21 Most Successful Bands of the 1960s

The 1960s was a significant time, not only in music but in general history. This decade kickstarted a revolution that changed the world. The bands shed light on political issues through their music, ultimately uniting people. These 21 bands were the most iconic figures of 1960s music. 

The Kinks

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The Kinks were a British rock band formed in 1964, known for hits like “You Really Got Me” and “Lola.” They played a pivotal role in the development of British rock music and contributed to the British Invasion of the US music scene.

Rush

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Rush was a Canadian progressive rock band formed in 1968, consisting of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart. They are known for their complex musical arrangements, thought-provoking lyrics, and the virtuosity of their musicianship.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

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Creedence Clearwater Revival, often abbreviated as CCR, was an American rock band formed in 1967 known for their roots rock and swamp rock sound. Their hits include “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Fortunate Son.”

The Doors

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The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965, with Jim Morrison as the enigmatic frontman. Known for hits like “Light My Fire” and “Riders on the Storm,” their psychedelic rock sound and Morrison’s provocative lyrics made them one of the most influential bands of their time.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience was a British-American rock band formed in 1966, with the legendary Jimi Hendrix on guitar and vocals. They revolutionized rock music with Hendrix’s virtuosic guitar playing and iconic performances, like the one at Woodstock in 1969.

Cream

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Cream was a British rock supergroup formed in 1966, consisting of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker. Known for songs like “Sunshine of Your Love” and “White Room,” their fusion of blues and psychedelic rock made them a major influence on later rock bands.

Pink Floyd

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Pink Floyd was an English progressive and psychedelic rock band formed in 1965, known for their iconic albums “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall.” Their experimental approach to music and thought-provoking concepts made them one of the most successful and influential rock bands in history.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, also known as CSNY, was a folk rock supergroup formed in 1968, consisting of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young. Their harmonious vocals and politically charged lyrics made them a prominent voice of the counterculture movement.

Blind Faith

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Blind Faith was a British rock supergroup formed in 1969, featuring Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker, and Ric Grech. Though their existence was short-lived, they are remembered for their sole album, “Blind Faith,” and the powerful collaboration of their talented members.

The Monkees

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The Monkees were an American pop-rock band formed in 1966, initially as a fictional group for a television show, but they soon became a real band. With hits like “I’m a Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville,” they gained immense popularity and were often compared to The Beatles.

Simon & Garfunkel

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Simon & Garfunkel were an American folk rock duo consisting of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, who rose to fame in the 1960s. Known for their beautiful harmonies and poignant lyrics, they created timeless hits like “The Sound of Silence” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

The Supremes

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The Supremes were an American female vocal group that became one of the most successful acts of the Motown era. Led by Diana Ross, they achieved numerous hits in the 1960s, including “Where Did Our Love Go” and “Stop! In the Name of Love.”

The Rolling Stones

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The Rolling Stones, an English rock band formed in 1962, are often considered one of the greatest rock bands in history. With hits like “Satisfaction” and “Gimme Shelter,” they continue to tour and record music, maintaining their iconic status in the industry.

Johnny Cash

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Johnny Cash, known as “The Man in Black,” was an American singer-songwriter who became a legendary figure in country music. His deep, distinctive voice and heartfelt storytelling resulted in iconic songs like “I Walk the Line” and “Ring of Fire.”

Chuck Berry

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Chuck Berry was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter, often referred to as the “Father of Rock and Roll.” His innovative guitar style and energetic performances of songs like “Johnny B. Goode” and “Maybellene” laid the foundation for the rock genre.

Smokey Robinson

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Smokey Robinson is an American singer-songwriter and record producer, known for his smooth vocals and significant contributions to the Motown sound. As the lead singer of The Miracles and a solo artist, he created numerous hits like “The Tracks of My Tears” and “Cruisin’.”

The Beatles

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The Beatles were an English rock band formed in 1960, consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. With their groundbreaking music, iconic performances, and massive popularity, they are widely regarded as the most influential band in the history of popular music.

The Who

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The Who was a British rock band formed in 1964, known for their energetic live performances and powerful anthems like “My Generation” and “Baba O’Riley.” Their innovative concept albums, such as “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia,” solidified their place as a major influence on rock music.

The Beach Boys

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The Beach Boys, formed in 1961, are an American rock band known for their distinctive vocal harmonies and their unique blend of surf, pop, and rock music. With hits like “Good Vibrations” and “California Girls,” they became a symbol of the California lifestyle and a major influence on popular music.

Led Zeppelin

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Led Zeppelin was an English rock band formed in 1968, consisting of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. Known for their innovative fusion of blues, rock, and folk, they created legendary albums like “IV” and iconic songs like “Stairway to Heaven,” making them one of the most influential rock bands in history.

The Byrds

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The Byrds were an American rock band that emerged during the mid-1960s, characterized by their harmonious blend of folk, rock, and psychedelic music. Formed in Los Angeles, California, the band was founded by Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Gene Clark, and Michael Clarke. They were instrumental in the development of folk rock, with their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” marking a significant turning point in popular music.

The Byrds also explored other genres, such as psychedelic rock, raga rock, and country rock, and their influential 1968 album “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” is often considered one of the first major country rock albums. Despite multiple lineup changes, the Byrds remained active until 1973, leaving an indelible impact on the rock music landscape. Their innovative sound and style have continued to influence generations of musicians and bands.

This post was inspired by this Reddit thread and this Reddit thread.

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Bobby is a viola player who currently lives in Seattle. He has been playing viola for over 20 years in various orchestras.

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