10 Famous Musicians Who Started in the 1970s and Still Rock Today

The 1970s was a transformative decade for music, giving rise to numerous iconic artists who left a lasting impact on the industry.

This period saw the emergence of diverse genres and new sounds that captivated audiences worldwide.

Many legendary musicians who began their careers in the ’70s went on to influence future generations with their groundbreaking work.

In this article, you’ll explore some of the most famous musicians who started their journey in the 1970s and have since become household names. From rock and roll to soul and beyond, these artists defined the music scene of the ’70s and continue to be celebrated for their contributions.

1) David Bowie

David Bowie, born David Robert Jones, started his music career in the 1960s.

His breakthrough came with the hit single “Space Oddity” in 1969.

This song set the stage for his innovative and ever-changing style.

In the 1970s, Bowie introduced his Ziggy Stardust persona.

This character was a glam rock star from outer space, blending music with theatrical performance.

His album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” became a huge success.

Throughout the decade, Bowie experimented with various musical styles.

He embraced funk and soul in “Young Americans” and ventured into electronic music with his “Berlin Trilogy” albums.

These albums, particularly “Heroes”, are highly regarded.

By the 1980s, Bowie continued to reinvent himself.

His album “Let’s Dance” in 1983 brought a more mainstream pop sound.

Songs like “China Girl” and “Modern Love” were big hits.

Bowie’s influence on music and culture is still felt today.

2) Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac began in London in 1967, formed by members Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Peter Green.

Early on, they were known for their blues-rock sound.

In the 1970s, the band evolved.

New members like Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined.

Their addition changed the band’s style to a more pop-rock sound.

One of their most famous albums, “Rumours,” was released in 1977.

It included hits like “Go Your Own Way” and “Dreams.” This album became one of the best-selling of all time.

During the late 70s and early 80s, Fleetwood Mac continued to produce popular music.

Albums like “Tusk” and “Mirage” showcased their versatility.

Fleetwood Mac’s success in the 1970s and 1980s cemented their place in music history.

Their music from this era is still loved by many.

3) The Ramones

You can’t think about punk rock without mentioning The Ramones.

They started in 1974 in Forest Hills, Queens, New York.

Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy Ramone made up the original lineup.

Their music was fast, loud, and simple, perfect for the punk vibe.

In 1976, they released their debut album called “Ramones.” The album had classic songs like “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “Judy Is a Punk.” Short and punchy, their tracks often clocked in at under three minutes.

The Ramones kept rolling out hits in the late ’70s. “Rocket to Russia” came out in 1977, followed by “Road to Ruin” in 1978.

They cranked out fourteen studio albums over their 22-year career.

Even if they didn’t top the charts, their influence on punk rock is huge.

Bands like The Clash and Sex Pistols owe a lot to them.

You’ll hear their raw energy in many punk songs that came after.

If you want to understand punk, you start with The Ramones.


KISS was an American rock band that started in New York City in 1973.

The group became famous for their face paint and stage outfits, which added a unique and theatrical element to their performances.

You might recognize KISS members like Paul Stanley (vocals, rhythm guitar), Gene Simmons (vocals, bass guitar), Ace Frehley (lead guitar, vocals), and Peter Criss (drums, vocals).

By the mid-1970s, they gained popularity with their shock rock-style live shows.

These included pyrotechnics, fire-breathing, and blood-spitting, making their concerts memorable experiences.

Their albums from the 1970s, like “Destroyer” and “Love Gun,” featured hit songs that still resonate today.

Tracks like “Rock and Roll All Nite” and “Detroit Rock City” became anthems of the era.

In the 1980s, the band underwent lineup changes, with new members like drummer Eric Carr and guitarist Bruce Kulick.

Despite the changes, KISS continued to produce successful albums and remained a popular live act, continuing their legacy well into the following decades.

5) Aerosmith

Aerosmith, one of America’s greatest rock bands, began their journey in Boston in 1970.

