1968 Rock Music Timeline
Johnny Cash 1968
Jan '68
Johnny Cash records two live shows at California's Folsom Prison along with June Carter and Carl Perkins. The resulting live album goes to #1 on the country charts and revives his career. (more)
Steppenwolf - Born to be Wild - Hard Rock
Jan '68
Canadian rock band Steppenwolf release their debut album including the single "Born to Be Wild" which charts at #2 US, #30 UK. (more)
the Beatles - Hello Goodbye 1968
Jan '68
The Beatles are #1 in the US and UK with "Hello Goodbye". In London they launch their own company, Apple Corps, with a store, a recording studio and record label. (more)
Judy in Disguise
Jan '68
Baton Rouge, LA native John Fred knocks the Beatles from the top spot in the US with his parody of the Beatles song "Lucy In The Sky with Diamonds" (#3 UK). (more)
Beatles with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Feb '68
The Beatles, Donovan, Mike Love, Mia Farrow and others travel to India to study transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. (more)
Pink Floyd lose Syd Barrett
Feb '68
Pink Floyd lead singer and song writer Syd Barrett is checked into a psychiatric hospital and the band replaces him with David Gilmour. (more)
Manfred Mann - Quinn the Eskimo
Feb '68
Manfred Mann have a UK #1 and US #10 with a cover of Bob Dylan's "Quinn the Eskimo (Mighty Quinn)". (more)
Frankie Lymon dies
Feb '68
Fifties doo wop sensation Frankie Lymon, who went to #1 as a teenager in 1956 with the single "Why Do Fools Fall In Love", dies of a heroin overdose at age 25. (more)
Otis Redding - sittin' on the dock of the bay
Mar '68
Otis Redding's posthumous single "(Sittin' On) The Dock of The Bay" goes to #1 US and #3 UK. (more)
The Monkees 1968
Mar '68
The Monkees have a #3 US, #12 UK hit single with "Valleri". It would be their sixth and final Top Ten single. (more)
Rock venue Fillmore East opens in New York
Mar '68
San Francisco concert promoter Bill Graham rents a vacant New York theater and opens the Fillmore East concert venue, to complement his west coast venue. (more)
Bobby Goldsboro
Apr '68
Bobby Goldsboro updates the teen tradegy genre with the melodramatic song "Honey (I Miss You)" which tops the US charts for five weeks. (more)
Simon and Garfunkel 1968
rock musical Hair
Apr '68
Simon and Garfunkel release the album Bookends which goes to #1 in the US and UK. The single "Mrs. Robinson" would go to #1 US, #4 UK in June helped by the movie - The Graduate.  (more)
Apr '68
The musical Hair opens on Broadway for the first of 1,750 performances. It would spawn several Top 40 hits including Aquarius, Good Morning Starshine and Hair. (more)
Hard rock from Iron Butterfly
Jun '68
Gary Puckett and the Union Gap
May '68
"Young Girl" by California band Gary Puckett and The Union Gap hits #2 US and #1 in the UK. (more)
Janis Joplin goes solo
May '68
Janis Joplin leaves the group Big Brother and the Holding Company. Looking for a more R&B Stax/Volt style sound she forms backup group The Kozmic Blues Band. (more)
San Diego, CA band Iron Butterfly release the album In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, considered to be one of the earliest examples of the emerging rock genre of Heavy Metal. The 17 min. title song is edited down and released as a single and hits #30 in the US. (more)
Rolling Stones Jumpin' Jack Flash
Jun '68
After venturing into psychedelia, The Rolling Stones return to their blues roots with the song "Jumpin' Jack Flash" which hits #1 in the UK and #3 US.
Creedence Clearwater Revival debut 1968
Jul '68
El Cerrito, CA band Creedence Clearwater Revival release their debut LP and hit #11 US with their cover of the fifties rockabilly hit "Suzie Q". (more)
Tommy James and the Shondells
Aug '68
American rock band Tommy James and the Shondells have a #1 hit in the UK with "Mony Mony" it goes to #8 US. (more)
The Doors - Hello I Love You
The Rascals 1968
Mary Hopkins
The Beatles - Hey Jude 1968
Joe Cocker
Elvis Presley comeback TV special
Motown 1968
Oct '68
Aug '68
Aug '68
Oct '68
New Jersey band The Rascals have their third and final US #1 hit with "People Got To Be Free". (more)
Los Angeles rock band The Doors have their first #1 album and their second and last #1 single with "Hello, I Love You". The single went to #15 UK, there first UK chart success. The band would tour Europe in 1968. (more)
The Beatles release the first single on their own Apple label "Hey Jude" backed with "Revolution". The over 7 minute song went to #1 in both the US and UK. (more)
Mary Hopkin has a #1 UK and #2 US hit with "Those Were The Days" produced by Paul McCartney and released on the Apple label. (more)
Nov '68
Gritty voiced UK blues singer Joe Cocker has a UK #1 with his cover of the Beatles song "With A Little Help From My Friends". (more)
Dec '68
NBC airs the Elvis comeback special - featuring Presley and his original backing band playing live, acoustic versions of his own songs and favorites in front of a studio audience. (more)
Dec '68
Motown holds the top spot in Dec. with #1 US hits from Marvin Gaye "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (#1 UK) and "Love Child" from the Supremes (#15 UK). (more)
Van Morrison 1968
Nov '68
Irish singer songwriter Van Morrison releases his second solo album Astral Weeks to significant critical acclaim, but modest sales. (more)
Archie Bell and the Drells
Lemon Pipers - Green Tambourine
Houston, TX based R&B vocal group Archie Bell & The Drells go to #1 US with their single "Tighten Up".  (more)
Feb '68
Feb '68
Oxford, Ohio band The Lemon Pipers hit #1 US with the psychedelic pop single "Green Tambourine". The song is considered the first "bubblegum" rock song to top the charts. (more)
rock band: American Breed
Cicero, IL rockers, American Breed, go to #5 US, #24 UK with the single "Bend Me, Shape Me". (more)
May '68
The Irish Rovers
May '68
Canadian Irish folk band The Irish Rovers break into the US Top Ten with "The Unicorn". (more)
Donovan goes heavy with Hurdy Gurdy Man
Mason Williams - Classical Gas
Scottish folk rocker, Donovan, comes out with an early heavy metal sound on the psychedelic single "Hurdy Gurdy Man" which peaks at #4 UK, #5 US. (more)
Jul '68
Aug '68
Classical guitar with orchestral backing make for an unlikely #2 US instrumental hit for American guitarist Mason Williams.   (more)
1968 in Rock & Roll History:

