The 1970s was a decade rich in music from many genres, including jazz, funk, pop and rock. During the '70s, other styles become popular in America, including disco and reggae. By looking at some of the highest-charting singles and critically acclaimed albums from the '70s, you can gain an understanding of popular music during that time in American history.
Top '70s Artists
According to Mademan.com, the biggest selling artist of the '70s was Elvis Presley, even though he passed away in 1977. The rest of the top 10 selling artists, in order after Elvis, were Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Chicago, The Rolling Stones, Bee Gees, John Denver, Paul McCartney, and Bob Dylan.
Both Bob Marley and Peter Tosh reached the top of the U.S. singles charts during the '70s, creating a new audience for reggae music. However, according to 70smusicmayhem.blogspot.com, the highest-charting reggae songs were compositions by Marley recorded by other artists, including "I Shot the Sheriff" by Eric Clapton and "Stir it Up" by Johnny Nash.
Disco music became widely popular in the dance clubs of America during the '70s. Disco is a blend of soul and funk music incorporating Latin beats and classical strings, according to Wisegeek.com. The Bee Gees were one of the most notable disco groups, creating the soundtrack to the popular film "Saturday Night Fever" in 1977.
Rock and Pop
The Beatles, who remained one of the most successful acts in rock and pop, released their final official album, "Let it Be," in 1970. New bands that embodied more '70s aesthetics, such as dance beats and synthesizers, emerged, such as Blondie and David Bowie. Blondie's "Heart of Glass" topped the charts in 1979, while Bowie's "Fame" was his first No. 1 hit in the United States in 1975.
Jazz and Funk
During the '70s, jazz began to incorporate elements of rock and funk music, relying on powerful electric rhythm sections instead of traditional acoustic instrumentation, which is now called fusion. Miles Davis released his landmark fusion album "Bitches Brew" in 1970. Mahavishnu Orchestra, a popular jazz/rock group, released a string of albums in the '70s, including "Birds of Fire" and "The Inner Mounting Flame." More traditional funk bands such as Sly and the Family Stone enjoyed popularity with albums such as "There's a Riot Goin' On," and James Brown produced the popular "Get on the Good Foot" and "The Payback."