Start of the Decade
As the 60s came to an end and the decade of the 70s started up, the Vietnam War was in full swing, the killing of students at Kent State just took place, and all this tension in the country found its way into the music. Edwin Starr's single "War", Neil Young's song "Ohio", and Freda Payne's "Bring The Boys Home" were all examples of the anti-war movement showing up on the 70s pop music charts.
The soloist singer song writers ruled the 70s pop music scene in the early part of the decade. Carole King, James Taylor, Carly Simon, and Joni Mitchell were just a few of the talented singers who were mainstays of the early 70s pop music charts. There was also a lot of cross-over from the country music performers. Kenny Rogers, Olivia Newton-John, John Denver, Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell, and Johnny Cash were a just a few of the performers that blurred the line between country and 70s pop music. Campbell's Rhinestone Cowboy spent two weeks at the top of the 70s pop music charts in 1975.
Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix were two of the most talented performers of the early 70s. Hendrix totally revolutionized the playing of the electric guitar. He choked to death on his own vomit in September of 1970. Joplin was one of the most popular blues singers in America when she died of a drug overdose in 1970. Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison also might have succumbed to drugs when they passed away in 1971 and 1977, although there is a lot of controversy over the manner of their deaths.
There was no controversy in the deaths of singer song writer Jim Croce or Ronnie Van Zant, the lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The 70s pop music scene lost two tremendously talented individuals when they both died pre-maturely in plane crashes.
Soft rock was extremely popular in the 1970s. Groups like Bread, The Carpenters, America, and Chicago all ruled the 70s pop music charts. Soft Rock became so popular that later in the decade some radio stations started switching over to a all soft rock format.
Hard Rock started gaining popularity in the late 60s with bands like Iron Butterfly, The Who, and Steppenwolf leading the way. By the early 1970s, the reins had been taken up by bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin. Aerosmith released their iconic album "Toys in the Attic" in 1975, and Boston released their self-titled LP in '76. The Boston album is one of the top selling albums of all time. Later in the 70s, bands like Van Halen and AC DC would bridge the gap between the 70s hard rock sound and 80s heavy metal music.
70s R&B Music
Motown Records was a major player in the 70s R&B music scene. Started in 1959, the record company produced over 100 top ten hits in the 60s. The carried on this tradition in the 1970s with artists such as the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, and The Commodores all reaching the top of the 70s pop music charts.
Funk music became an extremely popular form of R&B music in the 70s. Led by the funkmeister George Clinton and his two bands The Parliaments and Funkadelic, funk rock gained a large following. Sly and the Family Stone, Ohio Players, and The Isley Brothers all had top ten singles on the 70s pop music charts. Disco music actually owed a lot of its origins to funk. Many of the early Disco performers came from the land of funk, such as bands like Earth, Wind, and Fire and Kool and the Gang.
Glam Rock was as much about the image as about the music. Glam rock performers would often take the stage wearing outrageous clothes, makeup, and hairstyles. Some of the more famous glam rockers from the 70s included David Bowie, Gary Glitter, Sweet, Slade, Alice Cooper, Queen, The New York Dolls, Kiss, and Suzi Quatro.
Punk rock became popular in the mid-1970s. The music was typically fast and hard edged with anti-establishment lyrics. Punk was much more popular in the UK than in America, but bands like The Ramones, Sex Pistols, and The Clash did achieve some success on the US 70s pop music charts.
70s pop musicians seen on the cover of "Tiger Beat", included David Cassidy from the TV Show The Partridge Family who had a #1 hit in 1970 with the song "I Think I Love You". Also a big hit with the teen crowd were Leif Garrett, Donny Osmond and Shawn Cassidy of Hardy Boys fame. Garrett's "I was Made for Dancing" reached #10 on the US 70s pop music charts, Osmond had many top ten hits both solo and with his brothers in the Osmonds, and Cassidy's "Da Doo Ron Run" went all the way to number one in 1977.