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What Is '70s Music?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 23, 2024
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'70s music refers to music that was produced and released during the 1970s, especially in countries such as the US and the UK. The music at the beginning of the '70s was strongly influenced by '60s music, with groups such as Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, and Queen, though the psychedelic rock movement fell into decline. Many people think of disco in relation to music of the '70s, and artists like The Bee Gees and Gloria Gaynor, but there was a great deal of soft rock and stadium rock produced during that decade as well. This music can also include soul and rhythm and blues (R&B) recordings, as well as southern rock and developments in punk and new wave that continued into the 1980s.

Much like other periods of music in the 20th century, there are a number of different styles and groups often associated with Seventies music. A great deal of the rock & roll music produced in the 1960s continued to develop and influence new groups moving into the '70s. Some of these groups and performers engaged in elaborate and theatrical dress and presentations of live music, including David Bowie, Queen, and KISS. This type of '70s music also developed into stadium rock, with performers like Boston and Styx creating music intended for large arena audiences.

Disco is, perhaps, the most iconic movement within '70s music. This genre grew and developed within dance clubs and was written as a format for dancing, rather than to convey a particularly strong message. Disco quickly gained fame and popularity, especially with the release of Saturday Night Fever in 1977. Almost as quickly, however, disco became one of the most reviled forms of Seventies music in the US, and many musicians who found fame with disco had difficulty continuing success into the 1980s.

'70s music also included a number of other musical movements, including continued development of folk music through artists such as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. R&B and soul were also quite popular with artists like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. Some musicians, such as George Clinton, blended R&B sensibilities with rock and synthesized styles to create music referred to as funk.

Southern rock and country were quite popular in the '70s, with artists such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alabama, and Willie Nelson crossing over into mainstream popular music charts. The 1970s was a landmark decade for hard rock and punk for groups such as Black Sabbath, Motörhead, and The Sex Pistols. '70s music also set the stage for a great deal of music that became popular in the 1980s, with the new wave movement beginning to develop with groups like Talking Heads and Devo.

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Discussion Comments
By Cageybird — On Jan 29, 2014

@Reminiscence, you have to admit the earlier part of the 70s was pretty darn good, though. I remember Elton John, Rod Stewart, The Eagles and the Rolling Stones being huge. We could still afford the tickets for stadium concerts by Kansas or Queen. If you were trying to be cool, you'd listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers or Black Oak Arkansas. There was a band or singer for everyone back in the early 70s.

By Reminiscence — On Jan 28, 2014

I don't even want to discuss disco, but I grew up in the 70s so it was part of my musical history. We had to learn disco line dances in gym class, like the Continental and the Hustle. I honestly didn't hate all disco music, but after 1975 or so, that's what most of the radio stations played. I thought the Bee Gees and Donna Summer were the best of that genre. I couldn't wait for the disco craze to end, though.

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