A Chronology of Rock Music - The 1970s

Excerpted from my book "A History of Rock and Dance Music"

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These, of course, are my personal opinions on when genres where invented, who invented them, and which were the most significant events. To understand how I justify these opinions you have to read my book "A History of Rock Music".

1970
  • King Tubby invents "dub" in Jamaica using the recording console like an instrument
  • Syd Barrett retires from music
  • 12,000 people attend the alternative festival at Glastonbury, in England
  • ZZ Top and Allman Brothers launch "southern-rock"
  • Black Sabbath debut, playing heavy, dark rock music (the prototype for black metal and doom metal)
  • Todd Rundgren plays all instruments by himself on Runt, the first "do it yourself" production
  • German group Kluster (Cluster) plays keyboards-based instrumental music that is inspired by the industrial society
  • At the peak of British jazz-rock, the Soft Machine cut Third
  • Smokey Robinson's The Tears Of A Clown fuses vaudeville, classical music and soul music
  • The zoologist Roger Payne produces an album of whale songs, Songs of the Humpback Whale, that becomes a bestseller
  • T.Rex's Ride A White Swan opens the age of glam-rock
  • David Geffen founds Asylum Records
  • Richard Branson founds Virgin to promote alternative musicians
  • Pierre Boulez founds the IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique) at the Centre Pompidou in Paris
  • Robert Moog unveils the Minimoog, the first portable synthesizer
  • September: Jimi Hendrix dies at 28
  • October: Janis Joplin dies at 27
  • Other significant albums of the year: Nico's Desert Shore, Soft Machine's 3, Tim Buckley's Lorca, Syd Barrett's Barrett, Van Morrison's Moondance, Amon Duul II's Yeti, Third Ear Band's Third Ear Band, Peter Green's End Of The Game
1971
  • Jim Morrison of the Doors dies at 27 (July 3)
  • The German band Tangerine Dream invents "kosmische musik", using synthesizers and sequencers
  • Johnny Thunders forms the New York Dolls, a band of tranvestites with a trash aesthetic that plays very fast and simple rock"n"roll
  • Alice Cooper mixes decadence, horror and hard-rock in his "shock rock"
  • Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder begin producing artsy soul records
  • The musical Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber opens on Broadway
  • Tonto's Expanding Head Band release Zero Time, the first pop album entirely played at the synthesizer
  • The Joy Of Cooking debut, the first band led by feminists
  • Alice Cooper's Love It To Death launches horror-shock rock
  • German group Faust plays rock songs that are studio collages of rock music, electronic sounds and "concrete" noise
  • Marvin Gaye's Mercy Mercy Me is the first ecological song
  • Duane Allman dies at 25
  • Gene Vincent dies at 36
  • A benefit concert for Bangla Desh is attended by rock stars
  • Sandy Pearlman of "Crawdaddy" uses the expression "heavy metal" for Artificial Energy on The Notorious Byrd Brothers
  • Malcolm McLaren opens a boutique in London that becomes a center for the non-conformist youth
  • The IFPI begins a campaign against piracy (Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorised Duplication of Their Phonograms)
  • Rhys Chatam founds the avantgarde music program at the Kitchen Center in New York
  • Alligator is founded in Chicago by Bruce Iglauer
  • "Creem" writer Dave Marsh coins the term "punk-rock" for the music of Question Mark & The Mysterians
  • Other significant albums of the year: John Fahey"s America, Captain Beefheart's Mirror Man, Can's Tago Mago, Kevin Ayers's Shooting At The Moon, Robbie Basho's Song of The Stallion, Joni Mitchell's Blue, David Crosby's If I Could Only Remember My Name
1972
  • Popol Vuh's In Den Gaerten Pharaos is recorded inside a cathedral and fuses electronic music and Eastern music (predating new-age music)
  • Deuter's Aum is released, a fusion of Eastern and Western religious music, of acoustic instruments and natural sounds
  • Tangerine Dream's Zeit is a double album that contains four side-long suites
  • Annette Peacock's I'm The One fuses synthesizer and vocals
  • Neu! plays obsessively rhythmic music
  • Klaus Schulze's Irrlicht is a cosmic symphony played with electronic instruments
  • Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell form the Neon Boys
  • Japanese group Taj-Mahal Travellers plays lengthy improvised psychedelic jams
  • David Bowie's Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust is the culmination of glam-rock
  • By fusing Mersey-beat, folk-rock and hard-rock, the Big Star coin power-pop
  • Boom of singer-songwriters
  • The Vertigo label is founded to promote progressive-rock
  • Philips and Siemens merge their music companies into Polygram and buy MGM/Verve
  • "Rolling Stone" writer Vince Aletti writes an article on "disco music"
