A Recording Chronology Of The Early Days Of Psychedelic Culture
This is an attempt to chronicle all relevant recording events during the early years in which psychedelic culture and pop/rock culture coalesced. The timeline does not deal with events outside rock music, and contains no entries related to jazz, avantgarde, exotica, etc. It is subjective to a certain degree, and some borderline entries that are not necessarily "psychedelic" have been included just the same. The dates have been verified against quality sources as far as possible. Prior to the 1965-66 era, a selection of important items have been included.

 

 

EMBRYONIC JOURNEYS

1957 Mushroom researcher Gordon Wasson records a psilocybin mushroom ritual with the Mexican curandera Maria Sabina, which is released on LP by Folkways Recordings. This is the first known published recording of people under the influence of psychedelic drugs, titled The Mushroom Ceremony Of The Mazatec Indians. A multi-disc edition was also released by Wasson, containing a much longer tape edit of a Mazatec mushroom ritual, in a small exclusive run.

1959 The closing track on the LP Beatsville by popular poet/songwriter ROD McKUEN contains a reference to 'Mexican mushrooms', which McKuen says is a kick he hasn't yet tried. The album is a spoken word affair usually characterized as 'beatnik exploitation' today. It was originally released by the Hi-Fi label, and later repackaged under a new title. Thanks to Terry Provance for bringing this to our attention.
 
1960
EDEN AHBEZ releases Eden's Island on the Del-Fi label, an album of dreamy songs that anticipates many themes and moods that were to become popular during the psychedelic era. The front cover looks much like a hippie-era artefact. 
1961


 

 

 


Philosopher and LSD advocate GERALD HEARD releases the spoken word Rebirth LP which deals with psychedelic concepts.

1961
World-famous author and LSD spokesman ALDOUS HUXLEY records a lecture in Los Alamos that deals partly with psychedelic drugs. The lecture is released posthumously as Visionary Experience (Gifford Associates, c1969). An interview with a British reporter the same year is released on LP in the 1970s ("Speaking Personally"), and again contains some hallucinogen-related talk.
1961


Early surf band the GAMBLERS from Los Angeles release the "Moon dawg" 45 which contains an instrumental titled "LSD-25" on the flipside. The song is not psychedelic by any means and the title was chosen by a DJ from a newspaper article, or such.

1962  
Author/philosopher ALAN WATTS releases the This Is IT LP, regarded by many as the first genuinely psychedelic album. The LP consists mainly of improvised music and chanting. An indepth presentation of the LP can be found here.


1962 HUGH ROMNEY, soon to be known as WAVY GRAVY, releases a spoken word comedy LP recorded live in Greenwich Village. Titled Third Stream Humour, the routine is frequently surreal and includes explicit references to 'Mexican agriculture' and dope, among other things. Romney/Gravy would figure prominently in the mid-60s beat/freak transition.

1963 While no recordings have been found that bear witness of it, members of the Boston folk boom scene around Club 47 came into contact with psychedelic drugs at an early stage, partly via the neighboring Harvard research projects of Leary-Alpert. MEL LYMAN, then member of Jim Kweskin Jug Band, was instrumental in spreading the use of LSD and Morning Glory seeds among local folkies.
 
1964 New York group the HOLY MODAL ROUNDERS release their debut LP on the Prestige label. Among the tracks are a rewrite of "Hesitation Blues" which contains the first known use of the word "psychedelic" on a pop/folk/rock record: "...I got my psychedelic feet/In my psychedelic shoes/Oh lordy momma/I got the psychedelic blues...". Thanks to Stan Denski for this one!
1964
In the early months of 1964, BOB DYLAN enjoyed his first LSD experience (the exact occasion varies with different reports), something which many see as the inspiration behind "Chimes Of Freedom" on the Another Side Of... album. Later Dylan songs such as "Gates Of Eden" and "Visions Of Johanna" also seem inspired by psychedelic trips. As noted above, use of hallucinogens was already firmly established in the beatnik and folk music circles where Dylan moved, and it appears from some anecdotes that Dylan may have taken peyote as early as 1961.
 
  
1964-1965 Noted musicologist Harry Smith records several hours of chants and songs from Native American peyote rituals in Oklahoma. The recordings remain unreleased until 1973, when Ethnic Folkways release them as "THE KIOWA PEYOTE MEETING" in a 3-LP box set. Although many other peyote-related records exist, this is believed to be the earliest tapes from an actual peyote ritual to have been released on record. 
 



