Get to know the Beatles. Truly there would be no real rock and roll without the Beatles. What many younger people don’t understand is that the Beatles set the pace for this era and for music even now 40 years later. Though Elvis brought rock to white America, the Beatles brought art to pop music. Not only that, they did it while making huge piles of money. This allowed other bands the leeway from record execs to experiment. As such we got the great music we are talking about.
The Beatles also brought the album to rock and roll. Prior to the Beatles pop music was pretty much in single form, that is to say 2 sided 45 records, rather than in LP (long play) form with many songs. The album was like a novel to be appreciated at one time, often with “enhancing” tools.
Recommended intro albums: Revolver, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Rubber Soul
Get to know the Rolling Stones. Also from England, the Stones were dirtier, and nastier than the Beatles. And they were huge rivals. Though the Beatles always seemed one step ahead. Though it must be said that the Stones are still rolling whereas the Beatles are now relegated to recordings only.
As the 60s wore on the Stones just got nastier. They talked about depression-Paint It Black, drug use- you name the song, and alienation- Gimmie Shelter. Some people point to the “end of the sixties peace and love” as the Altamont concert in California where a fan was beaten to death by a Hells Angle that was hired by the Stones to provide security.
Recommended intro albums: Aftermath, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers
Get to know Bob Dylan. It is often said that it was the Beatles, Stones, and Dylan that lead the musical way in the 60s. I agree with this statement. Dylan was the most influential American artist of the 1960s. And that’s saying a great deal.
Where as the Beatles and Stones were always rock acts, Dylan emerged from the folk scene of the very early 60s which itself had roots in the beatnik scene in New York, and San Francisco that emerged in the late 50s.
Folk was very political and Dylan was very political, though he grew less so with time.
It was Bob Dylan who was said to have introduced the Beatles to Mary Jane originally but never really participated in the psychdelia of the late 60s. One does not see him at any time walking around in Nehru jackets or using layered effects in his music.
Dylan’s departure from folk is legendary. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival he switched from an acoustic guitar to an electric one. The audience was aghast. The crowd which only moments before had been enraptured by the musician, turned. Yells of “Judas!” can be head in recordings of that moment.
Regardless Dylan only went on to more success after embracing amplified music and some of his best albums are electric ones.
Recommended intro albums: Freewheelin’, Blonde On Blonde, Blood On the Tracks