Wednesday, 1 March 2017

CASE 467 - The history of music - part 5 / The 1960's

In North America and Europe the decade was particularly revolutionary in terms of popular music, as it saw the formation and evolution of rock. At the beginning of the 1960s, pop and rock and roll trends of the 1950s continued; nevertheless, the rock and roll of the decade before started to merge into a more international, eclectic variant known as rock. In the early-1960s, rock and roll in its purest form was gradually overtaken by pop rock, beat, psychedelic rock, blues rock, and folk rock, which had grown in popularity. The country- and folk-influenced style associated with the latter-half of 1960s rock music spawned a generation of popular singer-songwriters who wrote and performed their own work. Towards the decade's end, genres such as Baroque pop, sunshine pop, bubblegum pop and progressive rock started to grow popular, with the latter two finding greater success in the following decade. Furthermore, the 1960s saw funk and soul music rising in popularity; rhythm and blues in general remained popular, and this style was commonly associated to Girl groups of the time, whose fusion of R&B and Gospel with rock and roll enjoyed success until the mid-part of the decade. Aside from the popularity of rock and R&B music in the 1960s, Latin American as well as Jamaican and Cuban music achieved a degree of popularity throughout the decade, with genres such as Bossa nova, the cha-cha-cha,ska, and calypso being popular. From a classical point of view, the 1960s were also an important decade as they saw the development of experimental, jazz and contemporary classical music, notably minimalism and free improvisation.

In Asia, various trends marked the popular music of the 1960s. In Japan, the decade saw the rise in popularity of several Western popular music groups such as The Beatles. The success of rock music and bands in the Japan started a new generation, known as Group Sounds, which was popular in the latter half of the decade. In South America, genres such as bossa nova, Nueva canciĆ³n and Nueva ola started to rise. Rock music began leaving its mark, and achieved success in the 1960s. Additionally, salsa grew popular towards the end of the decade.

In the late 1950s a flourishing culture of groups began to emerge, often out of the declining working class settings in major urban centers in the UK like Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London. This was particularly true in Liverpool, where it has been estimated that there were around 350 different bands active, often playing ballrooms, concert halls and clubs. Beat bands were heavily influenced by American bands of the era, such as Buddy Holly and the Crickets (from which group the Beatles the most popular rock/pop band of all time derived their name), as well as earlier British groups such as the Shadows. After the national success of the Beatles in Britain from 1962, a number of Liverpool performers were able to follow them into the charts, including Cilla Black, Gerry & the Pacemakers and the Searchers. Among the most successful beat acts from Birmingham were the Spencer Davis Group and the Moody Blues. From London, the term Tottenham Sound was largely based around the Dave Clark Five, but other London bands that benefited from the beat boom of this era included the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds and the Kinks. The first non-Liverpool, non-Brian Epstein-managed band to break through in the UK were Freddie and the Dreamers, who were based in Manchester, as were Herman's Hermits. The beat movement provided most of the groups responsible for the British invasion of the American pop charts in the period after 1964, and furnished the model for many important developments in pop and rock music.

British rock

By the end of 1962, the British rock scene had started with beat groups like the Beatles drawing on a wide range of American influences including soul music, rhythm and blues and surf music. Initially, they reinterpreted standard American tunes, playing for dancers doing the twist, for example. These groups eventually infused their original rock compositions with increasingly complex musical ideas and a distinctive sound. In mid-1962 the Rolling Stones started as one of a number of groups increasingly showing blues influence, along with bands like the Animals and the Yardbirds. During 1963, the Beatles and other beat groups, such as the Searchers and the Hollies, achieved great popularity and commercial success in Britain itself. British rock broke through to mainstream popularity in the United States in January 1964 with the success of the Beatles. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was the band's first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, starting the British Invasion of the American music charts. The song entered the chart on January 18, 1964, at No. 45 before it became the No. 1 single for 7 weeks and went on to last a total of 15 weeks in the chart. Their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show February 9 is considered a milestone in American pop culture. The broadcast drew an estimated 73 million viewers, at the time a record for an American television program. The Beatles went on to become the biggest selling rock band of all time and they were followed by numerous British bands

