RockStory - Heavy Rock in the 60's
Heavy Rock in the 60's: In the mid 60's bands began to melt Rock'n'Roll and Blues together with slices of psychedelica and jazz = heavier and experimental sort of rock

The Instrumental Rock in the Early 60's

By Claes Hassel at


A sharp vibrating sound (as of a plucked string)

'Have 'Twangy' Guitar-Will Travel', the name of Duane Eddy's debut album from 1958 as the title says 'Twangy', the guitar sound developed by Eddy together with his producer Lee Hazlewood using the bass strings recorded through an echo chamber.
Eddy's way to play the guitar and the instrumentals he made had a big impact on instrumental groups to come in the early 60's, like The Shadows.

1960 in June : The Ventures

The Ventures  - Walk Don't Run
In 1959 The Ventures was formed by guitarists Bob Bogle and Don Wilson and it was their third single, an instrumental called 'Walk Don't Run' that made them big, released in June 1960.

They followed up the success with more hits, including 'Perfidia', 'Lullaby of the Leaves', 'Slaughter on 10th Avenue', 'Diamond Head' and 'Hawaii Five-0' and they had 37 albums on the album charts during the period of 1960 to 1972.
1960 in July : The Shadows

The Shadows  - Apache
At almost at the same time as The Ventures big hit 'Walk Don't Run' was released a British band called The Shadows released their big instrumental hit 'Apache'(Jerry Lordan) in July 1960.

The Shadows was formed 1960 in England by guitarists Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch was in the beginning 'only' singer Cliff Richard's 'backing band' but they continued to release smasching instrumental hits through the sixties, like: 'Man of Mystery'(1960), 'Kon-Tiki'(1961), 'Wonderful Land'(1963), 'Theme for Young Lovers'(1964) etc.
1961 in September : Dick Dale & the DelTones

Dick Dale & the DelTones  - Surfer's Choice
In California a special sort of instrumental rock was born in the early 60's called Surf Music.

Dick Dale(Richard Monsour born in May 1937) the "King of the Surf Guitar", the inventor of the instrumental reverbed surf music sound and the term "surfing" to describe his sort of music. Playing reverb-laden heavy instrumentals with staccato attack, like the first surf tune, 'Let's Go Trippin' released in September 1961 and his groundbreaking album 'Surfer's Choice' released in 1962.

He plays his Fender left handed, upside down and backwards. He worked together with guitar maker Leo Fender and developed guitar equipment.
1962 in August : The Tornados & Joe Meek

The Tornados - Telstar
In late 50's early 60's a British 'independent' record producer was experimenting with different studio techniques to invent a new sound for a new era, his name Joe Meek.

In late 1961 he put a group of session musicians together under the name The Tornados. The first single didn't hit the charts but the second one(composed by him) an instrumental called 'Telstar' released in August 1962 was number 1 on the American charts and it sold five million copies but due to a pending French copyright lawsuit the money was tied up in six years.

On February 3, 1967 he killed his landlady and then himself, about a year later the money from 'Telstar' was 'his'.
1962 in October : Booker T. & The MG's

Booker T. & The MG's - Green Onions
In October 1962 Booker T. & The MG's, formed 1962 in Memphis, USA, released an instrumental album with the famous album title song 'Green Onions'. The album has other great instrumentals played superb by the band and specially by Booker T. Jones(organ) and Steve Cropper on guitar.

The Beginning of Hard Heavy Rock

By Claes Hassel at


In the mid 60's bands began to melt Rock'n'Roll and Blues together with slices of psychedelica and jazz, the result became a more heavier and experimental sort of rock.

1964 in August : The Kinks

The Kinks  - You Really Got Me
One of the first songs that paved the way for Hard Rock and for garage bands across the world, was the Kinks third single, 'You Really Got Me', released in England on August 4, 1964.

It's an significant part of the hard rock history with it's fuzzy two-power-chords chunky guitar riff. The song was composed by Ray Davies and his brother Dave at their parents house. The riff was first played by Ray on a piano, then on the guitar by Dave, back to the piano, shifted the tone, back to the guitar BUT it was in the studio that the famous chunky-fuzzy sound of the riff was achieved, with an cheap 10-watt amplifier(Elpico) and with holes in the speaker cone made by Dave.

