1970s Music Genres with Examples

1970s music genres with examples

While researching the rock bands of the 70s, we were struck by the diversity in 70s music and how many superstars rose in other genres. While rock, heavy metal, and punk are by far my favorite genres, there is no denying that the 1970s music genres were more colorful, bringing fantastic new genres. At the beginning of the decade, music was still dominated by the softer and melodic sounds of the 50s and 60s, rock and roll, jazz, and blues music genres.

Soon, there were several new musical expressions: disco, punk rock, progressive rock, and funk. Artists like Bob Marley made reggae, took the genre globally, and changed it by adding political themes. Experimentation and mixing elements of blues, jazz, and even classical music enabled the creation of new genres. Progressive rock, glam rock, punk rock, and heavy metal were born, each offering specific musical identities and thematic exploration.

Let’s examine the music genres that emerged during the 70s and look at some good examples. Let’s start with the most famous music genres in the 1970s, and then we will see which music genres were born during the 70s influenced by various factors in that period.

The 1970s were the golden era for rock music. But still, there were other popular music genres in this decade. The following sub-headings include the most famous music genres and examples of artists, respectively.

Classic Rock

Classic Rock, originating in the mid-1960s and peaking in the 1970s, encompasses a wide range of rock music that became highly influential and commercially successful. Good classic rock music genre examples are bands like Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers Band, and The Rolling Stones, which “defined” the era’s rock sound with excellent albums and presence.

Progressive Rock

Progressive Rock, which emerged in the late 1960s and flourished in the 1970s, is known for its ambitious compositions, complex time signatures, and blending of rock with other musical styles such as classical and jazz. Bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, and Genesis were pioneers of the genre, pushing the boundaries of traditional rock music with elaborate concept albums and virtuosic musicianship.

Hard Rock

Hard Rock emerged in the late 1960s and gained significant popularity in the 1970s, characterized by its heavy use of distorted electric guitars, powerful vocals, and strong rhythms. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and AC/DC played pivotal roles in defining the genre, blending blues-rock influences with a louder and more aggressive sound.

Glam Rock

David Bowie and T. Rex introduced glam rock, which emerged from British psychedelic and art rock in the late 1960s. Artists wore flamboyant clothing and embraced theatrical performances. It was just as much a fashion statement as a music statement. Later, heavier variants appeared with bands like Kiss, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, and Def Leppard. I’m not making any promises, but I expect a few glam rock artists to appear in our Best 70s Rock Bands list.


By the late 1970s, disco had become the dominant music genre. Bands and artists like the Bee Gees and Donna Summer introduced danceable club tracks. Disco was a primary music genre of the 1970s dance music. The cult classic “Saturday Night Fever” epitomized the disco era and launched Bee Gees into stardom. Also, good examples of the disco music genre are KC and the Sunshine Band.


Funk music, which developed in the mid-1960s and became prominent in the 1970s, is characterized by its groovy bass lines, rhythmic drumming, and emphasis on the downbeat. James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic pushed funk to new levels. In this era, James Brown, apart from being “The Godfather of Soul,” became “The King of Funk,” too.

Soul and R&B

Soul and R&B music, evolving from African American gospel and blues in the 1950s, reached heights in the 1960s and 1970s with emotionally charged performances and sophisticated arrangements. Artists like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Aretha Franklin continued to shape the genre, blending it with funk and disco elements. Marvin Gaye’s song “What’s Going On” was among the first to address civil rights.

Pop Music

Pop music, originating in the mid-20th century, became a dominant commercial music genre by the 1970s, characterized by its catchy melodies and broad appeal. A new wave of pop stars emerged in the 70s. The 70s popular music brought artists like ABBA, Carpenters, and Sir Elton John to the world, and they released tons of hits in the mainstream music industry.


Reggae music, which emerged in Jamaica in the late 1960s, evolved from ska and rocksteady and it’s known for its syncopated rhythms and socially conscious lyrics. Who else, if not the excellent Bob Marley and the Wailers? They made reggae a global phenomenon with universal social and political messages in the 1970s.

Genres Born in the 70s

In the decade of the 70s, the music world gave birth to at least two musical genres that would become mainstream within a few decades. It’s hip-hop and electronic music.

Punk Rock

Punk rock emerged in the mid-1970s as a reaction against the perceived excess of mainstream rock, characterized by its raw, fast-paced sound and anti-establishment ethos. Ramones, The Clash, and Sex Pistols made much more energetic and rebellious music. They were sort of an “angry” alternative to mainstream rock.

Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal music emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, drawing from blues and psychedelic rock to create a heavier, more aggressive sound characterized by distorted guitars and powerful vocals. Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin are regarded as the godfathers of heavy metal. These bands didn’t exist in a vacuum and were influenced by other musicians, and so was heavy metal.


Hip-hop music originated in the Bronx, New York, during the late 1970s, combining elements of rapping, DJing, breakdancing, and graffiti art as part of a broader cultural movement. Pioneers like DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa laid the foundations of the genre, which quickly grew into a global phenomenon influencing music, fashion, and culture.

Electronic Music

Electronic music began in the early 20th century with experimental electronic instrument compositions. Still, it gained significant momentum in the 1970s with the advent of synthesizers and the pioneering work of bands like Kraftwerk. This innovation laid the groundwork for various electronic genres related to dance music, such as techno, house, and ambient, which would flourish in the following decades.

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