What Rock Bands Were Popular in the 50s and 60s?

The United States of America takes pride in its kind of freedom, economic prosperity, and music—particularly, rock ‘n’ roll music.

This genre drew roots from country, jazz, blues, and classical music in rural America. Rock ‘n’ roll bands and musicians dominated the airwaves and captured the imaginations of the Baby Boomers. 

The raw and powerful music brought by rock ‘n’ roll became the new form of expression or protest from performers as the audience became more liberal amidst contemporary socio-political issues like migration, war, drugs, racism, African-American slave history, and cultural decadence. 

From Elvis Presley to Buddy Holly and Janis Joplin, rock ‘n’ roll in the 50s and 60s was dynamic, rich, and varied. As the population became younger, with more money and time for recreation, rock ‘n’ roll music captured the moments in this era.

While the bands in the 60s were experimental, they also became more influential in laying the foundation for the 70s and 80s impact on pop culture.

Top bands and artists in this era included the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Stones, Bob Dylan, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Santana, Temptations, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Supremes, Band, Jackson Five, Grateful Dead, Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, and other invading British bands like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin.

Musicians who also captured the emotions in this era included B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Canned Heat, Steve Miller, Edgar Winters, Otis Redding, James Brown, Sam Cooke, Allman Brothers, John Lee Hooker, and many others

The Woodstock Music and Art Festival in August 1969 became a fitting tribute to the best rock ‘n’ roll music of the 60s as nearly 500,000 people across America showed up to celebrate it amidst drugs, booze, rain, and mud.

Tops rock bands and performers in the 50s and 60s

The list is long when it comes to the bands and musicians in the 50s and 60s. Below are the top rock bands and artists in terms of their commercial success, cultural and musical impact, and influence.

Chuck Berry

Description: Chuck Berry – Johnny B Goode

Chuck Berry was considered by many as the Father of rock ‘n’ roll. 

He was widely known for the songs Maybellene and Johnny B. Goode. Berry’s reputation helped American rock ‘n’ roll music with his unique sounds and solid performances. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1985. The following year, Berry became the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s first inductee. 

“It’s very difficult for me to talk about Chuck Berry ’cause I’ve lifted every lick he ever played. This is the man that started it all!” said Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones when he introduced Berry at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Elvis Presley

Description: Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock

Elvis Aaron Presley or Elvis Aron Presley remained a dominant figure in American music. Widely known as the King of Rock and Roll, Presley gained a global reputation from his flamboyant personality. With his long greased-back hair, outrageously colorful clothes, superb guitar skills, and stage presence, Presley attracted fans worldwide even after he died in 1977.

Peter, Paul, and Mary

Description: Peter, Paul, and Mary – Where Have All the Flowers Gone

American folk-rock singers Peter, Paul, and Mary found themselves at the forefront of the 60s folk-rock music revival. 

The group comprised Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey, and Mary Allin Travers. Their music was prominent during the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations across colleges and universities in America. They received five Grammy Awards, with multiple accolades for If I Had a Hammer (1962) and Blowin’ in the Wind (1963). In These Time, the group’s final studio album, came out in 2003.

Rolling Stones

Description: The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil

The original members of The Rolling Stones were Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts. Later members were Mick Taylor, Ron Wood, and Darryl Jones. They are known for their badass performances.  

This British band is considered the greatest rock-and-roll band in the world. The band’s sounds and public image become rock ‘n’ roll’s definitive symbol.

The Beatles

Description: The Beatles – Revolution

Widely known as the all-time favorite band, The Beatles, formerly called the Quarrymen or the Silver Beatles, captured the hopes and dreams in the 1960s and the ensuing years.

The British musical quartet, simply called the Fab Four, was composed of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Other early members included Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best.

The Beatles shared a passion for American rock ‘n’ roll. 

In 1967, the band released the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. It served as indisputable evidence of their genius.