Featuring Steven Tyler on vocals, Joe Perry on guitar, Tom Hamilton on bass, Joey Kramer on drums, and Brad Whitford on guitar, they quickly made a name for themselves.

Their sound combines blues, hard rock, and a dash of pop.

In the 1970s, they released classic albums like “Toys in the Attic” and “Rocks.” These records include hits like “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion.”

By the late 1970s, Aerosmith was filling arenas and becoming one of the biggest rock acts in the world.

Despite some struggles in the early 1980s, they made a big comeback mid-decade.

Aerosmith’s collaboration with Run-D.M.C. on “Walk This Way” in 1986 brought them back into the spotlight.

This unique blend of rock and hip-hop introduced their music to a new generation.

You might recognize their powerful guitar riffs and Steven Tyler’s distinctive voice.

Aerosmith’s successful run through the late 1970s and resurgence in the 1980s solidified them as rock legends.

6) Boston

When you think of rock bands from the 1970s, Boston naturally comes to mind.

This band burst onto the scene with a sound that mixed hard rock and progressive rock, making them stand out.

Formed by Tom Scholz, a mechanical engineering graduate from MIT, Boston combined technical expertise with musical talent.

Their self-titled debut album, released in 1976, became an instant classic.

With hits like “More Than a Feeling” and “Peace of Mind,” Boston quickly climbed the charts.

The album’s polished production and catchy guitar riffs made it one of the best-selling debut albums in history.

As you listen to their tracks, it’s easy to hear the influence of Scholz’s engineering background.

The meticulous production and innovative use of technology set Boston apart from other bands of that era.

Tracks were layered with rich harmonies and soaring guitar solos.

Boston’s music continued to gain popularity through the late 1970s and into the 1980s.

With their success, they left a lasting impact on the rock music landscape.

They managed to maintain relevance by staying true to their unique sound and consistently producing quality music.

7) AC/DC

You’ve probably heard of AC/DC, the legendary rock band formed in 1973.

The group was started by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young in Sydney, Australia.

Originally, the band included Dave Evans on vocals, Larry Van Kriedt on bass, and Colin Burgess on drums.

AC/DC became famous for their hard rock sound and energetic performances.

Angus Young, known for wearing a schoolboy outfit on stage, is the band’s lead guitarist.

Malcolm played rhythm guitar and was a big part of their sound.

In 1975, the band released their first album, “High Voltage.” It showcased their raw energy and blues-based rock style.

You might recognize some of their early big hits like “Highway to Hell” from 1979.

Sadly, Bon Scott, their lead vocalist at the time, passed away in 1980.

They found a new frontman, Brian Johnson, and continued to make music.

They hit it big with the album “Back in Black” in 1980, which has sold millions of copies and includes classic tracks like “You Shook Me All Night Long.”

Throughout the 1980s, AC/DC continued to tour and release albums, solidifying their place in rock history.

Their music from this period remains influential.

8) Blondie

You might know Blondie for their hits like “Heart of Glass” and “Call Me”.

Blondie is an American rock band formed in New York City in 1974.

Led by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein, the group became famous for their unique blend of punk, new wave, and disco.

In the early days, Blondie was part of the underground punk scene.

They played at iconic venues like CBGBs alongside bands like the Ramones and Talking Heads.

Their first two albums had a punk vibe but were also influenced by new wave.

By the late ’70s, Blondie started to gain mainstream success. “Heart of Glass” topped the charts, blending disco and punk, and “One Way or Another” became another big hit.

Blondie was different because they mixed genres like reggae, hip-hop, and even a bit of pop.

Blondie broke up in 1982 but reunited in 1997.

Their music from the ’70s and ’80s still rocks and shows how they were ahead of their time.

Their influence continues, proving they were a significant part of music history.

9) The Clash

You can’t talk about the 1970s without mentioning The Clash.

Formed in London in 1976, they were a cornerstone of the British punk rock scene.

The original lineup included Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, and Terry Chimes.

