4 of the Best American Rock Bands From the 1960s

The 1960s were a big decade for rock and roll, and it wasn’t all about English bands from across the pond. There were a ton of fantastic American rock bands from that era that still have enduring (and inspiring) quality today. Let’s look at just four of the best American rock bands from the 1960s!

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1. The Beach Boys

A list of the best American rock bands from the 1960s wouldn’t be complete without mentioning The Beach Boys. Formed in 1961 in sunny California, the five-piece rock outfit became one of the biggest bands in rock music. They still perform live today with just a few of their original members (though some argue that Mike Love is the only “official” remaining member of the band), but the 1960s was their era. The Beach Boys were inspirations to multiple generations of rock music, including bands like The Beatles.

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2. The Byrds

Folk-rock wouldn’t be what it is today without The Byrds. This American rock band formed back in 1964 and inspired a movement that influenced the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and so many more. Their industry power and overall quality began to decline once the 1960s ended, but their legacy is certified immortal today.

3. Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground was an anomaly. Formed in 1964, the members of this band became cult legends and influenced so many rock musicians through the decades that followed. However, their three biggest and most well-known albums barely even charted when they were initially released. Their debut record The Velvet Underground & Nico from 1967 barely made it to the Top 200. Today, they are a household name and one of the most influential American rock bands of the 20th century.

4. The Doors

The Doors enjoyed a lucrative career from 1965 up until the early 1970s when their frontman, Jim Morrison, passed away. They were icons in the then-new acid rock movement. Nobody had made music quite like The Doors before, and their legacy and influence continue today.

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives

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