Bye, Bye to the 70’s (sigh) – The Top Selling Songs of the 70’s

The 70’s… the music started out mellow, but rocked us through the decade; it was almost killed by disco, then ended with a hip/hop song (Rapper’s Delight by Sugar Hill Gang, the first hip/hop single to make the top 40) that introduced us to rap. 

The top selling song of the 70’s?  American Pie by Don McLean.  As a side note, Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly with His Song (also on this list), was written about Don McLean.

Here are the top selling songs of the 1970’s (according to the RIAA and NEA):

The Carpenters – Close to You – 1970
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Ohio – 1970
The Grateful Dead – Uncle John’s Band – 1970
Loretta Lynn – Coal Miner’s Daughter – 1970
Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi – 1970
James Taylor – Fire and Rain 1970
Edwin Starr – War 1970
Three Dog NightJoy to the World – 1971
Janis JoplinMe and Bobby McGee – 1971
John DenverTake Me Home Country Roads – 1971
John LennonImagine – 1971
Led ZeppelinStairway to Heaven – 1971
Carole KingIt’s Too Late/I Feel the Earth Move – 1971
Marvin GayeWhat’s Going On – 1971
Isaac HayesTheme From Shaft – 1971
*Don McLeanAmerican Pie – 1971
SantanaOye Como Va – 1971
The Staple SingersRespect Yourself – 1971
Rod StewartMaggie May – 1971
Harold Melvin/Blue NotesIf You Don’t Know Me By Now – 1972
Johnny NashI Can See Clearly Now – 1972
ChicagoSaturday in the Park – 1972
Derek & The DominosLayla – 1972
Al GreenLet’s Stay Together – 1972
Helen ReddyI Am Woman – 1972
Bill WithersLean On Me – 1972
Stevie WonderSuperstition – 1972
Stevie WonderYou Are the Sunshine of My Life – 1973
Neil YoungHeart of Gold – 1972
Jim CroceTime in a Bottle – 1973
Allman Brothers BandRamblin’ Man – 1973
Thomas Dorsey/Marion WilliamsTake My Hand Precious Lord – 1973
Roberta FlackKilling Me Softly With His Song – 1973
Elton JohnGoodbye Yellow Brick Road – 1973
Gladys Knight & The PipsMidnight Train to Georgia – 1973
Charlie RichBehind Closed Doors – 1973
Carly SimonYou’re So Vain – 1973
Barbra StreisandThe Way We Were – 1973
Harry ChapinThe Cat’s in the Cradle – 1974
Billy JoelPiano Man – 1974
Lynyrd SkynyrdFree Bird – 1974
Shirley CaesarNo Charge – 1975
K.C. & The Sunshine BandThat’s the Way( I Like It) – 1975
Linda RonstadtWhen Will I Be Loved – 1975
Bruce SpringsteenBorn to Run – 1975
AerosmithWalk This Way – 1976
George BensonThis Masquerade – 1976
Weather ReportBirdland – 1976
AbbaDancing Queen – 1977
The Bee GeesStayin’ Alive – 1978
Jimmy BuffettMargaritaville – 1977
The EaglesHotel California – 1977
Fleetwood MacGo Your Own Way – 1977
QueenWe Are the Champions/We Will Rock You – 1977
Waylon Jennings/Willie NelsonMama’s Don’t Let Your Babies… – 1978
Kenny RogersThe Gambler – 1978
The Village PeopleY.M.C.A. – 1978
Charlie Daniels BandThe Devil Went Down to Georgia – 1979
Gloria GaynerI Will Survive – 1979
Sister SledgeWe Are Family – 1979
soundtrack recordingGrease – 1979
BlondieHeart of Glass – 1979
Bob SegerOld Time Rock & Roll – 1979
Sugar Hill GangRapper’s Delight – 1979

Here’s that groundbreaking first hip/hop single – Rapper’s Delight by Sugar Hill Gang:



10 responses to “Bye, Bye to the 70’s (sigh) – The Top Selling Songs of the 70’s

  1. Thanks for the list. I ‘researched’ 70’s music (ie. checked out every 70’s cd in the library) for the book I’m currently writing. I did miss some of these and will have to go back and order some more.

    This is my era, I love 70’s music (well… except I’m not too fond of disco)… and 70’s rock had something for everyone – it even had a bit of country in it. I was surprised to see that rap was introduced at the end of the 70’s – I would have thought early 80’s.
    I’d like to hear about your book.

  2. “Cat’s in the Cradle” is one of my favorite songs… ever really. And “I Will Survive” and “You’re So Vain” are two of my mother’s.

    As a matter of fact, other than the Hip-Hop I’d never heard of, the only song on this list I really don’t like is Margeritaville.

    So you probably don’t eat at Buffett’s restaurant (Cheeseburger in Paradise) either.
    I like Cat’s in the Cradle – good story in song. I don’t seem to hear those types of songs anymore (unless I listen to 70’s music).

  3. Pingback: MyStreamcast » Blog Archive » Bye, Bye to the 70’s (sigh) - The Top Selling Songs of the 70’s

  4. nice list! i tend to write off the musical 70’s because of disco, but Neil Young’s best stuff was buried in there – not to mention Bruce and Blondie!

    …or Peter Frampton, who was significant to the middle 70’s, but isn’t on this list. Frampton Comes Alive is one of the 70’s albums that I loved, but this list is about best selling singles, not albums.

  5. Wow…I love almost all of these songs and artists! A couple of the other lists you’ve posted had songs that surprised me…but this list seems just right!

    The 70’s had so much great music….I even like Disco!

    Disco sounds like Crisco, Crisco is lard. So there you go (likely my most mature statement recorded in this blog).

  6. P.S. I really like your new header design!

    How kind. Thanks. I spent a couple of hours playing with a variety of pictures and settled on this. I learned to type on a manual typewriter, so I have a soft spot in my heart (and head) for the old machines.

  7. Disco=Lard.

    Uhm. Uh. Okay…I see where you’re going with this…wait…no I don’t .


    I’ll email a picture.

  8. Thanks for the list. I will have to say some of the best tracks are from 70’s.

    These are just the top sellers. There was some incredible music made in the 70’s that didn’t make this list.

  9. I was also surprised at the awful country I heard from the 70’s. As for the book…I’m currently writing it, so to discuss it would ruin it for me. It really has nothing to do with 70’s music, but a few of my characters love it 🙂

  10. Pingback: 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die « An unfinished person (in this unfinished universe)

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