Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rock Music Post II: Male Artists of the 70's

The 70's was a fun and diverse era in which we saw singer-songwriters come to the forefront. Punk rock and disco had their heyday in the mid and late 70's. Funk brought out the quirky and sometimes freakish side of R&B and adult contemporary was a force with which to be reckoned. This post focuses on some of the male musicians that made a mark in the 70's spanning many of these genres.

In this post I have purposely left out the major mega-stars stars such as Elton John, Paul McCartney, Stevie wonder, etc as I will do a feature on these guys in a future post called "Superstars of the 70's".

Paul Anka

Paul Anka's career began in 1957 with the #1 hit "Diana" from there he consistently made Top 20 hits until 1962. After that the hits slowed down and then in 1974 he made a huge comeback with the song "(You're) Having My Baby" which rose to #1 on the U.S. singles chart and was a top 10 hit in the UK. This was the beginning of a string of 5 consecutive top 15 hits from 1974 to 1976.

Paul Anka Stats:
Top 40 Hits: 33
#1 Hits: Diana (1957), Lonely Boy (1959), "(You're) Having My Baby (1974)
Biggest Hit: Lonely Boy (1959)
Career span: 1957-1984
Trivia: The song "(You're) Having My Baby", gained criticism for its chauvinistic undertones. Among other issues, the song was criticized for declaring the child was the man's, rather than the couple's. Anka defended his linguistic choice in a 1974 interview, saying, "it's not meant to alienate anyone. I could have called it 'having our baby', but the other just sounded better. It's not a male ego trip—'my baby.' It's not that at all." However, Anka did sometimes sing the line as "you're having our baby" while performing in concert.While reviewing a 2005 concert, Dan MacIntosh of Popmatters noted that while Anka had "covered most of his career highlights", he had "wisely neglected to include 'You're Having My Baby.'" Others criticized a line stating that while the woman could have "swept it from [her] life", she had not because it was "a wonderful way of showing how much she loves him". In response to feminists, Anka said the song was "a love song". He also explained in 1974, "what I'm saying in the song is that there is a choice. The libbers will get on me; I can't help that. I am into the antihuman thing, and I do understand the other side of it. There are those who can't cope, and it's not in the cards for them to have kids. I'm a libber myself, in the sense that ... if you've got to abort, you do. Some people just can't cope."
The National Organization for Women gave Anka the satiric "Keep Her in Her Place" award during "its annual putdown of male chauvinism" in the media on Women's Equality Day.  Ms. magazine "awarded" Anka their "Male Chauvinistic Pig of the Year" award in 1974.

 Paul Anka - Times Of your Life (1975)

David Bowie 

David Bowie (Born David Robert Jones on January 8, 1947) is a staple on the landscape of popular music, glam-rock, alt-rock and post-punk. He is a trendsetter, a pioneer and a guidepost of which other bands and artists are reviewed and critiqued.

David Bowie Stats:
Top 40 Hits:13 (U.S.), 60 (UK)
#1 Hits: Fame (1975 U.S.), Let's Dance (1983 U.S. & UK), Space Oddity (1969 UK), Ashes To Ashes (1980 UK), Under Pressure (with Queen 1981 UK), Dancing In The Street (with Mick Jagger 1985 UK)
Biggest Hit: Fame (1975 U.S.), Let's Dance (1983 UK), Let's Dance (1983 Worldwide)
Top Ten Albums: 6 (U.S.), 28 (UK)
# 1 Albums: 8 (UK)
Studio Albums Recorded: 25
Total Albums Sold: 150 million (worldwide)
Awards: Nominated for nine Grammy Awards, won two Nominated for seven Brit Awards, won two.
Bands: The Konrads (1962-1964), The King Bees (1964), The Mannish Boys (1965), The Lower Third (1965-1966)
Career span: 1962 to present
Trivia: Through perpetual reinvention, he has seen his influence continue to broaden and extend: music reviewer Brad Filicky writes that over the decades, "Bowie has become known as a musical chameleon, changing and dictating trends as much as he has altered his style to fit", influencing fashion and pop culture." Biographer Thomas Forget adds, "Because he has succeeded in so many different styles of music, it is almost impossible to find a popular artist today that has not been influenced by David Bowie."
David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust (1972)

David Bowie - Life On Mars (1972)

Jackson Browne

Browne (born in 1948 in Germany where his father was an American serviceman) shot to prominence during the early-mid 70's emergence of singer-songwriters along with others of the like such as James Taylor and Cat Stevens. Browne's earliest songs were recorded by artists such as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Nico, Gregg Allman,  Joan Baez, the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, the Byrds and many others before going on to a recording career of his own.

