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The '70s Music Experience

Updated on February 21, 2019
RuthCoffee profile image

As a boomer, I grew up in the 1960s and '70s. Sometimes I like to share some nostalgia from that time.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

The Test - Think you know your stuff about the '70s music scene? Find out here!

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© 2009 Ruth Coffee

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    • ionee251 profile image

      ionee251 

      6 years ago

      I was born on mid80s but I prefer 70s hits!

    • profile image

      JSchaper LM 

      7 years ago

      I was only born in 1979, but I remember my mom listening to a lot of this when I was a kid. Memories...

      Nice lens.

      JSchaper

    • Protasker profile image

      Barbara 

      7 years ago from USA

      Great lens! Fun to be here.

    • canoz profile image

      Heather Bradford 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Being a child in the 70s I grew up with all this music and there are many songs that remain favorites. I was too young to know groups very much or the timeline of lives and events. I found your lens to be interesting and highly informative. Thank you!

    • maurissam profile image

      Chocolate Pickney 

      7 years ago from Jamaica

      Great lens, I was born in the 80s but i rather retro music. i guess some answers very well

    • profile image

      iwrite4cash 

      7 years ago

      Nice lens, I was no good at the test though!

    • profile image

      kelli320 

      7 years ago

      I stunk at the test, but it was a fun lens!

    • fiftysquid profile image

      fiftysquid 

      7 years ago

      Cool, fun and informative, well done making this lens!

    • DLeighAlexander profile image

      DLeighAlexander 

      7 years ago

      Great fun. I made a 100! Woo hoo!

    • profile image

      kl2534 

      7 years ago

      walk down memory lane. I grew up with these songs

    • JackNimble profile image

      JackNimble 

      7 years ago

      Cool Lens. I love music from the 70's!

    • profile image

      TheManTheBrand 

      7 years ago

      Gotta say, Meatloaf in the 70's is my favourite. I noticed you mentioned Paradise, i think he sings it better and better as time goes by.

      Love idea with the quiz! Its funny how many of us said Johnny Cash for #9

    • profile image

      SariCeciliaArts 

      7 years ago

      Fabulous Lens and thorough view of the seventies! Couldnât answer all your questions but "hey" we live and learn right?

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      What a great look at the music of the 70's, some of my very favorites are here. Blessed!

    • profile image

      karitina 

      8 years ago

      Oh my good memory, I did try it your poll, but the only truth is the70's is the best music

    • Stacy Birch profile image

      Stacy Birch 

      8 years ago

      Love the music!!

    • Stacy Birch profile image

      Stacy Birch 

      8 years ago

      That quiz was hard, I was born in the 80's. Ps can't listen to more than woman without laughing, because my mom told me she thought that it was Bold headed woman!

    • rwoman profile image

      rwoman 

      8 years ago

      Oooh, I just had a flashback! Nice lens!

    • banapple profile image

      banapple 

      8 years ago

      Great songs on this lens. Was born in the 70's, but still love the music.

    • profile image

      Positivevibestechnician 

      8 years ago

      very fun lens reminds me of some great music from the past

    • tabitha-stuart profile image

      tabitha-stuart 

      8 years ago

      Some really great tunes came out of the seventies, unfortunately I know because I was there! Very nice lens. I enjoyed taking all the polls.

    • mbmusgrove lm profile image

      mbmusgrove lm 

      8 years ago

      Ugh---The 70's. Nice site, but the 70's were rough.

    • sagebrushmama profile image

      sagebrushmama 

      8 years ago

      This is a great overview of 70's music!

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 

      8 years ago

      This lens is so fun! You brought great memmories back to me :)

    • RascalO profile image

      RascalO 

      8 years ago

      this was a great lens. I remember my parents listening to all of this music, which definitely influenced my musical preferences later. It was an awesome time and the music still inspires me today

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      Don't ask how I did, the 70's was a bit of a blurrrr! lol

    • RuthCoffee profile imageAUTHOR

      Ruth Coffee 

      8 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      @chrissuard lm: Yes, that would probably be good. They didn't have quizzes available when I made this. But...I hate to lose the answers others have given already :(

    • chrissuard lm profile image

      chrissuard lm 

      8 years ago

      Great lens. Maybe you should change the polls to quizzes? Favorited and blessed!

    • profile image

      CrazyforCollecting 

      8 years ago

      Great lens! this sure takes me back. I'm pretty sure that "American Pie" was about Buddy Holly (and, well, really all the guys in that plane crash) though.

    • I-sparkle profile image

      I-sparkle 

      8 years ago

      Great lens. This was definitely my era of what I consider outstanding and unforgettable music.

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      8 years ago

      Loved the music of the 70's ~ Fun lens! :)

    • profile image

      badmsm 

      8 years ago

      Congrats on a great lens!

      On your American Pie Question, the answer should be Jerry LEE Lewis (the Bad Boy 50's rocker), not Jerry Lewis (the comedian). Big difference... :)

      I read an interview with Don McClean about the song he wrote about Buddy Holly's death. The reference to the Jester stealing the King's crown (Elvis) was alluding to Lewis' popularity rising higher than Elvis' before a scandal broke when Lewis married his 13 y/o first cousin... :P Pretty much killed his career, and put him 'on the sidelines in a cast'.

    • JamesPittman LM profile image

      JamesPittman LM 

      8 years ago

      Gotta love Disco! Great test too.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for an excellent lens on my favorite musical decade!

    • Twmarsh profile image

      Twmarsh 

      8 years ago

      The seventies were certainly a decade that featured a wide of musical styles. You've done a great job in highlighting its musical diversity.

    • ajsphotographic1 profile image

      ajsphotographic1 

      8 years ago

      The 70's probably has some of the best music around, still love listening to it now.

    • WorldVisionary3 profile image

      WorldVisionary3 

      8 years ago

      This brings back memories!

    • Calder profile image

      Calder 

      8 years ago

      Awesome lens! Keep up the good work! I love 70's music!

    • sulcatamandy profile image

      Mandy 

      8 years ago from Montana

      Bringing back the memories. I grew up on this!

    • DecoratingEvents profile image

      DecoratingEvents 

      8 years ago

      What a fun lens! Thanks for sharing!

    • askthepaintman profile image

      askthepaintman 

      9 years ago

    • stacy mcdaniel profile image

      stacy mcdaniel 

      9 years ago

      Nice lens! I was born in 75. I knew a few of the answers.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      9 years ago

      Great page! I'm doing a 70's music project for school and this was very helpful

    • profile image

      grannysage 

      10 years ago

      I had almost all of those groups you mentioned, except for punk. I was into the Carpenters, Carole King, and many more. Thanks for the good memories. Lensrolling this to Ex-Hippie’s Thoughts on Music.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      10 years ago from Canada

      Great set up for your quiz. I've often thought about how one would go about setting one up.

      Brenda

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 

      10 years ago from Austin, Texas

      I grew up with this music. Did I grow up? (Nahw) 5*s plus :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      10 years ago

      Great! I loved the 70's music

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