  • Cameroon-born and Paris-based musician Manu Dibango invents "disco music" with Soul Makossa
  • Other significant albums of the year: Rolling Stones's Exile On Main Street, Roxy Music's Roxy Music, Nick Drake's Pink Moon, Yes's Close To The Edge
1973
  • George Lucas' film American Graffiti launches the nostalgic revival of the music of the 1950s and 1960s
  • Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Company is an album of lengthy electronic suites
  • 500,000 people attend the Watkins Glen festival (Allman Brother, Grateful Dead, Band)
  • "The Midnight Special" debuts on tv, led by Wolfman Jack and Helen Reddy
  • The film The Harder They Come brings reggae to the West
  • September: Gram Parsons dies at 26
  • Barry Oakley of the Allman Brothers dies
  • Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon invents a polished, keyboard-based sound for pop music, and would remain in the Billboard charts for over 600 weeks
  • Mike Oldfield cuts an album-long suite of instrumental music, Tubular Bells, all played by himself
  • A tv special uses the term "salsa" for Latin music
  • Asylum buys Elektra
  • Roland introduces the SH-1000, Japan's first synthesizer
  • Other significant albums of the year: Popol Vuh's Hosianna Mantra, Gong's Radio Gnome Invisible, John Fahey's Fare Forward Voyagers, New York Dolls's I, Magma's Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh, Faust's IV, Klaus Schulze's Cyborg
1974
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show is released
  • Barry White plays orchestral soul for the discos
  • August: The Ramones debut at the CBGB's and launch punk-rock
  • The Residents reinvent rock music with Meet The Residents
  • The Grateful Dead, the most successful live band of all times, performs using 25 tons of loudspeakers
  • Robert Wyatt cuts Rock Bottom, possibly the greatest Canterbury album
  • Nick Drake dies at 26
  • Brian Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy fuses electronics and pop, and introduces post-modernism into rock music
  • The magazine "Trouser Press" is founded to cover the British music scene
  • Kraftwerk's Autobahn becomes the first hit entirely played on electronic instruments and with an electronic rhythm, the blueprint for disco-music
  • July: Patti Smith's Piss Factory is the first single of New York's "new wave"
  • August: the "new wave" groups begin performing at New York's club CGBG's
  • Charly is founded in France
  • Technics introduces the Technics SL-1200, a turntable that becomes popular among New York DJs
  • Greg Shaw founds Bomp Records in San Francisco, specializing in garage-rock
  • Other significant albums of the year: Henry Cow's Unrest, Yahowa 13's Penetration - An Aquarian Symphony
1975
  • Boom of funk music
  • Calhoun's Dance Dance Dance is the first 12" single
  • Giorgio Moroder releases the first tracks of European "disco-music" and invent the extended "disco mix"
  • Lou Reed releases Metal Machine Music, an album of pure noise
  • Jamaican disc-jockey Clive "Hercules" Campbell re-invents the breakbeat in New York, thereby inventing "rap music" and "hip hop"
  • The Queen film a bizarre, artistic video for Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Tim Buckley dies at 28
  • "Saturday Night Live" debuts on tv
  • Robert Moog introduces the Polymoog, the first commercial polyphonic synthesizer
  • 13-year old (Grand Wizard) Theodore Livingstone accidentally discovers the "skratching" sound of a turntable and uses it at a party in the Bronx
  • Werner Uehlinger founds Hat Hut
  • The RIAA establishes a "gold" award for singles and albums selling 500,000 copies, and later a "platinum" award for one million sales
  • December: John Holmstrom founds the fanzine "Punk" in New York, the first fanzine for punk-rock and new-wave music
  • Other significant albums of the year: Neil Young's Tonight's The Night
1976
  • Pere Ubu cut Modern Dance, possibly the greatest new-wave album
  • Richard Hell cuts Blank Generation
  • David Grisman coins "newgrass", a fusion of jazz and bluegrass
  • Wanted: The Outlaws, featuring Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser and Jessi Colter, is the first country album to be certified platinum
  • April: the first Ramones album is released
  • July: a Ramones tour organized by Malcolm McLaren exports punk-rock to Britain
  • September: the "100 Club Festival" turns British punk-rock into a national phenomenon
  • September: the Saint's I'm Stranded is the first Australian punk-rock single
  • November: the Sex Pistols' Anarchy In The UK is the first British punk-rock single
  • Boom of reggae music outside of Jamaica
  • Phil Ochs dies at 36
  • Howling Wolf dies at 66
  • William Ackerman invents new-age music and founds Windham Hill
  • New York disc-jockey Grandmaster Flash begins spinning on Boston Road, where he experiments with "cutting" and "phasing"
  • The magazine "Musician" begins publication
  • The jazz magazine Cadence begins publication
  • Independent labels founded in 1976 include: Beserkley (Berkeley), Stiff (London)
  • Marantz introduces the "Superscope" (1976), a portable combination radio-cassette, the "boombox"
  • Barry Vercoe hosts the first International Conference for Computer Music
  • December: Blondie's first album bridges the gap between disco-music and punk-rock
  • Other significant albums of the year: Patti Smith's Radio Ethiopia, Penguin Cafe` Orchestra's Music From The Penguin Cafe
1977
  • Punk spawns a self-publishing revolution ("do it yourself") both for music and for magazines ("Ripped & Torn", "Sniffin' Glue", "48 Thrills")
  • The film "Saturday Night Fever" starts the disco fever by promoting disco-music beyond gays and blacks
  • April: The Screamers are a punk band that uses two keyboards and no guitars and performs at multimedia events on the Hollywood strip
  • Boom of independent labels
  • Suicide's Suicide fuses rockabilly and electronic music
  • Elvis Presley dies at 42
  • Peter Laughner of Pere Ubu dies
  • Three members of the Lynyrd Skynyrd are killed in a plane crash
  • Ronnie VanZandt dies at 28
  • Bukka White dies at 71
  • Marc Bolan of the T.Rex dies at 29
  • The disco "Warehouse" opens in Chicago and Frankie Knuckles becomes its resident disc-jockey
  • The magazine "OP" (later "Option") is founded in Olympia and becomes the reference for independent music of all genres
  • Roland introduces the first commercial rhythm machine
  • Martin Mills's record store Beggars Banquet becomes an independent label
  • London record store Rough Trade becomes an independent label
  • Affinity is founded by Joop Visser
  • October: The Avengers' We Are The One is the first single of the punk scene of San Francisco's Mabuhay Garden club
  • Other significant albums of the year: Television's Marquee Moon, Clash's Clash, Talking Heads's 77
1978
  • Brian Eno discovers the no-wave of DNA, Mars, Contortions, Lydia Lunch
  • Brian Eno invents ambient music
  • The Public Image Ltd bridge dub and punk
  • The disco "Paradise Garage" for black gays opens in New York and its founder Larry Levan becomes the first superstar disc-jockey
  • The California composer Monte Cazazza and the British band Throbbing Gristle coin "industrial music", that soon finds its headquarters in the English industrial town of Sheffield
  • July: The Germs' Forming is the first single of California's punk-rock
  • Fred Frith organizes the "Rock In Opposition" (RIO) festival that unites progressive-rock and militant politics
  • Keith Moon of the Who dies at 32
  • Sandy Denny dies at 31
  • "Crawdaddy" ceases publication
  • Mute is founded
  • Technics introduces the direct-drive turntable SL-1200 MK2
  • Roland introduces the MC-4 sequencer, the first sequencer for the masses
  • Dave Smith (Sequential Circuits) introduces the Prophet-5, the world's first microprocessor-based musical instrument, and ushers in the age of digital synthesizers, replacing the voltage-controlled (analog) synthesizers
  • Independent labels founded in 1978 include: Ace of Hearts (Boston), Cherry Red (London), Rhino
  • Other significant albums of the year: Residents's Not Available, Talking Heads's More Songs About Building And Food, Michael Hoenig's Departure From The Northern Wasteland
1979
  • The Pop Group's Y delivers agip-prop anthems in a style that fuses punk-rock, jazz, dub and funk
  • December: Clash's London Calling mixes punk-rock with reggae, ska, funk, blues, etc
  • The Talking Heads' Fear Of Music, produced by Brian Eno, fuses new wave and funk, and invents "techno-funk"
  • The B52's fuse new wave and dance music
  • The Specials launch a ska revival in Britain
  • Todd Rungren makes the first video-disc
  • Sony and Philips invent the compact disc (CD), a digital storage for music
  • Eleven fans die at a Who concert
  • Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols dies at 21
  • Youstol Dispage tops the charts
  • Lowell George of the Little Feat dies at 34
  • Maybellene Carter dies at 70
  • The first New Music festival of avantgarde music is held in New York
  • Sony launches the "Walkman" portable stereo
  • The Australian company Fairlight Instruments introduces the first keyboard-based digital sampler, the CMI
  • Independent labels founded in 1979 include: Alternative Tentacles (San Francisco), SST (Los Angeles), Factory (London)
  • MCA purchases ABC
  • The world's music market is worth over 10 billion dollars and five "majors" control over 70% of it
  • Other significant albums of the year: Chrome's Half Machine Lips Move, Pere Ubu's New Picnic Time, Public Image Ltd's Second Edition, This Heat's This Heat, Contortions's Buy

Origins 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

Legend: Avantgarde | Music industry | Instruments | Media | Necrology | Exotic