedelic" (birth of "acid-folk"
  • James Brown coins a percussive style of soul, the predecessor of "funk"
  • The "British Invasion" exports to the USA the enthusiasm created by Beatlesmania in the UK
  • The riff of You Really Got Me by the Kinks virtually invents hard-rock
  • Millie Small's My Boy Lollipop is the first worldwide ska hit
  • Eric Clapton of the Yardbirds uses the guitar to produce feedback and fuzz
  • Debbie Reynolds makes a video for If I Had A Hammer, the first music video
  • Wilson Pickett creates an evil, ferocious kind of soul music with with In The Midnight Hour
  • Robert Moog begins selling his synthesizer
  • Charles Dodge and James Randall perform "computer music"
  • ESP is founded by lawyer Bernard Stollman
  • Fania is founded to record Latin music
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen's Mikrophonie I is the first example of "live electronic music"
1965
  • March: Bob Dylan's Mr Tambourine Man begins the season of psychedelic music
  • June: the Byrds' version of Mr Tambourine Man invents "folk-rock"
  • The Supremes have four number-one hits and the Four Tops have two, all of them written by Tamla's team of Brian Holland, Lamond Dozier and Eddie Holland
  • John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, featuring Eric Clapton, import Chicago's rhythm and blues to Britain and become the epitome of "blues-rock"
  • Country Joe McDonald releases the first "rag babies", agit-prop music to support Berkeley's civil-rights movement
  • Fred Neil's Bleecker And McDougal is a folksinger who merges folk, blues and psychedelic music
  • Dick Clark's "Where the Action Is" airs from a different location every time
  • Graham Bond plays the first mellotron on record
  • The Righteous Brothers' You've Lost That Loving Feeling launches "blue-eyed soul"
  • The Rolling Stones' Satisfaction is banned by radio stations across the UK and USA
  • The "Diggers" turn San Francisco's Haight Ashbury into a "living theater"
  • Bob Dylan cuts Like A Rolling Stone and unveils an electric band at the Newport Festival
  • Sonny Boy Williamson dies at 66
  • The Who's My Generation creates a new kind of rebellious rock anthem
  • In America garage-bands spring up everywhere
  • Robbie Basho's Seal Of The Blue Lotus fuses raga, jazz, blues and pop music
  • The Kinks' See My Friends (july) introduces Indian music into rock and roll
  • The Byrds' Eight Miles High invents raga-rock
  • The San Francisco band Charlatans perform for six days in front of a hippie crowd
  • Andy Warhol incorporates the Velvet Underground in his multimedia show "The Exploding Plastic Inevitable"
  • The Warlocks (Grateful Dead) are hired to play at the "acid tests" (Ken Kesey's LSD parties), where they perform lengthy instrumental jams, loosely based on country, blues and jazz
  • Otis Redding's I've Been Lovin' You Too Long is soul music in which the instrumental backing has de facto replaced the gospel choir
  • Terry Riley and Steve Reich compose music based on repetition of simple patterns ("minimalism")
  • October: The Family Dog Production organizes the first hippie festival at San Francisco's Long Shoreman's Hall
  • November: Bill Graham opens the "Fillmore" as a venue for San Francisco's new bands
  • Other significant albums of the year: Bob Dylan's Highway 61 revisited, Donovan's Fairy Tale
  • Alan Freed dies at 42 of a kidney disease
  • The "Whiskey-A-Go-Go" opens on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood
  • Noel Black's movie SkaterDater is the first skateboarding movie
1966
  • Boom of the blues revival in the USA and Britain
  • The Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead move to the Haight-Ashbury of San Francisco, the epicenter of "acid-rock" and of the "Summer of Love"
  • March: the Fugs' Virgin Forest experiments with collage, tapes and world-music
  • May: Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde, the first double record and the first concept album of rock music
  • The Velvet Underground cut their first record in two days in the spring of 1966
  • The 13th Floor Elevator's The Psychedelic Sound Of and the Jefferson Airplane's Takes Off are the first albums marketed as "psychedelic"
  • Paul Butterfield's East-West is a jam that fuses Afro-American and Indian improvisation
