By Hope Good
Bands from the Seventies changed the way rock music was played and recorded and shaped the rock genre into what it is today. The early years marked the end of an era; the Beatles dissolved in 1970, and their metaphorical death was soon followed by the actual deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison (who all passed at the age of 27).
During the 1970s, Led Zeppelin reached new heights of commercial and critical success. Many critics consider Led Zeppelin to be one of the most innovative and influential rock groups in history. They are one of the best-selling music artists in the history of audio recording. Each of their nine studio albums placed in the top 10 of the Billboard album chart, and six reached the number one spot. Rolling Stone magazine described them as “the heaviest band of all time,” “the biggest band of the Seventies,” and “unquestionably one of the most enduring bands in rock history.”
The band Queen was formed in 1970 in London by guitarist Brian May, lead vocalist Freddie Mercury, drummer Roger Taylor, and bassist John Deacon. Their fame peaked when they released the single “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a six minute suite that became a commercial success, staying at the top of the U.K. Singles Chart for nine weeks. It reached number one again in 1991 for another five weeks when the same version was re-released following Mercury’s death. In December 2018, “Bohemian Rhapsody” officially became the most-streamed song from the 20th Century, and the most-streamed classic rock song of all time. The number of downloads of the song and original video exceeded 1.6 billion downloads across global on-demand streaming services.
While Queen was getting famous in the U.K., KISS was rocking out in the U.S., forming in 1971. Easily identified by their trademark face paint and stage costumes, KISS rose to prominence in the mid-‘70s on the basis of their elaborate live performances, which featured fire-breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, and pyrotechnics. Kiss has been awarded 24 Gold Albums to date.
Progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd sought to expand rock music in a different way, turning it into something more experimental and artistic, using the foundations of the genre to create album-focused music, featuring 10-minute-plus epics that pulled influences from film scores, classical music, jazz, and, of course, psychedelic rock. The Dark Side of the Moon album topped the Billboard chart and remained there for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. With estimated sales of over 45 million copies, it is Pink Floyd’s bestselling album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide.