Friday, June 24, 2011

Psychedelic Rock Goes Mainstream: June 24, 1967

Psychedelic rock is a style of music which strives to replicate the experience of mind-altering psychedelic drugs. It grew out of folk- and blues-rock in the mid ‘60s and integrated non-Western sources such as Indian music. New recording techniques and effects also marked the genre. It was a stepping stone to progressive rock, glam rock, hard rock, and heavy metal. PR

June 24, 1967 does not mark the birth of psychedelic rock. It does, however, make for a fitting place to plant the freak flag on mainstream music turf. Several significant recordings made their chart debuts, trumpeting the genre’s full-fledged arrival on British and American shores.

In the U.K., Pink Floyd charted with their second single, “See Emily Play”. That same day Syd Barrett & Co. made their television debut performing it on Top of the Pops. The recording process for the song implemented studio trickery such as backward tapes, echo, and reverb. SP It hit #6 in the UK and makes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of the Top 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

By summer’s end, Pink Floyd released their debut album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which All Music Guide’s Steve Huey called “one of the best psychedelic albums of all time.” SH

Click photo for more about the album.

On American shores The Beatles debuted on the Billboard charts with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, another landmark psychedelic album. Many within the music industry, including Dave’s Music Database, call it the best album of all time.

Click photo for more about the album.

That same day, Jefferson Airplane debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 with “White Rabbit.” With references to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland as a means of relaying the experience of psychedelic drugs, the song could lay claim as the official psychedelic rock anthem. The group was on the bill of the Monterey Pop Festival which unofficially launched the Summer of Love. That moniker has become the go-to term for a transformative time when hippie lifestyles, complete with their own peace mantra and psychedelic soundtrack, converged upon San Francisco.

Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is another “stone cold classic of psychedelia” HS which captured “a moment in the summer of 1967 when, if you were fortunate enough not to have to work for a living and bought into the whole flower power freedom movement, anything seemed possible.” HS The song makes the aforementioned Rock Hall 500 list and is featured in The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999. It topped the list of Britain’s most heard songs in 2009. TS

Certainly the development and proliferation of the psychedelic rock movement cannot be narrowed to one day. However, the convergence several game changers on June 24, 1967, is enough to give one a head trip.

  • HS “Procol Harum Week: A Whiter Shade of Pale” (10/4/09)
  • SH Steve Huey, All Music Guide
  • TS Ted Spangler, American SongwriterBritain’s 75 Most Heard Song List Topped By…Procol Harum?” (4/15/09)
  • PR Wikipedia entry on psychedelic rock
  • SP Wikipedia entry on “See Emily Play

    1. Hey there!

      Too bad you stopped blogging a while ago. Or is this more like a break?
      I was wondering if I could take some stuff, and also the following:
      Recently I have started working on a website of my own about psychedelic art, music and literature...
      This because I really love psychedelic related things.

      But it's really hard to get a bit better into the google search results and now I've read that having links on subject related websites help with that.

      Your website shows up with just: psychedelic database so it would be awesome if you could put a link to my website on your site?
      It is located at:

      Please let me know what you think about that idea at


      1. Hey, Joeri. Glad you appreciate the blog! I would simply ask that you provide a link back to my site if you reference anything you use from here. Thanks for asking.

        I definitely haven't taken a break from the blogging. Check the top right hand column of this page. I post a daily blog entry on some aspect of music history. I shoot for a very wide spectrum, covering everything from classical to jazz to R&B to country to pop to rock. I figure that way I have the chance of potentially turning off or turning on every possible music fan out there! ;)

        Glad you found the blog and that it is of use to you.

        - Dave