There were so many rock bands to come out of the ’70s that you might be wondering, which ones were on the top so that you can add them onto your playlist. Well, we’re going to dive into the 51 best rock bands of the ‘70s below, so keep reading to find out who made our list!
51. The Runaways
We are starting this list with The Runaways, which was a rock band with several hits including Cherry Bomb, American Nights, You Drive Me Wild, School Days, and Dead End Justice. This all-female group featured Joan Jett, and they were a hit all over the world.
Badfinger makes our list and, you may know them from hits such as Baby Blue, Come & Get It, Day After Day, Without You, and Carry On Till Tomorrow. While they might not have achieved some of the highest success as other groups higher on our list, they are an iconic band from the ’70s that is still beloved to this day.
49. Seals & Crofts
Seals & Crofts makes the list, and they definitely deserve a spot here because they were one of the most beloved rock acts of the ’70s. Summer Breeze, Diamond Girl, Get Closer, and King Of Nothing were some of their biggest hits, and they are loved by millions across the globe.
48. The Who
The Who make our list and this English band is thought of as one of the most influential and important groups of all time. They had several hits through the years including Won’t Get Fooled Again, Who Are You, My Generation, and I Can’t Explain. With more than 12 albums released, they are one of the most highly-regarded acts out of England.
47. Talking Heads
Known for their interesting style of rock, new wave, and punk music all in one, Talking Heads made our list because they were quirky and simply fun to listen to. Songs such as Burning Down The House, Take Me To The River, Once In A Lifetime, and This Must Be The Place were their hits.
46. The Velvet Underground
We have to mention The Velvet Underground because they had one of the more unique styles of rock music during the ’70s. Lou Reed founded the band and was the lead singer, and they had such a unique and distinctive sound that it set them apart. Some songs you may know from them include Rock And Roll, Sweet Jane, Heroin, and Candy Says.
The Chicago-native group Styx is up next, and they were one of the few bands that delved into the concept album style. They had a ton of hits after forming in 1972 such as Mr. Roboto, Come Sail Away, and Lady.
44. Sly & The Family Stone
Sly & The Family Stone made the list because this funk and rock group was all Sly Stone, and it was amazing. He played several instruments and was the singer, producer, and songwriter all in one, which is quite the feat for one person. They had several hits over the years such as Everyday People, Sing A Simple Song, Thank You, Family Affair, and Everybody Is A Star.
43. Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy makes the list and this Irish group had a ton of hits through the years such as Whiskey In The Jar, The Boys Are Back In Town, and Cowboy Song. Throughout their decade-long career, they put out more than 13 albums and remain a beloved rock band to this day.
42. Blue Oyster Cult
Blue Oyster Cult is on the list because when they released their first album in 1972, it instantly propelled them to stardom. Some of their biggest hits include (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, Godzilla, Burnin’ For You, and I Love The Night. The group remains one of the most beloved and iconic acts of all time.
41. The Doobie Brothers
What A Fool Believes, Listen To The Music, China Grove, and Takin’ It To The Streets are some of the famous Doobie Brothers songs that helped put them on this list. They had a country, blues, and rock feel to all of their tracks, and with such versatility, they were one of the biggest acts of the ’70s and beyond.
40. Steely Dan
Steely Dan makes the list, and they had many hits in the late ’70s that you probably know such as Do It Again, Peg, Reelin’ In The Years, Deacon Blues, Dirty Work, and Rikki Don’t Lose That Number. They were popular and made this list because you couldn’t go anywhere in the ’70s without hearing their music.
39. Sex Pistols
No list can be complete without the Sex Pistols, which formed in 1975 in London and quickly made their way to America. They were one of the leaders in the punk scene, and they remain one of the most iconic and beloved acts, even though they only had one album. A few songs that made them instantly an icon worldwide include My Way, God Save The Queen, and Anarchy In The U.K.
On our list next is The Scorpions who you probably know from songs such as No One Like You, Rock You Like A Hurricane, Wind Of Change, Send Me An Angel, and Always Somewhere. They are from Germany and are thought of as one of the best-selling rock bands of all time, having sold over 80 million records.
Rush is a band that makes this list, and they have over 24 albums in their name throughout their career. They had a unique sound being from Canada and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Some of the songs that helped make them famous include Tom Sawyer, Spirit Of The Radio, YYZ, Working Man, and Limelight.
