Rock Psychedelic


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Slide 1

Many cite the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) as the most influential album ever made. While successful albums were produced before it, it was Sgt. Pepper that made the album into an art form— and the dominant musical medium from then on. The Beatles conceived of this album as one complete artistic production, not just a string of stand-alone songs; later, this would be called a “concept album.” Musically, the songs are wide-ranging, drawing on many styles including rhythm and blues, Indian music, and even brass bands, all the while employing groundbreaking recording techniques. Lyrically—and visually, considering its cover—Sgt. Pepper tells the story of a fictional band, though only some of the songs can be linked to that story. Another one of the many innovations here was the Beatles’ choice to print all the song lyrics on the album jacket. Sgt. Pepper and the concept album approach influenced many artists working in a wide variety of styles. Photo Credit: Capitol/EMI

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The Beatles’ George Harrison (left) and John Lennon (right) with the Beach Boys’ Mike Love (center) in New Delhi, India, February 1968. The Beach Boys and the Beatles had a friendly rivalry in the 1960s. Both bands deeply respected each other and were trying constantly to outdo the other’s expert songwriting and recording techniques. Members of both bands were also interested in Eastern philosophy, which they studied together in India. Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis

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Most of the Beach Boys’ creative songwriting and production came from Brian Wilson (pictured here in the studio, 1966). Like his hero Phil Spector, Wilson demanded total control of the musical production and experimented with nontraditional instruments and recording technology. Wilson was constantly pushing himself to outdo the Beatles and their legendary producer, George Martin. Photo Credit: MichaelOchs Archives/Getty Images

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In the late 1960s, the Beatles became increasingly interested in Eastern philosophy and religion, studying transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Here, in summer 1966, months before Sgt. Pepper, George Harrison (right) gets a lesson in the Indian sitar, as (from left) Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr look on. Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis

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This poster announces a series of shows by San Francisco’s Charlatans at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City. Note the dates of these shows: June 1–15, 1965. This was two years before psychedelia went mainstream during the summer of love (1967). Photo Credit: : George Hunter (707-388-3983

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The Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead were mainstays of the San Francisco psychedelic scene. As evidenced by this concert poster, psychedelia was supported by a unique, “trippy” look in rock art. The Fillmore Auditorium, where the concert advertised on this poster took place, was the performance “home” of psychedelia in San Francisco—many bands played there throughout the ’60s and ’70s. Photo Credit: wolfgangsvault. com

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Janis Joplin (left) singing with her group Big Brother and the Holding Company at a 1967 concert in San Francisco. As evidenced by her aggressive, passionate blues style, Joplin drew inspiration from singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. Their hard lives proved a model for Joplin, who died of a drug overdose in 1970, just months before her album Pearl was released and quickly climbed the charts to number one. Photo Credit: Ted Streshinsky/Corbis

Slide 27

Like San Francisco, London had a strong psychedelic scene that remained underground until mid 1967. The UFO Club— less an actual place than an organization—hosted many important bands of the era. This 1967 poster advertises a Pink Floyd concert (they were regulars at the UFO) and reveals a clear artistic connection with the rock posters of the Fillmore in San Francisco. Photo Credit: Nigel Weymouth & Michael English

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Cream—(from left) Eric Clapton (guitar), Ginger Baker (drums), and Jack Bruce (bass)—performing live at Madison Square Garden in 1968. Strongly influenced by the blues, Cream showcased the virtuosic instrumental solos of Eric Clapton (formerly of the Yardbirds) and the powerful drumming of Baker. Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Jimi Hendrix is cited by many as the most innovative and explosive rock guitarist ever. Hendrix’s music displays a strong blues influence mixed with psychedelic elements and catchy lyrics and melodies. Hendrix was famous for getting many sounds from the guitar, including his signature fuzz and feedback, but using them in creative ways. His stage shows were exciting, improvisational, and often destructive. Photo Credit: David Redferns/ Redferns

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Though Van Morrison may be better known for his more catchy pop songs, his psychedelic Astral Weeks (1968) might be his most influential album. Recorded in less than two days, this highly improvisational album brings together many styles, including acoustic folk music, jazz, classical, and rhythm and blues. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

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The Doors’ Jim Morrison (front) and keyboardist Ray Manzarek (behind), in a 1968 concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Unlike many in the psychedelic scene, Morrison chose to explore the darker side of life, exemplified by his songs “The End” and “Break on Through,” the latter of which examines a “bad [acid] trip.” Photo Credit: : Henry Diltz/Corbis

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Performing for the first time after his motorcycle accident, Bob Dylan (center) is shown here with The Band in a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1968. The event was a benefit for the late Woody Guthrie, who had been an important influence on Dylan’s music and image during his folksinger years earlier in the decade. Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Graeme Boone (The Ohio State University) is coeditor, with John Covach, of Understanding Rock (Oxford University Press, 1997). Photo Credit: Henry Diltz/Corbis

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Virtually no one anticipated the huge crowd that would descend on Bethel, New York, for the Woodstock Music and Art Festival (1969). Over 400,000 people attended, sharing peace, love, drugs, and music, and getting soaked by rain. The Who, Sly and the Family Stone, Richie Havens (right bottom), Santana (right top), and Jimi Hendrix provided just some of the standout musical performances. Photo Credit: Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Slide 43

