Folk Rock

Folk rock came from the American folk music revival that started  in the 1940s and peaked in the 60s. By this time folk artists were introducing electronic instruments and incorporating rock sounds into their songs and performances. Most notable is The Byrds’ cover of Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man, from their album of the same name (released June 1965), which earned them the label of ‘folk rock’ in the press for the first time. This inspired other (especially British) folk rock bands in the late-60s through its combination of folk roots with elements of psychedelic rock. Another highly influential moment was Bob Dylan’s use of an electric band at the Newport Folk Festival in July 1965. These two moments, just over a month apart, cemented the fusion of folk and rock music. 

From this point folk rock became increasingly mainstream, but it didn’t sell its soul, as bands maintained the social critique that typifies traditional folk music. Simon & GarfunkelBuffalo Springfield and the Mamas & the Papas often covered social injustice and their music points towards rebellion and protest. The music is characterised by a direct song writing style with clear harmonies, accompanied by guitar riffs or melodic keyboard accompaniment. Other traditional folk instruments are also commonly used. The rhythmic energy and drum writing is commonly more rock-based.

Notable artists:

Neil Young

Simon & Garfunkel

Paul Simon

Buffalo Springfield

Cat Stevens

The Byrds

The Mamas & the Papas

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

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