Music, TV, and Film of the 1970's​


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By the early 1970's, rock bands were pushing the boundaries of music, and even creating new forms of music. The bands combined rock with fashion and imagery. These new forms of music attracted millions of people, teenagers especially. In the 1970's, talented guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix were seen as gods. There was the innovation in the recording studio and new pyrotechnics on stage (ex: The Who) to give the people a whole new sensation of rock and art. Rock music made more money than ever in the 1970's. There were several new kinds of rock that emerged during this decade.
  • Album Rock- With this type of rock, many classics were produced. British bands such as the Rolling Stones and The Who lead album rock in the 1970's. The Rolling Stones released Sticky Fingers in 1971 and The Who released, Who's Next in 1971. Led Zeppelin also had an album released that was untitled, which was considered one of the band's best recordings.
  • Singer-Songwriters- The Singer-Songwriters of the 1970's were similar to the hippie feeling of songs from the 1960's. They often incorporated their views on politics, social protests, and more personal opinions. They expressed their emotions in their songs, feelings like frustration, confusion, and loss were often mixed with irony and humor. Women were especially successful in this kind of rock; singers including Carole King and Carly Simon sold millions of albums.
  • Progressive Rock- This was a style that originated from England. Also known as art rock, bands took sounds from classical composers and imagery from myths and legends. Led Zeppelin used this method in his songs, such as in "Stairway to Heaven" and "Kashmir." Pink Floyd also used "space-like" sounds in songs from their album Dark Side of the Moon. American progressive rock bands included Kansas, Styx, and Boston.
  • Heavy Metal- This style included guitar riffs played at a high volume. Metal songs often were written about sexual overtones and had violent imagery. Teenagers were attracted to this type of music for the heavy guitar solo's and loud music. AC/DC, Deep Purple, Kiss, and Black Sabbath were heavy metal bands. Often, bands such as Alice Cooper and Kiss used theatrics with dark and violent images.
  • Anthem Rock- Anthem rock promoted partying to teenagers. Aerosmith's "Dream On" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" are examples of anthem rock songs. Teenagers listened to Alice Cooper's "Schools Out" and "Eighteen." Anthem rock was similar to hard rock, but it was a less aggressive form. "American Woman" was the Guess Who's anthem rock hit.
  • Glam Rock- This was more of a fashion than a style of music. Although it was short lived, this style of music pushed the boundaries theatrically and musically. This style of rock came from England. David Bowie performed glam rock as Ziggy Stardust; he wore makeup, an orange wig, and glittery costumes. Elton John also was a glam rock artist. He was not as extreme as David Bowie, but he played the piano in outrageous costumes in sold out stadiums everywhere.
  • Southern Rock- Southern rock's style of music included western rhythms and blues melodies added to heavy guitar in songs. Lyrics in songs included guns, whiskey, and women. The Allman Brothers band was a southern rock band. Lynyrd Skynyrd, probably the most famous southern rocker, wrote famous songs such as "Freebird" and "Sweet Home Alabama."
  • Jazz Rock- Bands that played jazz rock put jazz sounds into their songs. Chicago, Miles Davis, and Billy Joel were major jazz rock artists.
  • California Rock- Artists of California rock put soft ballads and hard rock together. The Eagles' was a California rock band, with their smash hit "Hotel California." Also, the Steve Miller Band played California rock in their songs.

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​ TV:
As the 1960's turned into the 1970's, it was becoming more popular to have a television in the household. Topics that were considered inappropriate now appeared all over television shows. Saturday Night Live made fun of topics and people that would have been considered very inappropriate to do so in the 1960's, like politics, sex, and religion. More people were able to afford a TV, and more shows were being created to keep the consumers watching and buying television.
  • Saturday Night Live- SNL was created to fill the Saturday night timeslot on NBC, created by external image 1164723647.jpgLorne Michaels. The producers wanted Michaels to push the boundaries with edgy humor. SNL was a comedy sketch show, meaning that actors would practice sketches for a week then produce them live on Saturday nights. It's first release show was on October 11, 1975, and was an instant hit to viewers. The cast members on the show suddenly became famous.
  • Happy Days- First airing in 1974, the show was about the Cunningham family who lived in the 1950's and had help and guidance from their friend Fonzie.
  • All in the Family- This show was on CBS starting in 1971. The main character Archie Bunker, had conservative views that he shared and clashed with people and they were very controversial for the 1970's.
  • The Jeffersons- Starting in 1975, it was a runoff of "All in the Family", the Jeffersons were an African American family that had been neighbors to Archie Bunker. It was a traditional sitcom, focusing mostly on the characters, but it did bring up some serious topics such as racism.
  • Charlie's Angels- One of the most successful series of the decade, "Charlie's Angels" was about three women who worked for a detective agency. The women would go undercover and solve crimes.
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In the late 1960's, people lost interest in films and stopped going to see them, since television was becoming more popular and convenient. Most films that were being produced were losing millions of dollars, because no one was going to see them. However in 1972, when The Godfather was produced, the movie industry took an upward turn from its downward spiral. Within a year, The Godfather broke the box-office record that had been held for seven years by The Sound of Music. The Godfather was about an organized crime leader who transfers control to his son.​
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In 1975, a movie was produced that outdid all the other films before it. Steven Spielberg's Jaws, earned $133 million, and opened people's minds up to movies about common people getting terrorized by animals. Jaws was about a giant shark that terrorizes an island called Amity, and a boat of people go out to stop it. Also one of the best-selling, most popular movies of all time came out in 1977: George Lucas' film Star Wars. This film was about a man named Luke Skywalker who leaves his home planet and teams up with other men to save the Princess from the evil Darth Vader. This movie grossed $175 million and started a sci-fi movie craze among American citizens, which caused film makers to later produce Star Trek (1979) and Superman (1978).

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Comedies in the 1970's also were popular for people to see. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) was a popular comedy. It was about King Arthur, who was set to find the Holy Grail and encountered many outrageous obstacles along the way. The biggest comedy of the 1970's by far was National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), which featured several stars from the new NBC show, Saturday Night Live. This movie was about a college fraternity trying to bring down a dean who wants to get the fraternity expelled.

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"Pop and Rock Music of the 1970s." DISCovering U.S. History. Gale Research, 1997. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale. "Film Fads and Fashions (1970s)." American Decades CD-ROM. Gale Research, 1998. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale. "The Internet Movie Database (IMDb)." The Internet Movie Database (IMDb)., INC, n.d. Web. 23 May 2010. <> "American History - 1970-1979." Lone Star College-Kingwood Library Home Page. Kingwood College Library, n.d. Web. 23 May 2010. <