Jackson Browne Stats:
Top 40 Hits:13 (U.S.), 60 (UK)
Biggest Hit: Doctor My Eyes (1972), Somebody's Baby (1982)
Top Ten Albums: 4 (U.S.)
# 1 Albums: 1 (U.S.) Hold Out (1980)
Studio Albums Recorded: 13
Total Albums Sold: 20 million (U.S.)
Awards: Inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Inducted into The Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007.
Bands: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1966), Tim Buckley (1967-68), Nico (1967-68)
Career span: 1966 to present
Trivia: Browne's 1978 hit "Running On Empty" was recorded onstage, backstage, in 3 different hotel rooms, and on a Continental Silver Eagle tour bus during a cross-country tour in 1977, "Running on Empty" is an ode to life on the road.The song reached #11 on Billboard's Top 100 chart in the spring of 1978 and placed at #492 on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.

Jackson Browne (1977)

Here Come Those Tears Again (1977)

Alice Cooper

Born Vincent Damon Furnier on February 4, 1948, Alice Cooper took his stage name from a 16th century witch. His career has now spanned 5 decades and continues to thrive. With his stage show which features guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, boa constrictors and baby dolls Cooper is considered a pioneer of "shock rock". Cooper is credited with helping to shape the sound and look of heavy metal and is regarded the first musician to feature horror imagery in his stage show. Coopers most recent album release (in 2011) was a sequel to his classic 1975 album "Welcome To My Nightmare" simply titled "Welcome 2 My Nightmare". The album is a theatrical concept album about the nightmares of a young boy named Steven.

Alice Cooper Stats:
Top 40 Hits:11 (U.S.), 12 (UK)
#1 Hits: Schools Out (1972 UK)
Biggest Hit: Schools Out (1972 U.S. and UK)
Top Ten Albums: 5 (U.S.), 6 (UK)
# 1 Albums: 1 (U.S. and UK) Billion Dollar Babies (1973)
Studio Albums Recorded: 26
Total Albums Sold: 50 million (Worldwide)
Awards: Inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 (Original Alice Cooper Band)
Bands: The Earwigs (1964), The Spiders (1964-1966), The Nazz (1967-68), Alice Cooper Band (1968-73)
Career span: 1964 to present
Trivia: In the mid 70's Cooper took a daring shift in his music career and decided to try his hand at recording a ballad. this proved successful with his 1975 hit "Only Women bleed" a song about a woman in an abusive marriage. He followed that one with 1976's "I Never Cry" a powerful ballad which was written about Cooper's drinking problem, this was his first U.S. certified Gold single. In 1977 he scored with his third straight ballad, "You and Me", which was simply a cozy love song which received heavy airplay on easy-listening and pop top 40 radio stations across the U.S. His fourth and last ballad was a hit in 1978 called "How You Gonna See Me Now?" a depiction of Alice Cooper's life after checking himself into a sanitarium for alcoholism rehab. The lyrics for the song were written by Elton John's frequent collaborator Bernie Taupin. "How You Gonna See Me Now?" is Alice's ruminations on his wife's likely response after he is released from the sanitarium. Cooper has said this is his most personal song.

 How You Gonna See Me Now? (1978)

Jim Croce 

Jim Croce is an American singer-songwriter whose career was just taking off in a very hot way when tragedy struck. It was August 3, 1973 and his hit "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" had just finished 2 weeks topping the U.S. singles chart. Life was looking great for Croce his career was in full throttle. On September 20, 1973 ABC Records released his follow-up single to "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" called "I Got A Name", this song was expected to become a huge hit. On that same day Croce and fellow bandmates boarded a jet leaving Natchitoches, Louisiana (where they just finished a concert appearance) and were on their way to Sherman, Texas for another concert. They never made it. The plane took off downwind and hit a pecan tree near the end of the runway which impaired the plane and caused it to crash, leaving no survivors.

Jim Croce Stats:
Top 40 Hits: 8 (U.S.), 8 (Canada)
#1 Hits: Bad Bad Leroy Brown (1973 U.S., Canada), Time In A Bottle (1973 U.S., Canada)
Biggest Hit: Bad Bad Leroy Brown (1973 U.S., Worldwide), Time In A Bottle (1973 Canada),
Top Ten Albums: 4 (U.S., Canada)
# 1 Albums: 1 (U.S.) You Don't Mess Around With Jim (1972), 3 (Canada) You Don't Mess Around With Jim (1972), Life and Times (1973), Photographs and Memories: His Greatest Hits (1974)
Studio Albums Recorded: 5
Awards: Inducted into The Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1990. Received 2 Grammy Award nominations in 1973.
Career span: 1966 to 1973
Trivia: "Time In A Bottle" entered the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending December 1, 1973 and reached #1 the week ending December 29, a little over 3 months after he died. The song was originally written for Croce's son Adrian when he was a baby. Adrian grew up to become the singer-songwriter A.J. Croce. It was never intended to be a single and was released on Croce's first major-label solo LP You Don't Mess Around With Jim in 1972. The album had already yielded the #8 title track and #17 "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)." His second LP, Life And Times (released in 1973), had given Croce his first #1 single, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." "Time In A Bottle" became a hit over a year after it was first released when it was used in the ABC made-for-TV movie She Lives, about a woman dying of cancer. The song's producer, Terry Cashman, wasn't excited about recycling an old song, but ABC Record's management loved the idea and ok'd it's use in the movie.

