The seventies were a time when a new generation of young people were exposed to new media and hence newer ideas in almost every field. TV and motion picture brought to varied audiences images, lifestyles and music from diverse regions and peoples. This led to the emergence of a new vocabulary and experimentation in music. After the war the second generation of German musicians began experimenting with music, these included experimental classical music and the tradition of Krautrock or Kraut music, rooted in the experimental classical music. This later influenced both art rock and progressive rock as well as the punk rock and New Wave genres. The main exponents of progressive rock include Genesis, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Pink Floyd. The experimental nature of progressive rock is exemplified in songs such as Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”. Also the start of “Metal” in many forms began with the British bands Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath even though “Metal” was in a very early and experimental state.
One of the first events of the 70s was the breakup of the Beatles in 1970. However, the seventies were also when many legendary rock bands started, or hit their peak, including ABBA, Black Sabbath, Queen, Kansas, Boston, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Electric Light Orchestra, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, Blondie, The Ramones, Fleetwood Mac, Status Quo, Family, Free, Aerosmith, Badfinger, the Eagles, Kiss, Heart, Rush, The Who, The Doors, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, and Van Halen.
In Europe, there was a surge of popularity in the early decade for glam rock, thanks largely to the rise of T. Rex, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, Gary Glitter and David Bowie, and bands like Slade and the Sweet.We also saw the rise of Alternative Pop music with the soft, velvety tones of the brother and sister duo the Carpenters. The group went on to become the biggest selling artists of the decade (1970–1980). The first half of the 1970s saw many jazz musicians from the Miles Davis school achieve cross-over success through jazz-rock fusion. Particularly notable were the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, created by Chick Corea, and Weather Report, built upon the keyboards and saxophone of Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, respectively. No European band could rival these American successes, all eventually signed to the CBS label, incidentally. In Germany,Manfred Eicher started the ECM label, which quickly made a name for ‘chamber jazz’ through the likes of Jan Garbarek, Keith Jarrett andTerje Rypdal. These two movements attracted many fans of progressive rock after its destruction by punk in 1976–77.
One of the most successful European groups of the decade was the quartet ABBA. The Swedish group, who are still the most successful group from their country, first found fame when they won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. They became one of the most widely known European groups ever, and were the decade’s biggest sellers. “Waterloo” and “Dancing Queen” are two of ABBA’s most popular songs.
To many people, the Seventies will be most remembered for the rise in disco music. First creeping into dance clubs in the mid-seventies (with such hits as “The Hustle” by Van McCoy), songstresses like Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Dalida and Anita Ward popularized the genre and were described in subsequent decades as the “disco divas.” The Village People scored a Top Ten hit with “Y.M.C.A.” and the Bee Gees had a string of #1s following their collaboration on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (See my top 70s songs page). As quickly as disco’s popularity came, however, it fell out of favor with the new decade, due to a religious revival and the rise of conservatism. Disco became associated with gays and minorities and conservatives such as Steve Dahl spoke out against disco and held demonstrations against it. Due to this tremendous backlash, disco effectively died in 1981. Along with the demise of disco came the end of the orchestrations and musical instruments (such as strings) which had become associated with disco. Electronic and synthesized music quickly replaced the lush orchestral sounds of the 1970s and rock music resurged in popularity with New Wave bands such as Blondie and Devo, who both formed their respective bands in the seventies.
Many of the aforementioned singers who became popular during the disco era found themselves out of tune with the1980s, and were out of work for many years, until a renewed interest in disco brought many of them back to the forefront. Many songs from the disco era are still very popular dance hits and receive continuous airplay in nightclubs throughout the world. The mid-seventies saw the rise of punk music from its protopunk/garage band roots in the 1960s and early 1970s. The Ramones, Blondie, the Sex Pistols, and The Clash were some of the earliest acts to make it big in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Groups like the Clash were noted for the experimentation of style, especially that of having strong reggae influences in their music. Punk music has also been heavily associated with a certain punk fashion and absurdist humor which exemplified a genuine suspicion of mainstream culture