Garage Rock is a raw form of rock music that gets its name from the stereotype of amateur teenage musicians playing in Garage Bands. In reality, while this is how the genre got its start, today many such bands are composed of older and more professional musicians.
The first wave of garage rock lasted from around 1964 to 1968. Perhaps the most influential (and definitely the most frequently covered) garage rock single was "Louie Louie", a tune written by Richard Berry, reintroduced by the Sonics and the Wailers and definitively covered by the Kingsmen in 1963. However, it was The British Invasion that really started the deluge; The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and all the movement's other groups inspired countless teens from all over the world to form their own bands.
Nearly every early garage band that made a hit was a One-Hit Wonder, although some bands like The Sonics, The Standells, The Seeds, and especially Paul Revere and the Raiders were slightly luckier. (Also, major names like Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Iggy Pop, Todd Rundgren, Bob Seger, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top got their starts in garage bands.) The double LP Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era: 1965-1968, compiled by future Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye in 1972, contains a decent amount of these hits, as well as some "deep cuts" and even novelty songs from garage and Psychedelic Rock; it was later expanded into a series of CD box sets, and has also inspired countless similar compilations.
There is significant overlap between garage rock, Surf Rock, Folk Rock, The British Invasion, Power Pop, and Proto Punk. Question Mark & the Mysterians, The Monks, and a few later garage rock bands such as The Stooges and MC5 are often considered to be the first Punk Rock bands.
In The '70s and The '80s, punk bands like The Cramps and The Ramones would create the first garage rock revival. But the most successful garage rock bands were formed in the 2000s, when The White Stripes, The Strokes, and The Hives achieved commercial success that was unrivaled by even the first wave of garage rock bands.
The film That Thing You Do! is a tribute to this genre.
Some influential mid-60s American Garage Rock bands:
- The 13th Floor Elevators ("You're Gonna Miss Me"; more Psychedelic Rock than garage, but very influential on both genres)
- The Blues Magoos ("We Ain't Got Nothin' Yet")
- The Byrds (their success led to many Folk Rock-inspired garage bands and helped create the Jangle Pop genre)
- Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)
- The Castaways ("Liar, Liar")
- The Chocolate Watchband ("Sweet Young Thing", "Are You Gonna Be There (At the Love-In)?")
- Count Five ("Psychotic Reaction"; a One-Hit Wonder who received a twisted tribute when critic Lester Bangs created an elaborate Alternate History for them)
- The Electric Prunes ("I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night," "Get Me to the World on Time"; they were at the midpoint between garage and Psychedelic Rock)
- The Flamin' Groovies (started in 1965, made their major impact in The '70s, split up in 1992, eventually reformed)
- The Fugs ("Boobs A Lot", "Kill For Peace")
- The Kingsmen ("Louie Louie", "Jolly Green Giant")
- The Knickerbockers ("Lies", "One-Track Mind")
- The Leaves ("Hey Joe" [which became a Garage Rock standard], "Too Many People")
- Love (started as Garage, evolved into Psychedelic Rock and Baroque Pop)
- Forever Changes (1967)
- Kick Out the Jams (1969)
- Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (fronted by a white singer who'd become famous in Detroit for performing soul music in predominantly black clubs, they were a seminal Detroit rock band who influenced dozens of subsequent artists, including Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, and Bruce Springsteen)
- The Monks (five American servicemen stationed in West Germany whose unique sound was half-garage, half-Psychedelic Rock)
- The Moving Sidewalks ("99th Floor"; another band that fused garage and Psychedelic Rock, their members included future ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons)
- The Nazz (Early Todd Rundgren's band; hits included "Open My Eyes" and the original version of "Hello, It's Me")
- Question Mark & the Mysterians ("96 Tears")
- The Remains ("Don't Look Back")
- Paul Revere and the Raiders (their garage era hits included "Kicks", "Hungry", "Him or Me", "Steppin' Out", "Good Thing", and "Just Like Me"; they're also remembered for their 1971 comeback hit "Indian Reservation")
