diversity The music of the 1970s was incredibly diverse. You could choose from many musical styles and hear those styles on the radio on a regular basis. No matter how small your niche was, at some point your style was represented on the radio and music charts.
The early 1970s gave us Motown, soft rock, easy listening, country rock, southern rock, the Philly sound, progressive rock, religious rock, soul music, glitter rock and elevator music. Later in the decade we had funk, disco music, punk rock and the first inklings of rap and new wave.
On the jazz front, artists like Chuck Mangione, Maynard Ferguson and Pat Metheny adopted the smoothness and big brass sound of smooth jazz and the funk-inspired sounds of jazz fusion.
Toss in country music, album-oriented rock, novelty songs and one-hit wonders, and there wasn't anything you couldn't hear in the 1970s.
disco In the mid 1970s, the club scene featured new dances that required an equally new style of music. Disco music had a pulsating beat and a repetitive structure, which made it perfect for the latest line dances and extended mixes. The disco trend showed signs of dying in 1977, but was brought back to life with the release of Saturday Night Fever. Far from being over, disco experienced its greatest popularity in 1978 and 1979.
Some artists first gained popularity performing disco music. They included Donna Summer, the Village People and Gloria Gaynor, who was crowned the Queen Of Disco in 1975. Other artists, like the Bee Gees, successfully made the transition from other musical styles. A few artists, like Rod Stewart, gave it a try but didn't do very well. And naturally, there were artists who definitely should have left the trend alone!
A high-profile plagiarism case was filed against George Harrison regarding the song My Sweet Lord.
George Harrison released a charity single and organized two all-star concerts to raise funds for the war-torn country of Bangladesh. The single and subsequent Concert For Bangladesh live album were the first charity recordings.
The Beatles broke up.
ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo.
Barry Manilow and Billy Joel launched their solo careers.
The Captain & Tennille made their debut.
Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac.
Neil Sedaka staged a fabulous comeback.
Teens everywhere went crazy for the Bay City Rollers.
Elvis Presley died at the age of 42.
Three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd were killed in a plane crash.
11 fans were trampled to death at a Who concert in Cincinnati when the crowd rushed in to grab their unassigned seats.
The record industry experienced a slump in sales that was attributed to over-saturation of the market, lack of musical innovation, and competition from video games and cable TV.
Love it or hate it.... people were very passionate about disco music!
the hits *Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon was released in 1973. This album eventually spent 741 weeks (14 years) on the Billboard charts, becoming one of the most famous albums in rock history.
*In 1979, a record producer created The Sugarhill Gang to capitalize on the new rap music fad. Their 12-inch single Rapper's Delight was the first rap recording.
*Don McLean's 1972 hit American Pie tells the story of Buddy Holly's plane crash and the changes that took place in the turbulent 1960s.
compilation albums Multi-artist compilation albums were extremely popular in the 1970s. They were issued by companies like Ronco and K-tel, and featured an array of current chart hits packaged under groovy names like Sound Express, Disco Nights and Starburst. Each album contained the slogan Original Hits! Original Artists! to distinguish it from the cheap sound-alike albums that were also sold in the 1970s.
the different, odd & unusual When it came to music, you could find just about anything on a record in the 1970s....organists, polka bands, elevator music and the vocal stylings of various television stars.
Pictured above is a Bobby Sherman record cut from the back of a cereal box. Admit it, you had one of these, didn't you?
concept albums In the 1970s, many future Broadway blockbusters started out as concept albums. These records told a story through a series of original songs, and could best be described as "musical theater without the theater." If the record was successful, it was expanded, modified and eventually produced on stage. Concept albums that led to stage triumphs included Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1969), Jesus Christ Superstar (1970), Evita (1976) and Les Miserables (1980).
In 1978, Jeff Wayne's musical version of The War Of The Worlds used rock music, spectacular artwork and narration by Richard Burton to tell the story of the Martian invasion. Nearly 30 years later, this album was also produced on stage.
music videos In the 1970s, pop musicians used music videos to promote themselves and their albums. They were also used by record companies to advertise their artists, and were often shown on TV when a band wasn't able to appear on a particular show in person. Because they were just promotional tools, the lip-synched performances were simple, the scenery was sparse and the choreography was minimal.
Music videos were slow to catch on in America, but they were used by British and European bands quite often. European radio stations played less rock music than American stations, which made television a prime source for hearing new music. It was also easier to gain exposure in America by sending over a video clip than it was to send over an entire band.
The entertainment value of music videos became apparent in 1975, when the elaborate video for Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody caused a sensation. Videos became more creative by telling stories and using special effects.
Ex-Monkee Mike Nesmith was one of the first artists to see the potential of music videos. After producing his first video in 1976, he realized that the new VCR and laserdisc technologies could make music videos very popular. In 1978 and 1979, his attempts to market a music video series called Pop Clips inspired Warner Cable and American Express to create an all-video cable channel. The result was Music Television (MTV), which made its debut in 1981.
Artists who experimented with music videos during this time included ABBA, Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, Devo, Todd Rundgren, David Bowie, Blondie, Genesis, Cher and Dire Straits. Blondie and Devo were among the first artists to release a feature-length video compilation on videocassette and to film a complete set of videos for every song on an album.
music video programs During this time, several TV shows and cable channels specialized in showing music videos. Other shows made videos a big part of their programming. They included:
Popular dances in the 1970s included the Robot, Electric Boogaloo, Bump, Bus Stop, Hustle, Popping and Locking.
There were actually several versions of the Hustle, including the Street Hustle and Latin Hustle. In the 1960s, partners usually danced without touching each other. In the 1970s, the Hustle marked the return of touch dancing.
The Robot, Electric Boogaloo and Locking were variations of the same theme. The Robot and Locking used precise snapping movements, while the Electric Boogaloo used smooth movements to simulate the pulse of an electric current along a wire.
If you wanted to learn the latest steps, you could buy an instructional book or record, or you could take a disco dancing class at the local park district or community college. In the clubs, partner dances and line dances were equally popular.