From the Garage
Even the most successful rock bands often come from humble beginnings, preparing for gigs at local high schools and bars in their parents’ basement or garage. In fact, so many successful bands came from garage practice settings that a new genre of music was created: garage rock. If you are considering starting your own garage band, learning about some of the most popular bands to get their start the same way could provide you with the inspiration you need to make your rock star dreams come true.
The Kinks
Kinks helmfrid-sofa3

The English rock band the Kinks was founded in 1963 by brothers, Ray and Dave Davies and their friend Pete Quaife. Sometimes called “the original punks,” the original members first met when they attended William Grimshaw Secondary Modern School, and along with classmate John Start, they formed a grouporiginally known as the Ray Davies Quartet. They practiced in garages and made their first debut at a local school dance. Rod Stewart, another classmate, even served a brief stint providing lead vocals for the band.

The Kinks were influenced by folk, country, and R&B style music, leading to the development of their most famous hit “You Really Got Me.” This song has been described as a blueprint in the heavy metal and hard rock arsenal. Subsequent singles included “All Day and All of the Night”, “Tired of Waiting for You”, and “Set Me Free”. The group split in 1996, and the members have since gone on to work on solo projects.

The Ramones

The Ramones started off as a highschool garage band known as Tangerine Puppets. Originally featuring Thomas Erdelyi and John Cummings, the band later added Douglas Colvin and Jeffrey Hyman to the group. The four friends were drawn together through a mutual love of MC5, The Stooges, and 1960s garage rock, and they later upgraded from practicing in sheds to rehearsing at Manhattan’s Performance Studios.

Despite limited commercial success, the Ramones earned a variety of other great achievements. They were named as one of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” by Rolling Stone magazine. In 2002, the Ramones were ranked by Spin magazine as the second best band of all time, trailing only to the Beatles. The original four members were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, and nearly ten years later they were given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The Ramones certainly came a long way from practicing in garages for small-time gigs.

The Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground was created in late 1964. Lou Reed, the band’s singer, songwriter, and guitarist, had previously spent time with several short-lived garage bands. Reed then met John Cale, a classical music student, and the two began experimenting with alternative guitar tunings for the purpose of creating a droning sound.  After the band expanded, Andy Warhol spent a short time managing the group when it was the house band for his studio, the Factory.

Originally thought of as a commercial failure, the Velvet Underground gained a cult following in the years following the group’s demise. It has also become one of the world’s most influential and widely cited bands of the era. The Velvet Underground &Nico was named by Rolling Stone as the 13th “Greatest Album of All Time”, and in 1996, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Lou Reed also went on to have a long-lasting solo career. In 1973, he achieved widespread commercial success with his hit “Walk on the Wild Side.” He released over 20 albums on his own, and his career spanned nearly five decades.

The Kingsmen

The Kingsmen is a 1960s garage rock band from Portland, Oregon. The band was founded in 1959 when teenagers Lynn Easton and Jack Ely played a gig at a local Portland hotel. After this performance, the two practiced in the garage, basements, or sheds in their neighborhood, and they soon added Bob Nordby to bass and Mike Mitchell on guitar. Their career continued by performing at local yacht clubs, fashion shows, supermarket promotions, and Red Cross events.

The Kingsmenare most well-known for recording “Louie Louie” by Richard Berry, and the single held steady at Billboard’s No. 2 spot for six weeks. Since then, the song has remained an enduring classic, but after its release, the Kingsmen members took different paths. Bob Nordby and Jack Ely quit in 1963, and the remaining members continued on with new additions. Subsequent hits included “Money (That’s What I Want)”, “The Jolly Green Giant”, and “Little Latin Lupe Lu.”

  • America’s Greatest Party Band – Reviewing the history of The Kingsmen and their greatest hit, “Louie Louie.”
  • The Kingsmen – How a group of friends from Portland, Oregon contributed to the history of rock and roll.
  • “Louie Louie” – Information from the FBI about a 1963 accusation and investigation that this song violated laws preventing the interstate transportation of obscene materials.
  • The Kingsmen Lyrics – The Smithsonian examines the two year investigation into the song lyrics from “Louie Louie.”
  • History of the Kingsmen – Classic Bands reviews the history of the Kingsmen and the true story behind the band’s success.
Paul Revere & the Raiders

Paul Revere & the Raiders are an American rock band that saw mainstream success beginning in the late 1960s. Originally founded in Boise, Idaho, organist Paul Revere Dick met singer Mark Lindsay while buying hamburger buns at a local bakery. Originally named the Downbeats, the band practiced in garages while Lindsay earned extra cash pumping gas and Revere was working to avoid drafted military service.

Over the years, Paul Revere and the Raiders went through numerous band member changes, but original members included bassist Mike “Doc” Holliday and guitarist Drake Levin. Their hits included “Hungry”, “Indian Reservation”, and “Him or Me – What’s It Gonna Be?”. They also sang “Kicks”, which was later ranked among Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.