The 50 Best 70s Rock Bands: Ultimate Guide

70s rock bands - TOP 50 by Music Nonstop Today

The 70s were a golden era for rock music, a decade when legendary rock bands and classic rock artists were born. It was the era of loud electric guitars, powerful bass, thunderous drums, and legendary vocals. From the raw energy of the 1970s bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, or Led Zeppelin to the symphonic sound of Pink Floyd and rebel anthems by Ramones and Clash, top bands of the 70s defined more than a single generation, their music influenced the music today as well. In short, the 70s brought a seismic shift in music, and we still feel its influence. It is no surprise that fans still adore 70s music bands and classic rock artists from this era, their music is excellent, and for their legacy, they are icons. Understanding the importance of 70s rock music requires exploring its contribution to different areas and its lasting impact on various subjects.

In this article, we discover the factors that impacted the 70s rock music, the new music genres raised in the 1970s, and, of course, we made our top 50 of the best rock bands in the 70s. Please stick with us until the end of the article to boost your knowledge about rock and roll in the 70s and discover remarkable classic rock artists!


Credits to the consultants who helped create our top 50 rock bands and classic rock artists from the 1970s: Toso Filipovski, Uros Veljkovic, and Miroslav Miro Veljkovic.

Links marked with the 🛒 (shopping cart) symbol are affiliate links. These special links track purchases or visits from our site, helping us earn a commission. This supports Music Nonstop Today.

The 1970s saw the birth of influential music genres, such as punk rock, disco, and hip-hop, with disco and punk rock rising to immense popularity during the decade.

We will try to give you an exciting overview of the best 70s rock bands. Read further about our choice of the top 50 rock stars from the 70s, their short history timeline, their best trades, what they were famous for, their hit albums, and their notable songs.

The musical diversity of the 70s is unmatched. The 1970s bands such as Led Zeppelin mixed various influences like blues and country music into hard rock and created anthems like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Kashmir.” Deep Purple mixed hard rock and classical music and brought us “Smoke on the Water.” Band guitarist Riche Blackmore used Beethoven’s 5th Symphony to inspire the song. These two genius 70s bands and Black Sabbath are attributed as creators of Heavy Metal.

It’s not easy to categorize The Rolling Stones by decades. The band was established in the 1960s and continued to rise in the 1970s. They released great rock albums like the “Exile on Main St.”

We haven’t even mentioned some of the top bands of the 70s, like The Who and their massive hit “Baba O’Riley” from the album “Who’s Next” and The Eagles and timeless “Hotel California” or 70s rock stars Freddy Mercury and David Bowie.

What bands were famous in the 70s? Who were the most influential 70s rock stars? Let’s look at the most popular bands in the 70s and find the answers.

Top 70s Rock Bands

50 The Police

The Police, formed in 1977, brought a unique style to the late 70s and early 80s music scene. Their style was an exciting mix of rock, jazz, reggae, and new wave. Of course, most of the band’s sound was based on Sting’s voice and bass lines. While The Police was created in the 70s, most of the band’s biggest hits were made in the 80s. That does not mean that they had no good songs in the 70s. The band’s debut album, “Outlandos d’Amour,” did include some of Police’s greatest hits.

HIT ALBUMS

“Outlandos d’Amour” (1978)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Message in a Bottle” (1979)
“Roxanne” (1978)
“Can’t Stand Losing You” (1978)

49 The Runaways

The Runaways had a unique, raw sound full of energy, just the right mix of punk and hard rock. Like most punk rock bands in the 1970s, their music was characterized by rebellious lyrics and heavy guitar riffs. The Runaways’ most significant impact on music was, in a way, who they were – a women’s rock band that pioneered female punk rock following Patty Smith’s footsteps.

Joan Jett’s rhythm guitar and Cherie Currie’s distinctively raspy lead vocals made The Runaways almost instantly recognizable.

HIT ALBUMS

“Waitin’ For The Night” (1977)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Cherry Bomb” (1976)

48 Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick was a mix of punk, hard rock, and pop, but none of that. They created a new sound that was a bit cheesy but catchy as hell, too. Powerful vocals and riff-heavy guitar marked their music.

The band’s early sound was a mix of rock with catchy pop, and the live performances were highly energetic. Later, they added even more elements to their sound, incorporating elements of glam and new wave.

HIT ALBUMS

“Cheap Trick at Budokan” (1978)

NOTABLE SONGS

“I Want You to Want Me” (1982)

47 Alice Cooper

Alice Copper is one of the pioneers who implemented a theatrical style in music. He combined horror themes with hard rock with amazing results. Alice Copper’s music is known for heavy guitar riffs and almost anthemic choruses. In the 1970s, he moved to hard rock and glam rock. The early 70s hits “I’m Eighteen” and “School’s Out” are great examples of what made Alice Cooper a 70s rock star. When you add the spectacular visual aspects used in the performances, it’s clear that Alice Cooper has cemented his place in rock history.

