The 50 Best 70s Rock Bands: Classic Rock Legends

The Rolling Stones Richards Wood onsage in Turin 1982

The 70s were a defining decade for rock music, a period marked by an explosion of creativity, diversity, and innovation that set the stage for the future of the genre. It was a time when rock music became a dominant cultural force, with fans that were as passionate about the messages in the music as they were about the electrifying performances. The decade witnessed the emergence of various subgenres, from the raw power of hard rock and heavy metal to the intricate compositions of progressive rock and the heartfelt storytelling of folk rock. The unique sound of 70s rock, characterized by pioneering studio techniques, experimental sounds, and a spirit of rebellion, distinguished it from the rock of previous eras and laid the groundwork for the music that followed.

Fans of 70s rock were a diverse crowd, united by their love for the music and its ability to capture the zeitgeist of the era. This was a time of social and political upheaval, and rock music became a vehicle for expressing dissent, dreaming of peace, and challenging the status quo. The decade's rock icons were not just musicians; they were cultural symbols that represented freedom, rebellion, and change. From the mystique of glam rock to the raw energy of punk, 70s rock bands explored new territories, both musically and thematically, setting the foundation for the alternative movements of the 80s and beyond. The legacy of 70s rock is its enduring influence on the music industry, its contribution to the evolution of rock into a myriad of forms, and its role in shaping the identity of generations of fans.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers performing Breakdown live in 1977

The 50 Best 70s Rock Bands

50. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Our entry into the best 70s rock bands begins with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were known for their heartland rock sound, blending rock with Southern accents. Tom Petty, famous for his distinctive voice and memorable songwriting, led the band. Their influence on rock music was profound, with a straightforward yet deeply resonant style. Despite Petty's untimely death in 2017, the band's legacy of hits like "American Girl" continues to inspire.

Hit Album: "Damn the Torpedoes" (1979)
Hit Song: "Refugee" (1980)

49. Supertramp

Supertramp offered a progressive rock sound characterized by the use of keyboards and distinctive vocals. Their conceptual albums and thought-provoking lyrics set them apart in the rock genre. The band's "Breakfast in America" became a defining album of the late '70s, showcasing their ability to blend pop sensibilities with complex musical arrangements.

Hit Album: "Breakfast in America" (1979)
Hit Song: "The Logical Song" (1979)

48. Peter Frampton

Peter Frampton, initially part of Humble Pie, became a rock icon as a solo artist, especially with the release of "Frampton Comes Alive!" His use of the talk box and his guitar skills made him extremely popular. The live album is one of the best-selling live records of all time, thanks to hits like "Do You Feel Like We Do." Frampton's charm and skillful guitar playing remain legendary.

Hit Album: "Frampton Comes Alive!" (1976)
Hit Song: "Show Me the Way" (1976)

47. Blondie

Blondie, fronted by the iconic Debbie Harry, fused punk, disco, and pop into a unique sound that dominated late '70s and early '80s music. Known for their fashion sense and Harry's charismatic presence, they were pivotal in the new wave scene. Their music video for "Heart of Glass" was one of the earliest to be played on MTV, marking a significant moment in music video history.

Hit Album: "Parallel Lines" (1978)
Hit Song: "Heart of Glass" (1979)

46. Talking Heads

Talking Heads were at the forefront of the new wave movement, known for their blend of punk, art rock, and afrobeat influences. Frontman David Byrne's eccentric stage presence and the band's innovative music videos, like "Once in a Lifetime," made them MTV favorites. Their album "Remain in Light" was a landmark in experimental rock, influencing numerous bands across various genres.

Hit Album: "Remain in Light" (1980)
Hit Song: "Once in a Lifetime" (1980)

Talking Heads Remain In Light 1980 Sire publicity photo
Talking Heads: David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, in 1979

45. The Police

The Police, featuring Sting's distinctive voice and their fusion of rock, reggae, and jazz, became one of the most popular and best 70s rock bands. Their album "Synchronicity," including the hit "Every Breath You Take," showcased their musical versatility and lyrical depth. The band won several Grammy Awards, cementing their place in rock history.

Hit Album: "Synchronicity" (1983)
Hit Song: "Every Breath You Take" (1983)

44. The Cars

The Cars merged new wave and rock with a polished, radio-friendly sound that made them immensely popular. Ric Ocasek's songwriting and the band's use of synthesizers were influential in shaping the sound of the late '70s and '80s pop music. Their debut album was a commercial success, featuring timeless hits that remain staples on classic rock and '80s stations.

