In the 1960s, music was in flux. Many of the 1960s’ most popular songs were written by musicians who had previously attained global success, including Elvis Presley and Ray Charles. Music’s current variety went back to many societal shifts in 1963 and continued into the following years.
The American culture and music started to change following the advancements in the Civil Rights Movement. The emergence of The Beatles on the music scene in 1963 ushered in the “British Invasion,” which permanently altered how the public saw and interacted with music and performers.
- Motown and R&B
Motown records primarily featured African-American artists and management. Their commercial success aided break down the hurdles of discrimination by allowing African-American artists to reclaim much of the success previously attributed to white musicians who had successfully crooned “black music” within the last decade.
- British Invasion
The phrase “British Invasion” was coined to characterize the period from the early to mid-1960s. Multiple British rock and pop acts have enjoyed popularity in the United States and internationally. They kick-started the takeover by performing covers of American tunes, showcasing their love of Rock’ n’ Roll and R&B as musical inspirations.
As their success grew, several of these bands delved into new musical terrain, developing their distinct sounds. The Beatles, who initially broke into the US music industry in 1963 but indeed rose to fame in 1964 after playing on the Ed Sullivan Show, are the band that comes to mind when talking about the British Invasion. Since then, the Beatles ruled the globe’s music charts till they broke up in 1970. And to better describe the phenomenon, which enveloped them, the term Beatlemania was coined.
- Rock and its Subgenres
It wasn’t until the 1960s that rock music indeed took off. As the genre evolved, numerous new subgenres of rock music formed throughout this decade, all related to the original rock but with a distinct sound and purpose. There was a lot of crossover throughout the decade, so we’ve done our best to categorize them. And if you wish to use some of the tracks from these genres, ensure you get the royalty free 1960 music to save yourself from legal trouble.
- Surf Rock and Psychedelic Rock
Surf rock was famous in Southern California before the British Invasion overtook it in the early to mid-sixties. The surf rock genre primarily focused on surfing but is extended to include songs about girlfriends, automobiles, and general adolescent shenanigans as it gained popularity.
On the other hand, Psychedelic rock was designed to “enhance” listeners’ experiences while under hallucinogenic drugs. And the bands used unusual instruments and weird lyrics to make their music stand out from the crowd.
- Roots Rock and Hard Rock
In the 1960s, various popular rock genres and subgenres came together to form roots rock. Rock’ n’ roll, blues, and country were all incorporated into roots rock. And the “back to basics” sound characterized the genre.
High-pitched, raspy vocals distinguish the Hard Rock vocalists from other genres. But this style was linked with anti-authority attitudes and rebellious adolescents, with some bands smashing their equipment live. Sadly, many of the artists part of the subgenre got addicted to drugs and alcohol due to their wild partying, thus leading to premature deaths.
The Acappella sound captured the hearts of the youths in the inner cities. Though conceived in a bit of record store in Times Square, New York, the Acappella sound rose to break down racial and ethnic barriers and became a significant force in the American music scene.
- Sinnerman (1962) – Nina Simone
“Sinnerman” is a rousing hymn about race, religion, and music. And that’s why it is critical in American music history. The jingle exudes the sun’s radiance while maintaining the discipline of a monk. “Sinnerman” represents the pinnacle of Simone’s mastery of the musical medium.
- Come Together (1969) – The Beatles
“Come Together” has a famous drum fill start, gritty guitars, and memorable vocals. There are indeed around 25 more Beatles songs that may be added here. However, “Come Together” is a fitting recipient of the Beatles’ best song.
- A Natural Woman (1967) – Aretha Franklin
Maintaining intensity before ramping it up some more in the final chorus is what sets Aretha apart from her contemporaries. And that’s what makes this song one of the greatest of the ’60s.
The 1960s music is best defined as an edgy, varied mix of styles; there was something for everyone, and many will remember it fondly.