Kansas makes the list because even though they changed members more than a few times, they remained one of the biggest rock bands of the ’70s and beyond. Some of their most famous songs include Carry On Wayward Son, Dust In The Wind, The Devil Game, and Can I Tell You. They would often sell arenas out all over the world and are thought of as one of the most iconic and influential rock bands in history.
35. Grateful Dead
Next is The Grateful Dead, which is one of the most iconic and popular rock groups from the ’70s. They were an incredible act to see live and had several hit songs throughout their careers. Some tracks you may have heard from the band include Bertha, Brown-Eyed Woman, Shakedown Street, and Ripple.
34. Judas Priest
Another English band we need to talk about is Judas Priest with Rob Halford being the amazing vocalist that quickly got them to the forefront of ’70s rock. They have a loyal fanbase that enjoys their twin guitar and metal sound. Some of the most famous songs from them include Painkiller, Breaking The Law, Living After Midnight, Turbo Lover, and You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.
33. The New York Dolls
We have to include The New York Dolls on our list because they formed in 1971 and quickly became one of the influential punk rock bands of the decade. They had several hit songs such as Personality Crisis, Stranded In The Jungle, Pills, and Jet Boy.
32. Iron Maiden
Heavy metal group Iron Maiden makes the list as one of the best rock groups of the ’70s, and with over 90 million albums sold, they were a huge influence on the rock and metal scene. Coming from Britain, they didn’t release an album until 1980 but were making music as early as 1975 in England where they quickly became a success. They made their presence known in America with hits such as 2 Minutes To Midnight, The Trooper, and more.
31. The Doors
Riders On The Storm, Light My Fire, People Are Strange, Touch Me, and Love Me Two Times are some of the best songs in rock history, which is why The Doors are on our list. They were one of the biggest bands of the ’70s, and although lead singer Jim Morrison died in 1971, they remained a staple throughout the decade with people clamoring to buy their albums.
Even though the group tried to continue after Morrison died, it didn’t have the same feel and would never live up to the Morrison era that made them a sensation.
Santana makes our list and they are one of the biggest rock acts not only of the ’70s but of all time. They had multiple hits such as Evil Ways, Black Magic Woman, She’s Not There, and Song Of The Wind. Carlos Santana is one of the most beloved musicians of all time, and the band was culturally a success and brought Latin music to the American market.
Kiss makes our list and this band that started in 1973 from New York has put out more than 14 albums throughout their career. They were known for their black and white makeup and black outfits, and these costumes set them apart from everyone else. In 2014, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Some songs you’ve probably heard from this band include Detroit Rock City, Beth, I Love It Loud, Rock And Roll All Night, and I Was Made For Lovin’ You.
28. Cheap Trick
Another band that we have to mention is Cheap Trick, which included Rick Nielsen on guitar and Robin Zander on lead vocals. There were hard rock elements in their songs along with some pop, which made them a hit in the ’70s and well into the ’80s. Ain’t That A Shame, Surrender, I Want You To Want Me, and The Flame are some of their biggest hits.
27. ZZ Top
One of the biggest blues and rock bands from the ’70s is ZZ Top, which featured Billy Gibbons on lead vocals. The group would go on to release more than 15 albums in their career and is one of the most popular rock acts of all time. They had lyrics that were funny and never very serious, which is what made them a hit worldwide. Some of their most famous songs include Sharp Dressed Man, Legs, Tush, and La Grange.
26. The Rolling Stones
Of course, The Rolling Stones make the list and this rock group is one of the best-selling acts in music history. They are still out touring today, more than 50 years after they formed in England. They have had many hits through the years including Sympathy For The Devil, Gimme Shelter, Satisfaction, and You Can’t Always Get What You Want. To this day, they are thought of as one of the biggest and most influential musicians of all time.
25. The Police
We must talk about The Police, which as you probably know includes Sting as the lead singer. They had multiple hits over the years with more than 75 million albums sold. Some of their biggest hits include Every Breath You Take, Roxanne, and So Lonely. What made them special is that they had punk, new wave, and reggae blended together to give them a different sound that set them apart from the rest.
