A power trio is a rock band format popularized in the 1960s. The traditional power trio has a lineup of guitar, bass and drums, leaving out the rhythm guitar or keyboard that is used in other rock music to fill out the sound with chords. While one or more band members may sing, power trios usually emphasize instrumental performance and overall impact over vocals and lyrics.
The rise of the power trio in the 1960s was made possible in part by developments in amplifier technology that greatly enhanced the volume of the electric guitar and bass. The prototypical power trios were exemplified by late 1960s-era blues-rock/ hard rock bands The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and The James Gang. Blue Cheer, in its most popular configuration as a power trio, was said to have adopted that format after seeing Jimi Hendrix perform at the Monterey Pop Festival. Well-known 1970s-era power trios include the Canadian progressive rock group Rush, the British heavy metal band Motörhead, The Jam, and The Police. Keyboard-oriented power trios using electronic organ (or synthesizer in the 1970s) also emerged, such as Atomic Rooster, the guitar-less incarnations of Soft Machine and The Nice, and progressive rock band Emerson Lake & Palmer.
Although power trios fell out of fashion in mainstream rock during the early 1980s, the rise of post-punk and indie rock in the later 1980s and throughout the 1990s featured many trios, and grunge-rockers Nirvana and pop-punk bands such as Green Day and Blink-182 came to prominence as the millennium closed. In more recent years, the term has become generally applied to any sort of three-person band.
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