The Kinks  - Sunny Afternoon
Another track, to be remember for it's 'heavy interpretation' is the group's fourth single, 'All Day and All of the Night', released late in 1964.

The Kinks was one of the most influential bands that came from Britain and one of my favourite bands from that era, not only for they so called, heavy tracks, but also for tracks like: 'Set Me Free', 'Sunny Afternoon', 'Waterloo Sunset'....
1964 in December : The Yardbirds

The Yardbirds  - Five Live Yardbirds
The Yardbirds relesed 'Five Live Yardbirds' on December 1964 from a live show at Marquee Club that same year. No original material, the songs where covers from Howlin' Wolf ('Smokestack Lightning'), Chuck Berry ('Too Much Monkey Business') and Muddy Waters('I'm A Man').

The album was essential for the evoultion of the British Blues Rock with it's, for that time, 'heavy' Chicago blues sound together with the British beat, the guitar playing by Eric Clapton, thrilling bass playing by Paul Samwell-Smiths and great vocals and LOTS and LOTS of harmonica play by Keith Relf. The sound quality is not the best but what the heck(!) listen to 'Smokestack Lightning'.
1965 in June : The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones  - I Can't Get No Satisfaction
The Rolling Stones released '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' on June 5 1965 with the wellknown fuzz-toned riff by Keith Richards and the shouting vocals of Mick Jagger.

The title is a from Chuck Berry's song called 'Thirty Days' and the famous guitar lick came out one night from Keith Richard's head when he was halfsleeping, he woke up and put it down on a cassette player and the rest is Rock History.
1966 in July : The Yardbirds

The Yardbirds  - Roger the Engineer
'Roger the Engineer' the name for the Yardbirds album released July 15, 1966, to feature all original material, a blend of blues-rock/psychedelica influences: Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley.

On guitar Jeff Beck and on bass Jimmy Page, on the track 'Happenings Ten Years Time Ago' features Beck and Page both on guitar but the band was not only Beck and Page, Jim McCarty heavy on the drums, Chris Dreja rhythm guitar/piano and Keith Relf on vocals and blues harp are in top form.

At this time the Yardbirds were the heaviest and most experimental blues band at the rockscene, listen to the song 'Over, Under, Sideways, Down'.
1966 in July : The Bluesbreakers (John Mayall with Eric Clapton)

The Bluesbreakers  - with Eric Clapton
Another album that was released in July 1966 was the John Mayall album 'Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton' , one of the best British Blues albums ever recorded.

It was during this journey with John Mayall that Clapton had the time to polish and learn more of his Blues guitar play, listen to 'Hide Away' and the best one 'Steppin' Out' and you know what I'm talking about.
1966 in September : Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Paul Butterfield Blues Band  - East-West
On this, Paul Butterfield Blues Band's second album East-West, he extended the whiteman bluesrock with a 13 minute blues-jazz instrumental fusion with raga inspired guitar solos, the title song 'East-West' a groundbreaking 'song'.

Listen also to the other instrumental, 'Work Song'(7:53 min), with a great harp introduction, then a burning heavy distorted guitarsolo by Mike Bloomfield(so GREAT!!), then a heavy harpsolo, a slick jazzy organsolo by Mark Naftalin who pass over the solo to Elvin Bishop on guitar then it continue as battle between ALL musicians ending up as the beginning with the harp, great and heavy!


1966 in December : The Cream

The Cream  - Fresh Cream
The Cream made their debut with the album 'Fresh Cream'. Jack Bruce collection of originals: 'Sleepy Time Time', 'I Feel Free', 'Dreaming' and 'N.S.U.' together with covers of Willie Dixon's 'Spoonful', Robert Johnson's 'Four Until Late', the Muddy Waters(Elmore James) classic 'Rollin' And Tumblin' and 'I'm So Glad'(Skip James) makes this a stunning debut, a milestone in the Hard Heavy Blues Rock.

The mix of Rock/Psychedelica, Jazz with Jack Bruce on bass/vocals and drummer Ginger Baker and the Blues with Eric Clapton on guitar made it a blueprint of Heavy Blues Rock and the standard for the heavy power-trio.

