My Favorite All-Time Garage Rock Songs

The Soul Assassins first rehearsal in a rented studio.

Garage rock is a uniquely American form of music largely inspired by the British Invasion, although the genre was well established prior to the Beatles with roots in Rockabilly, Surf Rock and Buddy Holly.

The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead and Velvet Underground all essentially began by playing garage rock, known for its three-chord simplicity and raw emotion devoid of influence from the corporate music industry.

Pigpen was the only garage rocker in the Dead, and “Sweet Jane” is garage rock.

The genre kicked off with “Louie, Louie,” soon followed by “Hey, Joe,” and “Gloria.”

Spanning fifty years of garage rock history, my list of favorites includes songs from Europe as well as South America. Even though I wrote the first book on hip hop, garage rock has always remained my true love, musically-speaking.

The first band I joined was The Knight Riders, formed in Urbana, Illinois, in 1966, while we were all in junior high. My next band, The Soul Assassins, formed in New York City twenty years later. Two compatriots from Urbana were founding members along with me, although we lost one early on. The drummer, of course. If you like r-r-r-real rock and roll, here is my cream of the crop.

Psycho by The Sonics

Help You Ann by The Lyres

I’m Cracking Up by The Maharajas

You’re Gonna Miss Me by 13th Floor Elevators

El Humo Tace Mal by Los Peyotes

Open Up Your Door by Richard and the Young Lions

Shadow Line by The Fleshtones

I’ll Come Again by The Ugly Beats

Are You Gonna Be There (At the Love-In?) by The Chocolate Watchband

Out of Our Tree by The Wailers

Sweet Jane by The Velvet Underground

Rock ‘n’ Roll Ain’t Evil by The Flairz

Rari by The Standells

96 Tears by ? and the Mysterians

Cheated and Lied by The Vipers

Piangi Con Me by The Rokes

Keep On Dancing by The Gentrys

It’s Love Come What May by Bobby Fuller