1965

Spring, 1965 A band called the Psychedelic Rangers including future DOORS drummer John Densmore is formed in Los Angeles. This is the first known instance of a rock'n'roll band referring to themselves as "psychedelic".
June 29, 1965 The CHARLATANS make their debut performance at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada. This is the first known instance of a band playing rock music under the influence of LSD (many in the audience were tripping too). This event is also commonly seen as the birth of the psychedelic concert poster.

July, 1965 From various clues it seems that KIM FOWLEY released his "The Trip" 45 as early as the Summer '65. There was a cover version of it a few months later (see below), and Fowley was selling remaining copies via an LA Free Press ad in November '65. This would make it the very first obviously LSD-inspired record. The UK release happened in June-1966. 
July, 1965 In England, the KINKS and the YARDBIRDS both record tracks ("See My Friend" and "Still I'm Sad", respectively) that are often included in psychedelic chronologies. While their slightly experimental, Eastern-tinged sound are close to what some psych bands would later create, the intent behind these classics can hardly be called psychedelic in any formal sense, and the bands had no involvement with psychedelic substances at this point. "See My Friend" and "Still I'm Sad", and the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" (released May 1966) could be called 'accidental psych', and were important records that helped influence and validate what would follow.
August, 1965 The FUGS record their debut album where the song "I Couldn't Get High" explicitly mentions LSD. This is the first known instance of the drug appearing in a rock lyric.
September 2, 1965 The newly-formed DOORS record an acetate in Los Angeles that contains songs such as "Moonlight Drive", "End Of The Night" and "Go Insane". Three of the band members had taken LSD at this point.
September, 1965 L A disc jockey GODFREY releases his cover version of Kim Fowley's "The Trip". 
September, 1965 The local underground papers Rag Baby and the Berkeley Barb run ads promoting a performance of "psychedelic music" at the Intersection coffee house in San Francisco, featuring MALACHI (presumably the same Malachi whose LP is listed below), including one on September 17. On October 24 a similar ad appears in the Oakland Tribune for a Malachi performance at the Open Theatre. Thanks to Ross Hannan and Jon Pennington respectively for info on these early and previously undocumented advertisements.
 
October, 1965 The BEATLES record "Norwegian Wood", which contains elements close to psychedelia. At least two of the band members had taken LSD at this point. The track appears on "Rubber Soul", released in December.
October 30, 1965 In Great Britain DONOVAN releases his "Turquoise" 45, backed with "Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness"). The B-side contains the line "Buy you a sugarcube", which most likely is an early reference to LSD, which at the time often was distributed and consumed via spiked sugarcubes. This habit became less common after the underground chemists learned how to manufacture LSD tablets.
 
November, 1965 The first ACID TEST is arranged in La Honda by KEN KESEY & THE MERRY PRANKSTERS. Local band the Warlocks, soon to be renamed the GRATEFUL DEAD perform at the event.
November (early), 1965 The GYPSY TRIPS release their "Ain't It Hard" 45 on World Pacific, including the lines "Your brother's in the bathroom/With acid in his hand". The song was covered in May 1966 by the Electric Prunes (with "hand" misinterpreted as "head"). Thanks to Mike Markesich for the info.
 
November 5, 1965 KIM FOWLEY places an ad in the LA Free Press, offering remaining copies of his "The Trip" 45. The 45 is referred to as having a "psychedelic sound", one of the earliest instances of connecting rock music with the term. Thanks to Jon Pennington for this entry and the one below!
November, 1965 HUGH ROMNEY (a k a Wavy Gravy) and Del Close put on a "Lysergic A-Go-Go" show in Los Angeles, as reported in the L A Free Press. A rock band called Summer's Children appeared at the event.
November (late), 1965  13th FLOOR ELEVATORS members drop LSD & form the band with the explicit intent of making LSD-inspired music.
December, 1965 Psychedelic tunes "Roller Coaster", "Fire Engine" written by the 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS.
December 4, 1965

"Free Advice" and "Someone To Love" recorded by Great Society. The 45 is released in early 1966.

December 19, 1965 DONOVAN records "Sunshine Superman", which is not released until much later.
December 22, 1965 The BYRDS record "Eight Miles High", first version.
 



