100 Best Rock Bands of the ‘70s

Updated on September 17, 2019
Ansel Pereira profile image

I have been an online writer for over two years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

Explore the best rock bands of the 1970s in this comprehensive list!
Explore the best rock bands of the 1970s in this comprehensive list! | Source

While every decade has had great music to brag about, the ‘70s were an exceptionally epic time for rock music. Rock music, which came into its own in the ‘60s, exploded in popularity throughout the ‘70s. The genre evolved, merging a variety of influences into new and exciting sounds. These experimental sounds paved the way for new subgenres that would garner mainstream success.

Alongside rock music, disco, R&B, pop, soul, funk smooth jazz, jazz fusion and blue-eyed-soul enjoyed a great deal of success in the ‘70s. A number of bands and artists released their finest and most influential albums in that decade. While the ‘70s remain a distant memory, music from that magical era lives on.

The list below showcases a diverse number of ‘70s rock bands from different subgenres. If you love music from this decade, you will definitely have something to say. Feel free to express yourself in the comments section.

Top 10 Best Rock Bands of the ‘70s

  1. Led Zeppelin (Hard Rock/Blues Rock)
  2. Deep Purple (Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)
  3. Black Sabbath (Heavy Metal)
  4. The Who (Hard Rock/Rock)
  5. The Eagles (Rock/Country Rock)
  6. The Doors (Psychedelic Rock/Acid Rock)
  7. Pink Floyd (Psychedelic Rock)
  8. The Rolling Stones (Rock)
  9. The Allman Brothers Band (Southern Rock/Country Rock)
  10. The Mothers of Invention (Rock/Avant-Garde/Experimental)

Country Rock and Southern Rock in the ‘70s

Country rock and Southern rock, which were taking shape in the late ‘60s, had a great deal of commercial success in the ‘70s. A number of Southern rock bands had chart-topping success. This combination of country sounds fused with heavily distorted guitar riffs gave Southern rock a distinctive identity. Some of the most successful acts of the decade came from the country rock genre.

Blues Rock in the ‘70s

The blues rock genre gained new ground in the ‘70s. A number of bands associated with the genre had tremendous mainstream success throughout the decade. Certain bands and artists were rooted in traditional or straight blues. These bands adopted an even heavier bluesy sound in the '70s, which pushed the blues rock genre to new heights.

Best Rock Bands of the ‘70s #11-20

11. Kansas (Rock/Progressive Rock)

12. Blue Oyster Cult (Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

13. King Crimson (Progressive Rock/Art Rock)

14. Queen (Rock)

15. Styx (Hard Rock/Arena Rock)

16. Lynyrd Skynyrd (Southern Rock/Blues Rock/Hard Rock)

17. Yes (Progressive Rock)

18. AC/DC (Hard Rock)

19. Fleetwood Mac (Rock/Pop Rock/Soft Rock)

20. Jethro Tull (Progressive Rock)

Heavy Metal and Hard Rock in the ‘70s

As the popularity of heavy metal reached new heights, the decade also witnessed the emergence of the hard rock genre. In the mid-'70s, a number of heavy metal bands had success with international audiences. These heavy metal and hard rock bands exploded onto the scene and laid the ground work for glam metal and the emergence of new metal and rock subgenres.

Punk Rock in the ‘70s

The second half of the decade witnessed the birth of punk rock. Thanks to protopunk and garage bands, when punk rock emerged onto the scene, the genre was already influential to underground musicians. While a number of bands associated with the genre released albums, only few bands managed to make it big in the United States and United Kingdom. Punk subculture gained popularity in the decade and spawned a punk fashion trend among teens.

Soft Rock in The ‘70s

The soft rock genre had significant success in the ‘70s. The emphasis on melody and harmonies infused with pop-rock sensibilities gave soft rock a distinctive feel. The use of acoustic instruments and sophisticated production techniques (which often highlighted the vocals) gave soft rock its unique identity. Contemporary radio stations promoted the genre in a big way and a number of soft rock songs were featured on many "top 10" and "top 40" countdowns. A number of soft rock bands and artists released commercially successful albums during the decade.

