by Alex Cosper (12/30/12)
The mid-seventies was a big transitional period in the radio industry. It's when consultants began to have more control and influence on radio programming, to the point of even influencing programming on stations that had no consultants. The popular music of 1974 was a very broad mix of styles from Latin such as "Eres Tu" by Mocedades, to instrumental such as "TSOP" by MSFB to disco such as "Rock Your Baby" by George McCrae to rock such as "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. There was still room for plenty of novelty music by Cheech and Chong or Jim Stafford.
Elton John and John Denver were two of the top artists of the mid-seventies. Both artists offered melodic pop designed to tell interesting stories. More and more country artists began appearing on the pop charts in the mid-seventies. Olivia Newton-John's first few hits had a country flavor. The period also ushered in harder rock acts such as Aerosmith. Several rock bands such as Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan and Bad Company had big hits on the pop charts.
Eric Clapton's cover of "I Shot the Sheriff" gave songwriter Bob Marley a higher profile. Reggae also began to get mentioned in pop culture with the 1975 hit "Boogie On, Reggae Woman" by Stevie Wonder, who released masterpiece after masterpiece throughout the decade. His number one song "You Haven't Done Nothin'" was directed at President Nixon. The harder edge of funk appeared in songs like "The Payback" by James Brown and "Machine Gun" by The Commodores. It was also a rich period for Earth, Wind and Fire and The Ohio Players.
In 1975 jazz/funk was still alive with the number one hit "Pick Up The Pieces" by Average White Band. "The Hustle" by Van McCoy was mostly a jazz-flavored disco instrumental that also was a chart topper. There was still a broad mix of hits in 1976, but clearly disco was becoming a major influence on many artists. One of the most important early disco hits was "Love To Love You Baby" by Donna Summer, which had a longer version on an early 12" single. Other early disco innovators were Barry White and KC & The Sunshine Band.
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