1966

January, 1966
The words 'Psychedelic rock' appears on the 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS' business card. This is the first known use of the term.
January 21, 1966 The 3-day TRIPS FESTIVAL is held in San Francisco. Use of psychedelic drugs at the event is widespread. The multimedia festival marks the birth of a coherent S F psychedelic "movement".
February 10, 1966 A review of a 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS' live gig in a local newspaper bears heading "Unique Elevators Shine With 'Psychedelic Rock'". This is the first ever documented media reference to psychedelic rock music.


February, 1966 The YARDBIRDS release the "Shapes Of Things" 45. Again, the intent was not 'psychedelic' in the strict sense, but like all Yardbirds 45s from the Beck era, it nevertheless proved important in influencing the early psych bands.
February 23, 1966 The BYRDS record "Eight Miles High", second (and official) version.
March, 1966 LOVE release their self-titled debut LP, a few songs of which have psychedelic elements.
March 14, 1966 The BYRDS release the "Eight Miles High" 45.
March 16, 1966 Live recording exists of 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS performing psychedelic material like "Roller coaster" on this date (the live KAZZ-FM tape).
March, 1966 The "Acid Test" LP featuring KEN KESEY & THE MERRY PRANKSTERS is released in San Francisco. The contents and packaging are 100% lysergic.
March, 1966 John Lennon records demos for what was to become "She Said, She Said", a clearly LSD-influenced song (Lennon also explained the inspiration for the song in an interview).
April 6, 1966 The BEATLES begin recording of 'Mark 1', this song was to become "Tomorrow Never Knows".
April, 1966 The DOVERS from California release "The Third Eye", a 45 that is clearly psychedelic.
May 4, 1966 Brian Wilson of the BEACH BOYS begins work on "Good Vibrations".
May, 1966 The ELECTRIC PRUNES release their debut 45, whose A-side "Ain't It Hard" contains the line "...your brother's in the kitchen/With acid in his head". Lines like this would soon become standard fare, but were rare at this early stage.
 
May-June, 1966 BOB DYLAN releases the "Blonde On Blonde" double LP.
May 30, 1966 The BEATLES release "Rain" on the flipside of their "Paperback Writer" 45. The famous backwards tape masking, and the droney, Eastern-tinged sound of the track in general, made this the Beatles' most psychedelic-like release so far.
June 6, 1966 COUNTRY JOE & THE FISH record tracks for their upcoming "Bass Strings" EP. 
June, 1966 Minneapolis band T C ATLANTIC release their "Faces" 45, with an introspective psychedelic sound that is at least a year ahead of its time.
 
June, 1966 The California band EUPHORIA record a number of tracks in Houston, Texas, including clearly psychedelic material such as "Pick It Up". Except for a Mainstream label 45, the songs remain unreleased until the 1980s. The recording sessions were referenced by Scott Holtzman in a local Houston paper June 19. 
 
July 18, 1966 The BYRDS release the "Fifth Dimension" LP, which contains a number of psychedelic tracks.
July/August, 1966 The Los Angeles-based studio project ID record the "Inner Sounds" LP, which isn't released until January 1967.
August, 1966 TIMOTHY LEARY releases his first LP on the Broadside label, a reading from "The Psychedelic Experience" together with Ralph Metzner. Leary would release several LPs in 1966-67, for which the exact release dates are unknown.
August 5, 1966 The "Revolver" album by the BEATLES released in the UK. The US release is 3 days later.
August, 1966 SPIKEDRIVERS 45 with psychedelic B-side "Often I wonder" released on OM 1000 in Michigan.
August, 1966 New York band the DENIMS release their "White Ship" 45, with a theme and to some extent sound that could be considered psychedelic. Thanks to Rich Strauss and Mike Markesich for release data on this and many other 'garage psych' type 45s included here.
 
August, 1966 Pre-Steppenwolf band the SPARROW release the psychedelic 45 "Tomorrow's Ship" b/w "Isn't It Strange". The tracks were recorded in June and July, respectively.
August 17, 1966 The "Holy Music" LP by MALACHI is recorded.
August, 1966 Rusty Evans & the DEEP record the "Psychedelic Moods" LP in Philadelphia. This is the first ever LP with a consistent psychedelic theme throughout.
August (late), 1966
"Bass Strings" EP by COUNTRY JOE & THE FISH released and reviewed in the Mojo Navigator fanzine. 
September, 1966 The CHARLATANS' version of "Codeine" is released on 45, then withdrawn due to an ad campaign that calls it a "remedy for a drugged market".
September, 1966 Canadian band THE PLAGUE release the "Face Of Time" 45. Their intent was probably not psychedelic, but that's how their droney "Paint It Black"-influenced raga-rock sounds in retrospect.
September, 1966 The 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS record "Kingdom Of Heaven" and "Reverberation" in a studio in Houston.
September, 1966 An obscure Los Angeles band TIME OF YOUR LIFE release the "Ode To A Bad Dream" 45, whose contents and sound both seem clearly psychedelic.
 
