American Music Timeline | 1970-present

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
American Music Timeline American Music Timeline
Part VII: 1970-present
by David Johnson

Previous: The 1960s1970 1979 1982 1990 1995 2000

Early 1970s
The Moody Blues, Electric Light Orchestra, and Pink Floyd create "art rock", combining classical styles with rock; synthesizer becomes important instrument
Circa 1975
CBGB (Country Bluegrass & Blues) club in New York showcases "punk rock" which blends various psychedelic and mainstream rock influences
Philip Glass completes Einstein on the Beach, first widely performed minimalist piece
Movie Saturday Night Fever popularizes "disco" music
Sony introduces the Walkman
Hip hop, a blend of rock, jazz, soul with African drumming, born in the South Bronx
Sugarhill Gang releases "Rapper's Delight", popularizes rap, combines elements of disco and rock with urban street music
MTV, music television, debuts with nonstop music videos, presentation becomes as important as the sound
Michael Jackson releases album "Thriller", ties with Eagles' "Their Greatest Hits," as best selling album in history; "Thriller" music video becomes a classic
Compact discs begin to replace vinyl records
Madonna's album "Like a Virgin" makes her a major star
Early 1990s
Grunge rock, a combination of various rock styles, rises in Seattle; features such bands as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Metallica
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opens in Cleveland
Internet transforms music scene; music industry angry about companies offering free music over the Internet, without paying copyright fees; Court action prompts Napster to stop distributing copyrighted music free, and team up with industry giant Bertelsmann to provide material for a fee
First Page
Back to the Beginning
Sources:, Kingwood College online library, Folk Music and Carolan Resource Center, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, A&E Entertainment Almanac from Information Please, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition; The Harvard Dictionary of Music, The Young Reader's Companion to American History
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