Hit Album: "The Cars" (1978)
Hit Song: "Just What I Needed" (1978)

43. Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy, led by the charismatic Phil Lynott, was known for their hard-hitting rock sound and Lynott's poetic lyrics. Lynott's status as a black frontman in a predominantly white rock scene, along with his distinctive bass playing and vocal style, made him a groundbreaking figure. The band's live performances were particularly celebrated, showcasing their tight musicianship and Lynott's magnetic stage presence. They were pioneers in the dual lead guitar sound that influenced many metal bands to come.

Hit Album: "Jailbreak" (1976)
Hit Song: "The Boys Are Back in Town" (1976)

42. Grand Funk Railroad

Grand Funk Railroad captured the raw energy of rock with their hard-driving sound and powerful live performances. Known as "The American Band," their music resonated with working-class themes and straightforward rock appeal. The group faced controversy over their management and promotional tactics, which garnered significant media attention. Despite these challenges, their influence on the arena rock genre was undeniable, paving the way for future bands in the genre.

Hit Album: "We're an American Band" (1973)
Hit Song: "We're an American Band" (1973)

41. Chicago

Chicago stood out for their unique blend of rock, jazz, and classical elements, featuring a prominent brass section that became a signature of their sound. The band was notable for their musical versatility and complex compositions. Their impact on the rock genre was significant, making them one of the best-selling groups of the 1970s. The tragic death of guitarist Terry Kath in 1978 was a major event in the band's history, marking a poignant moment in their legacy.

Hit Album: "Chicago V" (1972)
Hit Song: "Saturday in the Park" (1972)

Chicago band 1973
Chicago, an American rock band formed in Chicago, in 1973

40. Uriah Heep

Uriah Heep was among the first bands to fuse heavy metal and progressive rock, creating a distinctive sound characterized by complex arrangements and soaring harmonies. Their extensive use of keyboards and lyrical themes of fantasy and mythology were influential in the development of progressive rock. The band underwent numerous lineup changes, which, along with their ambitious musical direction, made them a subject of interest and sometimes controversy within the rock community.

Hit Album: "Demons and Wizards" (1972)
Hit Song: "Easy Livin'" (1972)

39. Kansas

Kansas left an indelible mark on the progressive rock and classic rock genres, integrating complex compositions with rock energy and heartland rock elements. Their sound, enriched by the use of the violin and intricate arrangements, set them apart. Members like Steve Walsh, with his dynamic vocal range, and Robby Steinhardt, for his violin skills, contributed to the band's unique sound. Kansas's albums, particularly "Leftoverture," showcased their musical complexity and lyrical depth, influencing the progressive rock movement significantly.

Hit Album: "Leftoverture" (1976)
Hit Song: "Carry On Wayward Son" (1977)

38. Styx

Styx is known for their contributions to the rock opera and progressive rock genres, blending theatrical storytelling with rock music. Their sound featured a mix of hard rock, synthesizers, and ballads, making them standouts of their era. Members such as Tommy Shaw and Dennis DeYoung were key to their success, bringing impressive vocal and instrumental talents. Styx's "The Grand Illusion" album became a cornerstone of 70s rock, with its mix of accessibility and complexity, influencing the rock genre and beyond.

Hit Album: "The Grand Illusion" (1977)
Hit Song: "Come Sail Away" (1977)

37. Bad Company

Bad Company, formed by members of Free, Mott the Hoople, and King Crimson, was known for their straightforward rock sound that emphasized strong melodies and Paul Rodgers' powerful vocals. Their music, encapsulating the hard rock ethos of the 1970s, was filled with anthemic hits that became rock staples. Despite controversies over management and label issues, Bad Company left a lasting mark on the rock genre, with their debut album being particularly influential for its raw, direct approach to rock and roll.

Hit Album: "Bad Company" (1974)
Hit Song: "Feel Like Makin' Love" (1975)

36. Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR)

Creedence Clearwater Revival's music, characterized by its raw, swamp rock sound and John Fogerty's distinctive voice, played a significant role in the American rock scene of the late '60s, then becoming one of the best 70s rock bands. Despite their relatively brief existence, CCR's impact was profound, with a string of hits that remain classic rock radio staples. Their involvement in political and social issues, notably through protest songs, marked them as a band not just of musical significance but also of cultural importance during a tumultuous period in American history.

