70s Rock Bands – The Emergence Of Hard Rock

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The 1970s saw the emergence of hard rock as one of the most popular, prominent, and influential subgenres of rock music. Some of the music produced during the 1970s remains the most popular rock music to this day. For example, in the US, the No.1 rock song of all time remains Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. What are some other popular 70s rock bands? Let’s take a look.

During the 1970s, we saw bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin take the stage. They were at the height of their international fame.

Led Zeppelin

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The English rock band was formed in London in 1968. The initial group was vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham.

Their sound was heavy, guitar-driven. To this day, they are cited as one of the progenitors of hard rock and heavy metal.

They signed a deal with Atlantic Records that gave them considerable artistic freedom. They released eight studio albums in a span of 10 years.

Jimmy Page wrote most of the music, while Robert Plant wrote the lyrics. To this day, they remain one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Led Zeppelin has sold between 200 and 300 million records worldwide.

Pink Floyd

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Another English Rock band, they were formed in London in 1964. They gained an early following as the first British psychedelic group. You could easily recognize them by their extended compositions, elaborate live shows, and philosophical lyrics.

Pink Floyd became a leading band in the progressive rock genre. Syd Barrett, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Richard Wright, and Bob Klose formed the band.

Barrett on guitar and lead vocals became the leader of the band. They were inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

The Rolling Stones

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Notice a pattern here? Rolling Stones were also an English rock band, this one formed in 1962. Many of the 70s rock bands were actually formed in the UK. Rolling Stones were active for six decades. They remain one of the most enduring bands of the rock era.

They pioneered the gritty, heavier-driven sound that defined hard rock. Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman were the initial lineup.

Jagger and Richards were the primary creative force. Rooted in blues and early rock and roll, they started out playing covers. But things changed when they started releasing their own music.

During their career, the Rolling Stones won Grammy Award three times. They also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Who

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The English rock band was formed in London in 1964 with a lineup of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, and John Entwistle.

They developed from an earlier group called the Detours. The Who established themselves as part of the pop art and mod movements.

They are famous for their auto-destructive art and for destroying guitars and drums on stage. The Who has appeared on festivals like Woodstock and the Isle of Wight.

The Beatles

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Arguably one of the most famous bands of all time. Formed in Liverpool in 1960 with a lineup of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Star, The Beatles are the most influential band of all time.

They were integral to the 1960s counterculture and popular music. Their music includes elements of classical music, traditional pop, and even hard rock. The Beatles were pioneers in recording, songwriting, and artistic presentation.

Many critics say they revolutionized many aspects of the music industry. Simply put, they are leaders of the youth and sociocultural movements of their time.

By 1964, they were already international stars. While most of their albums came in the 1960s, they were also active in the 1970s.

The group’s break-up came in 1970, after which they all enjoyed success as solo artists. There were some reunions, but everything came to an end when John Lennon was murdered in 1980.

Black Sabbath

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The English rock band was formed in 1968 by Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, Geezer Butler, and Ozzy Osbourne. Many view them as pioneers of heavy metal music. They defined the genre with albums like Black Sabbath, Paranoid, and Master of Reality.

In 1979, Osbourne left the band, but they had several lineup changes afterward. Iommi is the only constant member throughout the history of the band.

Their downfall was Ozzy’s excessive substance abuse, which led to his firing. But the band was never the same afterward.


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The American rock band was formed in Boston in 1970. They remain one of the longest-running bands of all time. The initial group consisted of Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton, and Brad Whitford.

Aerosmith is famous for its blues-based hard rock but also included elements of glam metal, heavy metal, rhythm and blues, and pop rock into their music.

They are the best-selling American hard rock band of all time. To this day, Aerosmith has sold more than 150 million records worldwide. They have 25 gold, 18 platinum, and 12 multi-platinum albums. With that, they hold the record for most total certifications by an American group.

Deep Purple

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We cannot have a list of 70s rock bands without Deep Purple. The English rock band was formed in London in 1968. Many consider them one of the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock.

Yet, their musical approach has changed over the years. Deep Purple started as a psychedelic rock and progressive rock band. But they shifted to a heavier sound in the 1970s with their album Deep Purple in Rock.

In 1975, they made it to the Guinness Book of World Records as the globe’s loudest band. The most successful lineup of the band includes Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, Ian Paice, and Ritchie Blackmore.

ZZ Top

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The American rock band was formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas. They were active for more than 50 years. For 51 years, Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard, and Dusty Hill produced music. That lineup developed a signature sound recognizable until the death of Hill in 2021.

ZZ Top is mostly famous for its live performances, and sly and humorous lyrics. But also the similar appearance of Gibbons and Hill. They were rarely seen without their long beards, hats, and sunglasses.

The Clash

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Let’s continue with another English rock band. Formed in London in 1976, The Clash were key players in the original wave of British punk rock. Many praise them as The Only Band That Matters.

They contributed to the post-punk and new wave movements that emerged, including genres like reggae, dub, funk, ska, and rockabilly.

The band was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January 2003. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked them at Number 28 on the list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Doobie Brothers

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Let’s continue with the Doobie Brothers, an American rock band from San Jose, California. They are famous for their flexibility in performing across numerous genres. Doobie Brothers were active for five decades. But their biggest success came in the 1970s.

Founding members include Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons. Johnson provided the lead vocals from 1970 to 1975, a period they developed their mainstream rock sound with elements of folk and country.


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The British rock band was formed in London in 1970. The classic lineup of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon released 15 studio albums from 1973 to 1995.

Their early work was influenced by progressive rock, hard rock, and heavy metal. But they gradually moved towards radio-friendly sounds like arena rock and pop rock.

Two of their songs, We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions have become anthems at sporting events. By the 1980s, they grew into one of the biggest stadium rock bands in the world.

Queen is a global presence in popular culture for more than four decades. Freddie Mercury, their leading vocal, is widely regarded as the most unique voice in the world.


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Often stylized as KI44, the American rock band formed in New York City in January 1973. Founding members include Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley.

They are famous for their face paint and stage outfits. Kiss grew to prominence in the mid-to-late 1970s with their shocking live performances.

Some of their performances included fire breathing, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits, and lots of pyrotechnics.

In 1983, they began performing without makeup and costumes, starting the unmasked era. It would last for another decade, but things were not the same.

The Police

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Let’s finish off our list with the English classic rock band. Formed in London in 1977, the band gave us Sting. He served as primary songwriter, lead vocals, and bass guitar. Following the end of the band, he started his solo career.

The Police became globally popular in the 1970s and 1980s as part of the British new wave scene. They played a style influenced by jazz, punk, and reggae.

They have won numerous awards, including Grammy Award six times, and Brit Award two times.

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