Best Rock Bands Of The 1970s: Top 7 Era-Defining Groups, According To Fans

The 1970s were a great time for music. Not only this, but it was the pinnacle time for rock and roll music. Bands like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones dominated the charts and left a lasting impact on the music industry. The energy and raw talent displayed by these iconic rock bands captured the rebellious spirit of the era and resonated with listeners worldwide. The decade truly defined a golden age of rock and roll, with unforgettable anthems that continue to be celebrated and enjoyed by generations of music lovers, being made by some of the best rock bands of the 1970s. Their music pushed boundaries and transcended genres, blending blues, folk, and psychedelic rock elements.

Led Zeppelin’s intricate guitar solos inspired countless musicians to pick up their instruments and rock out. The Rolling Stones, with Mick Jagger’s charismatic stage presence, became the embodiment of rock and roll. The legacy of these legendary bands continues to shape the landscape of rock and roll today, reminding us of the raw power and timeless appeal of their music.

Music from the era of Flower Children continues to prove its prevalence today. According to a recent study, there’s one song from the ’70s that sparks happiness better than any other. A poll of 1,300 adults crowned the Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky” the happiest song ever. Despite dozens of other classics vying for the title, the 1978 hit was selected by a fifth of all respondents. There is no doubt that many other hits from the decade put a smile on faces worldwide today.

Ready to rock? Today, we have researched across multiple expert sources to bring you the top seven best rock bands of the 1970s. Don’t agree with our list? No worries, we would love to hear from you in the comments down below. 

The List: Best Rock Bands of the 1970s, Per Music Experts

1. Led Zeppelin

The first band on our ranking is Led Zeppelin. Led by Robert Plant with strings by Jimmy Page, keyboard and bass by John Paul Jones, and percussion by John Bonham. “Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, this group truly defined the rock genre. They released a string of hit albums, each one topping the charts. The band’s crowning achievement, ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ consistently ranks as one of the best songs of all time,” says Retire Better Now.

Jimmy Page (right) on stage with Robert Plant (left)
Jimmy Page (right) on stage with Robert Plant (left) “Jimmy Page with Robert Plant 2 – Led Zeppelin – 1977” by Jim Summaria, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

“This hallowed group was an English rock band based in London. The group consisted of four members, and they mostly sang heavy metal and hard rock and drew inspiration from blues. They originally called themselves the New Yardbirds but later changed their name to Led Zeppelin, which was the title of their debut album. The album was ranked top ten in several countries, and their 1971 ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ album was among the bestsellers, having sold more than 37 million copies,” writes Music Grotto.

“Led Zeppelin took the world by storm when they formed in London in 1968, their electrifying sound quickly translating across the world. Fronted by Robert Plant, the band saw success right out of the gate with their 1969 self-titled debut album that set the stage for the next decade that saw them impacting music history,” states American Songwriter.

2. Pink Floyd

Next up is Pink Floyd. Initially formed in 1965, “Pink Floyd was one of the most popular ’70s bands. At this time, they released the hugely successful album ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ which stayed on the charts for 937 weeks. They also released ‘The Wall,’ which proved to be an instant classic,” explains Retire Better Now.

Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon album
Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” album (© Blue –

“Another English rock band, Pink Floyd, found success thanks to their emphasis on lyricism and musical ability. The band shot to fame and stardom on the strength of a string of albums released from 1973 to 1979. Of particular note in this period was the release of 1973’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’ That album is considered one of the most crucial rock albums ever released,” raves Hello Music Theory.

“Simply put, Pink Floyd is God. Their music is incredible; it’s so far ahead of its time, so musically incredible. After the departure of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd turned away from their psychedelic and went more progressive, as shown in their first 1970 release, ‘Atom Heart Mother,’ which is a highly underrated album. This release includes a 24-minute-long instrumental epic with an interesting melody and has an orchestra to back it up. Their next release, Meddle, is one of their greatest albums, with an incredible 24-minute epic with superb guitar work by David Gilmour and wonderful harmonies led by Roger Waters. After the 70s, Pink Floyd basically wasn’t the same. But Floyd left behind a large legacy of musical genius and incredible epics that will probably never be matched in the history of mankind,” notes Rate Your Music.

3. The Eagles

The third spot on our list is dedicated to the band behind “Hotel California” themselves: The Eagles. “Masters of the California sound, this American band seamlessly blended country, folk, and rock influences to create a distinctive style that resonated with audiences around the globe. Their harmonious vocals and expert musicianship resulted in multiple chart-topping albums throughout the ’70s, making them one of the most successful bands of the era. With their smooth melodies and evocative lyrics, they helped define the West Coast sound and left an indelible mark on popular music,” describes Ranker.

“The Eagles band was formed in 1971 in Los Angeles and has been one of the best-performing rock bands since the early 1970s. They have won multiple awards, including five American Music Awards and six Grammy Awards. Their first album, ‘Eagles,’ was successful with two singles, ‘Witchy Woman’ and ‘Take it Easy,’ featuring in the top 20 singles in Canada and the US,” comments Music Grotto.

“The Eagles formed at the start of the ’70s as Linda Ronstadt’s backing group; by the end of the decade, they were one of the biggest bands in the world. Their 1972 self-titled debut album has become a country-rock milestone over the years, but it’s their 1976 masterwork, ‘Hotel California,’ that immediately sealed their legacy. The country influences are still there, but so are searing guitar solos by Joe Walsh and a look at the Los Angeles music scene’s dark underbelly by a band that lived it. Their ‘Greatest Hits’ package, also from 1976, remains an all-time bestseller and an excellent primer on the pre-‘Hotel California’ years,” reports UCR.

4. The Rolling Stones

It’s time for Mick Jagger to swagger on in and take the mic because our number four pick is The Rolling Stones. “First started in 1962, this band has had a long and entertaining career. They also helped shape the face of rock and roll, growing a huge legion of fans. In fact, they were once considered The Greatest Rock And Roll Band In The World. Despite almost 60 years in the industry, they refuse to slow down, continuing to play sold-out shows around the globe,” says Retire Better Now.

“The Rolling Stones were one of the few first-wave rock groups that maintained their success in the ’70s despite the new standard being hard and pop-rock. They were a British band, and to keep up with the new rock culture, they started doing hard and dirty blues-inspired rock with a twinge of country rock. They became more polished through the decade and practiced diverse styles while still maintaining their blues-rock approach,” adds Music Grotto.

“For those who prefer a deeper level of heavy rock with a blend of blues, The Rolling Stones excelled in this style of music. After experimenting with psychedelic music, they returned to their roots. They performed commercially successful concerts and tours throughout their career. ‘Let It Bleed’ is one of their top albums, and over the years, they have sold more than 200 million copies. Their influence on rock music is still evident today, especially since they’ve won three Grammys,” explains Musician Wave.

5. Queen

Next up on our ranking is Queen. You didn’t think we would get all the way through this list without mentioning the band that wrote one of the best songs of the ’70s, did you? “Queen is one of the most popular and successful rock bands of all time. They had a unique blend of hard rock, glam rock, and progressive rock, and their powerful vocals and guitar solos are legendary,” raves Music Gateway.

Queen CDs
Queen CDs (Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash)

“With their flamboyant stage presence and genre-defying sound, this British quartet pushed the boundaries of rock music by incorporating elements of opera, gospel, and vaudeville into their songs. Led by one of rock’s most charismatic frontmen, they achieved worldwide success with a series of groundbreaking albums that showcased their unparalleled musicianship and penchant for theatricality. As pioneers of stadium rock, they laid the groundwork for countless artists who would follow in their footsteps,” states Ranker.

“It goes without saying that Queen is one of the many rock bands that define the concept without thought. Led by flamboyant and bombastic frontman Freddie Mercury, Queen became a sensation by combining rock sensibilities with Mercury’s intellect. The result was a group that produced some of the mega-hits of the 1970s, including the classic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and others like ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are the Champions.’ The band’s success extended into the 1980s when they played one of the most appreciated live sets of all time at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in 1985. Sadly, Mercury’s early-1990s AIDS diagnosis compromised his immune system, enough for a case of pneumonia to ultimately end his life. The other members of the Queen are still alive and, in honor of their late vocalist, contributed to a Mercury biopic called ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,'” writes Hello Music Theory.

6. Lynyrd Skynyrd

Number six is for all the guys who yell out “Freebird” at a show. That’s right, it’s Lynyrd Skynyrd. “From Jacksonville, Florida, Lynyrd Skynyrd became one of the most well-known southern rock bands on the strength of two songs: ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and ‘Free Bird.’ Both songs became instant rock classics and propelled the band into the stratosphere. With six albums released before 1977, the band seemed destined to sustain their success into the next decade. Then, tragedy struck. An airplane crash killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines. Without Van Zant, the soul of the band was gone. However, Lynyrd Skynyrd was able to reform with new members in 1987, including Van Zant’s brother Johnny taking over on vocals,” explains Hello Music Theory.

“The entire output of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic lineup was released during the ’70s, a daunting amount of material in a relatively short period of time. Beginning with their 1973 debut, ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd,’ the band released a total of five studio albums, one live LP, and two compilations. Contained within those efforts were many of the most recognizable songs in Southern rock history. Somehow, the group also found time to tour tirelessly, performing more than 500 concerts between 1972 and 1977. That output could have been even grander had tragedy not struck. Still, the band’s legacy was cemented in those early years, and its influence is still felt in rock today,” reports UCR.

“In less than a decade, Lynyrd Skynyrd established itself as one of the most iconic rock bands of all time. They ruled the ’70s with hits like ‘Saturday Night Special,’ serving as a voice for the South where they originated from that extended to fans across the world. Despite the tragedy and subsequent lineup changes over the years, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s legacy is still thriving through their classic hits,” adds American Songwriter.

7. Aerosmith 

You’re going to want to “Walk This Way” for our next pick. Last but certainly not least, number seven on our list goes to Aerosmith. “The Boston-native band Aerosmith is defined by frontman Steve Tyler’s distinctive voice. Formed by Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer, and Brad Whitford in 1971, Aerosmith spent a decade strong with a series of hits like ‘Dream On,’ ‘Walk This Way’ and ‘Sweet Emotion,’ all of which kicked off with their two-time platinum-certified self-titled debut album in 1973. Despite a rocky tenure in the early 1980s after Perry and Whitford left the band, they’ve since reunited and are one of the best-selling rock bands of all time, with record sales north of 150 million worldwide,” notes American Songwriter.

Lead singer of Aerosmith, Steven Tyler, performing in 2018
Lead singer of Aerosmith, Steven Tyler, performing in 2018 (Photo by Adam McCullough on Shutterstock)

“Aerosmith, named in a roundabout way for Harry Nilsson’s ‘Aerial Ballet’ album, trades on big-hearted, raw as good denim, painfully honest, and very, very amorous blues rock. This is not a band you have to demystify; this is a band that wants you, with respect, to shake your hiney while they tell you exactly what’s up. And wow, did people want to listen. With seven platinum albums from the 70s alone, including their debut, this is a band that people couldn’t help but fall in love with right from the start,” comments LedgerNote.

“Six studio albums, each of which sold a million copies or more: The stats alone don’t capture Aerosmith’s dominance during the ’70s, but they’re a pretty good place to start. Beginning with their 1973 self-titled LP, the Boston group quickly established itself as one of the most exciting bands on the planet. Classic tracks such as ‘Back in the Saddle’ and ‘Walk This Way’ earned the group a ferocious following, while 1975’s ‘Toys in the Attic’ remains among the most celebrated rock albums of all time,” concludes UCR.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

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About the Author

Jilly Hite

New York raised and Florida-based Jilly Hite studied screenwriting and theatre at The Lee Strasberg Institute before becoming a full time content creator and podcaster. She loves old movies, musical theatre, and her pup Ted.

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  1. Note the TOP TEN
    Psycedeliv Rock Bands in classic 1965-1970 “Hippie” period. I nominate thrse: 1. 13thFloor Elevztors (Roky Erickson, Tommy Hall, Stacy,etc.) 2. Jefferson Airplane (Grace Slick) 3. THE DOORS( Jim Morrison, Manzarak, bass.& guitar) 4. JANIS JOPLIN 5.

    1. That is exactly what I was going to say … thanks for saying it for me!
      Ian and Jethro Tull … fantastic music, and 2 albums out in the last 2 years, and one coming up next year scheduled for Oct 2024.

      But this is about popular culture and sales, etc.

      Yea Tull!

    1. Oh so cool … there are so many of us Tull fans!
      We always get ignored.
      Ian and Tull – maybe not rock and roll, but the best music, with actual literacy.

    1. There are a lot of great bands that get left out.
      Jethro Tull
      Grand Funk
      Guess Who
      The Who
      Al Stewart
      and so many more.

      To get edged out by Skynyrd, Queen and Aerosmith?? Huh? 😉

  2. First off who makes a top 7 list instead of a top 10 list???. My guess is so the creator can leave off Genius Recording artists like; The Who, Allman Brothers ( They created the Southern Rock Genre not Skynyrd, which I love. No Solo Beatles??- is this your punishment for musical Geniuses that created the entire Classic Rock Genre into a multi Billion $$ industry, a disgrace!!!. Tull, Grateful Dead,CSNY, Kinks,Springsteen, & Elton John- totally Prolific highest quality Artist that can’t be snubbed by a Decade of incredible Prolific creativity. Furthermore, in turn, this special Decade needs to have a top 20 list, not top 7. So, a big D- grade to the author of this article who’s name need not repeated. Find another line of work is strongly suggested.

  3. I notice there are a ton of Tull fans here weighing in! Shout out to the Tull fans

    It’s impossible to determine the best music as a matter of taste,
    but I could get offended that you left Tull …
    Jethro Tull
    The Who
    The Guess Who
    The Dead
    Al Stewart
    Grand Funk
    3 Dog Night
    Emerson, Lake and Palmer
    Van Halen
    CSN , CSN&Y
    and much as I an disgusted by him now, Cat Stevens was all over the 70s.
    and many more.

    On these questions of taste they usually have to resort to media exposure and sales.

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