Rock bands of the 70s: consolidation and experimentation
Rock bands of the ’70s
The ’70s were a golden age for rock, where some of the most influential bands in music history were born. The electric guitar played a pivotal role in the development of the genre, becoming the heart and soul of many of these bands. Their powerful and distinctive sound became the soundtrack for an entire generation and left an indelible mark on rock history.
The best rock bands of the 70s
- Van Halen
- The Eagles
- The Cars
- Sex Pistols
- The Clash
- The Cure
- The Police
- Dire Straits
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History of the rock bands of the 70s
Aerosmith formed in 1970 in Boston and became one of the most successful hard rock bands of the decade. Their combination of hard rock, blues, and glam rock elements earned them a prominent place on the music scene. Joe Perry’s guitar playing, with its virtuoso style and ability to create memorable riffs, became an integral part of Aerosmith’s sonic identity. Known for playing primarily Gibson Les Paul guitars, Joe Perry has influenced generations of guitarists with his distinctive style and technical prowess.
The most popular songs are «Dream On», «Sweet Emotion», «Walk This Way».
Van Halen formed in 1972 in California and revolutionized rock with its energetic and virtuoso musical style. Led by iconic guitarist Eddie Van Halen, the band blended hard rock with elements of pop and heavy metal, creating a fresh and unique sound. Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing, with its innovative tapping technique and his ability to create jaw-dropping solos, raised the bar for electric guitar to new heights.
Eddie Van Halen customized his Fender Stratocaster guitars, adding a floating bridge and a Humbucker and modifying the electronics to achieve his signature tone and playability. Check out our guide to Brown Sound, the secret to Eddie Van Halen’s tone.
Some of the popular Van Halen songs are “Jump”, “Panama”, “Eruption”.
Kiss, formed in 1973 in New York, became one of the most influential and visually striking bands of the decade. With their distinctive face paints and spectacular staging, Kiss took the concept of “rock and roll show” to new levels. Ace Frehley’s guitar playing, with its power riffs and explosive solos, became an integral part of the band’s signature sound.
Ace Frehley used a Gibson Les Paul guitar with its iconic “burst” design and three cream-colored humbucker pickups, with which he achieved a more powerful and aggressive sound.
Some of Kiss’s most successful songs are “Rock and Roll All Nite”, “Detroit Rock City” and “I Was Made for Lovin’ You”.
AC/DC is an Australian hard rock band formed in 1973. With their powerful guitar sound and energetic live performances, they became one of the most beloved and successful bands of the decade. The combination of the relentless rhythm of Malcolm Young’s rhythm guitar and Angus’ iconic guitar riffs created a distinctive style that influenced later generations of rock musicians. The two guitarists for AC/DC, who have been around for almost their entire career, are brothers Angus and Malcolm Young.
You must certainly know popular songs like “Highway to Hell,” “Back in Black,” and “Thunderstruck.”
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Queen, formed in 1970, is a British band that fused rock with elements of opera, pop, and other musical genres. Thus, Queen was one of the main exponents of British progressive rock of the 70s.
Brian May’s guitar playing became one of the most recognizable and distinctive of the decade. His melodic solos and his elaborate arrangements added a unique dimension to the band’s songs, creating epic and soulful anthems. In addition, Brian May built his own guitar, known as the “Red Special“, with the help of his father. This guitar became his signature instrument and contributed to his distinctive sound, alongside the Vox AC30 amplifier.
Popular songs: “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Will Rock You”, “Killer Queen”.
The Cars formed in 1976 in Boston and became one of the most influential bands on the new wave scene. Their unique blend of rock, pop, and electronic elements earned them great commercial success. Guitarist Elliot Easton was noted for his technical skills and his melodic style. He used a variety of guitars, including a Gibson Les Paul, Gibson SG, and Fender Stratocaster, to create catchy riffs and melodic solos. Additionally, Elliot Easton is known for his meticulous approach to studio recording, striving for perfection in every guitar note.
Perhaps the most popular songs by The Cars were “Just What I Needed”, “Drive” and “My Best Friend’s Girl”.
The Eagles formed in 1971 in California and became one of the most successful bands of the decade. Their sound blended rock, country and folk, creating a distinctive mix that resonated with audiences. Guitarists Don Felder and Joe Walsh brought their unique skills and styles to the band. Felder, in particular, was known for his work on the iconic song “Hotel California.”
Some of the band’s popular songs are “Hotel California”, “Take It Easy” and “Desperado”.