Don’t Stop Believin’, Anyway You Want It, Open Arms, and Faithfully were some of Journey’s biggest hits, and this band deserves a spot on our list. The vocals were incredible and their melodies were unmatched at the time. While they changed members quite a bit, they remained one of the top acts well into the ’80s. With a worldwide total of more than 100 million records sold and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, their legacy lives on and on and on.
23. Led Zeppelin
London rock band Led Zeppelin is on our list and they were one of the biggest rock bands in the ’70s, with them putting out hit after hit. Stairway To Heaven is probably their most well-known track, but they had other hits including Whole Lotta Love, Immigrant Song, and Kashmir. They were electric and are one of the biggest rock groups of all time thanks to their signature track Stairway To Heaven.
We can’t make this list without including British rockers Queen on the list, and the group has more than 18 albums in their catalog. Lead singer Freddie Mercury had a powerful voice and was one of the biggest and most well-known musicians of the decade. There were rock and pop elements in their music and they had hits such as We Are The Champions, Another One Bites The Dust, We Will Rock You, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Fat Bottomed Girls, just to name a few.
21. The Allman Brothers Band
Next up is The Allman Brothers Band who was one of the top Southern Rock bands for quite a while. They had several hits in the early ’70s including Midnight Rider, Ramblin’ Man, and Melissa. Their bassist and guitarist were killed in a motorcycle wreck about a year apart. They continued, however, substance abuse and other issues led to their late ’70s music never being as good as their early ’70s work.
Foreigner is on the list and this group released their first record in 1977, which would go on to help them become one of the biggest rock acts of the decade. The British rockers released several songs over the years that became hits including Cold As Ice, Hot Blooded, Feels Like The First Time, and I Want To Know What Love Is.
19. Dire Straits
Dire Straits makes the list and this British band was one of the biggest in the late ’70s with more than six albums released during their career. Some of their biggest hits are Romeo & Juliet, Money For Nothing, Sultans Of Swing, and Brothers In Arms.
18. The Cars
Drive, Just What I Needed, My Best Friend’s Girl, and Good Times Roll are just some of the big hits that The Cars had throughout the ’70s. They were a new wave group that you heard everywhere back in the day. We had to include them on our list since they were one of the leading bands of that new wave late-’70s movement.
17. Creedence Clearwater Revival
One band you’ll know because of their music being in a lot of war movies is Creedence Clearwater Revival. This band had many hits in the ’70s including Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Lookin’ Out My Back Door, Hey Tonight, and Up Around The Bend. Although they ended up splitting up, their music remains beloved by millions.
16. Fleetwood Mac
Stevie Nicks was the lead singer for Fleetwood Mac, who would become one of the biggest rock bands of the ’70s. They were one of a kind and had multiple hits over the years including Dreams, Landslide, Go Your Own Way, and The Chain. In 1998, she and the rest of the group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Next is Blondie, which includes Debbie Harry as the lead singer and founding member of the band. They were a part of the pop-rock scene that appeared in the later part of the ’70s and are one of the more iconic female-led bands of that period. Some of their notable hits include One Way Or Another, Heart Of Glass, and Call Me.
14. Van Halen
Van Halen came out the last couple of years left in the ’70s, and they ended up releasing two albums before the decade ended. On guitar was Eddie Van Halen, who some say is the best guitar player of all time. They were one of the most famous rock bands of the late ’70s and ’80s, and with the second iteration of the group including Sammy Hagar on vocals, became even stronger vocally. Some of their most well-known songs include Panama, Jump, Hot For Teacher, Right Now, and When It’s Love.
13. The Clash
An English band that was huge in the ’70s was The Clash, and they were part of the rock and punk scene that formed in the latter half of the decade. They were British and definitely had a personality full of spunk that made them stand out among other similar bands. Some of their most well-known songs include I Fought The Law, London Calling, Rock The Casbah, Should I Stay Or Should I Go, and Train In Vain.
Just like Boston, Chicago is a group that stands out in the ’70s as one of the best American rock bands to ever come about. There were horns in their group, which made them stand out, and they had multiple hits through the years such as Look Away, Hard To Say I’m Sorry, and If You Leave Me Now.
11. Bee Gees
We can’t talk about the top rock bands without mentioning the Bee Gees, which were as big in the ’70s as they were in the ’60s. In 1997, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and have sold more than 200 records worldwide. They had hits such as Stayin’ Alive, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, To Love Somebody, Night Fever, and I Started A Joke.
