I. American Culture in the 1970s
A. By the early 1970s, the majority of Americans had grown weary of the
military conflict in Vietnam; the United States withdrew from Saigon in 1975.
B. Oil crisis in 1973
C. Economic inflation
D. Growing cynicism about politics, with the Watergate hearings and the
resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974
E. Popular music remained the target of conservative politicians and
F. The market for popular music became focused on two main categories:
1. New generation of teenagers, born in the late 1950s and early 1960s
2. Adults aged twenty-five to forty
G. Nostalgia for the so-called Golden Age of 1950s America
1. Film American Graffiti (1973)
2. Broadway musical and film Grease (1972 and 1978)
3. TV series Happy DaysCHAPTER ELEVEN: THE 1970s: ROCK MUSIC, DISCO, AND THE POPULAR MAINSTREAM
H. The end of the counterculture for rock fans
1. Deaths of leading figures in rock music
a) Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin in 1970
b) Jim Morrison of the Doors in 1971
2. Breakup of the Beatles
a) Paul McCartney officially dissolved the business partnership
on December 31, 1970.
I. Technology and the music business
1. Corporate consolidation during the 1970s
a) Six huge corporations were responsible for over 80 percent of
record sales in the United States by the end of the decade.
(2) Warner Communications
(3) RCA Victor
(6) United Artists-MGMCHAPTER ELEVEN: THE 1970s: ROCK MUSIC, DISCO, AND THE POPULAR MAINSTREAM
2. The recording industry became riskier during the 1970s.
a) The industry came to depend on a relatively small number of
million-selling platinum LPs to make a profit.
b) A small number of “multiplatinum” superstars negotiated
multimillion-dollar contracts with the major record companies.
c) Independent labels accounted for only one of every ten records
sold in the early 1970s.
a) Eight-track tapes and cassette tapes, developed in the 1960s,
became increasingly popular in the early 1970s.
b) By 1975, sales of prerecorded tapes accounted for almost onethird of all music sales in the United States.
4. The recording industry was increasingly impelled to present more
choices for its customers.
a) Dozens of specialized types of popular music and subgenres of
rock music emerged.
a) The Top 40 playlist format dominated AM radio.CHAPTER ELEVEN: THE 1970s: ROCK MUSIC, DISCO, AND THE POPULAR MAINSTREAM
b) Professional programming consultants provided lists of records
that had done well in other parts of the country.
c) Radio playlists became more and more restricted, making it
difficult for bands without the backing of a major label to break
into the Top 40.
d) The primary medium for rock music was FM radio.
e) AOR (album-oriented rock) was aimed at young white males
aged thirteen to twenty-five.
(1) Generally excluded black artists
(2) Featured hard rock bands, such as Led Zeppelin and
Deep Purple, and art rock bands, such as King Crimson;
Emerson, Lake, and Palmer; and Pink Floyd
f) The definition of rock music as white music and the split
between white and black popular music formats reflected the
general conservatism of the radio business and the music industry.
J. Commercial mainstream
1. Pop rock: Elton John, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton
2. Adult contemporary, an extension of the older crooner tradition:
Barbara Streisand, Neil Diamond, Roberta Flack, the CarpentersCHAPTER ELEVEN: THE 1970s: ROCK MUSIC, DISCO, AND THE POPULAR MAINSTREAM
3. Singer-songwriters, a cross between urban folk music and the
commercial pop style of the Brill Building tunesmiths: Paul