In the mid-1960s, Los Angeles and its surroundings became a haven for emerging folk-rock musicians. New York's Greenwich Village—the heart of the '50s folk movement—had grown hostile to folk artists who embraced the electric guitar and other rock trappings. [Pictured above: The Byrds]
Resistance by the old guard was largely political. The generation of Depression-era folk artists who came up in the late '40s and '50s had created protest music reflecting the struggles of union workers, farm laborers and other groups advocating for workplace change and civil rights. They viewed the younger electric folk-rock artists as vain sell-outs who hadn't paid their dues and understood little about a hard day's work.
Bob Dylan and other younger folk musicians, by contrast, were swept up in a generational movement spearheaded by rock and blues artists. They viewed electric instruments as a natural extension of their own expression and a practical way to be heard by larger audiences. What's more, folk was changing from cause-driven music (adapted by rock) to self-reflection and a rejection of conformity and war. Among the first of these new West Coast folk-rock bands in 1965 were the Byrds.
Though the BBC documentary's history is a bit two-dimensional (L.A.'s folk-rock movement didn't sell out; it was eclipsed by the rise of soul and dance in the early '70s and a new generation of listeners, rendering the '60s singer-songwriter old hat). Interestingly, though, by 1975 the East Coast folk elders may have been right about the folk-rock upstarts—though the implosion had little to do with their abadonment of acoustic instruments and picket lines. The market simply changed.
Here are the six parts (special thanks to the Hollywood Hills daily newsletter)...