Rock Music Genres – Psychedelia.
In the mid-sixties in London LSD was available, the alternative counter-culture was starting up and musicians were at the forefront. The drug of choice was cannabis and the effects of LSD and cannabis was soon evident in the music.
A number of clubs opened up to cater for these bands and their enthusiastic audience. These clubs, like UFO, Middle Earth and the Marquee, all equipped with light shows and advertised with psychedelic posters formed part of Underground Britain.
Jimi Hendrix exploded on the scene, The Yardbirds, Who, Smallfaces and others moved from Blues and Beat to Psychedelia with numbers like ‘Over, Under, Sideways, Down’, ‘Itchycoo Park’ and ‘I can See for Miles’. The Beatles were at the forefront with first Revolver and numbers like ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ and then Sgt Peppers. The Stones produced singles like ‘We Love You’ and the album Their Satanic Majesties Request with numbers like ‘She’s a Rainbow’ and ‘2000 Light Years From Home’.
There was a lot of cross-fertilisation going on with the West Coast Acid Rock scene in America. On both sides of the Atlantic the Sixties Underground was burgeoning.
The band that really sums up the whole Psychedelic sound was Pink Floyd. Their first album – Piper At The Gates Of Dawn – was so innovative that it blew everything else away. It was the brainchild of Syd Barrett who had been consuming LSD prodigiously. That was evident in the songs. They were full of fairy-tale imagery and Sci-Fi spaciness. The music went off into long trippy sequences with strange noises, loops and electronic sounds.
They were the house-band at Middle Earth and led the way. Other new bands came in their wake – Tomorrow, Syn, Mandrake Paddlesteamer, the Move, Arthur Brown, Action and Soft Machine but Pink Floyd were the best.
The Underground was roaring. There were clubs, Underground newspapers, events and a new camaraderie that sounded like it would never end. The tribes met at the Roundhouse for all-nighters and it was all a Purple Haze of wonder.
The psychedelic sounds got mingled up with Progressive Rock from the likes of Cream, the Nice, Traffic and King Crimson and even the Blues Bands like Fleetwood Mac. There were Indian Ragas, Electronic squeals, reversed tapes, loops and weird lyrics. It was a time of experimentation, adventure and great fun. Anything was possible. There were no limits.
Syd was the first casualty. Too much Acid. Then Pete Green flipped, Hendrix died and the whole scene began to turn sour and implode.
What was a wonderful experiment descended into a heap of wreckage, the idealism drained away and the music became drab and clichéd. The sixties was over and the positive vibe went with it.
My book – In Search of Captain Beefheart tells the story: