The 70s Music Basic Primer
70s Music – From Classic Rock to Disco
During the 1970s, disco became one of the most popular music styles in North America and Europe. As far as 70s music goes, it was especially popular towards the end of the decade. Aside from disco, funk, smooth jazz, jazz fusion, and soul music were still popular throughout the decade. What we now consider to be classic rock music was a big part of the 70s radio music scene, and punk rock did very well from the middle to the end of the 70s as well.
Other types of rock, like glam rock, hard rock, progressive, art rock, and heavy metal, also had some success. During the decade, other genres like reggae were creative and gained a large fan base. Hip hop started in this decade, but it took a while to get going. It didn’t become a big deal until the late 1980s.
During the 1970s, hard rock became one of the most popular styles of classic rock. During the first half of the decade, British bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, and Black Sabbath were at the top of their game internationally, especially in the United States. By the second half of the decade, other groups like Mountain, Grand Funk Railroad, Alice Cooper, Cactus, James Gang, AC/DC, Blue Oyster Cult, Kiss, Aerosmith, Van Halen, and Ted Nugent had also become big stars.
Rock bands like Boston, Journey, Kansas, Styx, Journey, Toto, Foreigner, and Heart helped make arena rock more popular. After Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison of the Doors died, Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd shut himself away, and the Beatles broke up in 1970, psychedelic rock became less popular.
During the 1970s, the Carpenters, the Jackson 5, Seals & Crofts, the Bee Gees, the Doobie Brothers, Hall & Oates, Bread, Captain & Tennille, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Bay City Rollers, and the Osmonds were some of the most famous pop/soft rock bands.
Barry Manilow, Andy Gibb, Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Marvin Gaye, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Barry White, and Rod Stewart were some of the male soloists who made up the pop music of the time. Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Roberta Flack, Donna Summer, Barbra Streisand, Rita Coolidge, Olivia Newton-John, and Helen Reddy were some of the best female soloists of the 1970s.
In the 1970s, some of the most popular music groups had their own variety shows on network TV, which were very popular at the time. Acts like Sonny & Cher, Glen Campbell, John Denver, Tony Orlando and Dawn, the husband-and-wife team Captain & Tennille, and the brother and sister duo Donny & Marie Osmond.
Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Jim Croce, John Denver, Neil Diamond, Barry Gibb, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, Carole King, Elton John, Don McLean, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Kris Kristofferson, Carly Simon, Donna Summer, Gordon Lightfoot, and Harry Chapin were some of the most successful singers and songwriters. Some of them were mostly songwriters before they started putting out albums and songs of their own. The album Tapestry by Carole King was one of the best-selling albums of the 1970s, and the song “It’s Too Late” was one of the most popular songs of the decade. “American Pie,” which was written by Don McLean in 1971 and was inspired by Buddy Holly’s death, is one of the best-known songs of the 20th century. Its abstract and vivid storylines center around “The Day the Music Died” and popular music from the rock era.
At the beginning of the 1970s, Diana Ross left the Supremes and Simon & Garfunkel and the Beatles broke up. All of them kept making very popular music throughout the decade. Some of their songs that were hits in the early 1970s are “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” by Simon on his own, “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul McCartney, “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison, and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Ross.
The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Leo Sayer, the Bee Gees, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Supertramp, and the Who were all well-known British bands. The Who’s lead singer Roger Daltrey made a big splash when he played the title role in the 1975 film Tommy, which was based on the group’s 1969 album of the same name. The ensemble cast was made up of Elton John, Tina Turner, Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, Jack Nicholson, and the other people in the band.
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