The 60s decade is a rather dark part of our history, although some feel nostalgic for the sunny side. We come from strolls along roadsides (where they can still stroll), ditches, walls, barricades, and from keeping people silenced under the dictatorship of fear. What a tragic era that lasted 40 years, which might sound brief, but how must things have been that even today there are minds still subjected to the regime (no, I’m not referring to the endocrinologist’s).
Fortunately, despite everything, there were Spanish artists and bands from the 60s who weren’t so willing to live on their knees. People who used all their ingenuity to fight for freedom, to explore new sounds, to be happy, or to express what they wanted to say without fear. Above all, it was for those of us who came later to know the consequences of such barbarism and to never forget it. It’s a pity that this lasted less than it should have, as a large part of these people were either killed or had to leave the country before reaching the 60s.
Those who stayed chose to live in silence, trying to survive. This was aided by a sense that things were getting better; our country started receiving tourists (the Swedes are coming!) and that was great for us since the country was emerging from a period of scarcity that nearly led us to extinction. And also, in the 60s came man’s best friend (after the dog, of course): television.
But our blog is about music: what was happening musically in the 60s? Which Spanish bands from the 60s were successful? What styles were popular? The desire to resemble other European countries led to the creation of new genres based on French yé-yé, Anglo-Saxon beat, and American rock and roll.
It was the decade that saw the artistic birth of solo artists like Joan Manuel Serrat, Víctor Manuel, Migue Ríos, Dúo Dinámico (whom some compare to the Everly Brothers), but also Spanish bands from the 60s like Los Pekenikes, Los Brincos (our own Beatles, although Los Mustang were the ones who covered their songs), Los Bravos, Los Sírex, Los Salvajes (the Spanish Rolling Stones), Los Mustang, and Los Huracanes, among many others. All male groups, of course. It’s worth mentioning the group Los Mismos, known for “it will be wonderful to travel to Mallorca,” where the lead vocalist was a woman, or Los Stop. Let’s not forget bands like Los Íberos, Los Payos, or Los Albas. A long list that we include in our Spotify playlist for you to listen to even more bands than those mentioned here.
On the other hand, the yé-yé world was almost exclusively composed of women like Karina (we won’t get tired of saying she’s our Instagram idol) or the multifaceted Concha Velasco, who came to close the circle of the genre with an intelligent song that completed a journey through the pop of a decade.
Playlist of Spanish bands from the 60s
In this post, we’ll dedicate our attention to the rock and pop groups from Spain that were successful in the 60s. From all the names we’ve mentioned, we’ve selected the most representative ones from that decade – ones that you’re surely familiar with, even if just for one song.
The original lineup consisted of Fernando Arbex, who came from the group Los Estudiantes; Juan Pardo, who had been part of Los Vandalos, Teleko, and Los Pekenikes; Antonio Morales Junior, who also played with Los Pekenikes, and Manuel González, who was making his debut in music.
As we mentioned before, these Madrid natives were compared to the Beatles, not only musically but also in their aesthetics, although they included typical Spanish traits like capes or jingle bells. Their first number one hit was “Flamenco,” a fantastic song with the lyrics, “if you’re worried about my future, you can stop thinking about me, oh oh oh ohhhh oh ohhhh oh oh oh ohhhhhhhh.” Other big hits included “Borracho” and “Un Sorbito De Champagne.”
Juan and Junior left the group, resulting in a change in Los Brincos’ style. From this period, tracks like “Lola” and “Nadie Te Quiere Ya” stood out. Subsequently, more member changes occurred, and their success wasn’t the same anymore. The group eventually dissolved in 1971. Despite this, Los Brincos remain one of the most important Spanish musical groups of the 60s, a timeless group that sounds as fresh today as back then.
Micky y los Tonys
We stay in the capital to introduce the next group formed by Miguel Ángel Carreño, known as Micky, which gave the group its name, and Tony de Corral, Fernando Argenta, Juan María Fuster, and Enrique Molollel (the Tonys, because naming them all would be quite tedious).
Their initial style had clear influences from American rock and roll, although they were capable of adapting to various genres such as rock instrumental, British beat, rhythm and blues, and even yé-yé. They were one of the pioneering groups in the so-called garage rock genre and had the opportunity to open for The Kinks and The Animals. They also dabbled in cinema, composing the soundtrack for the movie “Megatón Ye-Ye.”