Hit Album: "Cosmo's Factory" (1970)
Hit Song: "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" (1971)

Creedence Clearwater Revival performing on stage at the Forum
Creedence Clearwater Revival live in concert in Inglewood, California, December 1970

35. Steve Miller Band

The Steve Miller Band's blend of rock, blues, and pop made them one of the era's most enduring acts. Steve Miller, known for his smooth vocals and guitar skills, was the driving force behind the band. Their series of hit singles and albums in the mid-to-late '70s brought them widespread popularity. Notably, the band's work was recognized with a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, underscoring their influence on rock music and their ability to craft memorable, genre-crossing hits.

Hit Album: "Fly Like an Eagle" (1976)
Hit Song: "Rock'n Me" (1976)

34. Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper's theatrical shock rock performances, featuring guillotines, electric chairs, and fake blood, broke new ground in rock music. Cooper, both the band's name and its lead singer's stage name, became famous for these horror-themed shows, influencing the genre of heavy metal and theatrical rock. Controversies, including rumors of on-stage violence and moral panic among parents, only fueled their popularity. Their influence extended beyond music to the visual aspect of rock performances, making Alice Cooper a pivotal figure in rock history.

Hit Album: "Billion Dollar Babies" (1973)
Hit Song: "School's Out" (1972)

33. Judas Priest

Judas Priest were pioneers of the heavy metal genre, known for their twin guitar sound, leather-and-studs image, and Rob Halford's powerful vocals. Their music, which included themes of rebellion and power, played a significant role in the development of heavy metal. Controversies, such as a lawsuit alleging their music contained subliminal messages, brought them into the public eye. Despite this, they won major awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, cementing their influence on rock and metal music.

Hit Album: "British Steel" (1980)
Hit Song: "Breaking the Law" (1980)

32. Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols were central to the punk rock movement, known for their aggressive sound and confrontational attitude. Johnny Rotten's sneering vocals and the band's rebellious image challenged the music industry and society. Controversies, including their notorious behavior and the use of profanity on live television, kept them in the news. Despite a brief career, their influence on music and culture was immense, inspiring a generation of punk bands and fans to challenge the status quo.

Hit Album: "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols" (1977)
Hit Song: "God Save the Queen" (1977)

31. Ramones

The Ramones are not only one of the best 70s rock bands, but arguably the best punk rock band ever. With their fast, straightforward songs and minimalist approach to music, are often considered the first true punk rock band. Their influence on the punk rock movement and music in general is immeasurable, inspiring countless bands to embrace simplicity and directness in their sound. Members like Joey Ramone became iconic figures in rock, known for their distinctive style and dedication to the punk ethos. Despite never achieving significant commercial success during their career, the Ramones' legacy is one of enduring influence and respect within the music community.

Hit Album: "Ramones" (1976)
Hit Song: "Blitzkrieg Bop" (1976)


30. Van Halen

No list of the best 70s rock bands would be very convincing without Van Halen. They revolutionized rock music with Eddie Van Halen's groundbreaking guitar techniques and David Lee Roth's flamboyant stage presence. Their sound, a blend of hard rock and heavy metal with pop sensibilities, made them one of the most popular bands of the late '70s and beyond. Van Halen's impact on guitar playing and rock music was profound, with Eddie's solo "Eruption" becoming a milestone in guitar performance. Their commercial success and influence on the genre's evolution were unparalleled

Hit Album: "Van Halen" (1978)
Hit Song: "Jump" (1984)

29. The Clash

The Clash blended punk with reggae, rockabilly, and ska, showing that punk could embrace a variety of musical styles. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones became famous for their politically charged lyrics, addressing social and political issues. The band's activism and commitment to their principles, including famously objecting to high ticket prices, marked them as more than just musicians but as cultural icons. Their influence extended beyond music to the realms of politics and fashion, making them one of the most important bands of their era.

Hit Album: "London Calling" (1979)
Hit Song: "London Calling" (1979)

28. David Bowie (and The Spiders from Mars)

David Bowie, with The Spiders from Mars, was a transformative figure in rock, known for his musical innovation and visual presentation. Bowie's alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, became a symbol of glam rock, influencing both music and fashion. His ability to reinvent himself and explore various musical styles, along with his knack for theatrical performances, made him a legendary figure in music. Bowie's influence on rock, pop, and electronic music, as well as his role in challenging gender norms and sexual taboos, was profound.