Al Green

Born Albert Greene (he dropped the last "e" in his last name in 1968) in Forrest City, Arkansas, is an American Gospel and soul music legend. Al Green's music has influenced generations of musicians spanning all genres of music. In 2005, Rolling Stone Magazine named him #65 in their list of the '100 Greatest Artists of All Time'.

Al Green Stats:
Top 40 Hits: 14 (U.S.), 7 (UK)
#1 Hits: Let's Stay Together (1971 U.S.)
Biggest Hit: Let's Stay Together (1971 U.S.), Tired Of Being Alone (1971 UK)
Top Ten Albums: 3 (U.S.) Let's Stay Together (1972), I'm Still In Love With You (1972), Call Me (1973)
Studio Albums Recorded: 29
Total Albums Sold: 30 million (worldwide)
Awards: Inducted into the Gospel Music Association's Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004.  He was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2009 BET Awards on June 24, 2009 . On August 26, 2004, Green was honored as a BMI Icon at the annual BMI Urban Awards. Inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
Bands: Al Greene and the Creations (1962-66), Al Greene and the Soulmates (1967)
Career span: 1962 to present
Trivia: Al Green wrote and recorded the classic "Take Me To The River" in 1974 and was included on his album "Al Green Explores Your Mind". Green never released the song as a single but it ended up being recorded by several other artists. Syl Johnson took the song to #48 on the U.S. Billboard Top 100 Singles chart. Talking Heads recorded the song in 1978 for their album "More Songs About Buildings and Food. The Heads released the song as a single which reached #26 on the U.S. singles chart and the Top 40 in several other countries around the world. The Talking Heads turned this little known song into a classic and put their own indelible twist on it. Al Green's original version was ranked number 117 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

Al Green

Al Green - Let's Stay Together (1971)

Gordon Lightfoot

Canadian born singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot is credited as helping to shape the folk-pop sound of the 60's and 70's. Many of his songs have been recorded by legendary musicians such as Bob Dylan, Dan Fogelberg, Gene Clark, Jim Croce, John Mellencamp, Barbra Streisand, Anne Murray, Elvis Presley, Johnny mathis, Johnny Cash and several others. Lightfoot has been referred to as Canada's greatest songwriter.

Gordon Lightfoot Stats:
Top 40 Hits: 6 (U.S.), 22 (Canada) 3 (UK)
#1 Hits: If You Could Read My Mind (1970 Canada), Sundown (1974 Canada and U.S.), The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald (1976 Canada)
Biggest Hit: Sundown (1974 U.S. and Canada)
Top Ten Albums: 2 (U.S.), 8 (Canada)
# 1 Albums: 3 (Canada), Don Quixote (1972), Sundown (1974) and Summertime Dream (1976) 1 (U.S.) Sundown (1974)
Studio Albums Recorded:19
Total Albums Sold: 9 million (worldwide)
Awards: He has won 16 Juno Awards and nominated for 5 Grammy Awards. Lightfoot was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1986 and the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame in 2001. He was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 1998. In 2007 Canada Post honored Lightfoot and three other legendary Canadian music artists (Anne Murray, Paul Anka, and Joni Mitchell) with postage stamps highlighting their names and images.
Bands: The Swinging Eight (1960), Gino Silvi Singers (1960)
Career span: 1958 to present
Trivia: "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" was written, composed and performed by Gordon Lightfoot to commemorate the sinking of the bulk carrier SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. It was inspired by the Newsweek article on the event, "The Cruelest Month", which appeared in the issue of November 24, 1975. Lightfoot considers this song to be his finest work. In order to give the song it's musical flow Lightfoot's mega-hit contains a few artistic omissions and paraphrases. According to the song, the Fitzgerald was bound "fully loaded for Cleveland". In fact she was heading for Detroit, there to discharge her cargo of taconite iron ore pellets before docking in Cleveland for the winter. Lightfoot refers to Mariners' Church of Detroit as "The Maritime Sailors' Cathedral" in the lyrics.

