The '70s Music Experience
Relive the '70s Music Experience
The '70s music scene was about some important transitions. Some of the major names in popular music were gone. A softer rock genre emerged. But so did heavy metal, crossover country, punk, reggae, and disco.
Relive the music of the 1970s here on this page and experience the sounds of that time period. Then, if you think you know your stuff, take our test at the bottom of the page.
1970s Music and the Big Changes
The '70s music scene saw big changes early on in the decade. First and foremost, the Beatles disbanded, and not amicably, in 1970. Indisputably the biggest influence on music in the 1960s, they were gone as a group. This was followed then by the death of other popular '60s artists like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison of the Doors. Although Elvis Presley had hits like "Burning Love", "Suspicious Minds", and "I Can't Help Falling in Love" he too had died by the end of 1977.
New genres of music were becoming popular. Punk, Funk, Reggae, Disco, and heavy metal all gained steam and artists crossed over from country to rock to blur the lines.
The '70s Music Softer Side
Although heavy metal came alive, Punk was introduced, and Disco kept a hectic beat in the '70s, some of the popular music was a bit less extreme.
Artists like Linda Rondstadt and Olivia Newton-John made the charts with hits such as "You're No Good" (LR) and "Have You Never Been Mellow" (ONJ). Of course, The Carpenters, brother and sister duo Richard and Karen, were very successful with hits like "Yesterday Once More" and "We've Only Just Begun".
Barry Manilow had a string of hits including "Mandy" and "I Write the Songs" among others. Seals and Crofts made the charts with "Diamond Girl", "Summer Breeze" and a string of other songs. Helen Reddy's style was a bit less mellow but more mainstream. Probably her biggest hit "I Am Woman" was one of the most recognizable tunes of the decade and it stood as an anthem for the feminist movement.
Some popular singers were also very successful songwriters. Carol King had been writing tunes for a number of years but her '70s album "Tapestry" was a megahit. Some of her popular efforts included "It's Too Late" and "You've Got a Friend". James Taylor, another singer-songwriter actually performed "You've Got a Friend" as well as other popular hits like "Fire and Rain, "Carolina in My Mind", "How Sweet It Is" and "Handyman". Carly Simon (wife of James Taylor for a period of time) had hits like "That's the Way I've Always Heard it Should Be", "You Belong to Me", "You're So Vain", and "Nobody Does It Better".
Experience the Softer Side of 1970s Rock
Other popular male artists in this genre included Harry Chapin with hits like "Taxi" and "Cats in the Cradle", Jackson Browne with "Doctor My Eyes, "Running on Empty" and others, Jim Croce with "Big Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time in a Bottle", as well as Gordon Lightfoot with tunes like "Sundown" and the haunting tune "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".
Groups like the Commodores also topped the charts with songs like "You Bring Me Up". Lead singer, Lionel Richie later broke away and had a successful career on his own. For the younger crowd, there was also the Jackson 5, featuring Michael of course, with songs such as "I'll Be There" and "Never Can Say Goodbye". Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, and Bobby Sherman were also big favorites with the younger crowd.
1970s Music Included Country
Although country music wasn't at its height of popularity in the 1970s it was still very much present. Some of the stars had been around for a while but others were just coming into their own. Certainly, the "outlaw" version of country music was emerging and cross over artists were experiencing success on the pop charts as well.
Johnny Cash hit charts once again with songs like "One Piece at a Time" and "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down". Willie Nelson had "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain" and Waylon Jennings had "Ladies Love Outlaws" but of course the two got together and did "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys". Newcomer Charlie Rich had "The Most Beautiful Girl" and the husband/wife team of George Jones and Tammy Wynette had "We Can Make It" along with a string of other songs. Dolly Parton often sang with Porter Wagoner before going out on her own with songs like "I Will Always Love You".
Experience 1970s Country Music
Charlie Pride hit the top of the charts with "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" and Kenny Rogers had a string of hits that included "Lucille" and "The Gambler". Some of the other big female names of the '70s music scene were Loretta Lynn of "Coal Miner's Daughter" fame, her sister Crystal Gale with tunes like "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue", and later Barbara Mandrell with songs like "Sleepin' Single in a Double Bed".
