The 1970s were a golden age for rock music, with many talented bands emerging from the decade. Here are some of the best 70s rock bands, listed alphabetically.
AC/DC is an Australian band formed in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. The band is known for high-energy rock anthems such as “Highway to Hell” and “Back in Black.” They are one of the best-selling bands of all time, having sold more than 200 million records worldwide.
Aerosmith is a rock band from Boston, Massachusetts. Their style, rooted in blues-based hard rock, has also incorporated pop-rock, heavy metal, and rhythm and blues elements and has inspired many subsequent rock artists.
3. The Allman Brothers Band
The Allman Brothers Band is an American rock band formed in 1969 in Jacksonville, Florida. The band's most tremendous commercial success came in the early 1970s with the release of their album “Brothers and Sisters” and the single “Ramblin' Man.” The band is known for its innovative blend of rock, blues, jazz, and country music.
4. Bad Company
Bad Company was an English rock band formed in London in 1973. The band had a string of hit singles in the 1970s, including “Can't Get Enough,” “Feel Like Makin' Love,” and “Bad Company.” They were initially part of the supergroup known as Blood, Sweat & Tears. The band has sold over 50 million albums worldwide.
5. The Band
The Band was a Canadian-American rock group formed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1968. The Band consisted of Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, and Richard Manuel. The Band's original lineup featured Helm, Danko, Hudson, Robertson, and Manuel; they entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
6. Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath was started in Birmingham in 1968 by Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, Geezer Butler, and Ozzy Osbourne. They are often cited as inventors of heavy metal music. The band helped define the genre with releases such as Paranoid (1970), an album that has sold over 70 million copies.
Blondie is a band founded by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. The band rose to prominence in the late 1970s with its new wave pop-rock music brand. Hits like “Heart of Glass” and “One Way or Another” made them one of the most successful bands of the decade.
8. Blue Oyster Cult
Blue Oyster Cult is a band from Long Island, New York, formed in 1967. The band is known for their hits “(Don't Fear) The Reaper,” “Godzilla,” and “Burnin' for You,” as well as their signature cowbell sound. Blue Oyster Cult has sold over 23 million albums worldwide.
Boston formed in 1976 in Boston, Massachusetts. The band's debut album, “Boston,” released in 1976, is one of the best-selling debut albums in history. The band is known for their songs “More Than a Feeling” and “Amanda.”
10. Bee Gees
Bee Gees were formed in 1958 and found great success with the rise of pop music in the 60s and the disco music era of the 70s. They recorded countless hits and earned monikers such as the Disco Kings and the Kings of Dance Music.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 and firmly stands as one of the most successful bands of all time with over 220 million records sold worldwide. Their greatest hits include “Stayin’ Alive” and “How Deep Is Your Love.”
11. The Buzzcocks
The Buzzcocks are an English punk band formed in 1976 by singer-songwriter-guitarist Pete Shelley and singer-songwriter Howard Devoto. They are regarded as a seminal act of the punk movement. Their debut album, Another Music in a Different Kitchen (1978), is ranked number 33 on the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time chosen by Rolling Stone magazine.
12. The Cars
The Cars are an American rock band that emerged as part of the new wave scene in the late 1970s. The band originated in Boston, Massachusetts, and its core members were singer-songwriter Ric Ocasek, singer Benjamin Orr, guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes, and drummer David Robinson.
13. Cheap Trick
Cheap Trick is a band from Rockford, Illinois, formed in 1974. The band's classic lineup consisted of singer Robin Zander, guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson, and drummer Bun E. Carlos. With its own brand of pop-influenced hard rock, Cheap Trick released a string of successful albums in the 70s, including their self-titled debut in 1977 and Heaven Tonight in 1978.
Chicago formed in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois. The “rock and roll band with horns” group began as a politically charged, sometimes experimental, rock band and later moved to a more pop-oriented style. They had a string of hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
15. The Clash
The Clash was an English band formed in London in 1976 as a critical element in the emergence of British punk. They have been referred to as the “only band that matters” and truly lived up to their moniker with a string of hits, including “Rock the Casbah,” “London Calling,” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”
16. Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Formed in 1977, Elvis Costello and the Attractions were one of the best new wave bands of the late 70s. Costello was known for his witty lyrics and sharp observations, and the band backed him up with a tight, catchy sound. Their debut album, My Aim Is True, is a classic of the genre.
17. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is a folk-rock supergroup of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young. The group was formed in 1968 and released their debut album, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the following year.
The group's follow-up album, Déjà Vu, was released in 1970 and featured the hits “Carry On” and “Teach Your Children.” The album once again topped the Billboard 200 chart.
18. Dire Straights
Dire Straights was a British rock band formed in 1977 by Mark Knopfler. The band released six studio albums, three live albums, and a greatest hits album. The band's 1980 album Making Movies was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album.
