The roots of folk rock can be detected in a few pre-1965 recordings by the Seachers and Jackie DeShannon (who helped introduce the ringing, circular 12-string guitar riffs yhat become one of the music’s major trademarks), as well as the Beau Brummels, the Animals superb bluesy inerpretation of traditional folk standard „The House of the Rising Sun”, and Beatles’ own “I’m a Looser”. It took, the Byrds however, to really kick the movement into gear with their electric version of Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”, which topped the charts in mid-1965.
The “rock” in folk rock was always more prominent than the “folk”; all of the above acts had a highly commercial sense of melody, grafting, guitar patterns and somewhat more personal, topical lyrical concerns from folk music into their own superb pop/rock creations. Performers approaching the hybrid from the folk side were less frequent and less commercially successful, but singer/songwriters like Fred, Neil, Phil Ochs, Gordon Lightfoot, Ian & Sylvia, Richard & Mimi Farina, and others proved willing and able to electrify their sound with positive commercial and artistic results.
While folk rock’s commercial heyday was in1965 and 1966, in truth it has been a strong presence in rock ever since, fading only a marketing term for a sound that was initially perceived by the industry as a fad, not a permanent addition to the rock & roll lexicon. In 1967, L.A. bands Buffalo Springfield and Love would release classic recordings that drew upon folk rock as their core, adding elements of eclecticism and psychedelia. In late ‘60s, British groups like Fairport Convention and Pentangle achieved perhaps the purest folk rock blend, with nearly equal balances, between the electric and the acoustic, and between modern compositions and traditional numbers.
- Richie Unterberger
1. "All Music Guide to Rock. The Definitive guide to Rock, Pop, and soul". Edited by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas. 3rd Edition. Publisher: Backbeat Books, ISBN 0-87930-653-X. p. 1334Folk bands: 133 bands in database
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