Hit Album: "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" (1972)
Hit Song: "Starman" (1972)

26. Blue Öyster Cult

Blue Öyster Cult combined rock, psychedelia, and proto-metal, creating a sound that was both intricate and powerful. Known for their cryptic lyrics and the hit "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," the band carved out a niche that bridged the gap between hard rock and heavy metal. Their use of imagery and themes drawn from science fiction and horror contributed to their mystique and appeal. Blue Öyster Cult's influence on subsequent heavy metal and hard rock bands, particularly in the use of thematic content and complex musical structures, was notable.

Hit Album: "Agents of Fortune" (1976)
Hit Song: "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" (1976)

27. Kiss

Kiss became famous for their elaborate live shows, which featured fire breathing, blood-spitting, and pyrotechnics, alongside their distinctive makeup and costumes. The band's members, especially Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, became iconic figures among the best 70s rock bands. Their marketing savvy, including a vast array of merchandise, set new standards for the music industry. Despite controversies over their image and commercialization, Kiss's influence on the visual aspect of rock music and their role in the development of the arena rock genre were significant.

Hit Album: "Destroyer" (1976)
Hit Song: "Rock and Roll All Nite" (1975)

Kiss debut album photo session 1974
Kiss original lineup in 1974: Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley

25. Dire Straits

Dire Straits, led by Mark Knopfler's distinctive guitar playing and storytelling songwriting, brought a unique sound to rock music that was both sophisticated and accessible. Their clean, intricate guitar work and Knopfler's understated vocal style set them apart from their contemporaries. The band's impact was further solidified by their groundbreaking music video for "Money for Nothing," which became a staple on MTV and helped define the music video era. Dire Straits' influence on rock and the broader music industry, particularly in terms of guitar technique and music video production, was significant.

Hit Album: "Brothers in Arms" (1985)
Hit Song: "Money for Nothing" (1985)

24. ZZ Top

ZZ Top's blend of blues, hard rock, and Southern rock brought them fame, characterized by Billy Gibbons' gritty guitar riffs and the band's distinctive image, including their iconic long beards and sunglasses. Their music videos, particularly those for "Gimme All Your Lovin'" and "Legs," were iconic during the MTV era, blending humor and a unique visual style. ZZ Top's influence on rock music extends beyond their sound to their visual presentation, making them one of the most recognizable best 70s rock bands in music history.

Hit Album: "Eliminator" (1983)
Hit Song: "Gimme All Your Lovin'" (1983)

23. Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)

Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), led by Jeff Lynne, was known for merging rock with classical music, creating a rich, orchestral sound that was both innovative and commercially successful. Their use of strings, synthesizers, and complex arrangements set them apart, making their music instantly recognizable. ELO's impact on the music industry was marked by their ability to make classical music elements accessible within the pop and rock genres, influencing how bands could creatively incorporate diverse musical styles into their work.

Hit Album: "Out of the Blue" (1977)
Hit Song: "Mr. Blue Sky" (1978)

22. The Kinks

The Kinks were pivotal in the development of rock music, with their sharp, witty lyrics and distinctive sound that included influential guitar riffs like those in "You Really Got Me." Ray Davies' songwriting explored English culture and social commentary, making their music both reflective and rebellious. The Kinks' influence on the rock genre and music in general was profound, affecting the development of hard rock, punk, and Britpop. Despite internal conflicts and controversies, their legacy as rock innovators remains undeniable.

Hit Album: "Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One" (1970)
Hit Song: "Lola" (1970)

21. Heart

Heart, led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, broke new ground as one of the first female-fronted rock bands to achieve commercial success. Their combination of hard rock and folk music elements, along with powerful vocals and compelling stage presence, made them standouts in the rock genre. Heart's influence extended beyond their music to their role in opening doors for women in rock music, challenging the industry's gender norms and inspiring future generations of female musicians.

Hit Album: "Dreamboat Annie" (1976)
Hit Song: "Crazy On You" (1976)

Heart 1977
Photo of the band Heart, taken in 1977

20. Boston

Boston's debut album was a landmark in rock music, featuring a polished sound and complex layering of guitars that set new standards for production quality. Tom Scholz's technical expertise and innovative use of studio technology made Boston's sound distinctive, characterized by its harmony-laden rock anthems. Their music, epitomizing the arena rock sound of the 1970s, had a major influence on the genre, inspiring countless musicians and bands to explore the possibilities of studio-based music production.

