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Top Music Artists From The 70s, Ranked

The seventies were a transformative era for the world, embodying a spirit of rebellion and innovation in the wake of social and political upheaval. It was during this vibrant decade that music became a powerful medium for expression and change, giving rise to genres like rock, disco, and punk.

The 1970s were an exciting time in music, filled with new sounds and legendary artists. In this article, we’re looking at the top artists from the 70s. These musicians made the decade unforgettable, from rock to disco and everything in between. Get ready to take a trip down memory lane and celebrate the icons that shaped the music of the 70s.

#20 Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye, born in 1939, was a highly influential American soul and R&B artist who achieved iconic status in the 1970s. Known for his smooth and passionate voice, he gained immense popularity with hits like “What’s Going On” and “Let’s Get It On.” Marvin Gaye’s music not only topped the charts but also addressed pressing social issues, making him a symbol of the era’s cultural and political movements. His ability to infuse soulful melodies with profound lyrics solidified his place as an enduring musical legend of the 1970s.

Also featured on: Top artists from the 1960s

Popular songs include:

  • “What’s Going On”
  • “Let’s Get It On”
  • “Sexual Healing”
  • “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”
  • “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”

#19 Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart, a British rock and pop sensation, rose to prominence in the 1970s thanks to his distinctive raspy vocals and charismatic stage presence. He became a global icon with hits like “Maggie May” and “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” Stewart’s blend of rock, folk, and blues, coupled with his signature gravelly voice, made him a standout artist of the decade, known for his dynamic live performances and memorable chart-toppers.

Popular songs include:

  • “Maggie May”
  • “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”
  • “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)”
  • “You Wear It Well”
  • “Sailing”

#18 Deep Purple

Deep Purple, a pioneering hard rock band formed in 1968, achieved iconic status in the 1970s. Known for their virtuosic musicianship and groundbreaking sound, songs like “Smoke on the Water” and “Highway Star” made them legends in the world of rock. With their powerful guitar riffs, organ-driven compositions, and captivating live shows, Deep Purple became one of the most influential and enduring rock acts of the 1970s, leaving an indelible mark on the genre.

Popular songs include:

  • “Smoke on the Water”
  • “Highway Star”
  • “Child in Time”
  • “Burn”
  • “Space Truckin'”

#17 Paul McCartney & Wings

Paul McCartney, a former Beatle, continued his musical journey in the 1970s with his band, Wings. After an incredible impact from The Beatles in the ’60s, together, they delivered chart-topping hits like “Band on the Run” and “Live and Let Die.” McCartney’s enduring popularity, coupled with Wings’ success, ensured their iconic status during the decade. Their music was a blend of rock, pop, and experimental sounds, showcasing McCartney’s songwriting prowess and musicianship, which cemented their place as key figures in the musical landscape of the 1970s.

Popular songs include:

  • “Band on the Run”
  • “Live and Let Die”
  • “Silly Love Songs”
  • “Jet”
  • “Maybe I’m Amazed”

#16 John Lennon

John Lennon, a founding member of The Beatles, continued to captivate audiences in the 1970s with his solo career. His iconic status from the ’60s carried over, and hits like “Imagine” and “Instant Karma!” showcased his introspective songwriting and activism. Lennon’s contributions to music and culture during this decade solidified his status as a legendary figure.

Popular songs include:

  • “Imagine”
  • “Instant Karma!”
  • “Jealous Guy”
  • “Mind Games”
  • “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”

#15 The Bee Gees

The Bee Gees, comprising brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, became synonymous with the disco era of the 1970s. Their soundtrack for “Saturday Night Fever,” featuring tracks like “Stayin’ Alive” and “How Deep Is Your Love,” made them international superstars. Their harmonious vocals and infectious beats made them icons of the disco movement.

Popular songs include:

  • “Stayin’ Alive”
  • “How Deep Is Your Love”
  • “Night Fever”
  • “Tragedy”
  • “You Should Be Dancing”

#14 Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen, known as “The Boss,” emerged as a rock ‘n’ roll icon in the 1970s. His albums, such as “Born to Run,” combined heartfelt lyrics with energetic performances, resonating with working-class America. Springsteen’s anthems, such as “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Thunder Road,” established him as a timeless and relatable figure in rock music.

