Top 10 Psychedelic Bands

Credits: Matt Campbell Q. V. Hough
Script written by Q. V. Hough. Purple Haze and Strawberry Fields Forever. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 psychedelic bands. For this list we are looking at bands associated with the psychedelic music and focusing on those that had the largest influence on the genre. Be sure to also check out our list of the Top 10 Classic Rock Bands. Special thanks to our users Jack Morris, Azem Sadiki, Ben Welham, Daan Visser and Supraracer72 for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Q. V. Hough.

Top 10 Psychedelic Bands


Purple Haze and Strawberry Fields Forever. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Psychedelic Bands.

For this list we are looking at bands associated with the psychedelic music and focusing on those that had the largest influence on the genre.

#10: Tame Impala

As the brainchild of Australian Kevin Parker, this collection of cosmic musicians has reinvented the genre with explosive sounds and innovative experimentation. For their 2011 debut Innerspeaker, Tame Impala won Album of the Year at the Australian Rolling Stone Awards and doubled-up in 2012 with the Grammy-nominated Lonerism. With catchy melodies and pop influences, Parker’s band inspires neo-hippies to hook up the record player and vibe out to the soaring sounds from Perth, Australia.

#9: The Moody Blues

Straight out of Birmingham, England, these poetic mind travelers opened the doors of perception for their faithful fans. After the release of their brilliant 1967 concept album, Days of Future Passed, The Moody Blues continued to push the envelope with the mind-bending In Search of the Lost Chord. By incorporating classical music and poetry into their eclectic sound, the group of mustached musicians allowed the world to embrace the power of the psychedelic spoken word. The band continues to remain active to this day and has sold over 55 million albums worldwide.

#8: Cream

After his brief stint with British rock band The Yardbirds and The Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton teamed up with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce to form legendary psychedelic rock band Cream. Simply for the love of music, the enigmatic trio became the world’s first super group when they joined forces. From 1966 to 1969, Cream produced four classic albums and their spectacular live shows set the bar for fellow musicians and admiring fans. Although Clapton’s exceptional rock guitar skills get most of the love, all three members together were the cream of the crop.

#7: 13th Floor Elevators

Not only are the 13th Floor Elevators known as one of the pioneers of the psychedelic rock genre, but electric jug player Tommy Hall was actually credited with coining the phrase “psychedelic rock”. With a garage rock style and the piercing vocals of Roky Erickson, the single “You’re Gonna Miss Me” became a stepping stone for aspiring musicians and has found its way into American pop culture in recent years. The 13th Floor Elevators may not be on your playlist but they probably inspired many of your favorite bands.

#6: The Beatles (1966-1970)

After melting the hearts of adoring fans with their numerous iconic pop albums, this group of Liverpool gents switched up their sound and changed the face of music. By 1965, The Beatles were demonstrating their psychedelic influences on Rubber Soul, but it wasn’t till Revolver that the fab four would change their sound completely. From the trippy sitar of George Harrison on tracks like “Tomrorrow Never Knows”, to the large orchestral arrangements of songs like “A Day in the Life”, The Beatles’ unprecedented run defined musical creativity.

#5: The Grateful Dead

This California band was fronted by the heavily bearded Jerry Garcia for 30 years and played songs long enough for “Deadheads” to spark up multiple joints. As one of the definitive counterculture bands, The Grateful Dead combined various styles of music, which brought together the unlikeliest of fans for decades until the 1995 death of Garcia. While they didn’t reach mainstream America like some of their fellow psychedelic bands of the time, the Dead earned a cult following and will be reuniting in 2015 for the band’s 50th anniversary.

#4: Jefferson Airplane

While the 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow introduced this bay area band to the world, they were already a well-respected group with the 1966 release of Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. The band was most famously lead by Grace Slick, who has often been considered to have one of the best female voices in all of rock music, and if you don’t believe us just listen to tracks like “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit”. The core group of musicians released seven albums until 1972, creating a sound that is both unmistakable and synonymous with psychedelic.

#3: The Doors

In 1965, a chance reunion between Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek inspired one of the most iconic bands of all time. Although many associate The Doors specifically with psychedelic rock, they were heavily influenced by blues rock, a mix that would change the genre forever. With unforgettable live shows featuring the drunken antics of frontman Jim Morrison, this LA band made headlines with each unique performance and gave fans something they had never seen before. Not many people could figure out Jim Morrison, and his early death ensured a legacy draped in mystery.

#2: The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Sometimes a change of scenery is the perfect ingredient for success. In 1966, Jimi Hendrix left the United States for England and became a star within a matter of weeks. By teaming up with accomplished musicians Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix changed the face of music by completely destroying traditional perceptions of how the guitar should be played. After several months of hype, Are You Experienced was released, which featured Hendrix’s poignant lyrics and unprecedented sound. After two more albums, The Experience reached legendary status but the trip ended with Hendrix’s untimely death in 1970.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

The Yardbirds

The Byrds

Animal Collective

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention

The Flaming Lips

#1: Pink Floyd

Many bands paved the way for psychedelic rock, but it was a group of Londoners that ultimately took the wheel and never looked back. Pink Floyd originated during the mid-60s and released seven definitive classics of psychedelia before 1973, which proved to be a pivotal year with the release of The Dark Side of the Moon. By 1979, The Wall solidified Pink Floyd’s legacy and the band has continued to share their musical gifts with the world in the decades since. If the world is a psychedelic canvas, then Pink Floyd is the ultimate artist with the most colorful palette.

So, do you agree with our selections? What is your favorite psychedelic band? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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