Hit Album: "Boston" (1976)
Hit Song: "More Than a Feeling" (1976)

19. Santana

Santana's fusion of Latin American music with rock brought a new sound to the mainstream, characterized by Carlos Santana's emotive guitar playing. Their performance at Woodstock before their debut album's release was a pivotal moment, showcasing their unique blend of rock, blues, and salsa. Santana's influence on rock and Latin music is significant, bridging cultural and musical divides and introducing Latin rhythms and instruments to a wider audience, forever altering the landscape of rock music.

Hit Album: "Abraxas" (1970)
Hit Song: "Black Magic Woman" (1970)

18. The Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band was instrumental in creating the Southern rock genre, blending rock, blues, and country music. Their live performances, particularly at the Fillmore East, and extended improvisational jams set new standards for live rock music. The tragic deaths of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley in motorcycle accidents were major events in the band's history, yet they continued to influence the genre with their mix of bluesy slide guitar and dual drumming.

Hit Album: "At Fillmore East" (1971)
Hit Song: "Ramblin' Man" (1973)

17. Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull's blend of rock, folk, and classical music, combined with Ian Anderson's unique flute playing and theatrical stage presence, made them one of the most distinctive bands of their era. Their concept albums, notably "Aqualung" and "Thick as a Brick," were both commercially successful and critically acclaimed, contributing significantly to the development of progressive rock. The band's ability to incorporate diverse musical styles and their innovative use of the flute in rock music left a lasting impact on the genre.

Hit Album: "Aqualung" (1971)
Hit Song: "Aqualung" (1971)

15. The Doors

The Doors, led by the charismatic and controversial Jim Morrison, were known for their poetic lyrics, distinctive organ-driven sound, and fusion of rock, blues, and psychedelia. Morrison's wild behavior and mysterious death contributed to the band's mythos. Their music, particularly songs like "Light My Fire" and "Riders on the Storm," left a significant mark on the rock genre, with The Doors being remembered as one of the best 70s rock bands as well as the 60s.

Hit Album: "L.A. Woman" (1971)
Hit Song: "Riders on the Storm" (1971)

The Doors 1968
The Doors in 1967: Jim Morrison, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, and Ray Manzarek

16. Rush

Rush, known for their complex compositions, virtuosic musicianship, and thought-provoking lyrics, became icons in the progressive rock and hard rock genres. Geddy Lee's high-pitched vocals and bass playing, Alex Lifeson's guitar work, and Neil Peart's intricate drumming and lyrical contributions made them standouts. Their albums, exploring themes of science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy, pushed the boundaries of rock music, influencing not just musicians but also fans to think more deeply about the music they listened to.

Hit Album: "Moving Pictures" (1981)
Hit Song: "Tom Sawyer" (1981)

14. Genesis

Genesis, initially a progressive rock band known for their complex compositions and elaborate live performances, evolved into one of the leading pop-rock bands of the 1980s. Members like Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins became major figures in music, both with the band and through successful solo careers. Their influence on progressive rock and pop, through both their early work and later mainstream successes, has made Genesis a key figure in the evolution of rock music.

Hit Album: "Invisible Touch" (1986)
Hit Song: "Invisible Touch" (1986)

13. Yes

Yes were pioneers of progressive rock, known for their intricate compositions, complex harmonies, and virtuosic musicianship. Albums like "Fragile" and "Close to the Edge" are considered landmarks in the genre, showcasing the band's ability to blend rock with elements of classical and jazz music. Yes's impact on rock music is profound, with their ambitious approach to album structure and live performances influencing countless bands and musicians in the progressive rock and beyond.

Hit Album: "Fragile" (1971)
Hit Song: "Roundabout" (1972)

12. Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd, with their signature three-guitar attack and Southern themes, became icons of Southern rock. The tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of several members, including lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, was a defining moment in rock history. Despite this, songs like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Free Bird" have left a lasting legacy, embodying the spirit of the South and influencing the genre of rock with their blend of blues, rock, and country sounds.