Popular songs include:

  • “Born to Run”
  • “Thunder Road”
  • “Jungleland”
  • “Badlands”
  • “Racing in the Street”

#13 Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath, pioneers of heavy metal, dominated the 1970s with their dark and powerful sound. Albums like “Paranoid” and “Master of Reality” defined the genre, and the haunting vocals of Ozzy Osbourne, along with Tony Iommi’s iconic guitar riffs, made them legends in the world of rock.

Popular songs include:

  • “Paranoid”
  • “Iron Man”
  • “War Pigs”
  • “Black Sabbath”
  • “Children of the Grave”

#12 The Who

The Who, led by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, maintained their status as rock legends in the 1970s. Known for their high-energy performances and classic albums like “Who’s Next,” their songs like “Baba O’Riley” and “Behind Blue Eyes” continued to resonate with fans, solidifying their iconic status.

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Popular songs include:

  • “Baba O’Riley”
  • “Behind Blue Eyes”
  • “My Generation”
  • “Who Are You”
  • “Pinball Wizard”

#11 Bob Marley

Bob Marley and The Wailers brought reggae music to the forefront of global consciousness in the 1970s. Hits like “No Woman, No Cry” and “One Love” became anthems of peace and unity. Marley’s charismatic presence and messages of love and social justice made him an international icon.

Popular songs include:

  • “No Woman, No Cry”
  • “Redemption Song”
  • “Three Little Birds”
  • “One Love”
  • “Jamming”

#10 ABBA

ABBA, a Swedish pop sensation, conquered the 1970s with infectious melodies and harmonies. Songs like “Dancing Queen” and “Mamma Mia” turned them into pop royalty. Their catchy tunes and glamorous image made them iconic figures in pop music.

In the 1970s, ABBA not only revolutionized the music scene with its catchy tunes and harmonious vocals but also made a significant mark on merchandise and fashion. Their vibrant and flamboyant stage outfits influenced the decade’s fashion trends, inspiring fans to embrace more colorful and eclectic apparel. Alongside their musical legacy, ABBA embraced the merchandising wave with everything from enamel pins to sunglasses and even spandex catsuits!

Popular songs include:

  • “Dancing Queen”
  • “Mamma Mia”
  • “Waterloo”
  • “Fernando”
  • “Take a Chance on Me”

#9 The Eagles

The Eagles, known for their impeccable harmonies and country-rock sound, reached their peak in the 1970s. Albums like “Hotel California” produced timeless hits like the title track and “Take It Easy.” The band’s blend of rock and folk elements made them an iconic American group.

Popular songs include:

  • “Hotel California”
  • “Take It Easy”
  • “Desperado”
  • “Take It to the Limit”
  • “Lyin’ Eyes”

#8 Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac underwent a transformation in the ’70s with the addition of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Their album “Rumours” became one of the best-selling records of all time, with songs like “Go Your Own Way” and “Dreams.” The band’s emotional and melodious rock sound secured their place as ’70s icons.

Popular songs include:

  • “Go Your Own Way”
  • “Dreams”
  • “The Chain”
  • “Landslide”
  • “Rhiannon”

#7 Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder, a musical prodigy, continued to evolve in the 1970s. Albums like “Innervisions” and “Songs in the Key of Life” showcased his mastery of various genres. His socially conscious lyrics and innovative music arrangements solidified him as a musical genius and cultural icon.

Popular songs include:

  • “Superstition”
  • “Sir Duke”
  • “I Wish”
  • “Isn’t She Lovely”
  • “Living for the City”

#6 Queen

Queen, fronted by the charismatic Freddie Mercury, redefined rock music in the 1970s. Their anthems, such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You,” showcased their theatricality and musical prowess. Queen’s extravagant performances and diverse sound made them legendary.

Popular songs include:

  • “Bohemian Rhapsody”
  • “We Will Rock You”
  • “Somebody to Love”
  • “We Are the Champions”
  • “Killer Queen”

#5 Elton John

Elton John’s flamboyant style and piano-driven pop-rock songs made him an iconic figure of the 1970s. Hits like “Rocket Man” and “Your Song” became classics. His stage presence and timeless music solidified his status as a beloved and enduring artist.

Popular songs include:

  • “Rocket Man”
  • “Tiny Dancer”
  • “Bennie and the Jets”
  • “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
  • “Your Song”

#4 David Bowie

David Bowie, known for his chameleon-like persona and innovative music, continued to push boundaries in the 1970s. Albums like “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” and “Young Americans” showcased his artistic evolution. Bowie’s influence on fashion and music made him an iconic cultural figure.