Members of the Hells Angels were hired to provide security for the Altamont Rock Festival in late 1969. In this photo, the band looks on as Angels tend to an audience member unfortunate enough to have tangled with some of the motorcyclists. Photo Credit: : Associated Press

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Psychedelia chapter 7

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Drugs and the Quest for Higher Consciousness Psychedelic movement sought new ways to experience the world Drugs played a central role LSD Developed in 1943 in Switzerland Tested by the CIA during 1950s as a truth serum Marijuana Famous leaders challenge the establishment Ken Kesey (novelist) Timothy Leary (professor)

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Drugs and the Quest for Higher Consciousness Eastern spirituality Tibetan Book of the Dead Beatles travel to India to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

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Drugs and the Quest for Higher Consciousness Psychedelic approaches to music Music secondary to drugs Enhances the “trip” Music is the trip Musician takes the listener on an aural journey

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Psychedelic Ambition Beatles and Beach Boys Both on Capital (in the United States) Music became increasingly ambitious Direct commercial rivalry

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George Harrison, Mike Love, and John Lennon

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Psychedelic Ambition “Good Vibrations” Beach Boys single, late 1966 Consumed a lot of studio time Experimenting with cut-and-paste Precise orchestration

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Brian Wilson, 1966

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Psychedelic Ambition Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Beatles album, June 1967 Concept album, hosted by made-up band Album organized a central idea or story Wide variety of instruments Album packaging participated in concept Lyrics printed on cover Created a new focus on albums, instead of singles

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Psychedelic Ambition Smile Beach Boys album, recorded late 1966/early 1967 Famous unreleased album Reworked, released as Smiley Smile in summer 1967 Re-recorded, released as SMiLE in 2004

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Psychedelic Ambition Beatles after Sgt. Pepper Manager Brian Epstein dies, 1967 Formed Apple Records Traveled to India Every release successful Disbanded, April 1970

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Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr

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San Francisco Local psychedelia scene was developing since 1965 Grew out of Beat movement of 1950s and early 1960s Allen Ginsberg Jack Kerouac Lawrence Ferlinghetti Human Be-In, January 1967

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San Francisco Haight-Ashbury scene Family Dog Group of friends who organized psychedelic dances Acid tests Organized by Kesey and the Merry Pranksters Environment rich in unpredictable stimulation January 1966 Fillmore Auditorium Warlocks (Grateful Dead)

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Charlatans poster, 1965

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San Francisco Haight-Ashbury scene Other psychedelic events in San Francisco Venues Fillmore Avalon Ballroom Psychedelic Shop Print publications San Francisco Oracle Rolling Stone FM radio Tom Donahue Free-form show

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San Francisco Haight-Ashbury scene Grateful Dead Early interest in blues, folk, bluegrass House band for acid tests Debut album, 1967 Struggled to capture essence of live show on recording Often extended improvised solos “Dark Star”

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San Francisco Haight-Ashbury scene Jefferson Airplane Singer Grace Slick joined, October 1966 Surrealistic Pillow, 1967 “White Rabbit” AM ambition Dynamic crescendo

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Psychedelia concert poster

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San Francisco Haight-Ashbury scene Janis Joplin Electric blues Big Brother and the Holding Company, 1967–68 Cheap Thrills, 1968 Country Joe and the Fish Active in Berkeley “Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag” Famous performance at Woodstock

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Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company

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London Many connections and differences between San Francisco and London World Psychedelic Center Indica bookstore and gallery

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London Underground, “Swinging London” The UFO Club—a changing center for psychedelia Pink Floyd Indebted to avant-garde art music Led by Syd Barrett until 1968 Success limited to UK until 1973 Soft Machine Tomorrow

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Pink Floyd poster, 1967

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London Groups popular outside of UK Rolling Stones Still following the wake of the Beatles Cream Early “supergroup” Focus on blues Virtuosic performance by all three members

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London Groups popular outside of UK Jimi Hendrix Experience Hendrix was American, brought to London in 1966 Monterey Pop Festival was important launching point in America Blues, pop, and experimental elements Traffic Led by Stevie Winwood Psychedelic pop, blues, Latin rhythms, classical instrumentation, jazz

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Jimi Hendrix

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London Groups popular outside of UK Van Morrison Astral Weeks, 1968 Donovan “Sunshine Superman,” 1966 “Mellow Yellow,” 1967

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Van Morrison

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Los Angeles Byrds Buffalo Springfield Doors Tendency of psychedelia to linger on the darker sides of life Love

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The Doors, 1968

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Other Important Groups Iron Butterfly, San Diego Vanilla Fudge, New York Bob Dylan and the Band, Woodstock

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Bob Dylan with The Band, 1968

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Important Festivals Monterey Spring 1967 Organized by John Phillips and Lou Adler Broad range of acts Film depiction, December 1968 Marked the beginning of the psychedelic era

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Important Festivals Woodstock August 1969 Marked the end of the psychedelic era Massive group represented power of counterculture Film depiction, 1970

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Graeme Boone and John Covach

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Bethel, New York, Woodstock 1969

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Important Festivals Altamont December 1969 Rolling Stones organized event at San Francisco speedway Hells Angels provided security Crowd and security lost control, musicians injured and fan killed Film depiction (Gimme Shelter), 1970

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Hells Angels

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Important Festivals Europe London Hyde Park, July 1969 Isle of Wight (yearly), 1968—1970

Summary: Popular music 1966-1969

Tags: psychedelic rock