- The Rivieras ("California Sun")
- The Seeds ("Pushin' Too Hard," "Can't Seem to Make You Mine," "Mr. Farmer")
- The Shadows Of Knight (their version of "Gloria" Covered Up Them's original on the American charts)
- The Sonics ("Strychnine," "Psycho," "The Witch"; considered the ancestor of Washington state's Alternative Rock scene)
- The Standells ("Dirty Water," "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White")
- The Stooges ("No Fun," "I Wanna Be Your Dog," "1969"; they came along too late to be part of the original movement, but combined garage rock with proto-punk)
- The Swingin Medallions ("Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)", "I Found A Rainbow")
- The Turtles (started as a garage-y Folk Rock group before having pop hits like "Eleanor" and "Happy Together")
- The Trashmen ("Surfin' Bird")
- The Wailers (not those Wailers; this group was from Tacoma and recorded the song "Tall Cool One", as well as one of the better known pre-Kingsmen revivals of "Louie Louie")
- The Young Rascals (a one-time New Jersey bar band who grew out of a doo-wop group; they recorded three albums with a rough and ready white soul sound, becoming one of the few garage rock groups that enjoyed widespread mainstream success as pop stars, with hits like "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Any More" and "Good Lovin'". Sensing the winds of psychedelic change, they dropped the "Young" from their name and began recording jazz-influenced Baroque Pop instead, with occasional nods to their soul band roots.)
Equally influential mid-60s UK bands who were kindred spirits:
- The Animals
- The Beatles (without them, there would have been no British Invasion and hence no Garage Rock, at least not as we know it)
- The Creation ("Making Time")
- The Dave Clark Five ("Bits and Pieces", "Glad All Over")
- The Kinks (very Garage-y at the beginning, but soon moved on to other genres)
- The Pretty Things ("Rosalyn", "Don't Bring Me Down", "Honey I Need")
- The Rolling Stones (their influence on the genre can't be overstated)
- Them (Van Morrison's first band; hits included "Here Comes The Night", "Baby Please Don't Go" and "Gloria")
- The Troggs ("Wild Thing", "I Can't Control Myself", "Love Is All Around")
- The Who
- The Yardbirds
- The 220.127.116.11's (Female Japanese Power Trio best known for their appearance in Kill Bill)
- Arctic Monkeys
- The Black Crowes (not a pure example, but they've certainly done tracks in the garage style).
- The Black Keys
- 2010 - Brothers
- Cage the Elephant
- The Chesterfield Kings
- The Cramps (they mixed Garage with Rockabilly and Exploitation Films)
- The Dirtbombs
- DMZ and their Spin-Off The Lyres
- The Detroit Cobras
- The Fleshtones
- The Hives
- King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
- Lime Spiders (legends in Australia, but screwed themselves over by continuing to release their work mainly on vinyl and cassette in the late 80's and 90's)
- The Loons (long-running garage/psych band led by musician/writer/publisher Mike Stax, whose Ugly Things magazine does in-depth articles about garage bands and performers from related genres)
- Nirvana (popularized Grunge while inspiring a generation of raw rock bands in reaction to the glossy, highly produced music of the 80s)
- The Ramones
- Royal Blood
- The Strokes
- 2001 - Is This It
- The Vines
- The Von Bondies
- The White Stripes
Tropes associated with Garage Rock:
- Flanderization: The original 60s garage bands were a diverse bunch; several bands performed Beatles-like Power Pop or Byrds-ish Folk Rock. However, the genre became best known for bands influenced by the tougher, R&B-inspired side of The British Invasion, such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Animals, The Kinks and The Yardbirds.
- Name's the Same/Similarly Named Groups: In those pre-Internet days, it was all too easy for bands in different cities or countries to give themselves identical names without realizing it. Particular favorites included the Missing Links (used by 9 different bands), the Chosen Few (10 bands) and the Coachmen (11 bands).
- The Smurfette Principle: Most original garage bands were male, although there were a handful of female bands.
- Three Chords and the Truth: Garage Rock makes musical and lyrical simplicity a virtue, partly out of necessity. One of its most appealing aspects is its contention that anybody can be in a band, with only a minimal amount of practice.