Rock and roll

By the 1960s, the scene that had developed out of the American folk music revival had grown to a major movement, utilizing traditional music and new compositions in a traditional style, usually on acoustic instruments. In America the genre was pioneered by figures such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger and often identified with progressive or labour politics. In the early sixties figures such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez had come to the fore in this movement as singer-songwriters. Dylan had begun to reach a mainstream audience with hits including "Blowin' in the Wind" (1963) and "Masters of War" (1963), which brought "protest songs" to a wider public but, although beginning to influence each other, rock and folk music had remained largely separate genres, often with mutually exclusive audiences. Early attempts to combine elements of folk and rock included the Animals "House of the Rising Sun" (1964), which was the first commercially successful folk song to be recorded with rock and roll instrumentation. The folk rock movement is usually thought to have taken off with the Byrds' recording of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" which topped the charts in 1965. With members who had been part of the cafe-based folk scene in Los Angeles, the Byrds adopted rock instrumentation, including drums and 12-string Rickenbacker guitars, which became a major element in the sound of the genre. By the mid-'60s Bob Dylan took the lead in merging folk and rock, and in July '65, released Like a Rolling Stone, with a revolutionary rock sound, steeped in tawdry urban imagery, followed by an electric performance later that month at the Newport Folk Festival. Dylan plugged an entire generation into the milieu of the singer-songwriter, often writing from an urban point of view, with poetry punctuated by rock rhythms and electric power. By the mid to late '60s, bands and singer-songwriters began to proliferate the underground New York art/music scene. The release of The Velvet Underground & Nico in 1967, featuring singer-songerwriter Lou Reed and German singer and collaborator Nico was described as "most prophetic rock album ever made" by Rolling Stone in 2003. Other New York City based singer songerwriters began to emerge, using the urban landscape as their canvass for lyrics in the confessional style of poets like Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. In July, 1969, Newsweek magazine ran a feature story, "The Girls-Letting Go," describing the groundbreaking music of Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Lotti Golden and Melanie, as a new breed of female troubadour: "What is common to them are the personalized songs they write, like voyages of self discovery, brimming with keen observation and startling in the impact of their poetry." The work of these early New York based singer-songwriters, from Laura Nyro's New York Tendaberry (1969), to Lotti Golden's East Village diaries on Motor-Cycle her 1969 debut on Atlantic Records, has served as inspiration to generations of female singer-songwriters in the rock, folk and jazz traditions. Dylans adoptation of electric instruments, much to the outrage of many folk purists, with his "Like a Rolling Stone" succeeded in creating a new genre. Folk rock particularly took off in California, where it led acts like the Mamas & the Papas and Crosby, Stills and Nash to move to electric instrumentation, and in New York, where it spawned singer-songwriters and performers including the Lovin' Spoonful and Simon and Garfunkel, with the latter's acoustic "The Sounds of Silence" being remixed with rock instruments to be the first of many hits.

Psychedelic rock

Psychedelic music's LSD-inspired vibe began in the folk scene, with the New York-based Holy Modal Rounders using the term in their 1964 recording of "Hesitation Blues". The first group to advertise themselves as psychedelic rock were the 13th Floor Elevators from Texas, at the end of 1965; producing an album that made their direction clear, with The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators the following year. Psychedelic rock particularly took off in California's emerging music scene as groups followed the Byrds from folk to folk rock from 1965. The Los Angeles-based group the Doors formed in 1965 after a chance meeting on Venice Beach. Although its charismatic lead singer Jim Morrison died in 1971, the band's popularity has endured and grown to this day as people discover their music. The psychedelic life style had already developed in San Francisco since about 1964, and particularly prominent products of the scene were the Grateful Dead, Country Joe and the Fish, the Great Society and Jefferson Airplane. The Byrds rapidly progressed from purely folk rock in 1966 with their single "Eight Miles High"

Many other sub cultures within rock were then later formed such as surf rock, country rock, garage rock, roots rock, progressive, folk and then pop

Country music

Johnny Cash was one of the most popular country music artists during the 1960s. Triumph and great tragedy marked the 1960s in country music. The genre continued to gain national exposure through network television, with weekly series and awards programs gaining popularity. Sales of records continued to rise as new artists and trends came to the forefront. However, several top stars died under tragic circumstances, including several who were killed in plane crashes.

