15 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Male Singers Of The 70s

Written by Dan Farrant
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The 1970s are home to many of the most famous male performers ever. Although rock and roll had existed for decades, ’70s singers added the dramatic flair that is so popular today. Meanwhile, reggae made its way to the western world, country music saw the rise of outlaw country, and soul music continued to rise in popularity. 

To this day, the messages of clever songwriters resonate with audiences around the world. Without them, the entertainment industry would look much different today.

This post will delve into the lives of 15 of the greatest and most famous male singers of the ’70s. Interested? Read on!

1. Marvin Gaye

Known as the “Prince of Motown,” Marvin Gaye is still renowned across the United States. Gaye grew up in a public housing project with a supportive mother but an abusive father.

His quartet, Harvey and the New Moonglows backed Gaye up on his first lead vocal recording in 1959. 

Throughout the 1970s, he released six studio albums. Let’s Get It On was number 2 on the US Billboard 200 album charts. In 1971, he produced his own album, What’s Going On, which became the biggest album of his career despite its controversial political stance. 

In 1987, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Gaye. After his death, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

2. Elton John

Born in 1947, Elton John grew up in Middlesex, England, where he received a music scholarship at the age of 11, but his father was not supportive of his dreams of being a musician.

Nonetheless, John became a pub pianist and later a member of the band Bluesology, giving his career a kick start. 

To date, John has sold over 300 million records. His single “Candle In The Wind” is the best-selling album ever. 

In 1992, John was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and, in 1994, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

3. Stevie Wonder

One of the world’s unique singers, Stevie Wonder was born six weeks premature and soon went blind

He took the entertainment industry by storm with his recording debut, released when he was just 11 years old. Two years later, he became the youngest person to have a number 1 song on the US charts. 

In 1972, he released the album Talking Book, with the songs “Superstition” and “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life,” which became number 1 hits. 

In the 1970s, Stevie Wonder created and produced his own unique music using synthesizers. He also became the first black person to win a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1974.

4. David Bowie

As a teenager, legendary British singer David Bowie played in several bands. After finding little success, however, Bowie became a solo artist. 

He attracted attention with his dramatic wardrobe choices, and his Ziggy Stardust stage show in 1972 finally brought hard-earned fame. 

Each of the 11 albums he released in the 1970s was on the US Billboard 200. In 1975, he released “Fame,” his first number 1 hit single on the Billboard Hot 100.

Bowie won six Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

5. Bruce Springsteen

Thanks to his songs about the working class, Bruce Springsteen is regarded as one of the greats.

Springsteen was raised in the Catholic church, but he often argued against the nuns’ strict rules. He spent most of his school years alone, playing guitar. 

Through the years, he joined many bands, and his original songs attracted attention. As a member of E Street Band, Springsteen began to have some success selling records. 

In 1975, Springsteen finally found widespread fame with “Born To Run,” which reached number 3 on the Billboards 200. To date, Springsteen has sold over 150 million records. He has also won 20 Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

6. Glenn Frey

Lead singer of the Eagles, Glenn Frey studied piano and guitar from a young age. 

For years, he bounced between bands. While rising in fame, he accompanied Bob Seger on songs, including “Against The Wind.” 

Frey and Don Henley met in 1970 and co-founded the Eagles. Frey was the lead singer and writer or co-writer of records like “Take It Easy,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” and “Heartache Tonight.” “Lyin’ Eyes,” recorded in 1975, was number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

Between his time with the Eagles and his solo career, 24 of Frey’s records were on the Top 40 singles of the Billboard Hot 100.

7. Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, began his career singing in London bands, where he also befriended members of the band Smile. 

In 1970, he joined Smile and soon renamed it to Queen. The year 1975 became unforgettable when the band released one of their most famous songs, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” written principally by Mercury. 

The band’s 1979 single “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was also number 1 on the US Top 40 charts. Queen went on to become one of the most popular bands of all time, selling over 90 million albums number of records. 

Mercury revolutionized the entertainment industry by crossing genres, including heavy metal, gospel, and disco. His unforgettable style and vocal range earned him a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

8. Al Green

While growing up in Arkansas and Michigan, Al Green sang gospel music with his family in the quartet Green Brothers. His parents later dismissed him from the group for his love of secular music. Green founded the band Al Greene and the Soul Mates, which released one hit song. 

Of the 11 albums Green released in the 1970s, 7 reached the top 40 on the Billboard 200. His single “Let’s Stay Together” was number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Currently, Green has sold over 20 million records in styles including R&B, soul, blues, and gospel.

Green was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

9. Paul McCartney

The lead singer of the Beatles, Paul McCartney, was raised by his parents in England. When he was 14, his mother died of breast cancer. He wrote “Let It Be” with her memory in mind. 

When the Beatles disbanded in 1970, McCartney began his solo career. His song “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” became a US number 1 hit single. Later, he formed the band Wings, which had 27 US Top 40 hits. 

McCartney was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Beatles and as a solo artist.

10. Roger Daltrey

Roger Daltrey, the lead singer of the Who, was born into a lower-middle-class family. He formed the Who while attending Acton County Grammar School and working in a sheet metal factory. 

Daltrey performed lead vocals on “Baba O’Riley,” which was featured in Time magazine’s “All-Time 100 Songs” list. The Who has sold more than 100 million records. 

Daltrey also began a solo career in 1973. His debut single, “Giving It All Away,” was number 5 on the UK Singles Chart. 

The Grammy Foundation awarded Daltrey with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

11. Robert Plant

As the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant helped form the classic image of a ‘rock god’. When he was 10, he often pretended to be Elvis Presley. At 16, he left home and bounced between blues bands.

In 1971, Led Zeppelin released “Stairway To Heaven.” This hit was the most requested song on US FM radio stations. It has been estimated that Led Zeppelin sold between 200 and 300 million records. 

Rolling Stone listed Plant as one of the 100 best singers of all time. His extensive vocal range earned him 7 Grammy awards. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

12. Willie Nelson  

Willie Nelson is still one of the most recognizable male country artists. Despite the chaos of being born during the Great Depression, Nelson immersed himself in music at a young age. During high school, he toured as lead singer and guitarist of Bohemian Polka.

Nelson’s first commercial success stemmed from the 1975 album Red Headed Stranger. In 1976, with the rise of outlaw country, Nelson released “The Sound In Your Mind,” and it was certified gold in 1978.

In 1993, Nelson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone named him to their lists of the 100 Greatest Singers and 100 Greatest Guitarists.

13. Mick Jagger

Lead vocalist and co-founder of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger has played a significant role in rock and roll for decades. 

As a child, Mick Jagger was pressured to teach like his father. He studied finance and accounting while performing gigs with the band Blues Incorporated. There, he and two bandmates set the groundwork for the Rolling Stones. 

The Rolling Stones released “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” in 1971. Rolling Stone magazine ranked this song as number 25 on “The Top 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time”. 

Alongside the other Rolling Stones members, Mick Jagger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

14. Bob Marley

A pioneer of reggae, Bob Marley was born in Jamaica on a farm. He was raised Catholic but converted to Rastafari in the 1960s. 

Marley first found success in Jamaica with his band the Wailing Wailers. In 1973, they released their first worldwide album, Catch a Fire. 

While pursuing a solo career, Marley recorded “Exodus,” which spent 56 consecutive weeks on the British album charts. Babylon by Bus, Marley’s 1978 album, received critical acclaim. 

In 1978, the United Nations awarded him the Peace Medal of the Third World for his political activism.

In 1994, Marley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

15. Michael Jackson

Nicknamed the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson was well-known in the 1970s for his time with the Jackson 5. He joined his father’s band, the Jackson Brothers, but Michael’s father abused him during rehearsals. 

Michael became one of the lead singers, and the band released “I Want You Back” in 1970. It was Jackson 5’s first number 1 song on the US Billboard Hot 100. 

Jackson also began a solo career in 1972. His solo studio album Ben climbed to the top 10 on the US Billboard 200. 

Jackson’s performance of “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” in 1979 earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. 

Summing Up Our List Of The Famous ’70s Male Singers

The music industry has always attracted unique individuals from around the world. In the 1970s, countless male singers, especially the men listed above, led bands to fame with new, blended sounds and adventurous stage performances.

Still, other singers enjoyed the freedom of writing, performing, and producing their own music however best suited them. 

New artists exposed fans to new looks and sounds throughout the 1970s. Today, the music industry still reflects dance styles, wardrobes, and blended music born during that time, and for sure, we are still appreciating them!

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Written by Dan Farrant
Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.