Back in 1999, the late Prince commented that sampling in the music industry was “getting out of hand,” speculating that “pretty soon we’ll be sampling the sample that was already sampled.” The “Purple Rain” hitmaker wasn’t wrong; in 2024 it seems that social media eats up songs that pay homage to hits of past decades, and since labels prioritize virality over quality, there’s been a notable increase in the use of sounds popularized by 70s bands, 80s rockstars and 90s pop divas.

When used intentionally, sampling can do wonders for modern music. Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up” was used by both Kanye West and Bran Van 3000 for “Touch the Sky” and “Astounded” respectively. Elsewhere, Cassidy took notes from Honey Cone’s “Aquarius” (1970) for his 2004 song, “Husslin’.” Throughout the 70s there were a number of bands that helped make the industry what it is today; keep scrolling to read some of our favorites.

14. The Isley Brothers

The Isley Brothers have been making music since the 1950s, but as Afro notes, the 70s was one of the most memorable decades in their discography. Their 1971 project, Givin’ It Back was made up of remakes of classic rock and folk songs like Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” and James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.” Bill Withers joined the group (consisting of family members Ronnie, Ernie, Rudolph, O’Kelly, Vernon, Marvin and their friend Chris Jasper) on lead guitar and over the next few years they consistently shared projects such as Brother, Brother, Brother, 3+3 and 1975’s The Heat is On – arguably their most influential work.

13. Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel’s time together was short, but impactful. As 1970 began the duo shared their Bridge Over Troubled Water LP, made up of hits like “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)” and the upbeat “Cecilia.” Though personal rifts prevented them from releasing future albums together, but the middle of the decade they reunited to cover Sam Cooke’s “(What a) Wonderful World” with James Taylor.

12. The Spinners

70s bands pictured: The Spinners
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Another 70s band that began making music long before hitting their stride is the Spinners, formerly the Domingies and hte Detroit Spinners. Berry Gordy signed the aspiring stars in 1963, though their breakthrough didn’t come until 1972 when they inked a deal with Atlantic Records and began working with songwriting legend Thom Bell. Among their best known tracks from this era are “I’ll Be Around” with Bobby Smith, “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” and “Ghetto Child.”

11. The Commodores

The Commodores were booked and busy all throughout the 1970s, sharing seven studio albums throughout the decade before their lead singer, Richie, moved on to pursue a successful solo career in 1982. The Black supergroup was created in 1968 when six students from the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama merged their college bands, the Mystics and the Jays. William King, Thomas McClary and Lionel Richie were a part of the former, while Milan Williams, Michael Gilbert and Andre Callahan came from the latter.

10. Blondie

Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry wasn’t ready to give up when her 1976 debut failed to gain traction everywhere but Australia. Instrad, she and her band members signed with Chrysalis and released their Plastic Letters album two years later to great success. “Heart of Glass” and “One Way or Another” are the project’s most popular songs, though “Dreaming” boasts noteworthy drumwork from Clem Burke.

9. Sly & the Family Stone

Sly & the Family Stone had the potential to be far greater than what their music achieved, but unfortunately, addiction led to the downfall of the genre-bending group. Sly Stone’s tone on 1971’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On was notably more depressing than past works, though the project clearly reflects the times as the hippie era became less popular. He worked with different collaborators on Fresh in 1973 but that ultimately fell apart after Small Talk was released the next year. The Texas native’s LPs that arrived later in the decade were essentially solo records, as Ultimate Classic Rock reminds us.

8. Kiss

70s bands pictured: Kiss
(Photo by Ginny Winn/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

One of the many 70s bands to make their mark on the music industry in the 70s is Kiss; Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were the original four members. Their bold black and white makeup looks are just part of what ingrained Kiss so heavily in the minds of music lovers, and in 1975 their Alive! double album helped them soar to new heights, largely thanks to its only single, “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

7. Queen

1975 was also a big year for Freddie Mercury’s British rock band Queen with the debut of their best-known song, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” They shared a total of seven LPs in the 70s, from their self-titled debut in ’73 to Jazz in ’78, which landed at No. 2 on the charts in the UK and No. 6 in the United States. Mercury, the lead singer, tragically died in 1991, but a biopic reliving his incredible run starring Rami Malek arrived in 2018.

6. The Jackson 5

It’s no secret that Joe Jackson wasn’t easy on his sons as they rose to superstardom, but no matter the abuse they endured, their love for performing was always evident. As the 70s began, Jackie and his brothers Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael had already paid their dues performing small town gigs as The Jackson 5. In this new decade they applied serious pressure with Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5, best known for number one singles such as “I Want You Back,” “I’ll Be There,” “The Love You Save” and “ABC.” The following years were filled with more great music from the famous family before Michael went on to become a global phenomenon in his own right.

5. Parliament-Funkadelic

Also known as P-Funk, this groovy group was founded in 1968 in Plainfield, New Jersey by George Clinton. Two years later they shared their debut self-titled LP, Funkadelic and their sophomore project, Free You Mind… and Your Ass Will Follow came shortly after. Combined with 1971’s Maggot Brain, P-Funk’s first three albums helped popularize a sub-genre of “Psychedelic Funk and Soul” and its influence can be heard throughout today’s music.

4. Fleetwood Mac

Part of what draws listeners into Fleetwood Mac is the allure of the band’s messy lure, caused by hookups, breakups and other drama. It was surely exhausting for Stevie Nicks, Lindsay Buckingham and their fellow singers to live through, but it also gave us emotional ballads such as “Dreams” and “Go Your Own Way” that you can’t help but sing along to.

3. The Doobie Brothers

Of all the 70s bands we’ve looked at so far, The Doobie Brothers had some of the most impressive range. Having two lead singers enabled them to tackle many genres, from biker rock to country-blues. Eventually one vocalist, Tom Johnston, had to depart for health reasons, but his replacement Michael McDonald’s integration of jazz and soul helped The Doobie Brothers grow their fanbase even further.


70s bands pictured: ABBA
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

If you’re feeling down and in need of a pick-me-up, you can always count on an ABBA song to be there for you. The Swedish pop supergroup banded together in 1972, pouring their creative talents into songs like “Dancing Queen,” “Chiquitita” and “I Have A Dream,” all of which appear in 2008’s Mamma Mia! movie. Much to fans’ delight, ABBA reunited in 2021 to share music for the first time in years in the form of the 10-track Voyage LP and a single called “Little Things.”

1. Earth, Wind And Fire

Even if you weren’t alive during the 70s, listening to Earth, Wind And Fire‘s “September” will take you there. The group got its name thanks to founding member Maurice White’s passion for studying astrology. Though their 1971 self-titled debut didn’t get the reaction they were hoping for, their second LP of the year, A Need Of Love helped turn more heads their way. As the decade went on Earth, Wind And Fire continued to add new members and collaborate with others who shared their vision to make music magic.