  • June: The elaborate arrangements of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds define a new standard for pop music
  • July: Frank Zappa's Freak Out, the first double album of rock and roll
  • Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones plays dulcimer, flute, oboe, sitar, marimba, mellotron, etc on the band's singles
  • The Beach Boys' Good Vibrations is the first pop hit to employ electronic sounds
  • Year of the jam: Virgin Forest by the Fugs, Up In Her Room by the Seeds, Going Home by the Rolling Stones, Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands by Bob Dylan, etc
  • The Cream, the first "power-trio" debut and sell millions of copies with albums of improvised jams
  • Bob Dylan retires for a while from the music scene
  • First bubblegum hits
  • Jean Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley create electronic pop on In Sound From Way Out
  • Pierre Schaeffer coins the term "acousmatic" in his book "Traite des Objets Musicaux"
  • London disc-jockey John Peel begins broadcasting American psychedelic music from his radio program "Perfumed Garden"
  • The UFO Club begins organizing "Spontaneous Underground" shows in London
  • The magazine "Crawdaddy" is founded in New York
  • Sire is founded in London
  • Other significant albums of the year: 13th Floor Elevator's Psychedelic Sound, Laura Nyro's More Than A New Discovery, Fugs' Second Album, West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band's Part One
  • Frederic Rzewski, Alvin Curran and Richard Teitelbaum form Musica Elettronica Viva in Rome
1967
  • Love's Da Capo (january) features a side-long track, Revelation
  • A "Human Be-In" is held at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco
  • June: Monterey festival
  • Ralph Gleason founds the magazine "Rolling Stone"
  • Velvet Underground & Nico (january) introduces droning, cacophony and repetition (besides improvisation) to rock music, and connects rock music to the avantgarde
  • Frank Zappa releases Absolutely Free, the first rock opera
  • Dyke And The Blazers cut Funky Broadway, the song that gives a genre its name
  • The Doors (january) fuses rock and roll, blues, psychedelia, Indian raga, free-form poetry and drama
  • The Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow (february) is the first album of San Francisco's acid-rock
  • Red Crayola's Parable Of Arable Land (march) turns psychedelic rock into abstract sound-painting
  • The Incredible String Band's 5,000 Spirits introduces medieval and middle-eastern music into rock and roll
  • Jimi Hendrix debuts and turns the electric guitar into the equivalent of the symphonic orchestra
  • The Pink Floyd debut and invent space-rock with Interstellar Overdrive
  • The second "Summer of Love" becomes a national phenomenon, attracting young people from all states
  • Family Stone's bassist Larry Graham invents the "funk" bass lines
  • Swedish band Parson Sound fuses rock and minimalism in lengthy trance-drone jams
  • The French composer Pierre Henry writes a rock mass, Messe Pour Le Temp Present, that mixes symphonic, rock and electronic instruments
  • The Nice perform keyboard-driven arrangements of classical and jazz music
  • 40 psychedelic bands perform at the "14 Hours Technicolour Dream" in London
  • Otis Redding dies at 26
  • Woody Guthrie dies at 55
  • John Coltrane dies at 40
  • Mort Garson's Zodiac Cosmic Sounds employs synthesizers
  • Warner Brothers purchases Atlantic
  • Byg is founded in France
  • Chrysalis is founded in London
  • The alternative press flourishes and a number of alternative papers unite in the Underground Press Syndicate (UPS), including the Los Angeles Free Press, the East Village Other, the Berkeley Barb, San Francisco's Oracle, Detroit's Fifth Estate, Chicago's Seed, and Austin's Rag
  • In Jamaica, disc jockey Ruddy Redwood makes instrumental versions of reggae hits
  • Neil Diamond's Red Red Wine is the first reggae hit by a pop musician
  • Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil found the "tropicalismo" movement in Brazil
  • Morton Subotnick releases a free improvisation on synthesizer, Silver Apples of the Moon, the first work specifically commissioned for the recording medium
