Written by Leanna Serras

The 1960s were a decade of remarkable change in American history. Events such as the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the political turmoil that encompassed this era including JFK's assassination and the Watergate scandal, all helped to shape the sixties.

Just as the social, civil and political movements were changing, so was the music of the 60s. The music festival Woodstock became a milestone for this time period. Artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and Joe Cocker took the stage in this monumental event.

Music of the 1960s was very eclectic and included a wide spectrum of genres. While the pop and rock and roll bands of the 1950s were still present, new styles of music started to gradually become popular among the mainstream public. Take a trip down memory lane with a recap of the music that helped shape the art and culture of the 1960s!

The British Invasion

Whether you were a Beatles fan or a Rollings Stones fan, you could agree upon one thing: The British invasion brought a wave of incredible music and musicians to the United States of America. Artists such a Petula Clark, the Animals, Herman's Hermits and the Kinks all became popular during this time.


The hippie culture dominated the 60s, and with it, they brought their peace, love and folk music. Artists such as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Woody Guthrie, Peter, Paul and Mary, Arlo Guthrie and Gordon Lightfoot were popular folk artists of this time.


Rock music of the 1960s took the form of many different styles during this time. Many artists began experimenting with their sound and crossing over from strictly folk music, to a more electrified sound. Bob Dylan, the Mamas & the Papas and Crosby, Stills and Nash all executed this perfectly. Check out the diferent styles of rock and roll music that were popular in the 1960s:

Psychedelic rock

Surf Rock

Garage rock


Roots rock

Progressive rock


Pop music continued to be relevant going into the 1960s. Artists such as the Monkees, The Archies, and Chubby Checker brought pop music to the forefront of the sixties. Girl groups began to dominate the music pop music scene during this time as well. Girl groups such as The Supremes, The Shirelles, The Crystals, The Chiffons, The Ronettes and the Marvelettes reigned the Queens of 1960s pop music. These acts were both R&B based but became popular on the pop charts.

R&B, Motown and soul music

Hailing from Detroit, the music label Motown can be credited for some of the biggest acts of the 1960s. It's important to note the artists that came from the Motown label blurred the lines between pop music and R&B and Soul music. Artists such as the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, Ray Charles, the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Sly & the Family Stone, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson and the Jackson Five all helped to shape the music of this decade.

Country music

Due in part to the popularity of television at this time, country muisc started to gain more exposure and popularity. Artists such as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, and Tammy Wynette were all incredibly successful in the country music scene.

Music, Art and Culture of the 1960s