The disco craze.
The emergence of hard rock on the global landscape.
And the ’60s mainstays, unmoved by the rise and rise of the upcoming artists.
Indeed, the ’70s was a special decade in music history.
As challenging as it seemed, many artists were trying out new things.
And this created new genres and styles.
But which artists left their mark on the decade?
Who were the top performers throughout this era?
Answering such questions isn’t easy.
So, let’s look at the 30 best 70s musicians who made a lasting impression on music lovers.
1. Bob Dylan
What more can we say about Bob Dylan?
He’s the legendary folk singer and songwriter who rose to prominence in the ’70s.
He’s renowned for his poetic lyrics, often addressing social and political issues.
Dylan’s classic albums include Blood on the Tracks and Desire.
His song “The Times They Are A-Changing'” became an anthem for the anti-war and civil rights movements during the 60s and 70s.
2. David Bowie
David Bowie is an iconic ’70s musician with a unique style and sound that set him apart.
His influence is seen in the contemporary music scene.
And his greatest songs from the 1970s include “Space Oddity,” “Life on Mars?” and “Changes.”
3. Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac was one of the biggest bands on the British blues scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Their line-up comprised John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, and Lindsey Buckingham.
They were best known for their 1977 album, Rumours, featuring hit singles like “Go Your Own Way” and “Dreams.”
4. Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin was a hard rock band formed in 1968 by Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham.
They stood out with the blues-infused sound and heavy riffs.
Led Zeppelin had some of their biggest hits in the ’70s, including tracks like “Stairway To Heaven,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Black Dog.”
Their enticing concert tours made them the world’s best live music band in their prime, cementing their name as one of the best 70s bands.
5. Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd is a London-based rock band distinguished by its psychedelic rock sound and progressive approach to music.
In the ’70s, they moved away from psychedelic rock to a more ambitious style with their concept albums, Dark Side Of The Moon and Wished You Were Here.
The two records are some of the most acclaimed albums ever made and have had a lasting impression on music lovers.
6. Elton John
Here’s a man who owned the pop music charts.
Elton John burst onto the music scene in the early 70s with his infectious brand of piano-driven pop/rock.
With hit singles like “Your Song,” “Tiny Dancer,” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” Elton created a wave of euphoric energy that captured millions of hearts across the globe.
His enthusiastic live shows were just as captivating, leading to wild costumes and massive sing-alongs that will be remembered for decades.
7. Donna Summer
Donna Summer emerged in the mid-70s as disco’s undisputed queen.
Her irresistible blend of funk and soul propelled her to superstardom, making her one of the most celebrated female artists of the era.
Donna was ahead of her time, introducing innovative ideas to inspire generations of dance music.
8. Bob Marley
Bob Marley and the Wailers, led by the legendary Bob Marley, revolutionized reggae music in the ’70s with their passionate and revolutionary messages.
Songs like “Get Up Stand Up” and “No Woman, No Cry” resonated with every reggae lover across the globe.
Marley’s signature blend of reggae, rock, and ska, with his powerful message of love and unity, made his music timeless.
ABBA was one of the best 70s bands, selling hundreds of millions of albums worldwide.
The Swedish quartet combined catchy pop melodies with thoughtful lyrics, becoming one of the decade’s biggest acts.
Some of their most iconic songs include “Dancing Queen,” “Mamma Mia,” and “Waterloo.”
Apart from their music, fans loved ABBA’s fashion sense, making them a highly influential group throughout the decade.
Even though the group split in 1982, their legacy lives on through hits like “Mamma Mia” and film adaptations.
10. Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen is a legendary artist who crafted some of the greatest hits of the 1970s, such as “Born to Run” and “Thunder Road.”
His distinct Americana rock style had a lasting impact on the music scene, making him one of the most celebrated singers from the ’70s.
Bruce Springsteen boasts multiple accolades, including numerous Grammy Awards and an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Genesis was formed in 1967 in England by vocalist Peter Gabriel and keyboardist Tony Banks.
They released their debut album in 1969 before gaining worldwide success with the follow-up album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974).
The band’s classic line-up includes Phil Collins (vocals, drums), Mike Rutherford (guitar, bass), and Steve Hackett (guitar).
Their style ranged from progressive rock to pop-oriented art-rock ballads.
12. George Clinton
George Clinton founded the Parliament-Funkadelic musical band, a funk collective from the 1970s.
They fused soul, funk, and rock elements and pushed boundaries with excellent compositions.
George Clinton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 and is remembered for hits like “Flashlight” and “One Nation Under a Groove.”
13. Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop is a punk rock pioneer who rose to fame in the 1970s with his band, The Stooges.
They released several ground-breaking albums that laid the foundation for the punk rock genre.
Iggy Pop influenced the upcoming punk and alternative rock bands, with his energetic stage performances making him a music icon.
14. Jethro Tull
Jethro Tull is an English rock band formed in 1967 whose unique blend of hard rock, folk, and jazz elements stood out in the ’70s.
He had numerous hit singles, including “Aqualung,” “Locomotive Breath,” and “Bungle In The Jungle.”
The band has built a loyal fan base throughout its long career and still entertains music lovers worldwide.
15. Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix is one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
He was instrumental in bringing psychedelic music to mainstream audiences in the ’70s.
His electric guitar playing defined what would later be called hard rock, blending blues, jazz, and psychedelic sounds.
Decades after his death, Hendrix’s work still inspires generations of guitarists.
16. The Beatles
The Fab Four revolutionized music throughout the 1960s and into the early ’70s.
The Beatle’s iconic albums of the decade, Abbey Road and Let It Be, saw the band experimenting with various styles and genres.
Despite splitting in 1974, The Beatles’ legacy still inspires many bands.
See Also: Best Beatles Songs
Queen was formed in London in 1970 and quickly gained a following with their distinctive mix of hard rock and operatic vocals.
The band became one of the most popular acts of the 1970s and achieved global success with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Killer Queen,” and “We Are The Champions.”
Led by the flamboyant Freddie Mercury, Queen performed several sold-out concerts and sold millions of records.
18. The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones is a British rock band formed in 1962.
They are among the most influential and long-lasting acts in rock history.
The band released two biggest-selling albums in the 70s: Sticky Fingers and Some Girls.
The Rolling Stones are still touring today, proving their status as a timeless band.
The Eagles were an American rock band that emerged in the 1970s and was associated with country and soft rock music.
The band’s roots lay in the earlier country rock of the Byrds, and the band’s founding members included Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner.
The Eagles’ first three albums, Desperado (1973), On the Border (1974), and One of These Nights (1975), secured their place in music history.
20. The Who
The Who had a unique and often aggressive sound, setting them apart from the decade’s musicians.
Their hit songs include ‘Baba O’Riley,’ ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again,’ and ‘My Generation.’
The English rock band’s ability to combine hard rock, pop hooks, and classical influences made them a fan favorite, while their wild stage antics entertained their audiences throughout the shows.
21. Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney was among The Fab Four of The Beatles band and had a remarkable solo career.
His songs like “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Live and Let Die,” and “Let It Be” are some of the most popular hits from that era.
McCartney was known for his witty lyrics, catchy melodies, and collaborations with renowned musicians like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.
He inspired countless up-and-coming artists with his playful attitude and infectious music.
22. The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers were an American soul and R&B group from Cincinnati, Ohio.
Led by brothers Ronald and Ernie Isley, they succeeded in both genres throughout the 1970s.
Hit songs such as “That Lady,” “Fight the Power,” and “Summer Breeze” cemented their status as one of the best 70s groups.
As skilled vocalists, instrumentalists, songwriters, producers, and arrangers, they crafted innovative sounds while staying true to the traditional elements of soul and funk.
Their mix of heartfelt ballads, classic love songs, and intense funk grooves always left their fans craving more.
23. Bee Gees
The Bee Gees were a British-Australian trio of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb.
Having started as a rock and roll act in the 1960s, they became widely acclaimed after embracing more soulful sounds in the 70s.
Their signature falsetto harmonies were instantly recognizable, helping them produce #1 singles such as “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep is Your Love,” and “Night Fever.”
They continued to innovate, experimenting with disco-influenced beats and harmonies on tracks like “Jive Talkin'” and “You Should Be Dancing.”
Chicago was a rock band from the United States, founded in 1967.
They released 34 studio albums, becoming one of the most successful 70s rock bands.
They’ve been credited for pioneering horns in rock music, giving them a distinctive sound.
Hits such as “25 or 6 to 4”, “Saturday in the Park,” and “Feelin’ Stronger every day” demonstrate their ability to craft melodic pop rock, soulful ballads, and hard-hitting funk.
25. Al Green
Gospel singer-turned-soul crooner Al Green is one of the most influential musicians of the 1970s.
His mellow vocal style and thoughtful, often spiritual lyrics stood out in hit songs like “Let’s Stay Together” and “Take Me to the River.”
He was also known for his dynamic live performances and often gave heartfelt sermons during shows.
Decades later, Al Green is still a beloved figure in soul music.
See also: Best Al Green Songs
26. The Clash
The Clash was a British punk rock band formed in the late 1970s.
They became famous for their political activism, bold sound, DIY aesthetic, and ground-breaking fusion of punk, reggae, and ska.
Their iconic albums, London Calling and Combat Rock, feature some of the most recognizable songs of the punk era, such as “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Rock the Casbah.”
The Clash influenced generations of rock musicians and punk fans and will be remembered as one of the best 70s bands.
27. The Ramones
The Ramones were a punk rock group from Queens, New York.
They quickly became famous for their loud, high-speed songs and unique, “bratty” sound.
The Ramones influenced punk music, and their catchy tunes still find their way onto radio stations and movie soundtracks.
Singles like “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Sedated” are definitive punk classics, and many artists cite The Ramones as a significant inspiration.
Though the original band members passed away, The Ramones’ legacy lives on through their songs.
Rush was a Canadian progressive rock trio consisting of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart.
They became famous in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to their virtuoso playing and complex arrangements.
Hits such as “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” became rock radio staples, while the album 2112 became a cornerstone of the prog-rock movement.
29. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson is arguably one of the most influential and famous musicians of the 1970s.
His unique style and catchy music catapulted him to superstardom, with hits like “Off The Wall” becoming some of the decade’s most iconic songs.
He became more innovative as the ’70s music evolved.
His later albums explored new sounds and genres, inspiring generations of upcoming musicians.
MJ remains one of the most successful and beloved entertainers and will always hold a special place in pop lovers’ hearts.
Of course, we can’t forget his iconic, signature dance moves.
30. Deep Purple
Deep Purple was an English rock band formed in 1968 and became one of the earliest supergroups in rock history.
Their early hard rock sound is cited for inspiring other heavy metal bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
Their most tremendous success came in the 70s when their hit singles “Smoke On The Water” and “Hush” topped international charts.
They are remembered for their intense live performances and are regarded as pioneers of modern rock music.
Despite line-up changes throughout their career, Deep Purple still influences rock and heavy metal genres.
Best 70s Musicians – Final Thoughts
The 70s was a pivotal decade in music history.
As the music industry evolved, many artists were catching up with their ’60s counterparts who had ruled the stage throughout the decade.
Ultimately, new artists and music genres emerged, making it one of the most exciting decades in music history.
The list of the best 70s musicians is almost inexhaustible.
But the 30 top names in this guide had the most impact, pushing boundaries artistically and commercially to leave an indelible mark on the music scene.