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1970s Music History

While many people think of the 1970s as the disco decade or the beginning of metal, there were also developments across the entire musical spectrum that included funk, punk, folk and completely new electronic sounds.


As the hippy era faded inevitably away and glam rock took hold, bands and artists concentrated more and more on getting their concert sound better as they were playing to bigger and bigger audiences.

By 1975 The Grateful Dead had produced their famous "Wall of Sound" at the San Francisco Cow Palace, incorporating separate systems for vocals, each of the guitars, piano and drums.

With the change into a new decade, a lot of the big technology developer's attention switched toward perfecting the cassette recording medium and launching into the whole new era of video cassette production.

1. Studio Evolution

The 1970s marked a decade of accelerated improvements in stereo recording. The decade opened with big hits by The Carpenters that featured advanced layering of vocals. Two of the most celebrated recordings of the period were albums by Pink Floyd: Dark Side of The Moon and The Wall.

2. Singer/Songwriters

Storyteller songs sung by solo artists became common in the 1970s, keeping the spirit of folk music alive. Solo artists included John Denver, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Carole King, Jackson Browne, Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell.

3. Development of Soul

Soul music continued to gain popularity in the 1970s, as its cornerstone artists of the previous decade became even bigger. These artists included James Brown, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & The Pips and The Jackson Five. James Brown and Sly Stone created heavy sounds of funk.

4. The Disco Craze

Disco transformed the music industry in a way that elevated producers, overshadowing artists. The pinnacle of disco was the 1977 release of the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack, which popularized several tracks by The Bee Gees.

5. Hard Rock

Rock music continued to get louder and meaner in the 1970s with the introduction of metal. Led Zeppelin became the best-selling rock artist of the decade and inspired a raw, blues-based electric sound that led to harder sounds by Black Sabbath. Southern rock was popularized by the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

6. New Directions

Midway through the 1970s, punk music began invading rock clubs. A growing, disenfranchised youth movement was rebelling against the music establishment, bringing notoriety to The Ramones and The Sex Pistols.

In 1975 the battle to win the video wars began with the introduction of the Sony Betamax format. VHS video tapes soon followed in 1976 and the war for market dominance was on. Of course history reveals that VHS won the battle and the Betamax format soon died, much to the relief of confused customers bringing the wrong tapes home from those earliest video rental shops.

7. Inventions

Other great inventions of the 70s included the wonderful laser disc format. Like some shiny vinyl album that could play video it promised to finally end the battle over video formats in 1978. Inevitably, no-one bought it and the medium soon disappeared into obscurity.

A year later a considerably more popular and successful invention hit the market. Welcome the new Sony Walkman and a craze of sweat banded joggers and cyclists hit the streets humming along to their favorite tunes, while the rest of us got annoyed listening to bad singing voices and muffled noise from the early headsets.

This simple invention took personal music listening out of the home and into the streets. Everywhere you went you could see people wondering around wearing their walkmans, a trend that still continues to this day, although the walkmans are now ipods, or other such devices and probably hold your entire music collection, the principle is pretty much the same!

As the 70s were drawing to a close, and with the popularization of home video, the first promotional music videos were released the birth of the MTV generation was imminent.

This site covers all areas for Music History of the World.


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