The Beatles, Donovan, Mike Love, Mia Farrow and others travel to India to hang with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Gibson introduces the Flying V guitar. The final episode of the Monkees airs on NBC. The rock musical Hair opens on Broadway. 500,000 march on Washington DC to protest the Vietnam war including Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, John Denver and Peter, Paul and Mary. In December, Elvis Presley's comeback special airs on NBC.

Top 40 Singles of 1968

  1   The Beatles - Hey Jude
  2   Mary Hopkin - Those Were the Days
  3   The Rolling Stones
       Jumpin' Jack Flash
  4   Barry Ryan - Eloise
  5   Tom Jones - Delilah
  6   The Beatles - Lady Madonna
  7   Otis Redding
       (Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay
  8   John Fred & The Playboy Band
       Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)
  9   Louis Armstrong
       (What A) Wonderful World
10   Manfred Mann - Mighty Quinn
11   Marvin Gaye
       I Heard it Through the Grapevine
12   Bobby Goldsboro - Honey
13   Steppenwolf - Born to Be Wild
14   Gary Puckett & The Union Gap         Young Girl
15   Simon & Garfunkel - Mrs Robinson
16   1910 Fruitgum Co - Simon Says
17   Crazy World of Arthur Brown - Fire
18   Tom Jones - Help Yourself
19   Bee Gees - Words
20   Tommy James & the Shondells        Mony Mony
21   Paul Mauriat & his Orchestra             Love Is Blue (L'Amour Est Bleu)
22   Joe Cocker
       With a Little Help From My Friends
23   Engelbert Humperdinck
       A Man Without Love
24   Georgie Fame
       Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde
25   Cliff Richard - Congratulations
26   The Beatles - Revolution
27   Bee Gees
       I've Gotta Get a Message to You
28   Ohio Express
        Yummy Yummy Yummy
29   Cream - White Room
30   Diana Ross & The Supremes             Love Child
31   Donovan - Hurdy Gurdy Man
32   Cream - Sunshine of Your Love
33   The Lemon Pipers
       Green Tambourine
34   Aphrodite's Child - Rain & Tears
35   Herb Alpert
       This Guy's in Love With You
36   Hugo Montenegro
       The Good the Bad & the Ugly
37   The Tremeloes - My Little Lady
38   Jimi Hendrix
       All Along the Watchtower
39   Bee Gees - World
40   Leapy Lee - Little Arrows

Top 40 Albums of 1968

  1   The Beatles - The White Album
  2   Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland
  3   The Rolling Stones -Beggars Banquet
  4   The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour
  5   Simon & Garfunkel - The Graduate
  6   Bob Dylan - John Wesley Harding
  7   Cream - Wheels of Fire
  8   The Doors - Waiting For The Sun
  9   Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
10   Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends
11   The Rolling Stones
       Their Satanic Majesties Request
12   Otis Redding - Dock Of The Bay
13   Johnny Cash - At Folsom Prison
14   Jimi Hendrix - Smash Hits
15   The Moody Blues
       Days Of Future Passed
16   Big Brother & the Holding Company        Cheap Thrills
17   Aretha Franklin - Lady Soul
18   Tom Jones - Help Yourself
19   Bee Gees - Horizontal
20   The Band - Music From Big Pink
21   Diana Ross & The Supremes             Greatest Hits
22   Engelbert Humperdinck
       A Man Without Love
23   Aretha Franklin - Aretha Now
24   Ennio Morricone - The Good, The               Bad & The Ugly
25   Original Soundtrack - Camelot
26   Leonard Cohen - Songs Of
27   Tom Jones - Delilah
28   Paul Mauriat & his Orchestra             Blooming Hits
29   Herb Alpert - The Beat Of The Brass
30   The Small Faces
       Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
31   Blood Sweat & Tears
       Child Is Father to the Man
32   The Hollies - Greatest Hits
33   Jose Feliciano - Feliciano
34   The Moody Blues
       In Search Of The Lost Chord
35   The Seekers - Greatest Hits
36   The Byrds - Sweetheart of the Rodeo
37   The Byrds - Notorious Byrd Brothers
38   Otis Redding - The History Of Otis
39   Original Soundtrack - Oliver
40   Peter Alexander - Schlager-                         Rendezvous mit Peter Alexander

All chart information above is from Tsort and uses a formula based on splitting the world into four regions based on sales, the USA (about 35%), other English speaking countries (about 20%), the rest of Europe (about 25%) and the rest of the world (about 20%).  We feel this is the best methodology available to show the global impact of a song or album. More detailed chart info is available on the Tsort website. Actual US & UK charts are linked at the bottom of each year timeline on this site.

"I never listened to radio, I didn't never get into that rock-and-roll trip. I just listened to blues. It seemed real. The other stuff seemed so tacky, teenagey. It didn't seem to have any truth in it or something. From the first moment I ever heard [the blues] that was my music."

- Janis Joplin

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