The Year in Music: 1966

The Year in Music: 1966

Only at its mid-point, 2016 has already demonstrated how much incredible music can come out in the span of a year. And over that same period we’ve been able to celebrate the 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 year anniversaries of some of our still cherished albums from years past. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking back at specific years in music celebrating decade anniversaries (1966, 1976, 1986, 1996, 2006) by sharing our definitive playlist for each. Each playlist – a carefully curated mix of approximately 100 hits, singles and album cuts we’ve found worthy of inclusion – gives you a historical snapshot of a 12-month window in popular music. For the sake of historical coherence, these do not necessarily reflect the top charts of the year, but rather the official release dates. Bring on the nostalgia!

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From the “Wall of Sound” to “That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound,” 1966 is a watershed year in music history, unparalleled to almost any other in terms of groundbreaking creativity and boundary-pushing energy exploding in a myriad of different directions.

This is the year the LP really broke through, led by some seminal efforts that continue to stun listeners today: The Beach Boys’ complex magnum opus Pet Sounds set a new standard for album production, The Beatles’ Revolver opened a new era for how popular music could sound and Bob Dylan’s game-changing double album Blonde on Blonde expanded the possibilities of the album format – and they all defined the years to come.

These albums are of course represented in this playlist of highlights from 1966, along with cuts from other iconic masterpieces by The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Byrds and Love. This is also a year of drug-fueled counter culture melding with now-nostalgic pop gems, a year of bourgeoning proto-punk (Count Five, The Monks, The Sonics, ? & The Mysterians), psychedelic masterpieces and sweet soul music, just to mention some of the year’s cool vibrations.

All in all, 1966 was a year with infinite possibilities and endless musical horizons.

Best-Selling Album: Sound of Music Soundtrack
Longest No. 1 Single: “Strangers in the Night” by Frank Sinatra
Grammy – Album of the Year: September of My Years by Frank Sinatra
Grammy – Song of the Year: “Shadow of Your Smile” by Johnny Mandel and Paul Francis Webster
Best-Selling Book: Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Groups Formed: Buffalo Springfield, Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Incredible String Band, The Monkees, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Os Mutantes, Steve Miller Band
Groups Disbanded: The Ronettes, Gerry and the Pacemakers
Deaths: Lenny Bruce, Mississippi John Hurt, Richard Fariña, Carter Stanley, Sophie Tucker
Top-Grossing Film: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
World Leaders: Lyndon B. Johnson, Charles De Gaulle, Fidel Castro, Elizabeth II, Leonid Brezhnev
Historical Benchmarks:
– John Lennon, in an interview published in The London Evening Standard, comments “[The Beatles are] more popular than Jesus now,” leading to notable controversy.
– U.S. increases troops in Vietnam during the Vietnam War
–  The original Star Trek TV series premiers on NBC.
TIME’s Person of The Year: The Inheritor (today known as the Baby Boomer): Representing a generation of men and women aged under 25.

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