Soft Rock Music
In the 1970s, it was common practice to divide rock music into different genres.
Terms like psychedelic rock, hard rock, progressive rock, and others were commonplace, and everyone had a different kind of rock music as their favorite.
One of the most popular rock genres of the 70s was called Soft Rock Music.
This type of rock music had certain elements in common with all kinds of rock music but – as the name suggests – it had a soften tone.
Common themes in soft rock music were love and relationships and, as such, the tunes lacked the edge that could be found in most rock music with more volatile themes.
In most soft rock music, the instrumentation was quite different from that of other forms of music.
Where lots of rock songs were dominated by electric guitars and drums, soft rock music tended to be written for mellower instruments including piano, acoustic guitar, saxophone, and – often – synthesizer.
Vocals were mellow as well and often boasted a sort of folksy quality. As a matter of fact, folk rock and soft rock are sometimes interchangeable and some of the popular artists of the genre straddled both categories.
In the 70s, it wasn’t unusual to find a radio station that specialized in soft rock music. As a matter of fact, there were hundreds of them across the country as soft rock was truly one of the most popular styles of the era.
Soft rock stations later evolved into what is more commonly known today as adult contemporary or, in some cases, easy listening music.
Soft rock groups
Some of the best and most well-known groups and solo artists in the 70s emerged from the soft rock style of music.
And because soft rock reached its commercial peak in the mid-1970s, according to rock historians, many of these artists became regular household names for many years after.
Here’s a handful of the most popular.
Billy Joel – Popular for decades, Billy Joel got his start in the 70s with his first big hit, Piano Man. Two of his other premiere 70s albums, The Stranger and 52nd Street, produced a huge string of hits that are too numerous to mention.
James Taylor – This 5-time Grammy Award winner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 for his contribution to the soft rock genre. Popular James Taylor songs include You’ve Got a Friend, Fire and Rain, How Sweet It Is, Shower the People, and Handy Man are unforgettable.
Carly Simon – Simon catapulted to fame in the 70s with a long list of amazing songs including That’s the Way I Always Heard it Should Be, You’re So Vain, Anticipation, Haven’t Got Time for the Pain, and Mockingbird (with James Taylor).
Carole King – Largely a songwriter during the 1960s, King left her mark on the Billboard charts throughout the 70s. Her biggest hits included Tapestry, It’s Too Late, Been to Canaan, Jazz Man, and many others.
Chicago – Formed in 1967, Chicago enjoyed its heyday in the 70s. They released at least one album per year throughout the decade and skyrocketed to fame with songs like 25 or 6 to 4, Saturday in the Park, Feelin’ Stronger Every Day, Wishin’ You Were Hear, Searching So Long, and many, many others.
America – This very young soft rock band became a hit in 1972 with their Grammy for Best New Musical Artist. Some of their most memorable pieces were Ventura Highway, Sister Golden Hair, Horse with No Name, Tin Man, and Lonely People.
Fleetwood Mac – This British-American soft rock band was formed in 1967 but enjoyed its pinnacle of success in the 70s. Their biggest years were from 1975 onward and their chart-busting hits included Rhiannon, Landslide, You Make Lovin’ Fun, and many more.