Music to our years! Dissecting albums from the 60s

The 1960s was an influential decade of many changes, every day there was a shift in the scene.

The youth of this decade were born at the end of the Second World War.

Instead of enjoying the peace their parents had fought for, they rebelled, creating many different subcultures and movements, such as: hippies, mods, rockers, etc. 

Fashion was a key role in this rebellion, women started wearing short skirts and even shorter dresses, and men began dressing more feminine.

With loud colours and crazy patterns, the fashion became a statement to the decade.  

However, what the 60s is probably most known for is the music.

No other decade since had music change and progress as it did 60 years ago.

Albums started becoming stories that just had to be listened to in one go, songs started becoming longer and more explicit.

However, songs also started becoming political, and used to protest against things such as the Vietnam War.  

Rock music’s popularity hit mainstream in the 50s and that carried over to the next decade, when different branches of rock began to form.

This included psychedelic rock, which began to flourish in the late 60s.


Of albums released from 1960 to 1969, the top 10 are all from 1965 onwards, showing that the late 60s is the more memorable half of the decade.  

Here is the list of the top 10 albums, how many copies they sold, the year of release and their genre: 

  • The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band (32 million) – 1967 – art rock, pop, psychedelia 
  • Iron Butterfly – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (30 million) – 1968 – acid/psychedelic/hard rock 
  • The Who – Tommy (20 million) – 1969 – hard rock 
  • The Doors – The Doors (20 million) – 1967 – psychedelic/art rock 
  • The Beatles – Abbey Road (19,973,949) – 1969 – rock 
  • Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin 2 (15,915,072) – 1969 – hard/blues rock 
  • The Sound of Music (15 million) – 1965 – show tunes, soundtrack 
  • The Beatles – The Beatles (13,782,269) – 1968 – rock, pop, folk 
  • Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin 1 (10,343,893) – 1969 – hard/blues rock 
  • Patsy Cline – Greatest Hits (10 million) – 1967 – country, traditional pop 

One commonality between these 10 is that eight of them are rock albums. 

Freelance entertainment journalist Tilly Pearce said: “I’m surprised how many of these albums have remained such iconic classics. 

“And to have 32 million copies sold is phenomenal, whereas now a lot of people rely on streaming so they wouldn’t be selling those albums the way that they were before.

“The industry, as a whole, now relies on singles and the success of those than albums as a whole.” 

When asked why she thought the Beatles were so popular – claiming three of the top 10 albums – Pearce said: “It’s very difficult to say why The Beatles had the success they had.

“I think they came out at the right time, it was shortly after the war, so they appealed to a generation of teenagers that had never been done before.  

“On top of that, I’d say they never stayed the same, which I think helps a lot in terms of their appeal.

“For example, Sgt Pepper’s is far more psychedelic in its sound compared to Abbey Road, which is more acoustic guitar driven, romantic and softer. 

“Artists like Ed Sheeran have mentioned The Beatles when talking about influence and I wouldn’t really class him as a rock musician, so their influence expands beyond just the rock realm I would argue.” 

Many people consider the 60s to be the biggest decade for music, and the most it had evolved in the span of 10 years.

Pearce said: “In terms of rock music, I’d definitely say that the 1960s were a massive decade for that.

“It’s part of the beauty of music where everything evolves.

“You could say, the 70s were very heavy on punk, the 80s very heavy on disco and towards the end it blended into the 90s with grunge music and acid house. 

“I would say the 1960s is a defining era for rock music, I wouldn’t say it’s the most definitive era for music overall.” 

The data used in this article can be found here.

Featured image by chiến nguyễn bá from Pixabay

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