Pop music in the 60s

Pop music in the 60s

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Pop music in the 60s

This podcast is the second in a three-part series of podcasts about music in the 20th century.


Voiced by Mickey Cesar

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Pop music in the 60s

The sixties were a Golden era for pop. It became the means to make huge money. This music turned into a way of life for millions of young people. The murder of John F. Kennedy sparked a movement against violence, war and politics. The war in Vietnam was also a starting point for the formation of a new youth culture called Hippie. They believed that sex, drugs and rock'n'roll would brought love and peace to the world. They listened to the psychedelic music of groups like The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix, one of the greatest guitarists. In 1969 the Woodstock Music Festival took place which visited more than 300,000 people to listen to this kind of music. But that year Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones died. The main reason for his death was alcohol and drugs. The next year Jimi Hendrix died from an overdose. It became the end of the dream about sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Pop music was a kind of mirror of socio-political developments which were which reflected in the lyrics, live performances and positions of the artists.

Many different kinds of pop came from the rock'n'roll of the fifties. One of them was the surfing sound of the Beach Boys. They were one of the most successful American bands of the sixties. Their main songwriter was Brian Wilson. He was always trying to add something new to his songs.

There was also black soul music, which appeared in Detroit. It was created by Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding and record producer Phil Spector, who was building something he called the Wall of Sound. He worked mainly with Afro-American singers like Ike and Tina Turner and girl bands like The Ronettes.

And there was Bob Dylan. He had an absolutely unique voice. Bob Dylan started as a folk singer and in 1966 changed to an electric guitar. He was the author of some of the best songs of modern music, like All along the Watchtower, Mr Tambourine Man etc. Bob Dylan proved that pop music can be interesting and serious.

But there were two bands which changed pop music most. They were English: the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
The Beatles were a quartet from Liverpool, namely John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Star. After their first record in 1962 they became the most famous band in the world. In March 1964 their records occupied the top five places in the US charts. The whole world seemed to go crazy about the Beatles. People tried to imitate everything about them: the haircut, the style, the way they talked etc. McCartney and Lennon wrote wonderful songs full of energy, always adding something new.

The Rolling Stones were the bad boys of rock. They didn't smile and were angry, as well as their music. They often had problems with the police because of drugs. Some of their best songs are Satisfaction and Sympathy for the Devil authored by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Their first record was made in 1962 and they are still playing. Perhaps the music of The Rolling Stones is not as powerful as it used to be fifty years ago, but millions young and old still go to see them.