20 Best 70s Rock Bands

The 1970s were the heyday of rock music. Many influential bands and subgenres developed during this time. One of the defining characteristics of rock music in the 1970s was the use of elaborate instrumentation and experimentation with sound.

Deep Purple

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Deep Purple is a legendary English rock band formed in Hertford, England, in 1968. Known for their pioneering role in developing heavy metal and progressive rock, the band’s iconic lineup featured influential musicians like Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, and Jon Lord. Their most popular songs include “Smoke on the Water,” “Highway Star,” and “Child in Time,” which helped to cement their status as one of the most influential bands in rock history and a significant influence on rock in the 1970s.

The Ramones

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The Ramones were a groundbreaking American punk rock band formed in New York City in 1974. They are often credited with defining the punk sound and aesthetic with their fast-paced, stripped-down music and rebellious attitude. Their most notable songs include “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “I Wanna Be Sedated,” and “Rockaway Beach,” which helped to shape the punk rock genre and inspire generations of musicians.

The Pistols

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They were a highly influential British punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. They gained notoriety for their provocative lyrics, anarchic style, and controversial performances, which challenged social norms and helped to ignite the punk movement in the United Kingdom. With their landmark album featuring iconic tracks like “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “God Save the Queen,” the band left a lasting impact on the music industry and counterculture.

The Clash

The Clash Record
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The Clash was a British punk rock band formed in London in 1976. They were known for their politically charged lyrics and eclectic musical style. Blending punk, reggae, and rockabilly influences, the band tackled social and political issues, earning them the nickname “The Only Band That Matters.” Their most celebrated works include the albums “London Calling” and “Sandinista!” Some of their most famous works include tracks like “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Rock the Casbah.”

Thin Lizzy

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Thin Lizzy was an Irish rock band formed in Dublin in 1969, known for their innovative dual lead guitar sound and charismatic frontman Phil Lynott. Their music blended hard rock, blues, and folk influences, resulting in a unique and captivating sound. Some of their most notable songs include “The Boys Are Back in Town,” “Whiskey in the Jar,” and “Jailbreak,” which helped solidify their place in rock history.

Motörhead

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Motörhead was a highly influential British rock band formed in London in 1975, led by the iconic frontman and bassist Lemmy Kilmister. Known for their raw, powerful sound and high-energy live performances, the band’s fusion of heavy metal, punk, and rock ‘n’ roll helped to create the speed metal and thrash metal genres. Some of their most well-known tracks include “Ace of Spades,” “Overkill,” and “Iron Fist,” which have left a lasting impact on the heavy metal scene.

Pink Floyd

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Pink Floyd was an English progressive and psychedelic rock band formed in 1965, known for their iconic albums “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall.” Their experimental approach to music and thought-provoking concepts made them one of the most successful and influential rock bands in history.

T. Rex

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T. Rex was a British glam rock band founded by the charismatic frontman Marc Bolan in 1967. Known for their catchy tunes and pioneering glam aesthetic, their most famous hits include “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” and “Jeepster,” which helped define the early 1970s glam rock movement.

Yes

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Yes is an English progressive rock band formed in London in 1968, renowned for their complex compositions, virtuosic musicianship, and distinctive harmonies. Their influential albums, such as “Fragile” and “Close to the Edge,” featuring iconic tracks like “Roundabout” and “And You and I,” have solidified their place in the annals of progressive rock history.

Fleetwood Mac

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Fleetwood Mac is a British-American rock band formed in London in 1967, known for their blend of blues, rock, and pop and their tumultuous interpersonal relationships. Their classic albums “Rumours” and “Tusk” feature timeless hits like “Go Your Own Way,” “Don’t Stop,” and “The Chain,” making them one of the best-selling bands of all time.

The Who

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The Who was a British rock band formed in 1964, known for their energetic live performances and powerful anthems like “My Generation” and “Baba O’Riley.” Their innovative concept albums, such as “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia,” solidified their place as a major influence on rock music.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

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Lynyrd Skynyrd is an American southern rock band formed in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1964, known for their iconic guitar-driven sound and powerful live performances. With classic hits like “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird,” and “Simple Man,” they have become a symbol of southern rock and have left an enduring impact on the genre.

Blue Öyster Cult

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Blue Öyster Cult is an American rock band formed in Long Island, New York, in 1967, known for its distinctive sound that combines elements of hard rock, heavy metal, and progressive rock. They gained widespread fame with hits like “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” “Godzilla,” and “Burnin’ for You,” establishing themselves as one of the most influential bands of the 1970s and 1980s.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

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Creedence Clearwater Revival, often abbreviated as CCR, was an American rock band formed in 1967 and known for its roots rock and swamp rock sound. Their hits include “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Fortunate Son.”

Genesis

Genesis Album
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Genesis began as a schoolboy band at Charterhouse School in Godalming, England, in 1967, with founding members Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Anthony Phillips, and Chris Stewart.

Genesis underwent several lineup changes throughout their career, with Phil Collins, initially, the band’s drummer, taking over as lead vocalist after Peter Gabriel’s departure in 1975. This transition marked the band’s sound shift from progressive rock to a more commercial pop-rock style, leading to broader mainstream success.

Queen

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Freddie Mercury is a legendary name, but many of Queen’s tracks are also household favorites. With iconic hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” and “Don’t Stop Me Now,” led by the unforgettable frontman Freddie Mercury, they have become one of the most celebrated and influential bands in rock history.

Black Sabbath

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Black Sabbath was formed in Birmingham in 1968 and is often credited with laying the foundation for the heavy metal genre. Lead singer Ozzy Osbourne and guitarist Tony Iommi have influenced generations of metal and hard rock artists with tracks like “Paranoid,” “Iron Man,” and “War Pigs.”

Led Zeppelin

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Led Zeppelin was an English rock band formed in 1968, consisting of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. Known for their innovative fusion of blues, rock, and folk, they created legendary albums like “IV” and iconic songs like “Stairway to Heaven,” making them one of the most influential rock bands in history.

AC/DC

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AC/DC is an iconic Australian hard rock band formed in Sydney in 1973, known for its electrifying performances, powerful guitar riffs, and raw vocals. With enduring hits like “Highway to Hell,” “Back in Black,” and “Thunderstruck,” and featuring members like Angus Young and the late Bon Scott, AC/DC has become one of the most successful and influential rock bands in history.

Steely Dan

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Steely Dan is an American rock band formed in 1972, known for their sophisticated, jazz-infused sound and complex songwriting by founding members Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. Their critically acclaimed albums, such as “Aja” and “Gaucho,” feature polished studio production and intricate musicianship, earning the band a dedicated following and a place in the annals of rock history.

This post was inspired by this Reddit thread.

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Guitarist Kirk Hammett Of Metallica During Performance In Prague, Czech Republic, May 7, 2012.
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Bobby is a viola player who currently lives in Seattle. He has been playing viola for over 20 years in various orchestras.

1 COMMENT

  1. Interesting to see the hard-rock and punk stuff on the same list as Genesis, Floyd, and Yes, just because to my ear they represent two contrasting extremes. Cool to see Motorhead on any of these lists.

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