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Rock Sounds of the 70s

Your Own Personal 70s Rock Rundown

Robert Plant (left) & Jimmy Page (right)

The 1970s was a decade of musical exploration and discovery, many of the most influential bands and artists ever, made their name during this time. Bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple had just exploded onto the scene to play the soundtrack that would accompany the many outrageous and bold events of this decade.

Early in the 1970s we seen the emergence of Hard Rock, which was relatively new, and people were intrigued and fascinated by this subgenre. Led Zeppelin entered this decade with a newly formed reputation from the public after releasing their debut album Led Zeppelin in 1969 and the follow up to this the same year Led Zeppelin II, the iconic foursome fronted by Robert Plant, known as one of the most influential, innovative and successful bands, made their mark on musical history during this time. They drew their style from a wide variety of influences like psychedelic, blues and folk music, with Jimmy Page writing most of the music for their tracks and Plant supplying the lyrics, this combined with the unforgettable playing of the band made for the hard rock sound the people craved at this time. The second half of the band’s career saw a series of record-breaking tours that earned them a reputation for debauchery and excess, in 1980 the group disbanded after the tragic death of their drummer John Bonham, but regardless of how short their original run was Led Zeppelin will always be remembered as one of the most influential bands of the 1970s.

Led Zeppelin - Black Dog (Live)

Another  contributor to the hard rock scene was Black Sabbath, which was formed in 1968 by guitarist and main song writer Tony Lommi, singer Ozzy Osbourne, bassist and main lyricist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward in Birmingham (although the line-up seen many changes throughout the years). Seen as the pioneers of heavy metal music, the band defined the genre with releases Black Sabbath (1970), Paranoid (1970), and Masters of Reality (1971). The group started incorporating mystical themes with horror-inspired lyrics which gave them something other bands of the same genre lacked, which meant they had an advantage to gaining popularity from the public.

In the spring of 1970 we seen the sad and unfortunate break-up of The Beatles, but with this came new musical prospects from each member of the group. Paul McCartney formed his new group Wings, which proved popular with the previous audience of The Beatles and he continued to earn mainstream success alongside his new band. John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison all enjoyed their hugely successful solo careers; after his run with Wings, McCartney also gained tremendous success from a solo career. All of their solo albums sold extremely well and "Imagine" by Lennon and Harrison’s "My Sweet Lord" are among the biggest hits of the 1970s.

The Beatles in 1970

After a decline in psychedelic rock following the deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison and the break-up of The Beatles, Progressive Rock was developed out of the remains of psychedelic and blues-rock. The subgenre was mainly dominated by British bands, the whole idea surrounding this type of music is that it would elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility, bands of this subgenre would try and push the compositional and technical boundaries of rock by going beyond the standard song structures at that time. Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973) was an immediate success, it remained in the charts for 741 weeks (1973 to 1988), selling an estimated 50 million copies and is seen as one of the most successful albums that defines progressive rock.

'The Dark Side of the Moon' - Released March 1st 1973

Characterised by outrageous outfits, bold makeup, out-there hairstyles, and platformed boots, Glam Rock broke out in the post-hippie early 1970s. With the use of vivacious lyrics, costumes and visual style, performers of this category were dazzling in looks and sound, being playful with categories of their sexuality in a dramatic mix of nostalgic references to old movies and science fiction with an all over guitar driven hard rock sound. Favourable acts of the glam rock genre were some of the most iconic figures in musical history such as David Bowie, Roxy Music, Marc Bolan, and T.Rex. Shortly after the rise of the punk scene, glam rock was gone but it was never forgotten.

From as early as the late 1960s it became common to divide Soft Rock from Hard Rock, as the two subgenres have different focuses, soft rock descended from folk rock, whilst using acoustic instruments, soft rock artists put more emphasis on the melody and harmonies, unlike hard rock which focused on being more guitar heavy with louder vocals. The subgenre reached its commercial peak in the mid-late 1970s, with acts like the reformed Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart, and Elton John who we know now as some of the most successful artists of all time.

In the mid-1970s the Punk Rock scene was rising up from its protopunk-garage band roots of the 1960s and early 1970s. British bands like the Sex Pistols and the Clash were the earliest acts to make it big in both the United Kingdom and United States. Groups like the Clash etc. were noticed for their experimentation of musical style, especially the strong Ska influences which was picked up throughout certain tracks. A certain fashion and absurd attitude came along with punk music which really gave the scene more individuality and definability, which challenged mainstream culture and values. The Sex Pistols were the first real competition for already established rock bands like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, which caused a major sensation however the punk scene died out after only three years, it ended with the split of the Sex Pistols.

The Sex Pistols - Photo Taken Backstage

A decade of musical controversy and outrage was exactly what the world needed after the classic, but sometimes repetitive music of the 1960s. The 1970s gave the people what they were craving and during this time the world’s most iconic artists and bands were produced.

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