The Gatlin Brothers, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Mel Tillis, Boxcar Willie, and Hank Williams Jr. were other big names of the time.
Southern rock also emerged with broad appeal. Lynard Skinnard, The Marshall Tucker Band, the Allman Brothers Band, and The Charlie Daniels Band capitalized on this new wave of popularity.
The Newer Stars of Rock in the 1970s
One of the biggest stars to emerge on the '70s music stage was Elton John. His style changed over the years, starting with the mellow "Your Song" and an understated style, he moved on to rousing tunes like "Crocodile Rock", "Bennie and the Jets", "Saturday Nights All Right for Fighting", and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" as his style became more flamboyant.
Other stars that hit it big during the decade included Peter Frampton with tunes like "Baby I Love Your Way", Rod Stewart with songs like "Maggie May", "Tonight's the Night", and "Hot Legs", Billy Joel with "Piano Man", "My Life", "Just the Way You Are", and "Only the Good Die Young", and Meatloaf with "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad".
Experience 1970s Rock
Rock groups of course still had a place in 1970s music. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band hit with "Night Moves", "Turn the Page", and "We've Got Tonight" among others. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band had numerous hits including "Born to Run" and Journey with lead singer Steve Perry had songs like "Lights".
On the more mellow side were groups like The Eagles, a star-packed group which made it big with hits like "New Kid in Town", "One of These Nights", "Take It Easy", "Lyin' Eyes", and "Witchy Woman" and Chicago with "Saturday in the Park" and "If You Leave Me Now".
Gradually melding into Disco were groups such as ABBA, a group from Sweden which experienced huge international success with songs like "Waterloo" and "Dancing Queen".
Heavy Rock in the '70s
Not everything was mellow in the '70s music scene, to say the least. Heavy metal got its biggest boost in this decade. Many of the classic bands had their roots here although Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne and the Who already existed.
KISS was a flamboyant group with heavy black and white face paint, wild concerts and songs like "Rock and Roll All Nite". Alice Cooper hit with "I'm Eighteen" and "Schools Out", while Aerosmith first made their mark with songs like "Dream On" and "Walk This Way".
Experience Some of the Hard Stuff from the 1970s
From Australia came AD/DC and their "Highway to Hell" album and from Britain, Queen burst on to the scene with songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Will Rock You".
Robert Plant headed up Led Zepplin and they made their mark with "Stairway to Heaven", while Blue Oyster Cult had "Don't Fear the Reaper". Van Halen with amazing guitar work by Eddie Van Halen was a tremendous force as well and they hit with songs like "Runnin' with the Devil" and "You Really Got Me". Kansas, Boston, the Doobie Brothers, and Foreigner were also big names at the time.
Disco and Punk Make Their Mark
Some 1970s music was fresh. Both Punk and Disco offered a different experience and Reggae entered the scene in the US through Bob Marley.
Disco both emerged and hit its pinnacle of popularity on the '70s music stage. It was primarily for dancing and most young people were crowding "discos" to meet their social needs. Donna Summer was the queen of disco with songs like "Last Dance", "Hot Stuff", and "Bad Girls". KC and the Sunshine Band also offered the upbeat dance music with tunes like "That's the Way I Like It", while the Bee Gees were superstars after the film "Saturday Night Fever" (which featured them on the soundtrack) was a phenomenal box office hit. Tunes like "Night Fever" and "Stayin' Alive" were their signature efforts. Of course, Gloria Gaynor, the Village People, Van McCory, Earth, Wind, & Fire, and many others were up front and center at the discos.
Punk music, on the other hand, was a music perhaps more directed to the true meaning of rock. It was a pretty basic, hardcore sound. Groups like the Ramones and later The Clash hit with popular tunes like "Should I Stay or Should I Go" while The Sex Pistols made a name for themselves with songs like "Liar" and "God Save the Queen".
Experience '70s Punk and Disco
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© 2009 Ruth Coffee