On stage the band's intricate interplay and extensive jamming with long solos sets the standard of live perfomances by Hard Rock bands in the early 70's.
1967 in January: The Doors

Paul Butterfield Blues Band  - East-West
In September 1965 Jim Morrison(vocals), Ray Manzarek(keyboards, classical trained) and John Densmore(drums) records a demo of Morrison’s songs 'Break On Through', 'Moonlight Drive' and 'End Of The Night'.
In January 1967 they release their first album, a mix of blues, rock, jazz, classic and poetry with an opening track such as 'Break on Through', a great beat, crunchy guitar, jazzy organ solos and Morrison sings/shouts about breaking through barriers between night and day and the super hit 'Light My Fire' with the classical memorable organ intro, the beat pushing the song forward and an outstanding keyboardsolo by Manzarek, great guitar play by Robby Krieger and as usually superb vocals by Jim. And the epic 'The End' as the end of the record.
In July the same year they released 'Light My Fire' as their first single selling over a million copies.
A stunning debut from a stunning band featuring a frontman: wild, leather-clad , powerful voice and with a stage act that many would copy, Jim Morrison.
1967 in May : The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Jimi Hendrix Experience  - Are You Experienced
The release of the album 'Are You Experienced?' May of 1967, expanded the levels on how to play guitar so much that it's beyound every known ways to measure it. It's one of the most important debuts in the history of rock music with it's groundbreaking guitar play, together with the way of using the amplification and devices, such as wah-wah pedals, feedback, distortion AND the mix of blues, pop, psychedelica, rock....
Jimi Hendrix, born November 27, 1942 and died September 18, 1970 (still remember when I heard it on the radio), played a right-handed guitar in a left-handed style, behind his back and with his teeth.

Jimi Hendrix Experience  - Hey Joe
He started up as session man in the early and mid-'60s and played with such artists as: the Isley Brothers, Curtis King and Little Richard but it was when he meet Animals bassist Chas Chandler that it all began.
Hendrix moved to London, convinced by Chandler, where he was putted together with Mitch Mitchell(drums, played a mix of jazz and heavy rock drumming ) and Noel Redding(bass, former guitarist). On October 23, 1966, three weeks after the Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed they recorded 'Hey Joe' (a Tim Rose song from 1966). 'Purple Haze' and 'The Wind Cries Mary' recorded on January 11, they all made Top Ten in beginning of 1967.

Jimi Hendrix Experience  - Purple Haze
My favourite on the album is the psychedelic tune 'Third Stone From The Sun' recorded on December the 13th 1966 with the lyrics that starts with:

'Star fleet to scout ship, please give your position. Over.
I'm in orbit around the third planet from the star called the sun. Over.
You mean its the Earth?

Jimi Hendrix had landed from outer Space and in the years to come he proved to be the most influential guitarist ever, past and the future included, before he left from the Earth to land on an another planet.
1967 in June : The Vanilla Fudge

The Vanilla Fudge  - Vanilla Fudge
The Vanilla Fudge's debut album(Vanilla Fudge), released in June 1967, was filled with slowdowned versions of covers but it rocks 'loud and hard'. Listen to Vince Martell's guitar riff, the heavy Hammond by Mark Stein, the thunder drumming by Carmine Appice, basslines by Tim Bogert and the great vocal arrangements on 'You Keep Me Hanging On'(Supremes) and you'll understand why Vanilla Fudge made their mark on the Heavy Rock Map.

On December 26th 1968 Led Zeppelin was thrown in as an opener for Vanilla when the Jeff Beck Group canceled their gig. During the next months Led Zeppelin toured across the USA with Vanilla Fudge as their opening act.
1968 in January : The Blue Cheer

The Blue Cheer - Summertime Blues
The Blue Cheer released their debut album 'Vincebus Eruptum' in January 1968 and a cover of the Eddie Cochran's hit 'Summertime Blues', but this version was much heavier.

