Top 10 Decade Defining Musical Acts: 1960s

Script written by Jordan Ruimy. This decade was defined by the evolution of rock and roll into more diverse genres, as well as the rise of pop, heavy metal, funk, soul and R&B. For our series on the Top 10 Musical Acts Per Decade, we’ve based our choices on a mix of an act’s success, popularity and overall musical legacy. This is part of a series of videos spanning the decades of music from the 1950s to the 2000s. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 decade defining musical acts of the 1960s. Special thanks to our users Jack Morris, Se7enNationArmy101, SuperMonkeyGyrados, Nathaniel Jordon, jimster95, Jared Carter and Francis Vinh Hamel for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Jordan Ruimy.

This decade was defined by the evolution of rock and roll into more diverse genres, as well as the rise of pop, heavy metal, funk, soul and R&B. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 musical acts of the 1960s.

For our series on the Top 10 Musical Acts Per Decade, we’ve based our choices on a mix of an act’s success, popularity and overall musical legacy. This is part of a series of videos spanning the decades of music from the1950s to the 2000s.

#10: The Temptations

Known for having a line-up of at least five male singers and dancers, as well as their association with the legendary Motown Records, this American group was a hit-making machine during the 1960s: just like their fellow Motown counterparts “The Supremes,” The Temptations churned out smash after smash. While that decade saw “My Girl” become one of their most lasting hits, they also made waves in the ‘70s with “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” The group still makes music today, though only one original member, Otis Williams, remains.

#9: The Who

Part of the “British Invasion” which took control of the American music scene in the 1960s, this rock band personified the pervasive feeling of youthful rebellion, and popularized famous rock and roll moves like “the windmill” and “the guitar smash.” They also amplified things aplenty with the “Marshall Stack.” After some success in their native UK with singles like “I Can’t Explain” and “My Generation,” the band really broke through with 1969’sTommy. On top of its massive critical acclaim, the album was also a major influence in shaping the rock opera and establishing their legacy as one of history’s best-selling bands.

#8: James Brown

When it comes to putting on a killer live show, it didn’t get much better than when “The Godfather of Soul” stepped on to the stage. Influencing many genres, especially funk and soul, James Brown built a furious reputation night after night. His signature dance moves were a major influence on Michael Jackson, while remarkable tunes like “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “(I Got You) I Feel Good” have become pop culture milestones. With multiple chart-toppers on the Billboard R&B charts, Brown’s impact cannot be denied.

#7: Aretha Franklin

The “Queen Of Soul” started her career as a gospel singer for her minister father’s church. Things soon turned around once Columbia records discovered the Memphis-born teen’s astonishing talent. But things really took off for Aretha Franklin after she signed with Atlantic Records in 1967, as this set her on the path to a career that can now boasts over 75 Billboard Hot 100 charting entries. Franklin’s powerful voice literally changed the world – and tunes like “Respect” and “Chain of Fools” prove it.

#6: The Doors

Led by charismatic bad-boy Jim Morrison, this Los Angeles rock band created a unique organ-driven sound that was carried by the front man’s deep, unaltered voice. Their self-titled 1967 debut spoke volumes to the teenage angst that was creeping into the States and the flower power movement that was just beginning. While they also ignited controversy, The Doors’ string of top 10 albums and characteristic ‘60s sound make them inextricable from the decade – and music in general.

#5: Bob Dylan

By bringing lyrical depth to pop music and proving how substance-filled a simple pop song can be, you could call him the musical poet of the decade. With his socially conscious themes and incorporation of multiple musical genres, Bob Dylan also opened up the possibility of “the album” as a work of art. This was especially true of his mid-‘60s records, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde. Today, Dylan continues to be respected and used as a source of inspiration for many singer-songwriters.

#4: The Jimi Hendrix Experience

To say that Jimi Hendrix changed the way the guitar was played would be an understatement. He molded, improved, resurrected and redefined the instrument by giving it an electric spin. His use of the “wah wah” pedal and distorted sound has had an immeasurable and lasting effect on rock music. What’s even more impressive is that he built his legacy in such a short career, with notable songs like “Hey Joe,” “Purple Haze” and “Foxy Lady.”

#3: The Beach Boys

This California-based group took barbershop music and R&B and added them to ’50s rock and roll to produce the five part vocal harmonies and surf rock sound they’re now known for. The mastermind of the group’s success was undoubtedly Brian Wilson, whose creative ideas and ambitious songwriting paved the way for the more sophisticated Pet Sounds. This seminal 1966 record is widely regarded as one of the greatest albums ever made. However, the band’s critical and commercial success wasn’t only limited to the ‘60s; today, “America’s band” remains one of the world’s best selling acts.

#2: The Rolling Stones

Formed in 1962, this long-lasting band is still kicking it to this day even though its members are over 65 years old. This Mick Jagger and Keith Richards-led group became part of the British Invasion movement thanks to such career-defining hits like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Paint It Black,” “Gimme Shelter” and “Sympathy For The Devil.” With a style that fused blues, rock and R&B, The Rolling Stones have left a powerful effect on rock and roll as well as an iconic discography that’s hard to beat.

Before we unveil our pick for Top Musical Acts of the 1960s, here are a few honorable mentions:
- The Kinks
- The Velvet Underground
- The Monkees
- Cream

#1: The Beatles

John, Paul, George and Ringo. That’s all you need to know. The biggest and most influential band ever may’ve just had a decade-long year career, but they still managed to redefine and reshape music and popular culture forever. With countless hits, groundbreaking LPs and a level of success so insane it was dubbed Beatlemania, it’s not surprising that the Fab Four tops our list of musical acts of the 1960s. Though The Beatles broke up before the decade’s end, they continue to be cited as major influences of artists to this day and undoubtedly will be for generations to come.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite musical act of the 1960s? For more Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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