Best Rock Bands of the ‘70s #21-40

21. Rush (Progressive Rock/Hard Rock)

22. Bad Company (Rock/Hard Rock/Blues Rock)

23. Journey (Rock/Arena Rock/Hard Rock)

24. Blood, Sweat and Tears (Jazz Rock)

25. Genesis (Progressive Rock/Art Rock)

26. Chicago (Rock/Soft Rock)

27. Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Progressive Rock)

28. Thin Lizzy (Hard Rock)

29. America (Rock/Folk Rock/Soft Rock)

30. Bee Gees (Pop Rock/Soft Rock)

31. Grateful Dead (Rock)

32. Nazareth (Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

33. The Moody Blues (Rock/Progressive Rock/Art Rock)

34. Steely Dan (Jazz Rock)

35. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band (Experimental Rock/Avant-Garde)

36. The Marshall Tucker Band (Southern Rock)

37. The Byrds (Rock/Folk Rock)

38. Roxy Music (Art Rock/Glam Rock)

39. Kiss (Hard Rock/Shock Rock)

40. Electric Light Orchestra (Rock/Art Rock)

New Wave in the ‘70s

New wave exploded onto the scene in the latter part of the decade. The success of certain British synthpop acts in the U.S. led to a new musical awakening. Suddenly, a number of bands started experimenting with synthesizers, bringing about a musical revolution. The new wave sound gained solid ground in the United States and United Kingdom. A number of acts that were associated with the new wave scene in the late ‘70s had phenomenal success in the ‘80s.

Arena Rock in the ‘70s

Arena rock took shape when many hard rock bands adopted softer sounds embellished with pop-rock elements. Acts associated with the format were known for their distinctively commercial sound. Anthemic choruses and melodic songs structures inspired upbeat power ballads that gave the genre its unique identity. These radio-friendly sounds gained huge success and led to the popularity of AOR bands in the ‘80s.

Best Rock Bands of the ‘70s #41-60

41. Supertramp (Rock/Progressive Rock)

42. The Ozark Mountain Daredevils (Southern Rock/Country Rock)

43. Wings (Rock/Soft Rock)

44. Caravan (Progressive Rock)

45. Sweet (Glam Rock)

46. Mott The Hoople (Glam Rock)

47. The Flying Burrito Brothers (Country Rock)

48. Bread (Soft Rock)

49. T. Rex (Glam Rock)

50. Aerosmith (Hard Rock/Blues Rock)

51. Judas Priest (Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

52. Boston (Hard Rock)

53. Heart (Rock)

54. Motorhead (Rock/Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

55. Creedence Clearwater Revival (Roots Rock/ Swamp Rock/Country Rock)

56. Uriah Heep (Rock/Hard Rock/Heavy Metal)

57. Blondie (New Wave/Punk Rock)

58. Santana (Rock/Latin Rock/Blues Rock)

59. Foreigner (Hard Rock/Arena Rock)

60. ZZ Top (Rock/Blues Rock)

Progressive Rock Bands in The ‘70s

Progressive rock spread its roots far and wide in the '70s. While the genre did not achieve mainstream success, certain prog bands played a pivotal role in shaping the future of experimental rock. A number of bands from the art rock tradition also started being associated with the genre. The sophisticated instrumentation and compositional techniques employed in progressive music influenced a number of musicians.

Glam Rock in the ‘70s

Glam rock, also known as glitter rock, was all the rage in the '70s. The movement developed from the post-hippie era, adapting the guitar-driven sound of hard rock along with a theatrical blend of science fiction references and operatic influences. The genre primarily emerged in the U.K.

Their flamboyant lyrics and glitzy costumes earned glam rock bands a distinctive identity. The genre peaked in the ‘70s, then fizzled out in the face of emerging new wave and punk trends.

