The 1970s: a period of love, peace, and music. The 70s are remembered for the spirit of rebelliousness that hung in the air, and for the exceptional music that was born from that period: r&b being no exception. Read on to discover which rhythm and blues artists were rocking the R&B charts in the 1970s.
TOP TEN R&B ARTISTS of THE 1970s
- GLADYS KNIGHT– Gladys Maria Knight rocked the 1970s with her simmering, sultry vocals and her sincere and laid back personality. The songstress fronted the hit-making band ‘Gladys Knight and the Pips’, pumping out smash hits like ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’, and ‘You Need Love Like I Do’, which sat at number 3 on the charts for a month straight. Her smashing successes continued many years beyond the 1970s- today, Knight still performs with all the skill and sass that originally won her the much-deserved nickname of “Empress of Soul”.
- THE MOMENTS – The Moments stunned the seventies with their single, ‘Love on a Two Way Street’, which was number 1 on the charts for five weeks straight. Al Goodman, Harry Ray, and Harold Eban Brown gave r&b listeners the sensuality, suaveness, and rhythm they craved.
- B.B. KING – Riley B. King was an American blues singer, writer, and guitarist who was ranked Number 6 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the top 100 greatest guitarists of all time. The legendary musician went by the stage name of B.B. King, and shook up the seventies with his rhythmic strumming and velvety voice, and his single ‘Chains and Things’ rocked the charts for nine weeks straight. His talent and genius won him a much-deserved spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and to this day we remember this 1907s r&b Rockstar as “The King of the Blues”.
- DIANA ROSS – Diana Ross welcomed in the r&b era of the 1970s with her rousing ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, which spent twelve weeks on the charts. The number 1 single was just the beginning of the musical goddess’ success of the seventies; her single, ‘Reach out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)’ went on to rock the charts for nine full weeks. Ross’ smoky sweet lower range and impressive phrasing abilities made her an r&b legend, and her music continues to inspire and empower even today.
- THE SUPREMES– Diana Ross first shot to fame as a member of the showstopping girl group, The Supremes. The group was comprised of Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard, and was the jewel in Motown Records’ shining crown throughout the sixties and into the seventies. The Supremes hit number one on the charts with their singable single, ‘Stoned Love’, and continued to stun the seventies r&b scene with their singles ‘Up The Ladder to The Roof’ and ‘Everbody’s Got the Right to Love’, which rocked the charts for thirteen weeks and ten weeks, respectively.
- THE TEMPTATIONS – This all men group tingled the ear buds of the seventies r&b lovers with their sweet harmonies and grooving rhythms. David Ruffian, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, and Otis Williams blended their velvety voices to create some of the hottest hits of the seventies, including Psychedelic Shack, Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite the World), and Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today).
- JAMES BROWN- James Brown has gone down in history as the founding father of funk, and his music was never more alive than it was during the seventies. From ‘Call Me Super Bad’ to ‘Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine’ to ‘It’s a New Day’ to so many more, James Brown rocked the r&b scene with his grooving moves, his powerful voice, and his famous smile. To this day, he remains one of the r&b’s most loved artists, recognized as “The Godfather of Soul”.
- STEVIE WONDER– A true musical wonder, this blind musician impressed the world with his piano playing, riffing, and incredible vocal range. ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours’ sat at number one on the charts for six weeks straight, closely followed by ‘Heaven Help Us’, which rocked the number two spot for just under a month. Wonder found stardom during the seventies, and his r&b radiance continues to wow to this day.
- ARETHA FRANKLIN– This stunning songstress got her musical start singing gospel at her father, minister C.L. Franklin’s, church when she was just a child. Aretha Louise Franklin’s music dominated the r&b world of the seventies, her stellar singles dominating the charts week after week after week. ‘Don’t Play That Song’ rocked the number one spot on the charts for three weeks straight; her famous ‘Preacher Man‘ was number one for two weeks; ‘Spirit in the Dark’, which spent half a month at number three on the charts, was close to following. Franklin’s aggressive funk vocals and incredibly smooth voicings made her one of the 70s’ top r&b babes: and her songs continue to live on as much-loved melodies, to this day.
- JACKSON FIVE– The seventies were the glory days of the Jackson Five. The band of brothers shot to stardom as its youngest member, Micheal Jackson, took the lead and stunned listeners with his incredible rhythm and range. ‘I Want You Back’, ‘The Love You Save’, ‘I’ll Be There’, and ‘ABC’ were all number one hits of the seventies, making the Jackson Five the number one r&b group of the era.