The State of the Music Scene in 1970

Influential American glam rock band the New York Dolls; David Johannson, front, Jerry Nolan, Johnny Thunders, Killer Kane and Sylvain Sylvain, pose in a dressing room.    (Photo by P Felix/Getty Images)
Influential American glam rock band the New York Dolls; David Johannson, front, Jerry Nolan, Johnny Thunders, Killer Kane and Sylvain Sylvain, pose in a dressing room. (Photo by P Felix/Getty Images)
Ginger Baker a great drummer

As the new decade of the 1970’s emerged the music industry was still reverberating from the after-shock of the swinging sixties. This previous decade had seen an era of great upheaval as the younger generations started to question the actions of the world’s most powerful governments. This was reflected in the music as scene as many artists were using their music as a way of expressing their concerns. This was the time in which social freedoms were fought for and won, and during the decade Rock Festivals were born. The music changed dramatically as the 1960s legitimised rock and roll and there was the start of the heavy rock music. The emergence of “flower Power” and the big summer rock festivals gave the flood of new rock bands a stage to showcase their musical talents. Bands, such as the Beatles, the Kinks and the Rolling Stones entered the 1970’s already established as mega bands. Their music was regularly topping pop charts and the young generation were being influenced by the records that these bands were producing.

In a way the 70s saw the rock bands maturing in the music they were producing. Led Zeppelin, Cream, Genesis, and the Who were now producing musicians that would later became icons in their field. Artists such as Jimmy Page, Peter Gabriel, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker were honing their skills as musicians, and the ground that these artists had laid would be to the benefit of other acts that would later emerge.

Earth Wind and Fire

As well as rock being present at the start of the decade so was Soul Music. Soul had emerged during the late 1950s and 196os combining Gospel Music, Rhythm and Blues, and Jazz. This produced singers such as Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Marvin Gaye. Groups were formed and bands such as Dianna Ross and the Supremes, and the Temptations, were topping the charts at the start of the 1970s. Soul music started to evolve during the late 1960s and by the start of the 1970s Disco Music emerged. Sometimes it was difficult to differentiate between disco and soul but generally disco was more upbeat with a faster rhythm enabling people to dance.

The dance floors of the early 70s were reverberating to the sounds of Earth Wind and Fire, Amiil Stewart and Cher, and although the majority were coming from the Black community, white bands were already performing. The Bee Gees were massive at the start of the 70s emerging from the Australian music scene.

The start of the 70s was also dominated by mainstream music performers. Artists such as Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond and Neil Young were selling huge numbers of records. Bands such as the Carpenters, the New Seekers and the Mamas and the Pappas were regularly flying high in the music charts. The start of the decade saw artists such as Rod Stewart and Elton John breaking away from their bands to follow solo careers. The start of the 1970s saw a wide range of musical performers producing records but by the end of the decade the variety of musical genres had increased markedly.