Best Rock Bands of the ‘70s #61-80

61. The Beach Boys (Rock)

62. Gong (Progressive Rock/Space Rock/Psychedelic Rock)

63. Steve Miller Band (Rock/Blues Rock/)

64. The Kinks (Rock)

65. REO Speedwagon (Rock/Hard Rock)

66. Soft Machine (Jazz Rock/Jazz Fusion/ Progressive Rock)

67. The Doobie Brothers (Rock/Country Rock/Soft Rock/Blue-Eyed Soul)

68. Mud (Glam Rock)

69. Can (Experimental Rock)

70. Grand Funk Railroad (Hard Rock)

71. The Ramones (Punk Rock)

72. Hall & Oates (Soft Rock/Pop Rock/Blue-Eyed-Soul)

73. Slade (Glam Rock)

74. Crosby, Stills & Nash (Folk Rock/Country Rock)

75. Focus (Progressive Rock/Jazz Fusion/Instrumental Rock)

76. Alice Cooper (Hard Rock/Shock Rock)

77. Talking Heads (Rock/New Wave)

78. Wishbone Ash (Hard Rock/Blues Rock)

79. The Police (Rock/New Wave)

80. Hawkwind (Space Rock/Hard Rock)

Best Rock Bands of the ‘70s #81-100

81. The Sex Pistols (Punk Rock)

82. Camel (Progressive Rock)

83. The Velvet Underground (Art Rock/Experimental)

84. The Cars (Rock/New Wave)

85. Seals & Croft (Folk Rock/Soft Rock)

86. Gentle Giant (Progressive Rock/Experimental Rock/Jazz Rock)

87. The Clash (Punk Rock)

88. Budgie (Heavy Metal/Hard Rock)

89. Status Quo (Boogie Rock/Rock)

90. Traffic (Progressive Rock/Jazz Rock)

91. Badfinger (Rock/Power Pop)

92. UFO (Hard Rock/Rock)

93. Foghat (Hard Rock/Blues Rock)

94. Dire Straits (Rock/Roots Rock)

95. The Guess Who (Rock/Hard Rock)

96. XTC (Pop Rock/New Wave/Rock)

97. Scorpions (Hard Rock/Rock)

98. Golden Earring (Hard Rock)

99. Funkadelic (Funk Rock)

100. The Stooges (Rock/Garage Rock/Proto-Punk)

Other Notable Rock Bands of the ‘70s

  • Barclay James Harvest (Art Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • Captain & Tennile (Soft Rock)
  • The Glitter Band (Glam Rock)
  • Rough Trade (New Wave)
  • The J. Geils Band (Blues Rock)
  • Adam and the Ants (Rock/New Wave)
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees (Rock/Post-Punk)
  • The Osmonds (Soft Rock)
  • Outlaws (Southern Rock)
  • Sherbet (Rock)
  • 38 Special (Southern Rock/Hard Rock)
  • Banco del Mutuo Soccorso (Progressive Rock)
  • Hush (Glam Rock)
  • The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (Glam Rock)
  • Hatfield and the North (Progressive Rock)
  • Skyhooks (Rock/Glam Rock)
  • Nektar (Progressive Rock)
  • Big Star (Rock/Power Pop)
  • The Stranglers (Punk Rock)
  • Cactus (Hard Rock/Blues Rock)
  • Martha and the Muffins (Rock/New Wave)
  • Sham 69 (Punk Rock)
  • Television (Rock/Art-punk/Proto-Punk)
  • Steppenwolf (Rock/Blues Rock)
  • Buzzcocks (Punk Rock)
  • Jefferson Starship (Hard Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • Canned Heat (Blues Rock)
  • Devo (Rock/New Wave)
  • 10 cc (Rock/Soft Rock)
  • Black Oak Arkansas (Southern Rock)
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Rock/Heartland Rock)
  • Bay City Rollers (Pop Rock/Glam Rock)