HIT ALBUMS

“Billion Dollar Babies” (1973)

NOTABLE SONGS

“School’s Out” (1972)
“No More Mr. Nice Guy” (1973)

46 Joy Division

Joy Division is one of the first post-punk bands. They emerged in the late 1970s and quickly became a fan favorite. Their sound is characterized by a haunting quality, minimalistic guitar work, almost rhythm-machine-like drumming, and nearly mandatory reverb and echo. Ian Curtis’s deep, emotive vocals have become a symbol for post-punk.

In 1980, just before the first US tour, Ian Curtis died by suicide; he was just 23. The band had a pact if one of the members ever left, they would stop working together. The remaining members recruited Gillian Gilbert and a second guitarist and started working under New Order.

HIT ALBUMS

“Closer” (1980)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Closer” (1980)
“Love Will Tear Us Apart” (1980)

45 Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac is one of the greatest British rock bands to have moved to the US. The band developed a distinctive sound that blended rock, pop, and blues. The addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks transformed Fleetwood Mac’s style, and they went for a more radio-friendly rock and pop style.

HIT ALBUMS

“Rumours” (1977)

NOTABLE SONGS

“The Chain” (1977)
“Rhiannon” (1976)

44 Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa’s sound is a unique fusion of rock, jazz, classical, and avant-garde music. His technical proficiency, innovative compositions, and excellent lyrics characterize it. While the songs were satirical, Zappa took his playing exceptionally seriously. He used complex time signatures, but his guitar playing was spot on. Zappa became famous in the 1960s, and his career spanned over 30 years. He released 23 albums and played a bit south of 800 concerts in the 1970s.

Frank Zappa, with his unique blend of satirical humor and musical experimentation, reminds us of Rambo Amadeus.

HIT ALBUMS

“Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention” (1975)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Muffin Man” (1975)

43 Yes

Yes, they are among the pioneers of progressive rock music. They are known for their complex arrangements, mastery of the instruments, and sound that blends rock, classical, and jazz. The band is among the best, if not the best, progressive rock bands.

Albums like “Fragile” and “Close to the Edge” are typical examples of Yes’ progressive rock style, featuring epic tracks like “Roundabout” and “And You and I.”

HIT ALBUMS

“Fragile” (1971)
“Close to the Edge” (1972)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Roundabout” (1971)
“And You and I” (1972)

42 Judas Priest

Pioneers in the heavy metal, Judas Priest is one of the bands that heavily influenced the shaping of the genre. They are the first metal band that used twin guitars, and they are known for powerful and opera-like vocals. Still, 70s Priest was more hard rock than metal, but even at that time, their guitar group was spotless and solos were among the best.

HIT ALBUMS

“British Steel” (1980)
“Sad Wings of Destiny” (1976)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Breaking the Law” (1980)
“Dreamer Deceiver” (1976)

41 Thin Lizzy

Charismatic Phil Lynott led this hard rock band, which became famous for its lead guitar harmonies, driving rhythms, and powerful vocals. Thanks to the contributions of guitarists like Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, their music often features intricate guitar work, which became a hallmark of their style.

Their musical style started as a blend of hard rock blues and traditional Irish music, but later, they incorporated punk, gunk, and new wave elements into their music. Lynott’s lyrics frequently touched on themes of Irish identity, street life, and personal struggles, adding a deeper narrative layer to their music.

After the tragic death of Phil Lynott in 1986, the band disbanded.

HIT ALBUMS

Jailbreak (1976)

NOTABLE SONGS

“The Boys Are Back in Town” (1976)
“Dancing In The Moonlight” (1977)

40 Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead music was heavily based on a mix of folk rock and blues, with elements of rock, bluegrass, country, jazz, space rock, and reggae. But they were known for their live jams, extended improvisations, and fluid-changing sound. Every live concert offered a unique setlist, and due to jam nature, it was an exceptional experience.

The Grateful Dead often considered music a living, evolving entity. This perspective was a fundamental part of their approach to performance and creativity. They believed that music was not static and unchanging but rather something that could grow and transform in real time, particularly during live performances. This philosophy allowed the Grateful Dead to keep their music fresh and dynamic, constantly evolving with each performance and fostering a deep connection with their audience, who were an integral part of this living musical experience. The group of their most devoted fans earned the name “Deadheads,” and they followed them from show to show.

HIT ALBUMS

“American Beauty” (1970)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Ripple” (1970)

39 Patti Smith

The “Godmother of Punk” was known for mixing poetry and punk rock. Her music was characterized by raw energy, Patti’s distinctive vocals, and poetic lyrics. But Patti’s music also had a softer emotional depth, even a romantic longing. Without any doubt, Patty is a 70s rock icon and the biggest female rock star of the decade.