Hit Album: "(Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd)" (1973)
Hit Song: "Sweet Home Alabama" (1974)

11. AC/DC

AC/DC, known for their high-energy rock 'n' roll, solidified their place in rock history with relentless touring and timeless hits. The death of original lead singer Bon Scott was a significant moment for the band, leading to the recruitment of Brian Johnson and the release of "Back in Black," one of the best-selling albums of all time. Their straightforward, powerful sound and memorable riffs have made AC/DC one of the best 70s rock bands, inspiring countless musicians around the world.

Hit Album: "Back in Black" (1980)
Hit Song: "You Shook Me All Night Long" (1980)

ACDC Belfast 1979
ACDC performing live in Belfast in 1979

10. Aerosmith

With decades of hits, Aerosmith is often referred to not as just one of the best 70s rock bands, but "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band". They combined hard rock with elements of blues to create a string of hits that defined the '70s rock scene. Steven Tyler's distinctive voice and Joe Perry's guitar work were central to their sound. Controversies, including band members' struggles with drug addiction, and their comeback in the late '80s highlighted the band's resilience. Their impact on rock music is marked by a blend of musical innovation and commercial success.

Hit Album: "Toys in the Attic" (1975)
Hit Song: "Walk This Way" (1975)

9. Deep Purple

Deep Purple were pioneers of hard rock and heavy metal, known for their powerful sound and Richie Blackmore's innovative guitar work. Songs like "Smoke on the Water" have become anthems in rock music, showcasing the band's influence on the development of heavy metal. Despite lineup changes, their musical prowess and contributions to the rock genre, including pioneering the use of the Hammond organ in rock music, have made them one of the most influential bands of their time.

Hit Album: "Machine Head" (1972)
Hit Song: "Smoke on the Water" (1972)

8. The Eagles

The Eagles perfected the California sound, blending rock with country influences to create some of the most iconic songs of the 1970s, including "Hotel California." Their harmonious vocals and masterful storytelling set them apart. Despite internal tensions leading to a breakup in 1980, their music remained immensely popular, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. The Eagles' influence on rock and country music is undeniable, with their sound defining an era of American music.

Hit Album: "Hotel California" (1976)
Hit Song: "Hotel California" (1977)

7. Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac's blend of British blues with California rock made them one of the most beloved bands of the '70s. The addition of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham transformed their sound, leading to the creation of "Rumours," one of the best-selling albums of all time. The band's tumultuous relationships and personal struggles were mirrored in their music, creating a compelling narrative that captivated fans. Their influence on rock music, marked by a combination of emotional depth and musical craftsmanship, is profound.

Hit Album: "Rumours" (1977)
Hit Song: "Go Your Own Way" (1977)

6. Black Sabbath

With their dark themes and heavy riffs, Black Sabbath is often credited with pioneering heavy metal, making them unquestionably one of the best 70s rock bands. Their unique sound with Tony Iommi and with Ozzy Osbourne's distinctive vocals, defined a new era of rock music. Controversies, including allegations of promoting satanic themes, only added to their mystique. Their influence on rock and heavy metal is unparalleled, with albums like "Paranoid" becoming foundational texts for the genre. Black Sabbath's impact on music extends far beyond their original contributions, shaping the sound and aesthetic of heavy metal for decades. Make sure to read our full length article on Black Sabbath's revolutionary influence on the heavy metal genre.

Hit Album: "Paranoid" (1970)
Hit Song: "Iron Man" (1970)

Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath in 1970: Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward and Ozzy Osbourne

5. The Who

The Who were known for their energetic performances, innovative rock operas like "Tommy," and pioneering the use of feedback in rock music. Pete Townshend's windmill guitar playing and Roger Daltrey's powerful vocals made them one of the most dynamic bands of their era. Their contributions to rock music, including the development of the rock opera and themes of rebellion and personal identity, have had a lasting impact on the genre. The Who's legacy as one of rock's most ambitious and influential bands is secured by their musical innovations and unforgettable live performances.

Hit Album: "Who's Next" (1971)
Hit Song: "Baba O'Riley" (1971)

4. Queen

Queen's theatrical style and Freddie Mercury's flamboyant stage presence set them apart in the rock genre. Their unique sound, a blend of rock, opera, and other musical styles, along with hits like "Bohemian Rhapsody," showcased their musical versatility and innovation. Queen's influence on rock music is marked by their ability to combine musical complexity with mainstream appeal, making them one of the most beloved bands in the world. Their performances, particularly at Live Aid, are considered some of the greatest in rock history.