  • Other significant albums of the year: Captain Beefheart's Safe As Milk, Holy Modal Rounders's Indian War Whoop, Love's Da Capo, Jefferson Airplane's After Bathing At Baxter's, Kaleidoscope's Side Trips
1968
  • The Electric Prunes release a mass performed with rock instruments, Mass In F Minor
  • Gram Parsons invents "country-rock" with the International Submarine Band
  • The Creedence Clearwater Revival fuse Louisiana blues, soul and folk-rock
  • The Cockettes, a hippie-decadent musical theater troupe of drag queens, debuts in San Francisco, the first glam-rock experience
  • The Soft Machine debut, the leading group of the Canterbury school
  • The Silver Apples experiment with electronics in a rock and roll format
  • The Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild contains the expression "heavy metal" that comes to identify a new genre
  • Blue Cheer debut, playing heavy psychedelic music (the prototype for stoner-rock)
  • Toots And The Maytals' Do The Reggae launches reggae in the USA
  • Joni Mitchell establishes the figure of the intellectual female singer-songwriter
  • The Band's Music From Big Pink invents "roots-rock" by fusing folk, gospel, country, and rock
  • The Pretty Things' S.F. Sorrow is the first British rock opera
  • Van Morrison's Astral Weeks invents abstract, free-form folk-rock by fusing soul, jazz, folk and psychedelia
  • Tim Buckley's Happy Sad fuses folk and free-jazz
  • John Fahey's Voice Of The Turtle fuses instrumental folk, jazz and raga
  • The Pentangle and the Fairport Convention debut, the leading groups of British folk-rock
  • The musical "Hair" opens on Broadway, the first musical that uses rock music
  • 10,000 people attend the first Isle of Wight festival in England
  • Bob Krasnow founds Blue Thumb, that values the cover design as much as the music
  • Walter Carlos' Switched On Bach turns the synthesizer into a pop instrument
  • Syd Barrett, mentally unstable, leaves the Pink Floyd
  • Conrad Schnitzler, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Klaus Schulze found the Zodiak Free Arts Lab in Berlin, the first venue for electronic music
  • The magazine "Creem" is founded in Detroit, with Lester Bangs, Robert Christgau, Dave Marsh
  • Youstol Dispage dies
  • Other significant albums of the year: Velvet Underground's White Light White Heat, Leonard Cohen's Songs, Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland, Pink Floyd's A Saucerful Of Secrets, United States Of America's self-titled, Pearls Before Swine's Balaklava
1969
  • August: 300,000 people attend the Woodstock festival
  • Warner, Atlantic and Elektra are unified as WEA
  • King Crimson's In The Court Of The Crimson King and Frank Zappa's Uncle Meat herald the golden age of progressive-rock
  • Jazz giant Miles Davis records Bitches Brew, an album that combines funk/soul rhythms and electronically-amplified rock instruments
  • Neil Young invents a neurotic, dissonant form of guitar accompaniment
  • German group Can plays rock music inspired by the classical avantgarde and modern jazz
  • Led Zeppelin's debut launches hard-rock and defines the LP as rock's medium of choice
  • Crosby Stills & Nash popularize West Coast's vocal harmonies
  • Nico's Marble Index brings gothic, archaic and classical elements into rock music
  • Captain Beefheart cuts ""Trout Mask Replica"", possibly the greatest rock album ever
  • The Who release Tommy, the most famous rock opera
  • Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones dies at 27
  • 150,000 people attend the rock festival at the Isle of Wight
  • The Third Ear Band invents "world-music"
  • Holger Czuckay's Canaxis 5 fuses electronics and ethnic music
  • Beaver & Krause's Ragnarok Electronic Funk uses the Moog with acoustic instruments
  • Annette Peacock improvises live with the synthesizer
  • The MC5's Kick Out The Jams and The Stooges create a new Detroit sound founded on extreme violence
  • The world's music market is worth two billion dollars
  • Capricorn is founded in Alabama
  • Manfred Eicher forms the ECM label in Germany
  • Other significant albums of the year: Jefferson Airplane's Volunteers, David Peel's Have A Marijuana, Colosseum's Valentyne Suite, Band's II, Pink Floyd's Ummagumma, Grateful Dead's Aoxomoxoa

Origins 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

Legend: Avantgarde | Music industry | Instruments | Media | Necrology | Exotic