HIT ALBUMS

“Horses” (1975)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Free Money” (1975)
“Gloria: In Excelsis Deo” (1975)

38 Jethro Tull

Early in their career, Jethro Tull became known for their unique styles and instruments. The band fused progressive rock, folk, blues, jazz, and classical music. But the band’s trademark was the flute played by frontman Ian Anderson. The band’s music was known for complex rhythms and time signatures.

Blues and hard rock influenced Jethro Tull’s early work. As the band evolved, it added features from other styles. On their breakthrough album Aqualung, they incorporated rock and folk elements. Later, the band developed an even more elaborate sound, experimenting with lengthy, continuous compositions.

HIT ALBUMS

“Aqualung” (1971)
“Thick as a Brick” (1972)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Aqualung” (1971)
“Living in the Past” (1969)
“Thick as a Brick” (1972)

37 Journey

Journey started as a progressive rock band that incorporated pop elements into its music. This helped the band develop an easy-to-listen style and quickly earned a dedicated fanbase. As radio-friendly arena-rock became popular, the band changed its style.

In the late 1980s, Journey added Steve Perry as lead vocalist. Neal Schon’s guitar harmonies, memorable guitar riffs, and Perry’s vocals helped the band write some amazing ballads and upbeat rock anthems.

This arena-rock switch was even more evident in the 1980s. In 1981, Journey released their biggest hit, “Don’t Stop Believin.”

HIT ALBUMS

“Infinity” (1978)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Don’t Stop Believin” (1981)

36 Supertramp

Supertramp is a progressive rock band known for the masterful way they used the keyboard in their songs. This classic rock band sound is a mix of rock and pop, with excellent vocals and witty lyrics carrying their music. The band’s two vocals worked fantastically together; one rough and lower pitch and another clear and high pitch made the vocal section unique.

Their 1979 album “Breakfast in America” epitomizes their sound, featuring hits like “The Logical Song” and “Take the Long Way Home.”

HIT ALBUMS

“Breakfast in America” (1979)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Logical Song” (1979)
“Gone Hollywood” (1979)

35 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ music was easily recognizable due to Petty’s fantastic voice and southern accent, as well as its blended rock and roll, heartland rock, and elements of folk and blues. Petty was also known for his songwriting, and while he died in 2017, his music still inspires the next generation of music lovers.

HIT ALBUMS

“Damn the Torpedoes” (1979)

NOTABLE SONGS

“American Girl” (1976)
“Free Fallin’” (1989)

34 Rush

Rush, another of the classic rock artists of the 1970s, was well known for its complex musical arrangements, fantastic playing, and incredible lyrics. The band started as a hard rock band and later transitioned to progressive rock. Alex Lifeson played guitar, Geddy Lee played bass and vocals, and Neal Peart played drums. They were all masters of instruments. The band is renowned for innovation in percussion, fusing jazz elements, and symphonic music.

HIT ALBUMS

“Hemispheres” (1978)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Tom Sawyer” (1981)
“Working Man” (1974)

33 The Doors

Charismatic frontman Jim Morrison’s style and music, which blends rock, blues, and psychedelia, made the Doors easily recognizable. Their sound is characterized by a dark, mysterious, and somewhat chaotic ambiance. Morrison’s deep voice and poetry made the band one of the best rock and roll bands of the late 60s and early 70s. Sadly, Morrison’s untimely death marked the 70s for this excellent rock band. They released two albums without him, but if anything, they proved Jim’s significant contribution to the band’s music.

Improvisations extended the Doors’ live performances. Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise anyone since they had a jazz-influenced drummer and keyboard player, a flamenco-influenced guitar player, and a free spirit at vocals.

HIT ALBUMS

L.A. Woman (1971)

NOTABLE SONGS

Riders on the Storm (1971)
Light My Fire (1967)

32 Steve Miller Band

The Steve Miller Band, a staple of 70s and 80s rock, is renowned for its seamless blend of blues, pop, and psychedelia, creating anthems that define a generation – formed in 1966 by Steve Miller. Their remarkable ability to produce chart-topping singles made them household names, with iconic tracks becoming anthems of the era. Even after 40 years, some of those legendary tracks inspire actual artists, such as Eminem’s “Houdini,” released in May 2024, which uses the melody from the “Abracadabra.”

One fascinating fact for 80s rock fans is that Steve Miller, a music prodigy, was taught guitar by the legendary Les Paul, a close friend of his family. This connection to the roots of rock history adds an extra layer of depth to the band’s legacy, showcasing how their music bridges the gap between rock’s past and its evolution through the decades.