Their music wasn’t just punk; it was a mix of reggae, dub, funk, ska, and rockabilly.

This made their sound unique and influential.

Albums like “London Calling” and “Combat Rock” are iconic. “London Calling” even made Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Their songs often dealt with social issues and political dissent.

The early 1980s saw changes in the band.

Mick Jones left, and new members Nick Sheppard and Vince White joined.

By 1986, The Clash disbanded, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire.

10) Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols are a punk rock band that started in London in 1975.

They only lasted about two and a half years but left a massive mark on music.

Their one and only studio album, “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols,” released in 1977, is a classic.

Their songs like “God Save the Queen” became anthems of rebellion.

Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, and Sid Vicious were the core members.

Their provocative style and lyrics were crucial in shaping the UK punk scene.

The band’s look was just as influential.

Their fashion choices, like ripped clothes and safety pins, became iconic.

They inspired many later punk and alternative rock bands.

The Musical Landscape of the 1970s

The 1970s was a decade bursting with musical innovation and cultural shifts.

It was shaped by new technology and a changing social scene.

Cultural Context

The 1970s arrived after a tumultuous 1960s. Civil rights movements, anti-war protests, and the counterculture had left their mark.

You saw how music became more than just entertainment—it was a powerful tool for expression and change.

Disco emerged as a dominant force, bringing people together in dance clubs.

At the same time, rock continued to evolve with influences from blues and psychedelia.

Bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Queen took rock music to new heights.

Punk rock also started to rise, challenging the mainstream with raw energy and rebellious lyrics.

The era saw more artists discussing social issues, lifestyle changes, and personal freedom.

This decade produced a blend of styles that defined the music scene, from heavy metal to folk, pop to soul.

Technological Advances

Technology revolutionized the music industry in the 1970s. Multitrack recording became more advanced, allowing artists to layer sounds in ways that were never possible before.

This gave rise to more complex compositions and richer soundscapes.

The introduction of synthesizers brought electronic music to the forefront.

Bands like Kraftwerk used these to craft entirely new sounds.

The synthesizer wasn’t just another instrument—it opened up a whole new world of musical possibilities.

FM radio also gained popularity, offering higher quality sound and a broader range of music.

Artists and DJs had more freedom to experiment, and listeners had more options than ever before.

Music videos began to make a bigger splash, paving the way for MTV in the early 1980s.

These technologies and innovations set the stage for the diverse and dynamic music landscape that defined the 1970s.

Influence on Modern Music

The music of the 1970s continues to shape today’s tunes, with new genres rising from those early vibes and transforming how music is produced and heard.

Genres That Emerged

During the 1970s, iconic new genres like disco and punk rock burst onto the scene.

Disco, popularized by artists like The Bee Gees, brought energetic dance beats that you can still hear in modern pop and electronic dance music (EDM).

Punk rock, driven by bands like the Sex Pistols, mixed raw, gritty sounds with rebellious themes, paving the way for alternative and indie rock.

Hip-hop, which started in the late 70s in the Bronx, New York, has evolved dramatically and remains a cornerstone of today’s music scene.

Early hip-hop artists used innovative techniques like turntablism and rap, elements still prevalent in today’s popular music.

These genres have significantly influenced the music of today, making the sounds of the 70s timeless.

Impact on Music Production

The 1970s was an era of innovation in music production, with technological advancements that are still important today.

The introduction of synthesizers by bands like Kraftwerk added electronic sounds to mainstream music, foreshadowing today’s prevalence of synthesizers in genres from pop to EDM.

Multi-track recording was perfected during the 70s, allowing artists like Queen to layer vocals and instruments in ways never done before.

This method remains a standard in modern recording studios.

The rise of home studios also began in this decade, enabling artists to create and produce music more independently, a trend that has only grown with digital audio workstations (DAWs) and online distribution platforms today.

These advances made it easier for musicians to experiment, innovate, and produce high-quality music from almost anywhere, leaving a legacy that has profoundly influenced contemporary music production.

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