September, 1966 "It's A Happening" by Philadelphia band the MAGIC MUSHROOMS released. It reaches the Billboard charts in November.
September, 1966 Kansas band the BLUE THINGS released their non-LP 45 "Orange Rooftop Of Your Mind", which is ahead of its time with its psychedelic theme and backwards tape manipulation.
 
September, 1966 The "East-West" LP by PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND is released. The release date is unclear but the album peaks on the charts in October.
September, 1966 The second album by the SEEDS, "A Web Of Sound" is released in late September and contains the track "Tripmaker" with obvious references to psychedelic drugs.
 
October, 1966 The MONOCLES from Colorado release the great "Psychedelic (Where it's at)" 45 on the local Denco label. This may be the first 45 to use the term.
October, 1966 The "Psychedelic Moods" LP by the DEEP released. The release date is uncertain, and it may have been later despite the recordings being completed in late August. Depending on the date, this may be the first LP with the word "psychedelic" in the title.
October 10, 1966 The BEACH BOYS release the "Good Vibrations" 45.
October, 1966 PAT KILROY releases the "Light Of Day" album on the Elektra label.
October, 1966 The SHADOWS OF KNIGHT release their second LP "Back Door Men", with a couple of tracks that reflect a psychedelic influence, such as "The Behemoth".
 
October, 1966 Northern California band JOHNNY THOMPSON QUINTET release the "Color Me Columbus" 45. Possibly inspired by Love's "Seven & Seven Is" (released July '66), its intense and weird sound could be considered psychedelic.
 
October, 1966 The GURUS release the "Come Girl"/"Blue Snow Night" 45 on United Artists, with an early raga sound that could be considered psychedelic.
 
October (late), 1966 The BLUES MAGOOS release the "Psychedelic Lollipop" LP.
October 31, 1966 "Reverberation"/"Fire Engine" 45 by the 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS released.
November, 1966 New York band the MYSTIC TIDE record a number of outstanding psychedelic tracks, although the 45s are not released until early 1967.
November, 1966 The DARELYCKS from upstate New York release the "Bad Trip" 45.
November, 1966 The JEFFERSON AIRPLANE begin recording their 2nd LP, which contains plenty of psychedelic material. Their first LP, which could be considered conventional folk-rock, had been released in August 1966.
November, 1966 Los Angeles band the BEES release their "Voices Green And Purple" 45, later to become a major garage psych classic.
 
November, 1966 The ELECTRIC PRUNES release the "I Had Too Much To Dream" 45.
November, 1966 Popular LA band the PREMIERS release "Get On This Plane", their only psychedelic 45.
 
November, 1966 The WILLIAM PENN FYVE from the San Francisco Bay Area release their classic "Blow My Mind"/"Swami" 45, the B-side of which is one of the earliest psych/hippie parody tracks. The A-side isn't really psych-themed, despite its title.
 
November, 1966 The PERPETUAL MOTION WORKSHOP release the 45 "Won't Come Down"/"Infiltrate Your Mind" in Los Angeles. Both sides of this remarkable 45 display obvious psychedelic themes, while the music leans more towards classic garage.
 
November 28, 1966 PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS release the "Spirit Of '67" LP, which contains several tracks with a psychedelic influence.
November 30, 1966 "Psychedelic Sounds" LP by the 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS released
December, 1966 Los Angeles garage band the HUMAN EXPRESSION release the "Love At Psychedelic Velocity" 45 on the Accent label.
 
December, 1966 The GRAINS OF SAND from Los Angeles release their second 45, whose B-side "Golden Apples Of The Sun" is profoundly weird and psychedelic.
 
December, 1966 "I Can Take You To The Sun" 45 by the MISUNDERSTOOD released. This could be considered the first psychedelic underground 45 from Britain.



                  
Patrick Lundborg, 2004-2010




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