HIT ALBUMS

“The Joker” (1973)
“Fly Like an Eagle” (1976)
“Book of Dreams” (1977)

NOTABLE SONGS

“The Joker”
Take the Money and Run”
“Rock’n Me”
“Abracadabra”

31 ZZ Top

ZZ Top is widely recognizable as one of the greatest classic rock artists of the 70s. ZZ Top’s easily recognizable sound is a blend of blues rock, boogie, and a bit of Southern rock. The bend is recognizable by bluesy, gritty guitar riffs, a solid bassline, and spot-on drumming. You will recognize ZZ Top music in a beat, with lyric themes exploring cars, women, and life in the South. Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf influence the band’s music. Arguably, the only thing that is easier to recognize than a ZZ Top song is a band member, with distinguishable beards and dark glasses being the trademark of the band since forever.

HIT ALBUMS

“Tres Hombres” (1973)

NOTABLE SONGS

“La Grange” (1973)

30 Heart

American rock band Heart rose to fame in the 1970s with a distinctive sound that blends hard rock, folk, and pop elements. Founded by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, Heart had terrific vocals and powerful guitars and was one of the first rock bands with a female frontman. Their music influenced rock sound, but perhaps the band’s most immense contribution was creating more opportunities for women in rock, opening doors for future female musicians.

HIT ALBUMS

“Dreamboat Annie” (1976)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Crazy On You” (1977)
“Barracuda” (1977)

29 Blue Öyster Cult

Blue Öyster Cult was probably one of the strangest 70s bands. Their music is complex to put into categories; but if you have to, you could say they are a mix of psychedelic and hard rock, even some metal influence. Their sound is characterized by excellent atmospheric keyboards, precise guitars, and extraordinary lyrics on some of the songs.

The band’s influence on heavy metal and hard rock bands mainly involves writing thematic lyrics and adding complex structures to their songs. In the 70s, the band recruited the British science fiction author Michael Moorcock to write for them.

HIT ALBUMS

“Secret Treaties” (1974)

NOTABLE SONGS

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” (1976)
““Eruption” (1976)

28 Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler in Bilbao playing "Calling Elvis" - photo by aherrero - Flickr - CC BY-2.0 Deed - one of the best classic rock artists of the 70s
Mark Knopfler in Bilbao playing “Calling Elvis” – photo by aherrero – Flickr – CC BY-2.0 Deed

Dire Straits’ glory days are clearly in the 1980s, but the classic rock artist Mark Knopfler started the band in the 1970s. Knopfler’s recognizable guitar playing and songwriting made this British band one of the biggest rock bands. Dire Strait’s clean guitar sound was influenced by rock, jazz, and blues.

They released two albums in the 70s, “Dire Straits” (1978) and “Communiqué” (1979). And while the band’s best work will come out in the 80s, one of the best 70s rock songs, “Sultans of Swing,” is on the band’s debut album.

Later albums brought even more polished production, synthesizers, and new studio techniques. Still, at the core, it is the same melodic guitars and Knopfler’s vocal delivery.

HIT ALBUMS

“Brothers in Arms” (1985)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Sultans of Swing” (1978)
“Walk of Life” (1985)
“Money for Nothing” (1985)

27 The Clash

The Clash is undoubtedly one of the most influential punk rock bands. The band became famous for blending punk with more melodic sounds and political lyrics. They blended elements of reggae, dub, rockabilly, and ska with punk, creating an energetic, raw guitar sound that sounded unique. This uniqueness is best demonstrated in hit tracks like “London Calling” and “Train in Vain.”

The Clash’s music resonated with the disaffected youth of the time. It was about rebellion but also about unity and change.

HIT ALBUMS

“London Calling” (1979)

NOTABLE SONGS

“London Calling” (1979)

26 Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen’s music combines traditional rock and roll with blues, folk, and country. While it is hard to argue that Bruce is a guitar virtuoso, his storytelling and powerful vocals make him most recognizable. His songs tell the stories of working-class struggles, love, and resilience, which almost immediately resonates with fans.
Springsteen’s first hit album was “Born to Run.” It came at a time when he was almost certain that the label would drop him, but the album hit #3 on Billboard and went six times platinum.

Bruce Springsteen is a 70s American rock icon and one of the greatest classic rock artists of the 70s who earned the nickname “The Boss.”

HIT ALBUMS

“Born to Run” (1975)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Born to Run” (1975)

25 Aerosmith

Aerosmith’s sound is a mix of hard rock, glam rock, and blues. It features fast, gritty guitar riffs and recognizable Steven Tyler vocals. Like most of the rock bands of the 1970s, Aerosmith emerged in the 70s but carried on successfully in the 1980s and even the 1990s.

The band’s debut album, “Aerosmith,” showed their “knack” for ballads. During the 1980s, Aerosmith polished its sound, incorporating more elements from pop, leading to hist like “Love in an Elevator” and “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).”

HIT ALBUMS

“Toys in the Attic” (1975)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Dream On” (1973)
“Sweer Emotion” (1975)

24 The Kinks

I’m not a fan of the 1960s Kinks. I can appreciate what they did with a mix of rock, pop, and British folk, and I understand their influence on rock, but it’s not for me. The guitar riffs on some of the songs, like “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night,” are pure quality, and the band’s sound influenced the development of hard rock, punk, and even Britpop.