The predominant musical style during the decade was the Nashville Sound, a style that emphasized string sections, background vocals, crooning lead vocals and production styles seen in country music. The style had first become popular in the late 1950s, in response to the growing encroachment of rock and roll on the country genre, but saw its greatest success in the 1960s. Artists like Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, Ray Price, Patsy Cline, Floyd Cramer, Roger Miller and many others achieved great success through songs such as "He'll Have to Go," "Danny Boy," "Make the World Go Away", "King of the Road" and "I Fall to Pieces." The country-pop style was also evident on the 1962 album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, recorded by rhythm and blues and soul singer Ray Charles. Charles recorded covers of traditional country, folk and classical music standards in pop, R&B and jazz styles. The album was hailed as a critical and commercial success, and would be vastly influential in later country music styles. Songs from the album that were released for commercial airplay and record sales included "I Can't Stop Loving You," "Born to Lose" and "You Don't Know Me." By the end of the decade, the Nashville Sound became more polished and streamlined, and became known as "countrypolitan." Tammy Wynette, Glen Campbell, Dottie West and Charley Pride were among the top artists adopting this style. While George Jones — by the early 1960s one of country music's most consistent hitmakers — also recorded countrypolitan-styled music, his background remained pure honky tonk, singing of heartbreak and lonlieness in many of his songs. Also, Marty Robbins proved to be one of the genre's most diverse singers, singing everything from straight-ahead country to western to pop to blues ... and even Hawaiian.

Johnny Cash—who became known as "The Man in Black"—became one of the most influential musicians of the 1960s (and eventually, 20th century). Although primarily recording country, his songs and sound spanned many other genres including rockabilly, blues, folk and gospel.[74] His music showed great compassion for minorities and others who were shunned by society, including prison inmates. Two of Cash's most successful albums were recorded live in prison: At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin.


Chubby Checker during the early 1960s popularizes the enduring dance craze the Twist with his hit cover of Hank Ballard & the Midnighters' R&B hit "The Twist". Gerry Goffin and Carole King become a very influential duo in pop music, writing numerous number one hits including the first song to ever reach number one by a girl group, the Shirelles "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and the 1962 number one hit, "The Loco-Motion" which was performed by Little Eva. The Monkees were a made for TV band, inspired by the antics of the Beatles in A Hard Day's Night. Under contractual reasons, the group were not allowed to play their own instruments, which led to many feuds between the band mates and music supervisor, Don Kirshner.

R&B, funk and Soul

The Detroit-based Motown label develops as a pop-influenced answer to soul music. The label begins a long run of No. 1 U.S. hit singles in 1961 with "Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes. The label would have numerous No. 1 Billboard hits throughout the decade and into the 1990s. Notable Motown acts included the Supremes, the Miracles, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye and the Jackson Five, who debuted in 1969. Soul music develops popularity throughout the decade, led by Sam Cooke, James Brown and Otis Redding, among many others. Funk begins later in the decade with James Brown and Sly & the Family Stone having early hits. You Keep Me Hanging On uses a fast tempo which would prove innovative in the development of disco music. Aretha Franklin's 1967 recordings, such as "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)", "Respect" (originally sung by Otis Redding), and "Do Right Woman-Do Right Man", are considered the apogee of the soul genre, and were among its most commercially successful productions.

Other trends and musical events

Late in the decade, the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock Music Festival would epitomize the American counterculture. Current events become a major influence on popular music. Many songs are written in protest to the Vietnam War. The song "Ohio" was written about the Kent State Massacre, and became a hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. World music sees a huge rise in popularity as many seek interest in other cultures. Ravi Shankar performs at the Monterey and Woodstock festivals. Latin Rock artist Carlos Santana sees popularity throughout the decade. George Harrison develops an interest in the Hare Krishna culture, adding Indian influence to the Beatles' music including the use of a sitar. Reggae begins to popularize at this time. In 1969, the Rolling Stones organised the ill-fated Altamont Free Concert. Songs like "Summertime Blues" and "Eve of Destruction" address the issue of the voting age, which at the time was 21. The issue was that soldiers were drafted at 18, but could not vote. The voting age was eventually lowered to eighteen. A few songs such as Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" address the Civil Rights Movement.


Anonymous said...

Excellent information on music of the '60s, providing insight into how changes in the popular culture influenced the music and lyrics of the time. The article sheds light, not only on the popular artists of the day, but also focuses on the underground, lesser known artists who pushed the envelope, setting trends.

Anonymous said...

Yes, love this! Mentions NYC music in the late '60s, when in the USA a lot of rock was coming out of California. The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Lotti Golden and Laura Nyro are innovative artists who incorporated the beat of the city in their music.