Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary: The Beatles, The Beach Boys and the 8 Most Influential Bands of the 1960's

Happy 50th birthday, Rolling Stones!

The English rock band is most famous for singles such as “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Wild Horses,” and “Start Me Up.” As hard-core rockers began to lose to teen singers in the mid-1960’s, the Stones brought back “edgier” rock ‘n’ roll infused with soul and blues traditions. Their blues rock appealed to audiences black and white and changed rock ‘n’ roll forever.

To celebrate one of the most iconic bands in music history, we put together a list of the best bands from the 1960’s. Not only our parents, but we, too, continue to rock out to their songs to this day.

1) The Beach Boys



This California-based boys band were famous for their cheerful surf rock. Songs such as “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Good Vibrations” celebrated the sunshine the beach, and the youthfulness of SoCal. Their close vocal harmonizations feel almost as upbeat as today's a cappella.

2) The Beatles


The Beatles pioneered the beat genre - a fusion of rock ‘n’ roll, doo-wop, skiffle, R&B, and soul - and began the British Invasion of bands to America in the early 1960’s. With songs such as “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” and “All You Need is Love,” The Beatles became a spokesperson for the American 1960’s counterculture and hippie culture. Their message of peace, love, and unity resonated at a time when Americans became disillusioned by the Vietnam War and the racial, gender, and sexual inequality in the U.S. social landscape. The band achieved mythic status, prompting John Lennon to say he’s more popular than Jesus, and inspired a cult-like following.

3) The Supremes



R&B and soul struck gold in the 1960’s, when the Detroit label Motown sprinkled soul music with pop trademarks to make the music mainstream. The Supremes was Motown’s most commercially successful act and continues to be America’s most successful vocal act, with 12 #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. The female trio made “Where Did Our Love Go,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” and “Stop! In the Name of Love” instantly recognizable classics.

4) The Who



This British band was one of the most dramatic and energetic on stage, inspiring later acts such as Queen, Led Zeppelin, and The Clash. With songs like “Baba O’Reilly” and “I Can’t Explain” The Who became the godfathers of operatic rock and punk, respectively.

5) Led Zeppelin



While they made tons of blues rock, Led Zeppelin is known for beginning heavy metal and hard rock. The band was also interested in the mythical, mystical, and satanic. “Stairway to Heaven” is one of the best anthems of 1960’s rock.

6) Pink Floyd



As pioneers of psychedelic and progressive rock, Pink Floyd often experimented with music. “Wish You Were Here” has a free-form, almost improvisational structure. “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2” is a protest against rigid schooling in the U.K.

7) The Lovin’ Spoonful 



With hits such as “Do You Believe in Magic,” "Summer in the City," and “Daydream,” The Lovin’ Spoonful helped popularize the folk rock movement. Fun fact: many of their feel-good songs were covers of old blues songs.

8) Creedence Clearwater Revival



Done with the overload of psychedelic rock, Creedence Clearwater Revival became popular in the late 1960’s for drawing on Bob Dylans’ “roots rock,” which brought back more basic rock ‘n’ roll with country and blues. “Susie Q” and “Proud Mary” focus mostly on recognizable guitar hooks and simple lyrics. They influenced bands in the 1970’s such as Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Sweet Home Alabama”), The Eagles (“Hotel California”), and the Allman Brothers Band (“Ramblin’ Man”). 

While countless other musical acts -- from Bob Dylan, to Janis Joplin, to Simon & Garfunkel -- were influential as well, the rock band took off in the 1960's and has become an enduring part of the music industry. So when we celebrate the Rolling Stones, we celebrate all the innovative groups from the 1960's that shaped music as we know it today. 

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