During the 70s this classic rock band published 11 albums: “Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One” (1970), “Percy” (1971), “Muswell Hillbillies” (1971), “Everybody’s in Show-Biz” (1972), “Preservation Act 1” (1973), “Preservation Act 2” (1974), “Soap Opera” (1975), “Schoolboys in Disgrace” (1975), “Sleepwalker” (1977), “Misfits” (1978), and “Low Budget” (1979).

Hit Albums

“Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One” (1970)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Lola” (1970)
“All Day and All of the Night” (1964)
“You Really Got Me” (1964)

23 Boston

The Boston is perhaps a unique band in a way that it was founded by an engineer who didn’t care for music. Tom Shultz, as a kid, was building toy planes and cars. It wasn’t until he went to college and discovered British rock that he became interested in music. Shultz even created his own studio and started writing music. His technical brilliance played a big part in developing the band’s specific sound. Boston’s debut album was a staple in the 70s arena-rock, and the band was a huge influence on the genre.

HIT ALBUMS

“Boston” (1976)

NOTABLE SONGS

“More Than a Feeling” (1976)

22 Chicago

Chicago was known for the amazing way it incorporated brass instruments into the rock and roll band. They added trumpets, trombones, and saxophones and blended that sound perfectly with classic rock instruments. Their sound was a blend of rock, jazz, and pop with complex arrangements. Chicago’s ability to blend genres and innovate with its brass section has made it one of rock history’s most enduring and influential bands.

HIT ALBUMS

“Chicago II” (1970)

NOTABLE SONGS

“25 or 6 to 4” (1969)
“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” (1969)

21 KISS

Music is not the first association with Kiss. The band is known for elaborate face paint but even more for its live shows. Its sound is characterized by powerful guitar riffs and somewhat catchy melodies. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley quickly became recognizable among classic rock artists. As with most arena-rock bands, there was plenty of theater and effects at band’s concerts, from blood spitting to breathing fire and pyrotechnics. Kiss’s focus on the visual aspect of the concerts is one of the things they influenced the most, and their influence on the popularity of arena rock was enormous.

HIT ALBUMS

“Alive!” (1975)

NOTABLE SONGS

“I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979)
“Rock And Roll All Nite” (1975)

20 Blondie

Founded by 70s rock icon Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein, Blondie experimented with several music genres. The band found its unique new-wave sound as a fusion of pop, disco, rock, and even punk. In the early 1970s, Blondie was considered an underground band. A few years later, with the release of “Parallel Lines,” the band became a new wave pioneer in the US.

Blondie – one of the classic rock artists from the 70s, was also one of the first bands to embrace music videos. “Heart of Glass” was among the first music videos on MTV.

HIT ALBUMS

“Parallel Lines” (1978)

NOTABLE SONGS

“One Way or Another” (1979)
“Heart of Glass” (1979)
“Dreaming” (1979)

19 Sex Pistols

Sex Pistols are the central band of the punk movement, known for their energetic guitar riffs and sneering vocals. Their music is characterized by raw and rebellious energy, capturing the spirit of 70s punk. Sex Pistols’ lyrics are provocative and political, often with an anti-establishment ethos and disdain for societal norms. The Sex Pistols’ sound was simple in structure but powerful and influential, leaving a mark on the punk genre.

HIT ALBUMS

“Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” (1977)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Anarchy in the UK” (1977)

18 Derek and the Dominos

Two guitar legends, Eric Clapton and Duane Allman formed supergroup Derek and the Dominos. The band was active for a short time before splitting up, but even in this brief period, they demonstrated the best blues rock may ever be. The band released only an album titled “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” in 1970.

As you would expect with an album featuring two guitar legends on the tracks, the guitar solos are impressive. The title song “Layla” is widely regarded as Eric Clapton’s most exceptional musical accomplishment, a true masterpiece. Sadly, Clapton’s cocaine addiction robbed us of other sensational songs. Allman and Clapton’s rock-blues style of guitar playing still influences guitar players.

HIT ALBUMS

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” (1970)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Layla” (1970)

17 Genesis

Genesis started as a progressive rock band in the 1960s. Led by Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, the band’s quality of music is hardly surprising. Apart from achieving great success with Genesis, they also had terrific solo careers. In the mid-70s, Gabriel decided to take a break from music and focus on his solo career later. Without Gabriel, Collins took over vocals, and the mid-70s band moved from progressive rock to more radio-friendly music.

Their influence in rock and pop music came from the band’s 80s work, but the 70s Genesis were also great.

HIT ALBUMS

“Firth of Fifth” (1973)
“A Trick of the Tail” (1976)

NOTABLE SONGS

Wind And Wuthering (1976)
Selling England by the Pound (1973)

16 AC/DC

There is no more recognizable rock sound than AC/DC. The guitar is gritty and energetic, and the vocals are powerful and raw. The band was founded by guitarist brothers Angus and Malcolm Young in 1973. They released their first record in 1975; by 1980, they had seven albums already.

