From Crooners To the Pop Culture Movement – A Look at the Music of the 1960’s

From Motown to Woodstock, the 1960’s proved to be a wide swung pendulum of musical tastes and talents.

As the 1950’s ushered in the vast array of genres being offered up to a diversifying nation, 1960’s America took the torch and continued on course.

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Hot off the presses in 1960 was the formation of Motown Record Corporation. This would be the vessel that would launch the careers of numerous soul artists. Legendary talents like Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson got their start with Motown buy lsd.

Folk rock is another genre that would be born out of the 1960’s. Folk rock realized its big rise and fall within the decade. Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul & Mary, and The Grateful Dead are just a few of the folk rock singer-songwriters to come out of this era. The sound was a “more voice less effects” style of music incorporating storytelling lyrics with rock overtones. Most popular in the mid-sixties and declining in popularity by the early to mid-seventies, many of the artists associated with this type of music were part of the ‘make love not war’ movement.

In 1964 America would experience the British Invasion when a group of four ‘moptops’ from Liverpool, England took the U.S. by storm. In no time the Beatles were performing to sell out crowds of screaming teenage females. I Want to Hold Your Hand went to number one in the U.S. in February of 1964. The group broke up in 1970 and began successful solo careers. The Fab Four ventured out into uncharted musical territory with each new album and implemented several genres into their unique sounding style. They had a huge impact on modern-day music and were cultural innovators as well.

As drug use soared in the 1960’s, new offshoots of rock & roll music began to arrive on the scene. Acid and psychedelic rock emerged out of a drug culture that would eventually lead to the heavy metal genre that would become so prominent in the next decade. The counterculture had begun and out of that counterculture the biggest music phenomena of the decade would occur.

Woodstockwas basically a three-day music fest that took place in August of 1969. It was said to be a gathering that celebrated the concept of love, peace and tranquility. In reality it was an LSD fest that drew over 400,000 hippies to a farm in upstate New York. Several music genres were represented at the event, among them; folk rock, acid rock, and even some Motown were included in the lineup. Amidst the impressive itinerary of performers at the concert were: Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Janis Joplin, Arlo Guthrie, Sly & the Family Stone and Creedence Clearwater Rival. Woodstock is one of the pivotal events that changed the face of rock and roll and would, in part, be the catalyst to usher in the heavy metal sound of the 1970’s.

Last but not least would be the bubblegum pop rock style that grew in popularity in the late 1960’s. Bands like Tommy James and the Shondells, The Lemon Pipers and the Herman’s Hermits were scoring big on the pop charts. Teenyboppers all across the country were singing the lyrics to hits such as, Hanky PankyGreen Tambourine, andYummy, Yummy, Yummy.

Most of the emphasis had shifted to the younger generation coming out of the 1950’s where this trend had begun to take affect. Adolescents were tuning into the radio, buying records and attending concerts more than any other age group, so they became the mainstream in which record companies catered to.

Although the older generation (and I use that term loosely to include all others outside of the teen and early twenties age group) still found “their” music dominating the small screen with the popularity of variety shows. Greats like Dean Martin, Andy Williams, Dinah Shore, and Frank Sinatra were still riding high with the older crowd.

The 1960’s proved to serve up a cultural revolution and it was no more evident than in the styles of music rising out of this era. Sex, drugs and rock & roll replaced the now more seemingly innocent James Dean type rebellion of the 1950’s.

A violent and turbulent time in American history yet a time of self-expression and musical freedom gave way to a more complacent philosophy that would ensue in the next decade. American music was now very global and artists from many other countries were coming to America to don their talents to a nation that accepted all styles of music. It truly was the dawning of the ‘Age of Aquarius.’

Darrell Berg-Smith, CEO of The Asian Regional Impact Initiative, is a professional speaker, author, consultant and entrepreneur who specializes in advising on Corporate Social Responsibility programs and cause marketing resources to NGO’s and companies worldwide.