June 13, 2024

1960’s Rock

In the 1970s there was a place where things were good, where the sun always shined, and life was ruled by girls, cars and burgers and that was California. It was a time of innocence. The songs, revolved around all sorts of teen activities, were lighthearted. No worries, except a swirling social calendar and getting a date for the prom. Occasionally, a song hinted at the impending storm but it quickly past. The Beach Boys, and to a lesser extent, Jan & Dean sang of the good times life had to offer.

Atlantic records had decided to add Rock N’ Roll to their catalog. They created a subsidiary label, ATCO (short for Atlantic Company) to release Rock records and not confuse the people that knew them as an R&B label. This proved to be a highly profitable venture starting with the signing of Buffalo Springfield. Tapping the excessive side of Hard Rock the label also scored with the Iron Butterfly and the Vanilla Fudge.

By 1969, the ‘loyalty to R&B issue’ was moot and Atlantic signed their first Rock act to their flagship label, Led Zeppelin. Eventually, ATCO faded away.

On the opposite end of the spectrum sat Bob Dylan. When Dylan emerged in the early 1960s he was seen as Folk music’s savior. The man who would provide a moral compass to the day’s events. His songs were covered by a number of artists who turned them into pop hits.

In 1965, Dylan shocked the Folk world by jumping over to Rock and going “electric.” The move, despite the criticism, proved to be both artistically and commercially successful. His lyrics, which were always his major calling card, reached a whole new audience just as the Vietnam War, civil rights, social upheaval and even the drug culture were reaching critical mass. The innocence was gone, though many tried to cling to it as long as possible. Soon enough, it became painfully obvious that “the times, they are a-changing.”