In 1980, tragedy struck AC/DC when lead singer Bon Scott died at 33. The band added singer Brian Johnson to replace Scott, and soon they released their best-selling album Back in Black.

When you think of the top 20 classic rock artists, you will probably think of AC/DC as one of those artists.

Hit Albums

Highway to Hell (1979)
Powerage (1978)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Let There Be Rock” (1977)
“Whole Lotta Rosie” (1978)
“Back in Black” (1980)

15 Van Halen

Where would the guitar world be without Eddie Van Halen? He revolutionized rock with his innovative guitar playing, and while his solos were almost unparalleled, what was most impressive was how he made songs from these finger-tappings, fast arpeggios, licks, and riffs. Together with David Lee Roth’s stage presence, they made Van Halen one of the most popular 70s bands. The band hit its glory days in the 80s, but they released their best album, “Van Halen,” in the late 70s. The album is considered one of the best albums in rock music and arguably the best debut album for 1970s bands.

Eddie Van Halen’s solo in “Eruption” was so good that it was enough to put Eddie in the top 5 rock guitarists.

HIT ALBUMS

“Van Halen” (1978)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love” (1978)
“Eruption” (1976)

14 Kansas

Kansas left its mark on the 1970s classical and progressive rock genres. The band was formed in Kansas, and aside from the somewhat unimaginative name, there is nothing boring about it. Together with The Who, they were among the first rock bands to use synthesizers in the 1970s. They used instruments like the violin. This kind of open-mindedness to experiments set them apart from the rest of the 1970s bands. Kansas was also known for its technically excellent live shows and this helped fill the arenas with eager fans.

The band was not afraid to explore more complex themes in their lyrics, like philosophy and existence.

HIT ALBUMS

“Leftoverture” (1976)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Dust in the Wind” (1977)
“Carry On Wayward Son” (1976)

13 The Eagles

I’ve never been a big Eagles fan (Dejan spoke), but I can’t deny that the band had one of the most iconic songs in the 1970s. “Hotel California” is likely one of the most popular songs from the period. The Eagles’ sound is a rock, country, and folk fusion. This is known as California rock, and the Eagles are one of the bands that perfected the style. Their sound is one of the defining characteristics of American rock in the 70s. The Eagles are one of the American classic rock artists incorporated into this music decade.

HIT ALBUMS

“Hotel California” (1976)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Hotel California” (1976)

12 Ramones

The punk-rock pioneers The Ramones were incredibly energetic, fast, and loud. Their raw sound was the opposite of the glam rock that was popular in the era. Joey Ramone (vocals), Johnny Ramone (guitar), Dee Dee Ramone (bass), and Tommy Ramone (drums) formed the band in 1974. They are a perfect symbol of the 1970s rock generation that rebelled against society and norms.

The Ramones are considered one of the best punk rock bands of the 1970s and of all time. Like similar bands, they influenced future musicians to embrace simpler and more energetic sounds.

HIT ALBUMS

“The Ramones” (1976)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” (1977)
“I Wanna Be Sedated” (1978)

11 Queen

Queen is one of the symbols of the 1970s rock and roll. Singer Freddie Mercury and guitarist Brian May are iconic classic rock artists. Can you even imagine 1970s rock music without “Bohemian Rhapsody”?

Freddie’s fantastic voice and stage presence mesmerized the audience, and it did not take them long to start filling the arenas. Queen is one of the bands that started the arena-rock style of music.

The band released seven great rock albums in the 1970s: “Queen” (1973), “Queen II” (1974), “Sheer Heart Attack” (1974), “A Night at the Opera” (1975), “A Day at the Races” (1976), “News of the World” (1977), and “Jazz” (1978).

“Night at the Opera” is the band’s best album, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” is one of the 70s rock anthems. The band starts “clicking” together, from Mercury’s heavenly voice, May’s virtuoso guitar playing, John Deacon on bass, to Roger Taylor on drums and occasional vocals. The album was a masterpiece.

HIT ALBUMS

“A Night at the Opera” (1975)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975)
“Somebody to Love” (1976)
“Don’t Stop Me Now” (1978)

Any of the bands on this list deserves to be in the number one spot. They were all top bands of the 70s and made their mark on the decades that followed.

10 The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band are pioneers of the Southern rock genre and, strangely, one of the rare bands that reach stardom after releasing a live album. The incredible thing about all the Southern rock bands in the 1970s is that they all fused rock, blues, and country music and sounded nothing alike. The Allman Brothers Band is heavily influenced by jazz, blues, and improvisations, and that really sets them apart from other contemporaries.

