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The '70s Music Experience

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

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

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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

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

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

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Who was Led Zepplin's lead guitarist?
    • Jeff Lynne
    • Eddie Van Halen
    • Jimmy Page
    • Robert Plant
  2. Which of the following was NOT a member of The Eagles in the 1971-75 time frame?
    • Glen Frey
    • Joe Walsh
    • Don Henley
    • Randy Meisner
  3. Which of the following country music stars of the 1970's also played professional baseball?
    • Merle Haggard
    • Conway Twitty
    • Marty Robbins
    • Charlie Pride
  4. Where was Michael Jackson's home as a child?
    • Detroit, Michigan
    • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • Gary, Indiana
    • Atlanta, Georgia
  5. Who re-recorded the Who's "Pinball Wizard" in the late 1970's?
    • Elton John
    • The Bee Gees
    • Peter Frampton
    • Roger Daltry
  6. In Don McClean's megahit American Pie, who was he referring to as the "jester"?
    • Jerry Lee Lewis
    • Bob Dylan
    • President Nixon
    • Himself
  7. Which song stayed on the charts in the US the longest in the 1970's?
    • Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds by Elton John
    • You're So Vain by Carly Simon
    • Joy to the World by Three Dog Night
    • Waterloo by ABBA
  8. Which of the following were NOT albums released by Pink Floyd in the 1970's?
    • The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
    • Wish You Were Here
    • The Wall
    • Dark Side of the Moon
  9. Which of the following country stars spent time in prison?
    • Johnny Cash
    • Merle Haggard
    • Waylon Jennings
    • Kris Kristofferson
  10. Which of the following stars was NOT a member of the Bee Gees?
    • Barry Gibb
    • Robin Gibb
    • Maurice Gibb
    • Andy Gibb

Answer Key

  1. Jimmy Page
  2. Joe Walsh
  3. Charlie Pride
  4. Gary, Indiana
  5. Elton John
  6. Bob Dylan
  7. Joy to the World by Three Dog Night
  8. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
  9. Merle Haggard
  10. Andy Gibb

© 2009 Ruth Coffee

Let Us Know You Stopped By!

Moral Man on October 14, 2020:

My favorite musician from the 1970s is Gayle Mccormick who performed in the band Smith and who sang solo. Her 1971 solo album has songs such as , Its a Cryin Shame, Superstar, and C'est la vie. The song C'est la vie is mesmerizing. Youtube has this song in two separate youtube videos. One is the regular version with Gayle singing and with her picture, while the other youtube video is the same song but showing a group of hippies and the instruments in the background are more audible. I love both versions. I love her voice and I love the instruments in the background. C'est la vie is one of my favorite Gayle Mccormick songs and was written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter. Her music brings me back to my childhood in the 1970s.

ionee251 on July 29, 2012:

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

JSchaper LM on January 06, 2012:

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.


Barbara from USA on November 20, 2011:

Great lens! Fun to be here.

Heather Bradford from Canada on October 27, 2011:

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!

Chocolate Pickney from Jamaica on October 20, 2011:

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

iwrite4cash on September 28, 2011:

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

kelli320 on September 28, 2011:

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

fiftysquid on September 08, 2011:

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

DLeighAlexander on September 01, 2011:

Great fun. I made a 100! Woo hoo!

kl2534 on August 20, 2011:

walk down memory lane. I grew up with these songs

JackNimble on July 31, 2011:

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

TheManTheBrand on July 26, 2011:

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

SariCeciliaArts on July 03, 2011:

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

anonymous on May 29, 2011:

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

karitina on May 16, 2011:

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

Stacy Birch on May 01, 2011:

Love the music!!

Stacy Birch on May 01, 2011:

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 on April 11, 2011:

Oooh, I just had a flashback! Nice lens!

banapple on March 23, 2011:

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

Positivevibestechnician on February 21, 2011:

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

tabitha-stuart on February 21, 2011:

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 on February 19, 2011:

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

sagebrushmama on February 18, 2011:

This is a great overview of 70's music!

Malu Couttolenc on February 06, 2011:

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

RascalO on January 22, 2011:

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

anonymous on January 22, 2011:

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

Ruth Coffee (author) from Zionsville, Indiana on January 14, 2011:

@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 on December 04, 2010:

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

CrazyforCollecting on November 29, 2010:

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 on November 26, 2010:

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

Bambi Watson on November 14, 2010:

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

badmsm on October 28, 2010:

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 on October 28, 2010:

Gotta love Disco! Great test too.