Garage rock

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Garage Rock describes a style of rock music . Other names for this style are garage , garage rock and garage punk or sixties punk . With the latter, a subsequent reference to punk rock of the 1970s is made. Other alternative names are Freakbeat for almost exclusively British bands and the name Acid Rock for the psychedelic phase.

Sound characteristics

Garage rock is a simple, unpolished form of classic rock 'n' roll or rhythm and blues (R'n'B). It is mostly played without frills and "straight" and the songs often consist of a few chords that are repeated over and over again. Ultimately, this simplicity set the style. In addition, polyphonic vocal harmonies, hymn melodies and hard, distorted guitar sounds are often typical for this style of music. This is why garage rock is also considered the musical forerunner of punk rock and today's indie rock .


The first garage rock bands emerged in the USA in the early 1960s under the influence of the British Invasion . The general craze among the youth for English bands like the Kinks , the Beatles , the Rolling Stones , The Who , Them and many others resulted in a large number of new American bands emulating these idols. Due to the lack of suitable practice rooms, these bands often used the in-house garage to practice. Hence the name Garage Rock . In addition, this name was associated with an origin from the middle class of the typical US suburbs. Another characteristic of garage rock is that a large part of the songs deal with teenage- related, i.e. puberty- centered, issues of unsuccessful sex economy, mostly from the perspective of growing men. In the mid-1960s, in the heyday of the genre, the musicians were often young people, i.e. students with their everyday worries and needs.

The bands used every opportunity available for public appearances, whether at dance events, birthday parties or in shopping centers. The more professional ones made the leap into real clubs and concert halls, while others just got famous for a weekend. The luckier were offered a recording deal for a single , often as a prize for first place in local talent competitions such as the Battle of Bands events. It was one of the typical and regular weekend dance events in the USA in the 1960s. Other bands managed to raise the necessary money for a single on their own. This was made possible by a large number of small and independent record companies that were always on the lookout for new talent. These record companies were not infrequently as amateurish as the bands they signed.

Inexpensive equipment and unprofessional production were also the origin of the typical sound of this music. But technical innovations such as the fuzzbox also contributed to the sound characteristics. In the mid-1960s, the electronic Farfisa organ and guitar equipment from Vox were added as typical sound-forming elements.

A record production was the basic requirement for use at one of the many local radio stations. If a band achieved a local hit there, there was the possibility of a distribution contract with a larger record company and a nationwide distribution . This is how bands made it to the Billboard charts and sold millions of copies. Such as B. the band Syndicate of Sound , whose single Little Girl first appeared on the Hush label , was then re-released by Bell Records in the same year, so it reached number eight in the US charts in 1966 and was also successful internationally with this song was.

While the garage rock bands in the beginnings from 1963 to 1965 oriented themselves towards the clear structures of rock 'n' roll , rhythm and blues or the more poppy beat music , in the years 1965 to 1967 bands emerged that took a new direction, the Psychedelic Rock . In the years from 1968 onwards, simple rock, but also funk and soul gained more influence. The transitions are always fluid.

For the first generation there are bands like The Kingsmen , The Standells , The Sonics , for the second The 13th Floor Elevators , The Seeds and for the third generation The Stooges and MC5 . A standard repertoire of songs developed that were gladly covered , like “ Gloria ” by Them or the supposedly sexual innuendo “ Louie Louie ” by Richard Berry .

With the exception of a few one-hit wonders , the garage rock bands of the 1960s were increasingly forgotten. But as early as 1972 Lenny Kaye rediscovered these bands for a compilation that was released as a double LP under the title "Nuggets" by the record company Elektra . A compilation that included not only the chart successes of The Kingsmen, The Standells, The Seeds but also completely unknown bands. This compilation sold well, but the real rediscovery of garage rock came with punk rock of the 1970s. The record company Sire Records released the Nuggets compilation again in 1976. The fanzine "Who Put The Bomp" by Greg Shaw published articles about the current punk bands as well as articles about the forgotten garage rock bands under the influence of Lester Bangs . Furthermore, a whole series of compilations on record began in 1979 under the title " Pebbles " with the help of Greg Shaw. In the years that followed, even the rarest and strangest recordings were republished and either compiled into a compilation or a previously never-released album. A distinct underground and collector culture developed.

Under the influence of the re-released recordings, different generations of bands grew up who saw themselves in the tradition of garage rock. For example, in the early 1970s it was The Flamin 'Groovies . At the time of punk rock it was the Ramones , Patti Smith and the idiosyncratic The Cramps or The Soft Boys . But it wasn't until the 1980s that there was a real revival , also known as the Garage Revival . This included bands such as Miracle Workers , The Fuzztones , The Prisoners , The Cynics , The Chesterfield Kings or The Pandoras , some of which copied the style of the 1960s down to the last detail (with original instruments and equipment), and some combined it with the impetuous energy of punk .

From the late 1990s to the mid 2000s, garage punk became popular again as a new wave of predominantly American, British, Australian and Swedish bands such as The Strokes , The Hives , The Libertines , Mando Diao , Kings of Leon , The Killers , The Vines , The Von Bondies , Arctic Monkeys , Eagles of Death Metal , Jet , The Dandy Warhols , The Caesars and The White Stripes used classic garage rock elements. This period is therefore often referred to as the neo-garage wave or garage rock revival . Because the names of these bands often follow the pattern "The ... s", they are also called " The -Bands".

Related styles of music


  • Bernd Matheja (Ed.): Greg Shaw's Bomp! Forgotten, lost and long displaced from the legendary Californian rock'n'roll fanzine (= rororo non-fiction book 7659). Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1980, ISBN 3-499-17659-9
  • Lester Bangs : Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. The Work of a Legendary Critic . Edited by Greil Marcus . Vintage Books, New York NY 1988, ISBN 0-679-72045-6

Web links

Commons : Garage Rock  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files