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The 1960’s were a revolutionary time for rock music. It’s when everyone realized the genre wasn’t just a fad, and it evolved to become an embodiment of freedoms, experimentation and political righteousness.

We saw psychedelic rock, surf rock, garage rock, roots rock, blues rock, and more. Music of this decade still influences today’s hits, and many of the rockers, bands and songs have stood the test of time.

Big Names

There’s not enough time in the day to highlight every kickass artist of that era, but here are some of the biggest rock influencers of the 1960’s. Without them, we wouldn’t have the rock n’ roll culture that exists in America today.

The Beatles’ arrival to America in the early ‘60s was a true turning point in American music. In a “British Invasion,” they all but took over the Top 40. In the previous decade, Elvis Presley showed us how rebellion could flawlessly meet style, but the Beatles went a step further toward cultural revelation.

Bob Dylan is credited for helping to politicize the Beatles (as well as a vast segment of rock culture as a whole), and he also allegedly introduced them to drugs. Dylan barely played rock and roll, but he was still one of the most consequential rockers of the decade.

Another big name that still resonates today is the Rolling Stones. In June of 1964, they kicked off a North American tour in the United States. Their long hair and provocative lyrics were controversial for older generations at the time, but there’s no denying that the Rolling Stones’ out-of-the-box attitude helped shape the future of rock n’ roll.

1960’s rock also wouldn’t have been the same without the Beach Boys, Motown Records, Twist, The Animals, The Kinks, The Platters, The Who, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Simon and Garfunkel and The Mamas & The Papas. Of course, we can’t forget Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin who provided an alternative to white men dominating the rock and roll.


Many artists of the time appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, boosting their popularity. The Beatles, the Rolling Stone and The Doors were just a few. Ed Sullivan was notorious for asking the bands to censor their more racy lyrics. For example, “Let’s Spend the Night Together” turned into “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.” The lyric “Girl, we couldn’t get much higher” was sung by Jim Morrison after an agreement to omit it, and Ed Sullivan was infuriated.

It wouldn’t be an article about 1960’s music without mentioning Monterey in 1967 and Woodstock of 1969. These events and rockers paved the way for artists of the ‘70s, ‘80s and beyond.