Top British Bands of the 60s

The 60s is known as the era, which gave birth to the most impressive British bands. From The Beatles to The Troggs, not a single day went by without these bands in the spotlight. Not only were the bands quite popular but some solo artists as well. However, at the time, the British band scene was exploding and every group took part in it. 

While some were more than successful, others failed to survive amongst the competition. With that being said, let’s revisit the 60s and see how the era turned out for bands popular across the globe.

The Beatles

The Beatles were considered the most important and popular act of the 60s. Even though some very outstanding solo artists were also occupying the scene but The Beatles overtook everyone. Formed in 1960 in Liverpool, the band featured John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison. The lineup was so strong that the band was termed the most influential band of all time. 

The Beatles played a huge role in popularizing and development of 1960s counterculture. Throughout their career, the group experimented with different types of music and pioneered songwriting, recording, and artistic presentation. As a result, they helped revolutionize many aspects of the industry and were looked upon by the youth as sort of their leaders. 

The band became international stars by early 1964 and soon released their album ‘A Hard Day’s Night’. Selling millions of records and breaking many as well, the Beatles became the best-selling music act of all time.

The Rolling Stones

Following The Beatles, The Rolling Stones were formed in 1962. Fronted by Mick Jagger who was known to be the greatest frontman ever, the band mostly covered dark themes. For instance, Sympathy for the Devil and Paint it, Black. The Rolling Stones was perhaps the first band that pioneered and defined hard rock. Apart from Mick Jagger, the group had guitarist Keith Richards, bassist Bill Wyman, and drummer Charlie Watts. 

While the band was going through its formative years, Brian Jones was the primary leader. He gave the band its name, identity, and direction. However, in 1963, Andrew Loog Oldham became the band’s manager and encouraged the band to write their own songs. As a result, Jagger and Richards became the driving force behind the band, leaving out Jones who was involved in drug addiction with nothing meaningful to contribute. 

In Total, The Rolling Stones sold over 240 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time. In addition to that, the band managed to win three Grammy Awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. 

The Who

Formed in 1964 in London, The Who was an English band featuring lead singer Roger Daltrey, singer Peter Townshend, drummer Keith Moon, and bass guitarist and singer John Entwistle. The band is credited for selling more than 100 million records worldwide and is also termed as one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century. 

The band’s contribution to rock music was significant interms of the development of large PA systems, Marshall stack, and the use of the synthesizer. To this day, The Who is amongst the few bands of the 60s that receive exposure due to their music. The band released their first single ‘I Can’t Explain’, which reached the UK top ten. Following the hit singles, the band released several others that continued to climb the top spots. 

The band had a good run until the end of 1976 when they semi-retired from the scene. Unfortunately, drummer Keith Moon had passed away and the band’s album ‘Who Are You” was overshadowed by his death. The band split in 1983 and later formed again in 1985 offering live performances and going on tours following Entwistle’s death.

The Kinks

The Kinks were formed in 1963 in London by Ray and Davies who were brothers. The band was considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 60s and had a fair amount of role in the British Invasion of the United States until their ban in 1965. 

The band’s third single “You Really Got Me” became an international hit, selling millions of records and reaching the Top 10 in the United States. The band played a variety of music such as American R&B and rock and roll while adopting folk, music hall, and the country later. The Kinks are known to have five Top 10 singles on the US Billboard chart. In total, nine of their albums charted the Top 40. 

In the UK, the band had seventeen Top 20 singles and five Top 20 albums. Four albums of the band have been certified gold by the RIAA and the group has sold over 50 million records worldwide. The year 1990 saw the band being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while receiving several honors such as the Ivor Novello Award for “Outstanding Service to British Music”. 

Although the band tried to reform itself and release a new studio album in 2018, comments made by the Davies brothers in 2020 and 2021 indicate that little to zero progress has been made in recent years.

Cream 

The Cream was formed in 1966 in London and included bassist Jack Bruce, drummer Ginger Baker, and guitarist Eric Clapton. Bruce served as the primary vocalist and songwriter while Clapton and Baker also contributed songs. The band was known for the instrumental proficiency displayed by each of its members. 

The band did not survive long primarily due to tensions between Bruce and Baker. As a result, the band decided to break up in 1968 but were persuaded to make a final album titled “Goodbye” along with a tour and two farewell concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. The two concerts were recorded and shown in theatres and released in 1977 as a Farewell Concert home video. In 1993, Cream was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and VH1’s and Rolling Stone lists of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. 

The Yardbirds

The Yardbirds were formed in 1963 in London and credited for kickstarting the careers of rock’s three most famous guitarists, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. Throughout the 1960s, the band had released hits including, “For Your Love”, “Shapes of Things”, “Heart Full of Soul” and “Over Under Sideways Down”. 

Originally, the band came up as a blues-based band but gradually broadened their range into early hard rock, pop, and psychedelic rock. According to some historians and critics, the band had a great influence on later progressive rock, punk rock, and heavy metal trends. The year 1968 saw the band splitting and Relf and McCarty formed Renaissance while Jimmy Page formed Led Zepplin.  In 1992, the band was inducted into the Rock and Hall of Fame. 

Although the band formed in the 1990s with Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja but Dreja left the band in 2012, leaving McCarty as the only original member of the band in the lineup.

Final Word

Although the coming decades would produce even better bands and artists but there was something about the 60s era that made such unique bands. It was perhaps the ability of the bands to experiment and play around with music to offer their fans a bit of everything. 

Compared to what we see today, the bands of the 60s knew how to utilize their skills and talent and did not stick to one genre. As a result, they progressed beyond boundaries and continuously evolved throughout their careers.