25 Huge Bands from the '70s You Totally Forgot Existed
Do you remember these '70s sensations of disco, funk, soul and glam rock?
Popular culture in the 1970s is often misremembered as being all about bellbottoms and disco. But in taking a deeper look, and closer listen, you'll find out that there is much, much more to it than that. The artists on this list fused genres, cultures, and sonically diverse sounds—yielding a vast cultural experience that ranged from bright shining soul to the birth of glam rock. Now it's time to see how well you remember the glamorous decade because we are betting that you totally forgot about these once-huge bands from the '70s.
Originally and more accurately called The Sweetshop, these unabashed early glam rockers boasted a hit catalog—including the chart-topping 1973 single "Blockbuster"—and bright leather pants. For other classic '70s styles, check out 25 Things Cool People Wore in the 1970s.
Another only-in-the-70s enigma, this German-based Euro-Caribbean band's hits were staples at every disco party. But unlike disco, the band and its music prevailed. Generations and incarnations later, Boney M has sold 100 million albums to date, and shows no signs of slowing down.
A Dutch psychedelic band that found worldwide success with the single "Venus," which went No.1 only two months into 1970, introducing a new decade to the band's wild sonic stylings. Though the group's next single, "Love Buzz," failed to hit like its predecessor, it was given new life after catching the ear of a young Seattle punk, who later made it his band's first single, two decades after it was originally released.
A great '80s sonic precursor, M introduced its signature sound to the world with "Pop Muzik," a catchy, synth-heavy single that went No. 1 in the final weeks of the 1970s, helping to usher in a new wave of music for a new decade.
A Florida folk rocker who served the quiet, writerly side of the dancing decade, Lobo's uniqueness didn't go unappreciated, as he rose to the top of the Adult Contemporary charts with tales of love, loss, and a dog named Boo.
This British quartet took the harder road, shunning synths and disco balls in favor of loud guitars and stage effects that included fire-eating, exploding amps, and drum kits engulfed in flames. Such antics, combined with true '70s classical remixes produced many a hit.
While this particular band was an actual one-hit wonder with the single "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)," leader Tony Burrows was in fact a musical busybody, recording simultaneously with numerous bands that churned out a plethora of top 20 hits.
With huge sales, a slew of hits, and a half-century career, this trusted act may have ushered in 80s rock more than any other more recognizable group, fusing heavy glam with high-energy live shows. Oh, and they had 11 top five hits in four years and sold 50 million records.
Quintessential disco from epicenter of the disco, this New York band made hits that were built to last—singles like "Good Times" and "Le Freak" endured for decades, the latter remaining Atlantic Records' biggest hit until 1990, replaced—very appropriately—by Madonna's "Vogue." The band itself continues to soldier on, too, even collaborating with Elton John and Lady Gaga in 2018.
Early R&B from from Jersey City was The Manhattan's forte. Their No.1 hit "Kiss and Say Goodbye" was the second platinum-selling single in history.
Sha Na Na
Most groups would call playing Woodstock and appearing in the '70s biggest musical film—Grease—a successful career. But that was just the beginning for this New York-based throwback act, whose hit TV series of the same name ran four seasons, and proved, in 1981, the world still needed doo-wop.
The Hues Corporation
A soul trio with many a charting song and one uber-mega hit, "Hues" was a nod to the black pride movement in the band's native Los Angeles. They were gone by 1980, but try and find a dance mix without "Rock the Boat Baby."
No one knows how such fair-haired boys from Ohio steel country got their soul, but the joke wasn't lost on the band—or its new international audience—when the release of "Play That Funky Music" took the American rock and R&B top spots and went platinum in 1976.
Gospel helped create rock-n-roll, and this Canadian band is certainly an example of the those two worlds colliding. Ocean's "Put Your Hand in the Hand" went as high as No. 2 on the Billboard charts when it was released in 1971.
This playful British band with a bizarre moniker, led by Ray Dorset, had a fondness for skiffle music and the blues. The group's biggest claim to fame? The unavoidable, and sort of delightful, 1970 hit "In The Summertime."
This band borders on the bizarre when it comes to its career path. Steam started in 1969, released a No. 1 single—"Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"— that is still played in ballparks today, and then broke up on 1970.
Bread was an easy listening, chart-climbing outfit that could go heavy without going dark, and helped create a new kind of easy listening rock music. Few would call this '70s-specific sound influential, but few had Bread's range within such a categorized genre, a range prevalent decades later: Check out the opening track of 1998s Mutations by a weird kid named Beck, and see if it sound familiar.
From the genius mind of the late Marc Bolan, this folk duo-turn-glam rock monster band, have so many good songs it's unfair, 1972's "Bang a Gong (Get it On)" being the most successful, but hardly the track of the band's catalog worth listening to. Unfortunately, we didn't hear how the band could have developed due Bolan's tragic death at age 29.
With their silver suits and Motown-influenced dance steps, this California group played soul with style, and had six songs on the charts in the '70s.
The Love Unlimited Orchestra
This 20, 30, and sometimes 40-piece orchestra recorded seven studio albums and were conducted by legendary R&B singer—the one and only Barry White.
Tony Orlando & Dawn
Something like a forgotten Sonny & Cher, this New York City trio, not duo, had 15 Top 40 hits in the '70s, including three that went to No. 1—"Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)," and "Knock Three Times.
As an artist signed to Motown, Edwin Starr scored a No. 1 hit with the protest anthem "War" His influence spanned genres and decades, reaching into the 1990s, when his single "Big Papa" may have caught the ear of a young, but notorious Brooklyn rapper.
She had a brand new pair of roller skates, and a worldwide hit that topped the charts in 1971.
The Honey Cone
This all-female R&B trio from Los Angeles formed in 1969, went No. 1 with "Want Ads," and ceased to exist by 1973.
These English new wavers had something to say about the late-'70s merger of television and music. "Video Killed The Radio Star" was a hit on the charts in 1979, and, ironically, the first music video aired on MTV in 1981.