The Story of Rock in the 1970s

The 1970s was a period of great change in the rock music that was being created and listened to. The start of the decade saw the emergence of several huge bands that were titled as super groups but by the end of the decade although many of these groups were still playing, they were no longer dominating the headlines.

The beginning of the decade saw Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple being seen as the “holy trinity” of Hard Rock. There were other bands emerging that appealed to the same tastes with Genesis, Pink Floyd and Queen comfortably fitting into that bracket. They offered a brand new and original take on music, provided the listeners with great interpretations of music and rock genre in general. Pink Floyd in particular was a standout, with their intent, lyrics and they never failed to surprise their fans.

Freddie Mercury and “Queen” produced many rock classics

These bands all had the same image of being followed by fans supporting long hair wearing denims and often riding motorbikes. The bands would partake on hectic tours and often they would party hard. This was a time of great experimentation with drugs and heavy drinking.

This took its toll with Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon and Janis Joplin all dying as a result of over indulgence. Although Ozzy Osbourne survived this period, he was sacked as the lead singer of Black Sabbath due to his social habits.

As the decade passed these aging rock stars were still producing the music but they were no longer seen as appealing to the young. Their audiences were becoming middle aged and this left a big gap for another genre to fill. This was first done by glam rock which was an off shoot of psychedelic rock that had proved to be popular in the 1960s.

Artists like David Bowie and Marc Bolan from T Rex led the way and they were soon followed by Roxy Music and Slade. These groups wore colorful outfits, often wearing make-up, and their music was easier to listen to for the general population. However, they were still a soft option of Rock and were hardly challenging to the authorities.

Paul Simonon of “the Clash” providing the fast bass line

This was during a period of economic depression in the United Kingdom and there was great anger among the young about the way they were being governed and this resulted in a huge void being created. With this opportunity available Punk Rock emerged, challenging all areas of society.

This genre emerged from garage rock and was totally anti-establishment and young audiences loved it. The music was fast and hard edged, and the lyrics were often controversial in their content. One of the master minds of the genre was Malcolm McLaren who managed the Sex Pistols.

Seeing Punk Rock as a marketing tool for the fashion stores that he ran with Vivienne Westwood in London’s Kings Road, he created imaginative outfits for those who followed the music. The clothes worn by punks were as colorful as their music and the genre had a major impact on the music industry.

Although Punk was popular for barely three years it gave rock music added impetus. No longer were people happy to just dress in denims with their outfits being more colorful, the music was more creative, and the end of the period saw new instruments being used, such as the synthesizer.

Many post punk groups benefited greatly from this period at the end of the 1970s although it was ironic that the political message of the genre had been not to be exploited by the establishment. In reality, Punk became exploited much like everyone else had been in the music industry.