The 50 best psychedelic rock albums of the Summer of Love

Psychedelic albums from the Summer of Love 1967

Summer of 2017 is upon us, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, the counter-cultural phenomenon that was the defining moment of the hippie movement. Its true home was the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, but the Summer of Love was celebrated in New York, London, and all around the world.

The hippie movement was about a lot of things — drugs, love, peace, anti-establishment, anti-war — and at the forefront of the movement was the music, psychedelic rock. 1967 was the peak year for psychedelic rock. It gave us Sgt. Pepper’s, debut albums by Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and the Grateful Dead, the iconic Monterey Pop Festival (which has a 50th anniversary edition happening this weekend), “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” and so many more key artyfacts from the first psychedelic era. 1967 was the year where just about everyone tried to make a psychedelic rock record, from obscure underground bands to bubblegum pop groups. Even Sonny Bono!

It was such an exciting time for this music because it was so new. Everyone was figuring this stuff out for the very first time, and learning from each other. It’s fascinating to look at the very gradual developments that some of the most major rock bands in the world — The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, The Byrds — were making to get from their initial sounds to the colorful, mind-expanding sounds of psychedelia. It’s a sound that’s still wildly influential today. What would modern day bands like The Flaming Lips, Tame Impala, MGMT, Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Spiritualized, Mercury Rev, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, or the Elephant 6 collective sound like if not for the music of that era?

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