19. The Doobie Brothers
The Doobie Brothers are a band from San Jose, California. The band has sold 40 million records and has won four Grammy Awards. The band's classic lineup consisted of brothers Tom (vocals, guitar) and John (keyboards, vocals), McFee, Patrick Simmons (guitar, vocals), Tiran Porter (bass, vocals), and Keith Knudsen (drums, percussion).
20. The Eagles
The Eagles were an American rock band formed in 1971 in Los Angeles, California. The Eagles are one of the best-selling bands of all time, having sold more than 150 million records. The Eagles are known for their hits “Hotel California” and “Desperado.”
21. Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac is a British-American rock band formed in 1967. The band's greatest success came in the 1970s with the release of their album “Rumours,” which is the eighth-best-selling album of all time. The band is known for their hits “Go Your Own Way” and “Dreams.”
Fleetwood Mac also has the distinction of being the first band to have a female member inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with Stevie Nicks being inducted in 1998.
Foreigner is a British-American rock band formed in New York City in 1976 by veteran English musician Mick Jones, fellow Briton and ex-King Crimson member Ian McDonald, and American vocalist Lou Gramm. The band's debut album, Foreigner (1977), was a commercial success and featured the hits “Feels Like the First Time,” “Cold as Ice,” and “Long, Long Way from Home.”
Double Vision (1978), their second album, produced their most successful single in the US, “Hot Blooded,” which reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Formed in 1967, Genesis is a progressive rock band that was hugely popular in the 1970s. The band is known for its complex song structures and musicianship. Genesis had several hit songs in the 1970s, including “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” and “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe).” The band has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
24. The Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead formed in late 1965 in San Francisco, California. The Grateful Dead was one of the most influential bands of the 1960s and 1970s, and it is known for its hits “Touch of Grey” and “Sugar Magnolia.” The band's touring flame continued to burn brightly even after the death of founding member Jerry Garcia in 1995.
Formed in Seattle in 1967, Heart is a rock band best known for their hit singles “Crazy on You,” “Barracuda,” and “Alone.” The band – which consists of sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson – has sold over 35 million albums.
26. Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden is a British heavy metal band formed in 1975. The band's first album, Iron Maiden, was released in 1980. The band has sold over 90 million albums worldwide and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Iron Maiden influenced several bands, including Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth. The band has also been credited with helping to pioneer the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
27. The Jam
The Jam was an English punk rock/mod revival band active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. They formed in Woking, Surrey. Despite breaking up in 1982, they remain a popular band, especially in their native Britain.
The mod revolution was in full swing when the Jam first started playing together. They were influenced by bands like the Who, Small Faces, and British Invasion acts such as the Beatles and the Kinks. The Jam's look and sound perfectly blend '60s mod and '70s punk.
Journey is a band from San Francisco, formed in 1973, composed of former members of Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch. The band has survived multiple lineup changes, with only lead singer Steve Perry and guitarist Neal Schon remaining from the original lineup. Journey is best known for its songs “Don't Stop Believin'” and “Any Way You Want It.”
Known for melodic songs and soaring vocals, the band was one of the most famous rock bands of the 1970s and 1980s. Journey has sold over 100 million albums and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
29. Joy Division
Joy Division was a rock band from Manchester, England. The group consisted of lead singer and guitarist Ian Curtis, bassist Peter Hook, guitarist Bernard Sumner, and drummer Stephen Morris. The band formed in 1976 and released their debut album, Unknown Pleasures, in 1979. The album was met with critical acclaim, and the band became one of the most popular post-punk groups of the time.
30. Judas Priest
Formed in Birmingham, England, in 1969, Judas Priest is a pioneering heavy metal band. The band's signature twin-guitar sound, coupled with the powerful vocal stylings of Rob Halford, helped to define the genre. Judas Priest remains an influential and popular band with a devoted fan base worldwide.
The influence of Judas Priest can be heard in many modern metal bands, and the band's music is heard in several video games and movies.
Kiss is a band formed in New York City in 1973. Kiss is known for its stage makeup and costumes, which they wear during performances. The band has released 44 albums, including 14 studio albums, six live albums, four compilation albums, and three greatest hits albums.
Kiss has sold over 100 million albums, making them one of the best-selling bands. The band has been awarded 22 gold albums to date, the most of any American band. Kiss entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.
Kansas is a highly successful rock band that rose to prominence in the 70s. They produced a plethora of well-received albums and routinely sold out arenas worldwide. Though the band’s roster underwent changes over the years, including the retirement of their lead singer Steve Walsh, they continue to be active.
The band’s greatest hits inlude “Dust in the Wind” and “Wayward Son.” The latter introduced the band to the younger audiences when it was used as the theme song for the popular TV show Supernatural.
33. Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin was an English rock band formed in 1968. The band's debut album, “Led Zeppelin,” is one of the best-selling debut albums. Led Zeppelin is one of the most important rock bands of all time, and their hits include “Stairway to Heaven” and “Whole Lotta Love.”
Led Zeppelin was one of the first bands to use heavy metal elements in their music, and they are often credited as being the pioneers of heavy metal. Led Zeppelin's rock style was influential on later bands, such as Black Sabbath and Metallica.
34. The New York Dolls
The New York Dolls were an American rock band formed in 1971. The group's protopunk sound prefigured much of what was to come in the punk rock era. They were widely known for wild stage antics and attire, which sometimes involved cross-dressing.
The band influenced acts such as the Ramones, the Punkettes, Blondie, and the Pretenders. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1973 to critical acclaim. It has been ranked as one of the greatest debuts in rock music history.
35. Pink Floyd
Formed in 1965, Pink Floyd is one of the most successful and influential rock bands. With anthems like “Another Brick in the Wall” and “Money,” the band created a unique sound that defined the 70s. The band is known for its elaborate live shows, which often feature large props and special effects.
Pink Floyd has sold over 200 million records worldwide and is considered one of the greatest rock bands.
Queen is a British rock band that formed in London in 1970. The band members were Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (guitar, vocals), John Deacon (bass guitar), and Roger Taylor (drums, vocals). Queen's early works fused hard rock and heavy metal elements with pop sensibilities, making them one of the most famous rock bands.
Queen influenced several musical artists and is credited with helping shape the sound of rock music. The band has released 18 studio albums, 10 live albums, and numerous compilation albums. They have sold over 300 million records worldwide.
37. The Police
The Police formed in London in 1977. The band consisted of Sting (vocals, bass), Andy Summers (guitar), and Stewart Copeland (drums). The Police became stars in the late 1970s and early 1980s with hits such as “Roxanne” and “Every Breath You Take.”
The Police were one of the first artists to successfully fuse reggae, punk, and new wave into a unique sound. They have sold over 75 million records.
38. The Ramones
The Ramones were a punk band formed in the New York City borough of Queens in 1974. They are often cited as the first actual punk rock group, and the band is famous for its simple, fast-paced style of music and its signature four-chord songs. The Ramones also significantly influenced subsequent punk rock, alternative rock, and pop-punk bands.
39. The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones is an English band formed in London in 1962. The first stable line-up consisted of Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts.
Jones left the band less than a month before his death in 1969, having already been replaced by Mick Taylor, who remained until 1974. After Taylor left the band, Ronnie Wood took his place in 1975. The band’s produced countless top hits and is widely regarded as one of the most influential rock bands of all time.
40. Roxy Music
Roxy Music was a British art-rock band formed in 1971 by Bryan Ferry, who became the band's lead singer and primary songwriter and bassist, Graham Simpson. The other members were Phil Manzanera (guitar), Andy Mackay (saxophone and oboe), and Brian Eno (synthesizer and treatments).
Although the band took a while to find commercial success, they are now considered one of the most unique and influential rock bands of the 1970s.
Formed in 1968, Rush is a Canadian rock band made up of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart. The band is known for its intricate arrangements and musical proficiency. They have released 24 studio albums and have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Rush is known for its hits “Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight,” and “The Spirit of Radio.” Peart's drumming style is highly influential, and he is widely considered one of the best rock drummers of all time.
Formed in 1967, Santana is a Latin rock band that rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s with their blend of Latin-infused rock, jazz, and blues. The band's sound was influenced by their Afro-Cuban and Latin American roots and by diverse artists like Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
43. The Scorpions
The Scorpions were formed in Hanover, Germany, by Rudolf Schenker in 1965. Since the band's inception, its musical style has ranged from hard rock to heavy metal. The Scorpions are one of the world's best-selling bands, with estimated sales of 75 million records worldwide.
The band's biggest hit was “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” which peaked at 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1984. The band is also known for its singles “No One Like You,” “Send Me an Angel,” and “Wind of Change.”
44. The Sex Pistols
The Sex Pistols started in London in 1975. They started the punk explosion in the United Kingdom and inspired many later musicians. Although their initial career lasted just two-and-a-half years and produced only one album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, they are considered one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music.
45. Sly & The Family Stone
Sly & The Family Stone was an American soul and funk band active from 1966 to 1983. The group was led by singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sly Stone. It featured a rotating lineup of talented musicians, including Larry Graham, Freddie Stone, Rose Stone, Cynthia Robinson, Jerry Martini, and Greg Errico.
46. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band is an American rock band formed in 1974. The band is known for its work on classic rock radio stations, and they have released 17 studio albums, four live albums, and several compilations. The band has sold more than 120 million records worldwide.
47. Steely Dan
Steely Dan is a band founded by singer-songwriter duo Donald Fagen and Walter Becker in 1972. The band was popular in the late 1970s with the release of several hit singles, including “Reelin' in the Years,” “Rikki Don't Lose That Number,” and “Peg.” The band broke up in 1981 but reunited in 1993 and has since released two more albums.
48. The Stooges
The Stooges, also known as Iggy and the Stooges, were an American rock band formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1967 by singer Iggy Pop, guitarist Ron Asheton, drummer Scott Asheton, and bassist Dave Alexander.
Widely considered one of the most influential bands of all time, they were pivotal in developing the punk rock and alternative rock genres.
Styx is a band from Chicago formed in 1972 and famous for its albums released in the mid-1970s and early 1980s. The group is known for its hits “Lady” and “Come Sail Away,” which reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Styx is also known for its concept albums, which include The Grand Illusion and Paradise Theater.
Supertramp was a British rock band formed in 1969. The band became famous in the 1970s for its progressive, pop-influenced sound. They had a number of hits in the 1970s and 1980s, including “Dreamer,” “Bloody Well Right,” and “Breakfast in America.”
The band's classic lineup consisted of Rick Davies (keyboards, vocals), Roger Hodgson (guitars, vocals), John Helliwell (saxophone, keyboards), and Dougie Thomson (bass).
51. T. Rex
T. Rex was a glam rock band formed in 1967 by singer-songwriter and guitarist Marc Bolan. The band was initially known as Tyrannosaurus Rex and released four psychedelic folk albums. In 1969, Bolan shortened the name to T. Rex and began releasing rock-oriented singles.
The band's 1971 album Electric Warrior and its hit single “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” helped them achieve mainstream success. T. Rex's final album, 1977's Dandy in the Underworld, was released posthumously after Bolan died in a car accident.
52. Talking Heads
Formed in 1974, Talking Heads was a new wave and punk rock band from New York City. The band was fronted by lead singer David Byrne, with drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weymouth rounding out the trio.
The group found success with their unique blend of music styles and quirky lyrics, with hits like “Burning Down the House.”
53. Thin Lizzy
Formed in Dublin, Ireland, Thin Lizzy originally consisted of lead vocalist and bassist Phil Lynott, guitarist Eric Bell, and drummer Brian Downey. The band is known for their songs “The Boys Are Back in Town” and “Whiskey in the Jar.”
Thin Lizzy released 13 studio albums before disbanding in 1983. Lynott passed away in 1986, but the band briefly reunited in the 1990s with various guest vocalists.
54. The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground was one of the most distinctive rock bands of the 70s. The band was formed in 1964 by Lou Reed and John Cale, and they were known for their experimental music and unique style.
They influenced many other rock bands that came after them. Their most popular songs include “Sweet Jane” and “Rock and Roll.”
55. The Who
The Who formed in 1964 in England. The Who is one of the most important rock acts of all time, and they are known for their hits “My Generation” and “Won't Get Fooled Again.”
The band is also known for its destructive behavior, including trashing hotel rooms and destroying instruments onstage. The Who has released 12 studio albums, with their most recent being 2019's Who.
Yes is an English rock band formed in 1968. The band's debut album, “Yes,” is one of the best-selling debut albums. The band is known for their hits “Roundabout” and “I've Seen All Good People.”
Yes became one of the most successful progressive rock bands of all time, selling over 50 million records worldwide.
57. Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd is an American rock band beloved among its fans for its heartfelt songs touching upon a broad range of topics. Though the band was originally formed under the name My Backyard in 1964, they found their line-up and the new name five years later.
The band’s rise to stardom was halted in 1977 with a tragic airplane crash that killed many of its members and injured the rest. The band was reformed in 1987 and has remained active since. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
58. Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
If there was ever a band that defied categorization, it was Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. The band dabbled in everything from rock to jazz to classical to avant-garde to experimental to pop throughout their career.
While some people might have found their music perplexing, there was no denying that they were a talented and innovative group. Frank Zappa was the mastermind behind the Mothers of Invention, and he was also a highly respected solo artist. He died in 1993, but his influence lives on through his music.
59. ZZ Top
Formed in Houston, Texas, in 1969, ZZ Top is a rock trio consisting of guitarist and lead vocalist Billy Gibbons, bassist and co-lead vocalist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard. The band has released 15 studio albums.
They are known for their bluesy, rock style and humorous lyrics. Some of their most popular songs include “La Grange,” “Tush,” and “Sharp Dressed Man.”
Top Rock Bands of the 70s, Final Thoughts
These were some of the best rock bands of the 1970s. They are world-renowned and remain relevant in today's music industry, whether through still performing on stage or their lasting legacy. So if you're looking for some good 70s rock, be sure to check out the listed artists.