Sadly, like many other 70s best on this list, The Allman Brothers Band was struck by tragedy. Shortly after the release of the hit album “At Fillmore East,” Duane Allman, the band’s leader, died in a motorcycle crash. Thirteen months later, band’s bassist Berry Oakley was also killed in a motorcycle accident.

HIT ALBUMS

At Fillmore East” (1971) 🛒

NOTABLE SONGS

“Midnight Rider” (1970)

09 Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival hailed from California but was known for its Southern rock sound. The band was formed in the 1960s and rose to prominence as a defining classic roots rock band in the 1970s. The band’s involvement in social issues with protest songs like “Fortunate Son” made it one of the most popular rock bands in the US in the 1960s and 1970s. Sadly, it existed for a short time, but its blend of rock, blues, and country still influences musicians. Although they were active for a short period, they released six studio albums from 1968 to 1972.

HIT ALBUMS

Cosmo’s Factory” (1970) 🛒

NOTABLE SONGS

“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” (1971)
“Fortunate Son” (1969)

08 Lynyrd Skynyrd

It’s hard to imagine what the 70s rock would have been like without “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird.” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s sound is essential in what is known as Southern rock – a mix of rock, blues, and country elements became their signature sound. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music became recognizable by some of the best guitar riffs and solos of the 70s.

The band released five rock albums in the 70s: “Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd” (1973), “Second Helping” (1974), “Nuthin’ Fancy” (1975), “Gimme Back My Bullets” (1976), and “Street Survivors” (1977). Three days after the release of the “Street Survivors,” vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist and vocalist Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines tragically died in a plane crash.

We incorporate Lynyrd Skynyrd in our TOP 10 list as one of the best music rock artists of the 1970s.

HIT ALBUMS

Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd” (1973) 🛒

NOTABLE SONGS

“Free Bird” (1973)
“Tuesday’s Gone” (1973)
“Sweet Home Alabama” (1974)

07 The Who

The Who – Baba O’Riley (Shepperton Studios / 1978)

The Who, is another of the classic rock artists of the 1970s. The band’s impressive live performances and the exciting approach to new rock operas like “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia” made the group famous. Roger Daltrey’s powerful vocals are as easily recognizable as Pete Townshend’s guitar and keyboards, making it easy to understand why they are among the most popular 70s rock bands.

The band’s legacy includes rock operas, live performances, and musical innovation. The Who were among the first rock bands to use synthesizers in their songs, such as “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Beyond Music, The Who is the first band to perfect the destruction of musical instruments, and for that, they are in Guinness World Records.

HIT ALBUMS

Who’s Next” (1971) 🛒

NOTABLE SONGS

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” (1971)
“Baba O’Riley” (1971)

06 Rolling Stones

Could any list of rock legends be complete without the Rolling Stones? These classic rock artists transcend eras. The band was and still is led by charismatic vocalist Mick Jagger and guitar master Keith Richards, and to this day, they are still the faces of rock and roll rebels.

Of course, Mick is the face of the Stones, but as far as music signature, that’s all Keith. Richards was never afraid to experiment with guitar work, more exotic tunings, and distinctive riffs. The band was always brave enough to mix darker and even provocative themes in their songs.

They released six albums during the 1970s: “Sticky Fingers” (1971), “Exile on Main St.” (1972), “Goats Head Soup” (1973), “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll” (1974), “Black and Blue” (1976), and “Some Girls” (1978).

HIT ALBUMS

Exile on Main Sreet” (1972) 🛒

NOTABLE SONGS

“Brown Sugar” (1971)
“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” (1971)
“Beast of Burden” (1978)

05 David Bowie

It’s hard to imagine what the 1970s would have been without David Bowie – one of the most classic rock artists from the 70s. Glam rock started with T-Rex’s Marc Bolan, but Bowie is the most prominent icon. With his fantastic voice, he could easily fit into any music genre or style, and his voice with piano or guitar in the background makes music stand out for me.

David Bowie did influence rock in the 1970s, but this rock star from space did so much more. Bowie was among the first recognizable musicians to bring visual presentation to the music. His Ziggy Stardust persona became a symbol that fused music and fashion.

David Bowie’s work in the 1970s was marked by constant change and experimentation. He had a profound influence on music, fashion, and popular culture.

HIT ALBUMS

Hunky Dory” (1971) 🛒
“The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” (1972)
“Low” (1977)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Life on Mars?” (1971)
“Starman” (1972)
“Changes” (1971)

04 Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath’s sound was characterized by heavy, distorted guitar riffs, darker lyrics, and a powerful rhythm section. It is one of the bands that created and popularized metal. Metal took baby steps in the 1970s rock era but exploded in the 1980s. Tony Iommi’s guitar sound and Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals kicked off a new era for the 1970s bands.