The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald (1976)

Billy Preston

Billy Preston's career was filled with many highlights including work as a session musician for Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and Sly and the Family Stone. He is featured on several later Beatles tracks including "I Want You (She's So Heavy", "Something" and "Get Back", the latter which was credited as The Beatles featuring Billy Preston. In 1956 (at the young age of ten) Preston played organ for Gospel music great Mahalia Jackson and was in Little Richard's touring band in 1962. Finally in 1969 his solo career took off with his seventh studio album "That's The Way God Planned It", which was released on The Beatles' Apple Records and was his first to feature his lead vocals.

Billy Preston Stats:
Top 40 Hits: 7 (U.S.) 
#1 Hits: Will It Go Round In Circles (1973 U.S.), Nothing From Nothing (1974 U.S.)
Biggest Hit: Will It Go Round In Circles (1973 U.S.)
Studio Albums Recorded: 30
Awards:  1 Grammy Award in 1972 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for the song "Outa-Space".
Career span: 1956 to 2005
Trivia: One of Preston's most famous songs is the ballad "You Are So Beautiful", which became a huge hit for Joe Cocker in 1975. Preston originally recorded the song and released it on his 1974 album "The Kid's & Me", later he released it as the b-side to his 1974 U.S. Top 40 hit "Struttin'". Many websites list the song as being the b-side to his 1974 #1 hit "Nothing From Nothing", this is incorrect, as the b-side to that single is "My Soul Is A Witness". It is rumored that Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys contributed to the lyrics. Wilson never received any songwriting credit for the song but has performed in many Beach Boys concerts from 1975 to 1983.


James Taylor

Singer-songwriter and guitarist, James Taylor is an American icon and a living legend. His first big break came in late 1967 when he decided to try being a solo act. He recorded a demo which ended up in the hands of Peter Asher (half of the duo Peter and Gordon). At the time Asher was head of A&R for the Beatles' newly formed Apple Records. Asher took the demo to Paul McCartney, who was immediately impressed with Taylor voice and guitar work. Taylor was quickly signed to Apple Records becoming the labels first non British act. His debut album "James Taylor" was released in December 1968 and sold fairly well. The album included the single "Carolina In My Mind" in which both Paul McCartney and George Harrison participated, as well as the song "Something In The Way She Moves", which provided George Harrison with a starting point for the Beatles classic "Something".

James Taylor Stats:
Top 40 Hits: 14 (U.S.), 13 (Canada) 2 (UK)
#1 Hits: You've Got A Friend (1971 U.S.), How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You (1975 Canada), Handy Man (1977 Canada)
Biggest Hit: You've Got A Friend (1971 U.S.), How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You (1975 Canada), You've Got A Friend (1971 Worldwide)
Top Ten Albums: 11 (U.S.), 5 (Canada), 2 (UK)
Studio Albums Recorded:16
Total Albums Sold: 35 million (U.S.)
Awards:Taylor has won 5 Grammy Awards. He was inducted into both the rock and Roll Hall of Fame and The Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2004 he was ranked 84th in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of "The Immortals: 100 Greatest Artists of All Time".
Career span: 1966 to present
Trivia: Carole King played a huge role in the shaping of Taylor's early career. In 1969 Taylor moved to California he continued working with Peter Asher. It was during the recording of his second album (1970's "Sweet Baby James"), producer Asher asked Carole King to play piano on the album. King agreed instantly as she was a huge fan of Taylor's debut album on Apple Records. Taylor and King formed a mutual musical bond and King joined Taylor on the road and played piano for him during his live concert performances.  Taylor's 3rd album "Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon" included the classic Carole King penned "You've Got A Friend" which zoomed to #1 on the charts and won 2 Grammy Awards. King also played piano and sang backing vocals on the album.

 James Taylor and Carly Simon (married from 1972-1983)

Thank you friends for visiting my blog - Randall Webb



  1. Another great post! I always have to go listen to the artists you write about after reading one of your posts...

    1. Thank you Kevin, I am happy to hear you enjoy my posts and hopefully discover or re-discover some music you like.

  2. When someone thinks about rock music, they think of school bands and Bach. It is not as popular as it used to be when it was the only kind of music out there. rock music is the oldest type of rock music. It encompasses many different elements and instruments.

    1. There is some truth in what you say. although rock music may not be the number one genre of music as it was in the 60's and 70's, due to much more competition from a variety of genres. On the otherhand rock music has become one of the most durable of all genres of music. Look at bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Beatles and Rolling Stones they each sell several million discs and downloads each and every year. Sometimes they sell more than current day top of the charts artists.



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