Definition: During rock and roll's initial rise to national prominence, it was considered a music for teenagers strictly -- college students, having come of age in the immediate post-war era, preferred the more serious, culturally "authentic," and socially aware sounds of folk music. But that all changed in the mid-Sixties, when the first rock generation became old enough to invade America's colleges, and as the famous "stairwell" scene in Animal House makes clear, these freshmen considered folk music for squares. However, musicians who kept their ears open loved both sides, which resulted in the inevitable creation of folk-rock.
The Beatles, inspired by Bob Dylan's introspective song writing and their own jangly, chiming electric Rickenbacker guitars, began writing pop songs with a decidedly folky edge as early as 1964, inspiring a West Coast group called the Byrds to experiment with a similar style. The Byrds' electric cover of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" set off the initial explosion of folk-rock in the summer of 1965, which in turn led to folk groups like Simon and Garfunkel having rock instruments added to their trad tracks (a move made behind the duo's back, yet resulting in the smash hit "The Sounds Of Silence"), as well as pop groups, mostly on the West Coast, covering Dylan songs for hip cachet (most notably the Turtles and Sonny and Cher). In turn, Dylan himself "went electric," leading folk purists to unfairly brand him a sell-out and, in one famous incident at the Royal Albert Hall in London, a "Judas."
Though the initial folk-rock explosion only lasted a few years, being absorbed into the other collegiate rock genres that would all morph into "classic rock," it nevertheless had a lasting impact on pop and rock, resulting in sunshine pop and the development of the Los Angeles singer-songwriter scene that would come to dominate the coming decade.