Even though the 1950s was the iconic decade that started the era of rock and rock music with greats such as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, the 1960s was really the first decade of the Rock ‘n’ Roll bands. There were a number of bands in the ’50s that were noted as rock ‘n’ roll, but a distinct new sound that emerged in the 60’s totally captured the hearts of youth all around the world and ushered in an entirely new era of rockers that set the tone for generations to come.
Starting out in Liverpool, England in 1958, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison were the Beatles. They had a few different drummers until Ringo Star joined them in 1962. Their first big hit, “Love Me Do”, was released in late 1962. This was the real beginning of “Beatlemania”. The band members were international stars by the time 1964 rolled around and they are credited with the start of the “British Invasion” into the US. Their success in America was incredible!
The group enjoyed hit after hit over the years. They stayed together until 1970, but each artist enjoyed solo careers. Lennon was killed in 1980. Harrison died in 2001. McCartney and Starr are still performing today. The Beatles are considered the best selling rock band of all time. Their most loved songs include “Hey Jude”, “Come Together”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, Ticket To Ride”, “Imagine”, and so many more!
Some of the best rock bands of the ’60s came straight out of England, including The Who. Formed in London in 1964, the group members were Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon. Their second hit in the UK, “My Generation” was tremendously successful in the US as well. The rock opera Tommy, brought the very successful single “Pinball Wizard”. Tommy was made into a film in 1975. The Who also appeared at Woodstock in 1969.
After Keith Moon died around 1978, he was replaced with Kenney Jones. The band finally split in 1983. They still performed occasionally together and finally began touring again in 1999. Entwistle died in 2002, but Daltrey and Townsend continued to tour. Some of the group’s best hits are “My Generation”, The Kids Are Alright”, “Magic Bus” and “Love Reign Over Me”.
The Rolling Stones
This legendary band brought us Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Formed in London, England in 1962, The Rolling Stones have enjoyed many decades of success, even though they had a few member shake-ups during their career. The Rolling Stones were right alongside the Beatles during the British Invasion of the US during 1964. During the 1980s the band stopped touring for the remainder of the decade because of infighting and underperforming albums.
Their resurgence came in 1989 with the release of the album Steel Wheels, when they were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. Between studio albums and Live albums, the group has released over 53. The band still continues to sell out concerts even today after more than 50 years! Their most famous hits are “Satisfaction”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, “Gimme Shelter” and “Wild Horses”.
The Beach Boys
Even though The Beach Boys might have had a slightly different rock style in comparison with bands like The Who and The Rollings Stones, they had more than their share of fame and fortune. They are still considered one of the greatest rock bands ever. Starting off as a garage band in Hawthorne, California in 1961, three brothers, a cousin, and a friend created The Beach Boys. Brian, Carl, and Dennis were the brothers, Mike Love the cousin and the friend was Al Jardine. They are most known for the California surfing songs.
Brother Brian suffered mental issues in the late ’60s and brother Carl took over as the band’s leader until the late ’70s. They had great success going on worldwide tours during this time. Soon after struggles ensued when brother Dennis. drown and Brian became estranged from the band. Legal battles later ensued over royalties and other things. Brother Carl died from lung cancer in 1998.
In the end, cousin Mike Love gained the right to use and tour under The Beach Boys name. Al Jardine and Brian do not tour with this version of the band, but they are still considered as members. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. The greatest hits of The Beach Boys are “ Good Vibrations”, “California Girls”, “I Get Around”, and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”.
There is no doubt that the British had a great influence in forming some of the best bands of the 60’s Pink Floyd also formed in London in 1965. Original members included Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was their debut album and yielded two singles that made the charts. David Gilmour was added to the band in 1967 and Syd Barrett left the band because of mental health issues in 1968.
Even though the band got their initial start and success in the ’60s, they actually saw their greatest success in the 1970s with blockbuster albums like The Dark Side of the Moon in 1973, Wish You Were Here in 1975, and The Wall in 1979. Richard Wright was fired from the band over lack of creative contribution on the album The Wall, but later returned as a paid musician for the tour.
Pink Floyd’s last tour together was in 1994 after the band had been through several member shake-ups during prior years. Pink Floyd music is still played today and a popular tribute band led by Brit Floyd formed in Liverpool in 2011 and tours recreating the original Pink Floyd experience. Some of Pink Floyd’s most memorable songs are “Wish You Were Here”, “Time”, “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” and “Another Brick in the Wall”.