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Music of the 60s

By Tim Flanagan


The 1960s were an exciting time for music. The Beatles were rising in popularity, Bob Dylan was becoming a household name, and Motown Records started a revolution. But there was more to the 60s than just rock 'n' roll. From Motown to folk music, here's a look at some of the most popular artists from this decade.


The Beatles were a British rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they became widely regarded as the foremost and most influential music band in history. They are also the best-selling band of all time with estimated sales of over 1 billion records worldwide.

They had 17 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as well as 20 number one albums on the UK Albums Chart and American Record Guide's Top 100 Albums of All Time list. In addition to their musical achievements, they made several contributions to popular culture including film scores such as The “Yellow Submarine” (1968) and “Magical Mystery Tour” (1967). They also had radio broadcasts such as World War II veterans' radio show "The Goon Show", and they filmed television programs such as You Know Who You Are? (1969), All You Need Is Cash (1978) which featured John Lennon's parody song "Hello Hello Hello" about his former bandmate Paul McCartney, books written by members including John Lennon's “In His Own Write” (1964), George Harrison's “I Me Mine” (1980), and “A Hard Day's Write the Stories Behind Every Beatles Song Ever Written”. The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. In 2000, "Rolling Stone" magazine ranked them as the best artists of all time.

The Rolling Stones were a rock and roll band that formed in London, England in 1962. They were one of the most influential bands of their time, with hits like "Satisfaction" and "Paint It Black." Their bluesy sound was unlike anything else at the time, but they still managed to be one of the biggest names in music history and their legacy continues today! Having seen the “Stones” in concert back during their “Steel Wheels” tour, I can only imagine the energy of Mick Jagger in his prime.

Bob Dylan is a singer, songwriter and musician who became famous during the 1960s. He was one of the pioneers of folk music and his hit songs "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'". Dylan influenced many musicians with his distinctive voice and harmonica playing. He is often called a poet for his lyrics about social issues such as racism, war and poverty. However, time was not kind to Dylan! His fan based was short lived, and his social perspective became to radical to sustain his career.

Motown Records was a record label owned by Berry Gordy, who first started the company in 1957. Motown was known for its rhythm & blues roots, and feel good funk beat. Some of the most influential stars of R & B and Pop came out of the 60s! Artists such Diana Ross & the Supremes, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye just to name a few. The label had hundreds of hit records such as "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye, or "My Girl" by The Temptations. Motown had part of influencing disco, 80s pop and even many modern hits.

Jimi Hendrix was an American musician and singer-songwriter, or better yet, is a rock legend to anyone who likes crazy guitar solos and crunching guitars! He was born in Seattle, Washington on November 27th 1942, and unfortunately died young from an overdose in London on September 18th 1970 at the age of 27. He had a unique style of playing guitar, which became known as 'the Jimi Hendrix sound'. His songs included Hey Joe (1967), Purple Haze (1967) and Foxy Lady (1966).

There are so many amazing artists from the 60s it is impossible to mention them all. So, here is what comes to mind when I recall my music loves of the 60s! Jefferson Starship “White Rabbit”, who didn’t want to go ask Alice? Sympathy for the Devil was very trendy in the 60s especially with the Rolling Stones. The Ozzman Cometh, or the start of Ozzie Osbourne’s career. The man in black appears in the form of Johnny Cash. Beach Blanket Bingo with Frankie & Annette helped forge the creation of beach music and go go! 1969 brought the birth of the Jackson Five family, and a musical saga that would last decades.

The 60s also brought it for the future of hard rock and metal. Bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Deep Purple & The Who proved rock and roll will never die! Don’t forget poet and pioneer Jim Morrison whose poetic soulful voice fronted a new sound in the band The Doors. Of course, there is always an honorable mention of the queen of rock, Janis Joplin, who like many of that era, was taken from us by addictions call.  This column could go on forever, but as always, things must come to an end. As a young boy in the 60s, this writer can tell you that the greatest decades of music were the 60s, 70s & 80s! To be continued…

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