Hit Album: "A Night at the Opera" (1975)
Hit Song: "Bohemian Rhapsody" (1975)

3. The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones, led by Mick Jagger's charismatic performance and Keith Richards' guitar riffs, epitomized the rebellious spirit of rock music. Known for their blues-infused rock and roll, they became symbols of the counterculture movement. The band's longevity and continued relevance, with a career spanning over five decades, underscore their significant impact on rock and popular music. Their ability to evolve while maintaining a distinctive sound has made them one of the most enduring and influential bands in rock history.

Hit Album: "Some Girls" (1978)
Hit Song: "Miss You" (1978)

2. Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd's psychedelic sound and conceptual albums, such as "The Dark Side of the Moon," revolutionized rock music, blending complex compositions with philosophical lyrics. Their use of innovative studio techniques and elaborate live shows set new standards for musical performance and production. The band's exploration of themes like alienation and societal issues has made their music timeless, influencing countless artists and bands across various genres. Pink Floyd's impact on the music industry and culture at large is immeasurable, making them one of the most important bands in rock history.

Hit Album: "The Dark Side of the Moon" (1973)
Hit Song: "Money" (1973)

1. Led Zeppelin

Our number 1 best 70s rock band is none other than the legendary Led Zeppelin. Their fusion of blues, rock, and folk music created a powerful and innovative sound that defined hard rock and heavy metal. Jimmy Page's guitar riffs, Robert Plant's vocals, John Paul Jones' bass and keyboard work, and John Bonham's drumming combined to make them one of the most influential bands of the 20th century. Their experimentation with recording techniques and songwriting has had a profound impact on the development of rock music. Led Zeppelin's legacy is marked by their musical innovation, iconic albums, and their role in shaping the sound of modern rock and heavy metal.

Hit Album: "Led Zeppelin IV" (1971)
Hit Song: "Stairway to Heaven" (1971)

Led Zeppelin performing "Over the Hills and Far Away" live at Madison Square Garden in 1973.

A Decade of Classic Rock Legends

Reflecting on a decade of 70s rock, it's clear this was more than just a decade of music; it was a monumental era that shaped the future of rock and roll. From the raw energy of punk to the sophisticated symphonies of progressive rock, the 70s offered a diverse soundtrack that still resonates with fans today. This period didn't just entertain; it challenged, inspired, and transformed, leaving an indelible mark on the music industry and its audience. The legacy of 70s rock bands continues to influence modern music, proving that the spirit of the 70s will forever echo in the chords of time.

Leave a Reply!

Greg lessman

Good list but what about Rory Buckhannon ,Rory Gallaghe r, the guess who there are 3 bands I'd add


No Kansas, Journey, Styx or Foreigner. Throw out ELP and Uriah Heap.

Band Pioneer

We put Journey on our top 80s lists, since the peak of their career was more in the 80s...
Same with Foreigner. Agree about Styx and Kansas though. All 4 are a bit subjective about which decade they belong to.

William Kennard

I agree to disagree..
I saw Kiss n Uriah Heap ( look up 1974 Dall as a Ft Worth Tx. We watched in horror as the Bass player was electrocuted n fell face first. Sadly he died and they did come back doing a free concert too. Saw em both times. They were not in the top 50 neither was Kiss. But Kiss drew the crowds. Saw Led Zeppelin in 1975 and Jeff Beck 75 to too. Saw the Rolling Stones twice in 74 n 80. Your top 50 kinda did get
Bands like the Allman Brothers, look
Bruce Springsteen n The E Street Band were one of the best in concert than anyone I've ever seen.everyone who saw them agreed n It is no doubt about it. BTO n Bad Company were played 10 x a day for the entire 70s they deserve it over many of your picks. But there's no reason to compare who is better. It is better to just enjoy the great music they played in my era . I'm thankful I got to see so many in concert. ZZ Top was also biggest band as everyone loved ZZ. Top

Guitar Hero

Springsteen was a mainstream niche, appealing to a certain segment. With so many great 70s bands, I'm not surprised he gets lost in the shuffle

Band Pioneer

We put Springsteen on our 80s list...
He's great and would make sense on both lists, but we felt his peak was more late-70s and throughout the entire 80s.

Kelli Buscher

I feel Police was more of an 80s band too, but you have them. And where is Styx?!

Band Pioneer

We decided to add Styx after being on the fence about a few others! Good suggestions... Thanks.

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