Popular songs include:

  • “Ziggy Stardust”
  • “Heroes”
  • “Rebel Rebel”
  • “Life on Mars?”
  • “Young Americans”

#3 The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones, already legendary from the ’60s, remained at the forefront of rock in the 1970s. Their album “Exile on Main St.” and songs like “Brown Sugar” and “Angie” exemplified their enduring rock ‘n’ roll prowess, solidifying their iconic status.

Popular songs include:

  • “Angie”
  • “Brown Sugar”
  • “Wild Horses”
  • “Tumbling Dice”
  • “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll”

#2 Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd’s progressive and experimental sound defined the 1970s. Albums like “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “Wish You Were Here” were groundbreaking. Their immersive live performances, accompanied by iconic visuals, established them as pioneers in the world of progressive rock.

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Popular songs include:

  • “Wish You Were Here”
  • “Comfortably Numb”
  • “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)”
  • “Money”
  • “Time.”

#1 Led Zeppelin

An iconic British rock band, Led Zeppelin was famed for their revolutionary sound that blended rock, blues, and folk music. Their popularity soared in the 70s, driven by their powerful performances and innovative albums. Led Zeppelin, with their powerful guitar riffs and blues-infused hard rock, dominated the 1970s. Albums like “IV” and songs like “Stairway to Heaven” showcased their musical virtuosity. Led Zeppelin’s dynamic performances and lasting impact on rock music made them legendary.

Popular songs include:

  • “Stairway to Heaven”
  • “Whole Lotta Love”
  • “Rock and Roll”
  • “Black Dog”
  • “Immigrant Song”

Continue the journey through the decades

What music genres were popular in the 1970s?

The 1970s were a melting pot of musical genres, showcasing the diversity and evolution of popular music. Rock music dominated, with its various subgenres like progressive rock, hard rock, and glam rock gaining prominence through bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and David Bowie. Disco emerged in the mid-70s, with artists like the Bee Gees and Donna Summer leading the dance craze. Punk rock made its rebellious debut with bands such as The Ramones and The Sex Pistols challenging the status quo. Soul, funk, and R&B continued to evolve, with icons like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Folk music also saw a resurgence, adapting to the changing times with more electric sounds.

What made 1970 so great for music?

Similar to the great artists of the 1960s, the year 1970 was a landmark for music, marking the transition from the experimental and psychedelic sounds of the 60s to the more varied and sophisticated styles of the 70s. It was a year of seminal album releases, including The Beatles’ “Let It Be,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and Black Sabbath’s debut album, which is often credited with founding heavy metal. This year encapsulated a period of intense creativity and innovation, setting the stage for the musical diversity that would define the decade.

What was the biggest hit of the 70s?

“Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, released in 1977, stands out as one of the decade’s biggest hits. Emblematic of the disco era, it dominated the charts and became an anthem of the 70s, capturing the essence of the disco movement. Its association with the movie “Saturday Night Fever” helped propel the soundtrack to immense popularity, making “Stayin’ Alive” a cultural icon and a symbol of the 70s music scene. Just like some of the best songs from the 80s, the 70s definitely delivered.

How did music affect culture in the 1970s?

Music in the 1970s had a profound impact on culture, reflecting and influencing societal changes. The rise of disco brought people together across different backgrounds, promoting inclusivity and the celebration of diversity in nightclubs. Punk rock emerged as a voice of youth rebellion, challenging political and social norms. The lyrics and themes of songs across genres often addressed the era’s pressing issues, such as civil rights, the Vietnam War, and environmental concerns, fostering a sense of awareness and activism. Music festivals and concerts became sites of communal experience, epitomizing the decade’s spirit of freedom and experimentation. Through its various genres, 70s music played a pivotal role in shaping identities, lifestyles, and attitudes, leaving a lasting legacy on global culture.

Emily, a writer and retro music enthusiast at Upbeat Geek, delves into the history of music and pop culture, spotlighting legendary artists and trends. A fixture at festivals and concerts, she brings the latest in music lore to the forefront. Emily’s love for music research is matched by her enjoyment of leisurely Sunday walks with her dog, Lee, reflecting her areas of writing: music and pop culture.

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