Among their great hits, we can highlight the entirely instrumental “La Luna Y El Toro,” the playful “No Sé Nadar,” “El Problema De Mis Pelos” (quite the drama, undoubtedly, having porcupine hair), or “No Llores Más Por Mí.”
Similar to Los Brincos, by the end of the decade, the group disbanded as well, with each member pursuing solo careers. However, their legacy and influences undoubtedly remain part of cultural heritage.
The original members of Los Bravos were Mike Kennedy (of German origin and previously the vocalist of the group Mike and The Runaways), Tony Martínez (who came from Los Sonor), Manolo Fernández (also from Los Sonor), Miguel Vicens, and Pablo Sanllehí. They met in Mallorca, and there are various theories about their name that we invite you to explore – you’ll see how we humans love to speculate.
Undoubtedly, their greatest hit that propelled them to the top was “Black Is Black,” which was a hit not only in Spain but also in the United States and the United Kingdom. Even Johnny Hallyday covered it in French.
Other notable songs include “La Moto,” which was at the center of one of the earliest editorial disputes in our country, “Bring A Little Loving,” which also gave its name to a movie featuring the group. These guys were quite versatile.
But as often seems to happen with successful groups, tragedy struck with the suicide of Manolo, and nothing was the same afterward. The group disbanded, but the legend didn’t fade with them – they continue to be remembered and admired.
We continue in Barcelona, where Antoni Cerveró “Leslie,” Lluís Gomis de Prunera, Josep Fontseré Portolés, Guillermo Rodríguez Holgado, and Manuel Madruga Quebradas formed Los Sírex. Their daring rock and roll brought them some censorship issues, although that didn’t prevent them from being beloved by the public.
However, it was “La Escoba,” a song that a certain Laredo asked the group to arrange, that marked their absolute success. After all, how many things would we sweep away if we had a broom, right? Another event that boosted Los Sírex’s fame was them opening for The Beatles. As the new decade arrived, the group split up, although they would later reunite to release more albums.
Aside from “La Escoba,” other big hits from these Barcelona natives were “Que Se Mueran Los Feos,” “Muchacha Bonita,” or “Cuanto Más Lejos Estoy.”
We move to Barcelona, where the group formed by Pere Gené, Enric Fusté, Fernando González Aribayos, and Josep María Lizandra was born. The name emerged from a desire not to use “Los” like many groups of the time, combined with Pere’s interest in the American Civil War and blues.
Like most groups, they began by playing covers, in their case, songs by Ray Charles or Little Walter. They were one of the first Spanish groups of the 60s to sing in English.
Some of their acclaimed covers include “La Casa Del Sol Naciente” (a version of The Animals’ “The House Of The Rising Sun”), “Comprensión” (a cover of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” also by The Animals), “Satisfacción” (a version of The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”), or “Río Sin Fin” (a version of Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High”).
Gradually, they introduced their own songs into their repertoire, such as “Mi Calle,” one of the group’s most famous tracks, “Los Domingos,” or “La Trilogía.”
The group continued through the 70s and 80s, with some changes in its members. They sang in Catalan as well and confronted the challenges that arose until the group finally disbanded in 1982.
From Bilbao came the pop rock group Los Mitos in the mid-60s. The members were José Antonio Santiesteban, Carlos Zubiaga, José Ignacio Millán, Francisco García, and Oscar Matía Sorozábal. Initially, they went by the name Los Famélicos, but that wasn’t working out well for them, who knows why, with such an evocative name. Eventually, they adopted the name Los Mitos, which was much more ambitious.
At that time, just as there was rivalry between Brincos and Bravos, there was rivalry between Mitos and Fórmula V, a pop group that was making waves in the Spanish pop music scene of the time (and whose lead singer, according to my mother, was quite handsome until televisions could broadcast in color). What is the music world without the typical disputes and squabbles that give life its flavor?
Los Mitos made themselves known with “Cuando Vuelvas,” but it was “Es Muy Fácil” that solidified their status as one of the great musical groups of the 60s. Other major hits included “Me Conformo,” “Lejos De Ti,” or “Si Te Acuerdas De Mi.”
The story repeated itself as in other groups – the lead vocalist started a solo career, and the group’s decline began. Although they remained active, the group eventually disbanded in 1975.
(Madrid, 1988). Azahara P. Navas has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the Complutense University of Madrid and currently works as a language translator with knowledge of English, French, German and Greek.