  • Hot Tuna (Blues Rock)
  • Ten Years After (Blues Rock)
  • Derek and the Dominos (Blues Rock)
  • The Payolas (Rock/New Wave)
  • Renaissance (Progressive Rock)
  • Blackfoot (Southern Rock/Hard Rock)
  • The Jeff Beck Group (Blues Rock)
  • Pilot (Pop Rock/Soft Rock)
  • Van der Graaf Generator (Progressive Rock)
  • Dragon (Pop Rock/New Wave)
  • Amazing Rhythm Aces (Country Rock)
  • Fanny (Rock/Hard Rock)
  • Molly Hatchet (Southern Rock/Hard Rock)
  • Amon Dull 2 (Progressive Rock)
  • Happy The Man (Progressive Rock)
  • Cheap Trick (Rock/Hard Rock)
  • Humble Pie (Blues Rock)
  • The Band (Roots Rock/Americana/Folk Rock)
  • New York Dolls (Hard Rock/Proto-Punk)
  • Little River Band (Rock/Soft Rock)
  • Potliquor (Southern Rock/Blues Rock)
  • The Alan Parsons Project (Rock/Soft Rock/Progressive Pop)
  • Poco (Country Rock/Soft Rock)
  • Cowboy (Country Rock/Southern Rock)
  • Dixie Dregs (Jazz Rock/Instrumental Rock)
  • Wet Willie (Southern Rock)
  • Showaaddywaddy (Pop Rock)
  • Rainbow (Rock/Hard Rock)
  • Iron Butterfly (Psychedelic Rock/Acid Rock)
  • Mama’s Pride (Blues Rock/Southern Rock)
  • Wizzard (Glam Rock)
  • The Hollies (Pop Rock/Soft Rock)

  • Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (Country Rock)
  • Van Halen (Hard Rock)
  • Sir Lord Baltimore (Heavy Metal)
  • The B-52’s (New Wave)
  • Premiata Forneria Marconi (Progressive Rock)
  • Sparks (Pop Rock/Glam Rock)
  • Big Brother and the Holding Company (Psychedelic Rock/Blues Rock)
  • Pure Prairie League (Country Rock)
  • Chicory Tip (Pop Rock)
  • Le Orme (Progressive Rock)
  • Faces (Rock)
  • Grinderswitch (Southern Rock)
  • Smokie (Rock/Soft Rock)
  • Atlanta Rhythm Section (Southern Rock)
  • The Rubettes (Pop Rock/Glam Rock)
  • U.K. (Progressive Rock/Jazz Fusion)
  • Free (Rock/Blues Rock)
  • Montrose (Hard Rock)
  • Geordie (Glam Rock)
  • Stillwater (Southern Rock)
  • The Human League (New Wave)
  • Climax Blues Band (Blues Rock/Soft Rock)
  • Mahogany Rush (Rock/Hard Rock)
  • Little Feat (Southern Rock/Country Rock)
  • Starcastle (Progressive Rock)
  • Ultravox (New Wave)
  • Hello (Glam Rock)
  • Faust (Experimental Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • Toto (Pop Rock/Rock)
  • Missouri (Blues Rock/Southern Rock)
  • Silverhead (Rock/Glam Rock)
  • Ange (Progressive Rock)

  • Sea Level (Jazz Fusion/Jazz Rock)
  • Hollywood Brats (Glam Rock/Proto-Punk)
  • Barefoot Jerry (Southern Rock)
  • Curved Air (Progressive Rock)
  • The Runaways (Hard Rock)
  • Silk (Pop Rock/Glam Rock)
  • Brinsley Schwarz (Pub Rock/Country Rock)
  • Joy Division (New Wave/Post-Punk)
  • Tangerine Dream (Psychedelic Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • Firefall (Country Rock/Soft Rock)
  • Iron Virgin (Glam Rock)
  • Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel (Glam Rock)
  • Procol Harum (Art Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • The Good Rats (Rock/Blues Rock)
  • Hydra (Southern Rock)
  • Kenny (Glam Rock/Pop Rock)
  • Squeeze (New Wave/Rock)
  • Honeybus (Rock/Pop Rock)
  • Blue Cheer (Hard Rock/Psychedelic Rock/Blues Rock)
  • Utopia (Progressive Rock)
  • Captain Beyond (Rock/Hard Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • Eloy (Progressive Rock)
  • Tubeway Army (New Wave)
  • The Damned (Punk Rock/Gothic Rock)
  • Blackfoot Sue (Pop Rock)
  • April Wine (Hard Rock)
  • Strawbs (Rock/Progressive Rock)
  • Racey (Pop Rock/Glam Rock)
  • Nantucket (Southern Rock)
  • Crack the Sky (Progressive Rock)
  • Player (Soft Rock)
  • Triumvirat (Progressive Rock)

Which is the Best Rock Band of the ‘70s?

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    © 2019 Ansel Pereira

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