Sabbath’s album Paranoid started the metal revolution and was one of the genre’s best. This band, one of the TOP 10 for us among the classic rock artists from the 1970s, hides many interesting told but untold stories. Check out the stories by the guitarist Jimi Bell, who shared them on the second episode of the Denim and Leather Podcast. The conceptual inventor of the Shredneck, Jimi Bell, wrote the Black Sabbath’s song “Master of Insanity,” which the public didn’t know for decades. If you are teased by this one, we recommend you check out the summary of the podcast episode with Jimi Bell.

HIT ALBUMS

Paranoid” (1970) 🛒

NOTABLE SONGS

“Iron Man” (1970)
“War Pigs” (1970)

03 Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin is one of the best classic rock artists of the 70s. You could easily argue that Zeppelin deserves a number-one spot on any 70s rock band list. Robert Plant is known as one of the greatest rock vocalists, and Jimmy Page is often regarded as the top guitarist of the time. The band’s music perfectly blended hard rock, folk, and blues, and fans were immediately endeared to the group.

During the 1970s, the band released six albums: “Led Zeppelin III” (1970), “Untitled Album” (1971) (known as ”Led Zeppelin IV”), “Houses of the Holy” (1973), “Physical Graffiti” (1975), “Presence” (1976), and “In Through the Out Door” (1979). Some of their iconic rock anthems, such as “Rock and Roll,” “Black Dog,” and “Stairway to Heaven,” were featured in Led Zeppelin IV. “Physical Graffiti” is another rock must-hear with songs like “Kashmir” and “Trampled Underfoot.”

In the 70s, the band broke The Beatles concert attendance record at Tampa Stadium in Florida. More than 56800 fans came to see the 1973 concert in Florida.

In 1980, tragedy struck; drummer John Bonham died at the age of 32 after a day of heavy drinking. The remaining Led Zeppelin could not continue without him and disbanded the band.

Even decades later, the band’s legacy inspires and influences countless musicians.

HIT ALBUMS

Led Zeppelin IV” (1971) 🛒
“Physical Graffiti” (1975)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Stairway to Heaven” (1971)
“Rock and Roll” (1971)
“Kashmir” (1975)

02 Deep Purple

Deep Purple were heavy metal and hard-rock pioneers. The band changed singers, but Ian Gillan’s vocals were class above the rest. Ritchie Blackmore’s virtuoso guitar skills played a central role, together with Jon Lord’s crafty use of the Hammond organ. Bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice completed the classic rock artists.

If you had to use a single word to describe “Child in Time,” it would have to be epic or masterpiece. The band’s influence on the future development of rock in the 80s and the development of hard rock and heavy metal can’t be overstated. To this day, Deep Purple is one of the most influential 1970s bands.

HIT ALBUMS

Deep Purple in Rock” (1970) 🛒
“Machine Head” (1971)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Child in Time” (1970)
“Burn” (1974)
“Smoke on the Water” (1972)
“Speed King” (1970)

01 Pink Floyd

The most recognizable symbol of rock and roll in the 70s is arguably the “tongue and lips” logo of The Rolling Stones. The logo was designed by John Pasche in 1971 and is based on the iconic, protruding tongue of the band’s lead singer, Mick Jagger. But, even though the most recognizable symbol of 1970s rock is the Rolling Sones’ logo, for us, the number one rock band from the 1970s is Pink Floyd.

We’ve already said that any of the top 10 bands could be number one, but Pink Floyd’s top spot was set in stone. Pink Floyd’s music transcends time; it’s a musical perfection.

In the 70s, the band changed from psychedelic to progressive rock after the founder, Syd Barrett, departed in 1968. Still, Barrett remained influential, inspiring numerous songs like “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” or “High Hopes.”

During the 70s, these rock icons released seven albums: ”Atom Heart Mother, ” ”Meddle, ” ”Obscured by Clouds,” ”The Dark Side of the Moon,” ”Wish You Were Here, ” ”Animals,” and “The Wall.”

Their album “The Dark Side of the Moon” is arguably one of the best albums of all time. It spent a whopping 736 non-consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

This iconic British rock band from the 1970s influenced generations of musicians and continues to do so today.

HIT ALBUMS

The Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) 🛒
“Wish You Were Here” (1975)

NOTABLE SONGS

“Comfortably Numb” (The Wall, 1979)
“Echoes” (Meddle, 1971)

The Influence of Rock Music from the 70s

To this day (July 2024), the 1970s is the decade that had the most influence on rock music and classic rock artists. The factors in the 1970s that defined the music of that decade made the music of the 70s sound as we know it today. Its greatest rock bands were unafraid to experiment with sounds or address pressing social and political issues. At that time, rock music became the most significant cultural force. Anti-war and pro-peace anthems just proved that people had enough of the Vietnam War and were dreaming of peace. This bravery to speak up about issues like civil rights, gender equality, and anti-war sentiments is perhaps the most significant legacy that 70s rock bands, and 1970s bands in general, had in years to follow.

Total
0
Shares
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *