Guide To Music In The 1970s

ABOUT The Author And Historian Ron Gattway

The author and historian Ron Gattway
Eye am an author/historian/publisher/satirist. Eye was born in Fulford Maternity Hospital because there was no room at the inn. Eye am the product of a mixed marriage: my mother was a woman, and my father was a man, so I had a difficult upbringing. Eye am also a racist, as eye am particula More...



Here is an extract from 'An Essential Guide To Music In The 1970s':

                        The song of the month for January 1976
         Forever And Ever by Slik (peak chart position: No.1)
Slik were perhaps guilty of attempting to imitate the highly-successful Bay City Rollers, but they did record a single which was superior to much of the teenage pop that had been unleashed in the previous couple of years. ‘Forever And Ever’ (with lead vocals by a young chap called Midge Ure) surrounds the vows taken at a wedding ceremony. Slik however soon vanished when the next single (‘Requiem’) failed to sell many copies.

                        The song of the month for February 1976
         Convoy by C.W. McCall (peak chart position: No.2)
Every now and then a box office success would yield smash hits and the latest film to inspire a foray into the pop charts was the American ‘road movie’, ‘Convoy’, starring the bearded country and western singer Kris Kristofferson. The artist responsible was C.W. McCall who provided a spoken role throughout the tune. The song found favour with a public that was keen on American chase movies such as ‘Smokey And The Bandit’. It also inspired a spoof cover version from Laurie Lingo And The Dipsticks, entitled ‘Convoy GB’.

                        The song of the month for March 1976
         Music by John Miles (peak chart position: No.3)
John Miles was the spokesperson for millions of people when he sang that “music is my first love and it will be my last”. This single spent three weeks at its peak position of Number 3. The song was quite a grandiose recording, assisted by an orchestral accompaniment. It even found its way deservedly on to a subsequent compilation, entitled ‘Milestones - 20 Rock Operas’, taking its place alongside many other classic recordings.

                        The song of the month for April 1976
         No Charge by J.J. Barrie (peak chart position: No.1)
This country and western flavoured novelty release sneaked into the Top Fifty at the end of April before ‘charging’ its way up the singles chart. J.J. Barrie actually talks his way through this emotional little number in which a small child runs through a bill of chores completed for his mother, after which the mother makes her son aware of her ‘services’, all performed with no charge. The British public certainly took it to their hearts, whilst Billy Connolly was inspired to perform a spoof entitled ‘No Chance’.

                        The song of the month for May 1976
    Midnight Train To Georgia by Gladys Knight And The Pips (peak chart position: No.10)
This sad composition had previously climbed to the summit of the American singles list three years earlier for Gladys Knight and her Pips. In the British charts, their effort was ‘pipped’ to the top of the charts but it remains one of the greatest soul singles in the history of popular music. This fabulous story was to provide the act with the third of four UK Top Ten hits in the 1970s, though its peak position of No.10 was an injustice.

                        The song of the month for June 1976
         Let’s Stick Together by Bryan Ferry (peak chart position: No.4)
Geordie crooner Bryan Ferry continued to cultivate a solo career alongside his association with Roxy Music. In between band projects, Ferry did a commendable re-working of Canned Heat’s ‘Let’s Work Together’ which provided the singer with his first Top Ten hit since ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’. Ferry’s other half, Jerry Hall, made a contribution to the song’s video, before she decided to go off and stick together with Mick Jagger.

                        The song of the month for July 1976
         Don’t Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John And Kiki Dee (peak chart position: No.1)
Elton John was no stranger to the top of the Billboard Number One position, but it took a collaboration with Kiki Dee to earn the popular singer his first UK chart-topper. Not content with reaching the pop summit, Elton and Kiki promptly stayed there for a further five weeks. This excellent pop song would end the year as the second biggest-selling single in the British charts. For four August heatwave weeks, this duet would sit at the top of the pop music lists in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

                        The song of the month for August 1976
         The Killing Of Georgie by Rod Stewart (peak chart position: No.2)
This outstanding item lived in the shadow of the million-selling ‘Sailing’ which is quite unjust, considering that it is arguably the better song. Here Rod branches out into a ballad about the murder of a gay friend in New York. Not only does the tragic end of Georgie make for an interesting story but the second half of the song’s extended version is most poignant. This tune must surely be a strong contender for the best track of the year.

                        The song of the month for September 1976
         Girl Of My Best Friend by Elvis Presley (peak chart position: No.9)
His health may have been in terminal decline, but for all the personal turmoil, Elvis Presley still enjoyed regular incursions into the British Top Ten. This ‘latest’ success story was actually a recording that dated back to 1960. The ‘Girl Of My Best Friend’ was born around the same time as the smash hits ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ and ‘It’s Now Or Never’. This slice of nostalgia was a reminder of the majesty of the King.

                        The song of the month for October 1976
         If You Leave Me Now by Chicago (peak chart position: No.1)
Peter Cetera and his Chicago outfit had already enjoyed a two-week stint at the top of the Billboard chart when they emulated this success by securing a three-week sojourn at the summit of the UK singles listings. Here was yet another of those sensitive songs that the British public took a liking to. Chicago hadn’t visited the Top Ten for six years and it would be a further 6 years before they returned.

                        The song of the month for November 1976
         Money Money Money by Abba (peak chart position: No.3)
The all-conquering Abba experienced relative failure when ‘Money Money Money’ could ‘only’ manage a Number 3 peak position after a hat-trick of chart-toppers in the previous twelve months. This new smash hit still remained one of the most memorable tunes from the quartet’s esteemed repertoire. It is after all the kind of lyrics which many gold-digging females could relate to. The single spent four weeks in the Top Three, but was eclipsed by Abba’s next three releases which also topped the UK charts.

                        The song of the month for December 1976
         The Last Resort by The Eagles (album track)
This seven and a half minute epic brought the curtain down on the highly acclaimed ‘Hotel California’ long player. The song is a critique of the white man’s colonisation of North America in the name of God. It is a powerful, thought-provoking grandiose recording which never seemed to acquire the recognition it has merited. Perhaps it has been overshadowed by the album’s hit singles, but ‘The Last Resort’ is a giant album track.

Listed Below are the Top 10 Best Selling UK Singles of 1976
1     Save Your Kisses For Me                        Brotherhood of Man
2     Don’t Go Breaking My Heart          Elton John and Kiki Dee
3     Mississippi                                Pussycat
4     Dancing Queen                        Abba
5     A Little Bit More                         Dr. Hook
6     If You Leave Me Now                Chicago
7     Fernando                              Abba
8     I Love To Love                        Tina Charles
9     The Roussos Phenonemon (EP)       Demis Roussos
10    Under The Moon Of Love                      Showaddywaddy

                        1976’s CONCERTS OF THE YEAR
The runaway train, otherwise known as the Sex Pistols, took off around England’s green and pleasant land, as the ‘Anarchy Tour’ caused merry mayhem. The Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester was one such venue that enjoyed the peculiar pleasures of a Pistols’ performance. From this happening began the great Manchester music scene that dominated the new wave and indie genres for the subsequent dozen years. Other punk acts such as the Clash and the Damned were treating the disenfranchised youth to their own particular rocky horror shows. Meanwhile, one slightly less punk outfit, the Brotherhood of Man, were triumphing at the Eurovision Song Contest with the twee ‘Save Your Kisses For me’. The reclusive Brian Wilson also stepped out of his bedroom and joined the Beach Boys back on stage for the first time in several years as the group continued to entertain their fans with their ‘sixties ‘surfin’ repertoire. Speaking of ‘sixties legends, the Rolling Stones were strutting their stuff at the Knebworth summer festival. Out in the Carribbean, Bob Marley made an astonishing appearance at the Smile Jamaica concert, a few hours after being shot in an assassination attempt at his home. It would be Marley’s last outing in Jamaica for 16 months. 
                        1976’s ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Hotel California by The Eagles
                        (released in December; reached No.2 in the UK)
The Eagles were the biggest success story to emerge from North America in the ‘seventies. They were loosely described as a rock band, but their own brand of laid back, west coast ‘rock’ was considerably more accessible than heavy metal whilst their material refreshingly swerved the standard alpha male, macho posturing of the likes of the Rolling Stones and the Who. The group’s creative peak was almost certainly ‘Hotel California’. Whilst the record is best remembered for its trio of hit singles, ‘Life In The Fast Lane’, ‘The New Kid In Town’,and the epic title track, the rest of the long player is anything but ‘album filler’. The band’s sensitive side was much in evidence on such items as  the majestic ‘Wasted Time’ and the beautiful ‘Pretty Maids All In A Row’. ‘Try And Love Again’ is another impressive ‘soft rock’ composition, but pride of place must go to ‘The Last Resort’. This concluding piece is surely one of the most under-rated tracks in the history of popular music. With such an armoury of quality songs, it is small wonder that ‘Hotel California’ thrived in the UK and US charts.

                        SPORT IN 1976
English Division One football champions: Liverpool; runners-up: Queen’s Park Rangers
English FA Cup final: Southampton 1 Manchester United 0 
English League Cup Final: Manchester City 2 Newcastle United 1
Scottish Premier Division football champions: Glasgow Rangers; runners-up: Glasgow Celtic
Scottish FA Cup final: Glasgow Rangers 3 Hearts 1 
Scottish League Cup final: Glasgow Rangers 1 Glasgow Celtic 0
Irish League football champions: Crusaders; Irish Cup final: Carrick Rangers 2 Linfield 1 
League Of Ireland football champions: Dundalk; cup winners: Bohemians
European Cup final: Bayern Munich 1 St Etienne 0 
European Cup-Winners’ Cup final: Anderlecht 4 West Ham United 2
UEFA Cup final: Liverpool beat Bruges 4-3 on aggregate
English county cricket champions: Middlesex
Five Nations’ rugby union champions: Wales (the Grand Slam); runners-up: France
Formula One world drivers’ champion: James Hunt (United Kingdom) in a McLaren car
Gaelic football All-Ireland champions: Dublin; runners-up: Kerry                       
British Open golf champion: Johnny Miller (at Royal Birkdale)
US Masters golf champion: Ray Floyd
US Open golf champion: Jerry Pate
USPGA golf champion: Dave Stockton
Rugby league Challenge Cup final: St Helens 20 Widnes 5
Wimbledon men’s singles tennis final: B Borg beat I Nastase 6-4, 6-2, 9-7
Wimbledon ladies’ singles tennis final: C Evert beat E Cawley 6-3, 4-6, 8-6
World snooker final: Ray Reardon (Wales) beat Alex Higgins (Northern Ireland) 27-16
The Aintree Grand National steeplechase winner: Rag Trade; price 14-1
The Epsom Derby winner: Empery; jockey - Lester Piggott; price 10-1
European Championship final: Czechoslovakia beat West Germany on penalties (2-2 after full time)

                        1976’s DEATHS
January 5th: John Aloysius Costello (Irish ex-Taoiseach), aged 84
January 8th: Chou En-lai (Chinese statesman), aged 77
January 12th: Dame Agatha Christie (British author), aged 85
January 23rd: Paul Robeson (US singer), aged 77
February 22nd: Florence Glenda Ballard Chapman (US singer), aged 32
February 23rd: Laurence Stephen Lowry (British artist), aged 78
March 14th: Busby Berkeley (US choreographer), aged 80
March 19th: Paul Francis Kossoff (British musician), aged 25
March 24th: Field Marshal Montgomery (British soldier), aged 88
April 1st: Max Ernst (French artist), aged 84
April 5th: Howard Hughes (US tycoon), aged 70
April 25th: Sir Carol Reed (British film director), aged 69
April 26th: Sidney James (British actor), aged 62
May 26th: Dame Maggie Teyte (British soprano), aged 88
June 6th: John Paul Getty (US oil tycoon), aged 83
June 9th: Dame Agnes Sybil Thorndike (British actress), aged 93
June 25th: Johnny Mercer (US singer), aged 66
July 22nd: Sir Robert Wheeler (British archaeologist), aged 85
August 2nd: Fritz Lang (German film director), aged 85
August 4th: Baron Thomson of Fleet (British newspaper owner), aged 82
August 19th: Alastair George Bell Sim (British actor), aged 75
August 29th: Jimmy Reed (US musician), aged 50
September 9th: Mao Tse-tung (Chinese dictator), aged 82
September 21st: Sir William Alexander Roy Collins (British publisher), aged 76
October 14th: Dame Edith Evans (British actress), aged 88
October 22nd: Edward John Burra (British artist), aged 71
November 18th: Man Ray (US artist), aged 86
November 19th: Sir Basil Urwin Spence (British architect), aged 69
November 23rd: Andre Malraux (French author), aged 75
December 4th: Tommy Bolin (US musician), aged 25
December 4th: Edward Benjamin Britten (British composer), aged 63