What Is ’60s Music?

’60s music refers to popular music that was recorded and released during the 1960s, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. This includes music from groups such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and The Who, which is often referred to as part of the British Invasion. The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, and Creedence Clearwater Revival are among the American artists who contributed to the classic rock genre during this decade. Other genres represented in 1960s music include folk music artists such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, as well as soul and rhythm and blues (R&B) artists such as Aretha Franklin.

Though the 1970s saw some significant changes in music, much of the music from the 1960s is seen as having had a significant influence on subsequent generations of musicians. The British Invasion of the early 1960s had one of the most significant influences on the music of the decade. American musicians such as Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly influenced British rock & roll bands, who began writing and performing rock music. Many of these bands gained a lot of popularity in the United Kingdom, which led to a lot of British ’60s music creators moving to America and having a huge influence on American rock music.

Some established American musical movements, such as surf music and teenage pop stars, suffered as a result of the influx of new ’60s music. New American groups, such as The Beach Boys, rose to prominence, combining the sounds and themes of surf rock with the musical sensibility of popular rock music. Many of these bands began to experiment with psychedelic music and themes as well, frequently using music and lyrics to express abstract ideas and concepts in a dreamlike manner. This aspect of 1960s music can be found in some of The Beatles’ later works, as well as numerous Pink Floyd albums and the work of artists such as Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart.

There were, however, other 1960s musicians who did not create rock music. Folk music exploded in popularity during this period, with musicians and lyricists using simple music to accompany poetic and often profound lyrics. Music artists like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Joan Baez told stories about the modern world. Many artists also wrote songs that were influenced current events, such as the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and the Vietnam War. Artists like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Marvin Gaye made a lot of popular soul and R&B recordings during the 1960s.