The band was Leigh Stephens on guitar, Dickie Peterson bass/vocals and Paul Whaley on the drumkit.
1968 in May : Bloomfield/Kooper/Stills - Super Session

Bloomfield/Kooper/Stills - Super Session
In may of 1968 Al Kooper(Organ/Guitar/Vocals) invited his friends Mike Bloomfield on guitar/vocals, bassist Harvey Brooks, drummer Eddie Hoh and pianist Barry Gold on a two nights rock 'n' roll blues jam session.
The result on the first night was great, with versions on songs like: 'Alberts Shuffle'(Bloomfield/Kooper) and 'Stop'(Jerry Ragavoy), the two highlights on the record.
For the next night session Mike Bloomfiled had returned to New York City without telling Kopper so in a hurry, Kooper got Stephen Stills(Guitar/Vocals) to join the session.
Stephen Stills put another winkle to this part of the session with a soft wah-wah solo on 'Season of the Witch'(Bob Dylan) and fuzzy guitars on the Hendrix psychedelic sounded track, 'You Dont Love Me'(cobbs).
The highlights for me on the record is: 'Alberts Shuffle', 'Stop', 'Season of the Witch', 'You Dont Love Me' and the instrumental jazz/movie track by a Harvey Brooks, 'Harvey’s Tune'.

1968 in May : Steppenwolf

Steppenwolf - Steppenwolf
'heavy metal thunder' lyrics from the 'hard rock riff organ driven' motorcycle anthem, 'Born To Be Wild' from Steppenwolf's debut album, led by the leather-clad biker John Kay(Joachim Krauledat).

The album contains some 'laid back' hard rock riffing tracks but it's 'Born To Be Wild' that stands out, used, together with another track from the album 'The Pusher', in the soundtrack of the biker film "Easy Rider"(1969) starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson.
1968 in July : Iron Butterfly

Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Formed 1966 in California by Doug Ingle(keyboard/vocals), this was their second album and it was the title tune that made them famous:
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida(its intended title was 'In the Garden of Eden') fills up the entire length of side 2 (17:05 min).
A psychedelic rock 'masterpiece' with a repetitive beat(driving bass of Lee Dorman) and extended instrumental parts with an Eastern and Classical feel, fuzzy/wah_wah guitar by Erik Brann , organ(Doug Ingle also vocals) and a drumsolo by Ron Bushy.
The rest of the record is more poppish psychedelic ones with my favourites, 'Most Anything You Want' and 'Flowers and Beads' a nice popsong. Iron Butterfly had been on tour with the Doors, the sound is sometimes like the Doors with Manzarek-like-organ.
1968 in August : Ten Years After

Ten Years After - Undead
Ten Years After, with Alvin Lee on guitar, released 'Undead' on August 16 1968, a live album recorded live in London's Klooks Kleek Club with extended jams and the 'woodstock'rock anthem 'I'm Going Home'.
1968 in August : The Jeff Beck Group

Jeff Beck Group - Truth
He was one of the most innovative guitarist of the mid, late 60's and one that Jimi Hendrix admired, his name Jeff Beck.

Together with Rod Stewart on vocals, Ron Wood on bass and drummer Aynsley Dunbar they released 'Truth' as Jeff Beck Group in August 1968.

Truth is that this record(and his time with the Yardbirds) showed that Jeff Beck belongs in the Pantheon of Guitar Gods together with Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. It's one of the milestones in the Heavy Rock history.

Jeff Beck - Bolero
Listen to 'Rock My Plimsoul' and 'Let Me Love You' with Rod Stewart(great gritty vocals) 'duelling' with Beck's guitar, 'Aint Superstitious'(Willie Dixon) and on the track 'Ol' Man River' you´ll hear John Paul Jones on organ.

Sorry to say, the production could have been better and Jimmy Page('Beck's Bolero' was written by him) must have had this record in mind when he recorded Led Zeppelin's debut album the same year in October.
1968 in November : Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull - This Was
Formed 1967 i England. 'This Was', Jethro Tull's first. a record with it's roots in the blues and jazz. The mix of guitar and flute was rather new with great tracks including: 'Cat's Squirrel'(Robert Johnson) with heavy guitarplay by Mick Abrahams, 'Serenade to a Cuckoo' a jazz one, 'Dharma for One' a killer exept for the drumsolo(half of the song) and the bluesy hit 'A Song for Jeffrey'.

Tony Iommi(Black Sabbath) was in Tull for a week but the one to be chosen was Martin Barre when Mick Abrahams left the group.
Tulls highlight was in my opinion their next record, 'Stand Up' released in september 1969, with magnificant tracks, such as : 'We Used to Know', 'Nothing Is Easy', 'A New Day Yesterday', 'Bourée' and the heavy but all to short interplay between guitar and flute in the track 'Back to the Family' but that is another story.....