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Heart formed in 1973 in Seattle and was noted for its fusion of hard rock and elements of folk and pop. Led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, the band left an indelible mark on rock history. Nancy Wilson’s guitar playing, with its rhythmic style and soulful soloing, became an essential part of Heart’s sound.
Nancy Wilson is known for her ability to play acoustic and electric guitar, and her melodic and atmospheric approach to the guitar has been acclaimed by critics and fans alike.
Some famous Heart songs are “Barracuda”, “Magic Man” and “Crazy on You”.
The Ramones, formed in 1974 in New York, were a pioneering punk rock band. With their raw, fast-paced style, they created energetic, direct anthems that influenced later generations of musicians. Johnny Ramone’s guitar playing, characterized by its use of fast, repetitive power chords played only with downstrokes, became a hallmark of the punk sound.
The members of the Ramones adopted the last name “Ramone” even though they were not related to each other, thus creating a unified identity for the band. The last name was taken from a pseudonym used by Paul McCartney to go unnoticed on trips.
Some of the most popular Ramones songs are “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “I Wanna Be Sedated,” and “The KKK Took My Baby Away.”
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The Sex Pistols, formed in 1975 in London, were one of the most controversial and revolutionary bands of the punk movement. With their provocative attitude and subversive lyrics, they challenged established norms and gave a voice to the disaffected youth of the day. Steve Jones’ raw, distorted guitar added an element of aggression and rebellion to their sound.
Thus, the Sex Pistols had a short but intense career, culminating in their infamous breakup during a live television interview.
These are the songs that immortalized this band: “Anarchy in the UK”, “God Save the Queen” and “Pretty Vacant”.
The Clash, formed in 1976 in London, was an emblematic band of punk and political rock. Their music fused elements of punk, reggae, and ska, and their lyrics addressed social and political issues. Mick Jones’s guitar brought catchy melodies and explosive rhythms to his songs. Also, The Clash was one of the first punk bands to experiment with diverse musical styles, allowing them to transcend the boundaries of the genre.
The band’s popular songs are “London Calling”, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Rock the Casbah”.
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Formed in 1976 in Dublin, Ireland, U2 became one of the most influential and successful bands of the decade. Their musical style ranged from post-punk to alternative rock, and their frontman, Bono, was noted for his charismatic stage presence. The Edge’s guitar playing, characterized by the use of effects such as delay and evocative arpeggios, created a distinctive sound that defined the sound of U2.
Thus, The Edge is known for his use of the “delay” technique, which allows him to create layers of sound and atmospheric textures in his performances.
Some famous U2 songs are “With or Without You”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Where the Streets Have No Name”.
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The Cure formed in 1976 in England and became one of the most influential bands in alternative rock and post-punk. Their frontman and vocalist, Robert Smith, became an iconic figure with his distinctive appearance and his brooding songwriting style. Smith’s guitar playing, with its use of arpeggios and reverb effects, created dark and evocative soundscapes.
Popular songs by The Cure are “Boys Don’t Cry”, “Just Like Heaven” and “Lovesong”.
Formed in 1977 in England, The Police melded rock with elements of reggae and new wave, creating a fresh and distinctive sound. Fronted by Sting, the band was noted for its instrumental prowess and ability to write catchy songs. Andy Summers’ guitar playing, with its melodic style and use of complex chords, added a layer of sophistication to The Police’s music.
Additionally, Andy Summers used a variety of guitar effects, such as chorus and delay, to achieve his signature sound and create rich textures in the band’s songs.
The most famous songs by The Police are “Roxanne”, “Every Breath You Take” and “Message in a Bottle”.
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Dire Straits formed in 1977 in England and was noted for its sophisticated, melodic rock style. Led by virtuoso guitarist Mark Knopfler, the band combined elements of rock, blues, and country in their music. Knopfler’s guitar playing, with its fingerpicking technique and his ability to create memorable solos, became one of the hallmarks of Dire Straits.
The band’s most popular songs are “Sultans of Swing”, “Money for Nothing” and “Brothers in Arms”.
The rock bands of the ’70s left a lasting legacy in music history. From the fusion and experimentation of The Police to the contagious energy of AC/DC and Kiss, through the grandeur and creativity of Queen and the melancholy of The Cure, each of these bands significantly influenced the development of rock and He left his mark on the music scene.
The electric guitar played an essential role in creating the sound identity of these bands. His unmistakable riffs, passionate solos, and evocative textures lifted rock to new emotional and artistic heights. The legacy of these bands and their influence on later generations is undeniable and continues to resonate in music today.
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