10. Bad Company
Next on the list is Bad Company who had quite a few hits in the ’70s, so it’s no wonder they deserve a spot in the top 10. Bad Company, Feel Like Makin’ Love, Can’t Get Enough, and Ready For Love were all huge hits for the group and worldwide they’ve sold more than 55 million albums.
9. The Ramones
The Ramones are on our list and they were one of the pioneers of punk music. The lyrics and structure of their songs were more complex and the instruments were unique at the time. They had hits including I Wanna Be Sedated, Blitzkrieg Bop, and Pet Sematary have all remained iconic hits and beloved tunes to those that enjoy rock and punk to this day.
One of the biggest female bands of all time is Heart, which says something considering the ’70s were dominated by men leading the way. Nancy Wilson and Ann Wilson were on vocals, and they had some of the biggest and strongest voices in all of music. Alone, Barracuda, These Dreams, and Magic Man are just some of their biggest hits. In 2013, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
With hit songs such as More Than A Feeling, Boston, Amanda, and Peace Of Mind, Boston became one of the biggest rock bands of the decade. In fact, their self-titled debut album came out in 1976, and to this day, it’s one of the best-selling debut albums in all of music! Brad Delp was the lead singer of the group when all of these monster hits were released, and his voice is something out of this world in terms of range and tone.
6. Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd was one of the biggest rock bands of the ’70s with their Southern rock sound, and they have given us many songs through the years including Simple Man, Free Bird, Saturday Night Fever, and Sweet Home Alabama.
They first came out in 1973 with their debut album and they managed to release five albums before tragedy struck in 1977. Three of the members died in a plane crash, including lead singer Ronnie Van Zandt, although they continued with his brother as lead singer.
We can’t make this list without including Aerosmith within the top five, and lead singer Steven Tyler has such a unique sound from his high vocal range to his improv during songs it’s simply amazing. There is a lot of rock and blues in this band, and it’s one of the defining acts of the ’70s that’s managed to still make hits to this day. I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing from Armageddon to other songs such as Crazy, Dream On, Sweet Emotion, and Cryin’ had made this group build an empire that’s stood the test of time!
4. Black Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne may have made a solo name for himself, but it’s his group Black Sabbath that makes our list as one of the best bands of the ’70s. They are thought of as one of the innovators and leaders in the heavy metal genre. They have had several hits over the years including Paranoid, War Pigs, and Iron Man, just to name a few.
Next is AC/DC, which was one of the bands in the ’70s that was everywhere, and with their high energy, they managed to secure their spot as one of the best rock acts of all time. Malcolm and Angus Young started the group in Australia, and they’ve had numerous hits over the years including Highway To Hell, Hells Bells, Back In Black, and Thunderstruck.
2. Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd to this day remains one of the top rock bands of all time and in the ’70s, they were on top of the world. Several hit songs became anthems for a generation including Another Brick In The Wall, Comfortably Numb, Money, and Mother. Their sound was like nothing seen at the time with instruments setting the tone for the unique brand of rock they brought to the table. Live shows were filled with flames, props, and other special effects, and they definitely deserve this spot on our list.
The Eagles make our list in the number one position as the best rock band of the ’70s. With songs that include Hotel California from 1976, they cemented their legacy as the top rock act of all time. While their beginning music was more country, once they added Joe Walsh, they became a rock group with his insane guitar solos leading the way. They have multiple Grammy Awards to their name, and in 1998, they were put into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
From the time she was little, Florence loved listening to music and quickly learned how music can make you happy and feel fulfilled. One of her favorite memories is being in the garage with her dad working on classic cars with the local rock station blaring in the background. Ever since Florence was 3, she loved grunge music and spent hours listening to bands such as Alice in Chains, Mad Season, Soul Asylum, and Soundgarden.
She also enjoys classic rock, modern rock, nu metal, alternative rock, and old 90’s R&B. Her love of music grew as she got older, and used music to help her get through tough times in her life. More often than not, you’ll see Florence with earbuds in while she’s writing, cooking, cleaning, and doing other tasks. She also loves to debate music with her friends such as which lead singer is the best vocalist, the most iconic guitar solos in music, and what songs are really the best of the decade.