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10 Unforgettable Blues Rock Singers of the 1970s 

Blues rock was born in the 1960s but it reached maturity in the 1970s. Pioneers from Jimi Hendrix to Janis Joplin paved the way for future generations of blues rockers. In retrospect, the 1970s was the time period when the gritty raw intensity of the blues merged with rock & roll to create a powerful and electrifying fusion that captivated audiences worldwide. Bands from the Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin epitomized the blossoming genre with a combination of guitar dominance, soulful vocals, and a driving beat. The ten vocalists listed were instrumental in their role as blues rock pioneers of the 1970s.

Gregg Allman (The Allman Brothers Band)

Gregg Allman was the lead vocalist, keyboardist, songwriter, and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band. Gregg was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1947 but grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida with his older brother Duane. In the late 1960s, Duane and Gregg formed the Allman Brothers Band with guitarist Dickey Betts, bass guitarist Berry Oakley, and drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe. By 1971 with the release of At Fillmore East the Allman Brothers Band achieved commercial success. Unfortunately, first Duane Allman in 1971 and then Berry Oakley in 1972  died as a result of motorcycle accidents. Gregg continued to lead the band along with his own band until 2017 when he died at the age of 69.

Eric Clapton (Derek and the Dominos, Solo)

Eric Clapton was born in Great Britain in 1945 and made his reputation as a legendary guitar player who combined blues, rock, and pop. After establishing himself as a phenomenal guitarist by playing with the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, and Blind Faith he became a solo artist after singing lead on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs in his Derek and the Dominoes album release in 1970. I saw them on tour on December 2, 1970 at the Eastown Theater in Detroit, Michigan, and enjoyed the show immensely. By 1971, Clapton became a solo artist who sang lead on all his albums thereafter.  

James Dewar (Stone the Crows, Robin Trower Band) 

James Dewar was born in 1942 in Glasgow, Scotland, and became the bass player and co-vocalist of Stone the Crows in the late 1960s. After the band disbanded in 1972 due to the tragic death of guitarist Les Harvey, Dewar joined Robin Trower to form a band. His blue eyed soul vocals and bass guitar playing combined with Trower’s phenomenal guitar playing and Reg Isidore’s drums became a stadium filling act during the 1970s.  With the release of albums like Bridge of Sighs and For Earth Below his powerfully emotive voice contributed to the band’s popularity along with his dominating stage presence.

Rory Gallagher (Taste, Solo)

Rory Gallagher was born in 1948 in Ballyshannon, Ireland, and began playing guitar at the age of nine. After winning talent shows he began playing electric guitar and became fascinated with Elvis Presley and American blues. He began playing in a number of regular and show bands until he formed his own band, Taste, in Cork, Ireland. The band soon moved to London where they quickly rose to the top in the club scene and released two albums. Besides being a great guitar player and songwriter Rory was a soulful vocalist who poured his heart and soul into every note he sang. Taste played at the Isle of Wight Festival between Hendrix and the Who as well as being the opening band for both Cream and Blind Faith’s final public performances at Royal Albert Hall. After inner band disagreements, Taste broke up and Gallagher went on with a successful solo career beginning with his eponymous debut recording in 1971 until his death in 1995.

Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top)

Billy Gibbons was born in 1949 and after a blues influenced childhood he became enthralled by the blues of artists like B.B. King and Muddy Waters. After opening for Jimi Hendrix when he was the guitarist and singer for the Moving Sidewalks he formed ZZ Top in late 1969. The band released their first album titled ZZ Top’s 1st Album establishing their brand of tongue and cheek humor along with Gibbons’ guitar solos and passionately expressive and raspy vocals. The band became known for both its distinctive look as well as their indelible sound because of Gibbon’s ability to combine his guitar with his vocals as a singular unit.

Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones)

Mick Jagger was born in 1943 in Dartford, Kent, England, and became the lead singer of the Rolling Stones in 1962.  Jagger along with Brian Jones and Keith Richards began the band that included Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts by 1963. After a tumultuous decade, they became the world’s biggest rock band in the 1970s by perfectly combining blues and rock in a dozen album releases and historic live performances. Mick Jagger’s distinctive signature vocals along with his electrifying stage presence have made him one of the greatest singers in rock history. His unique vocal range allows him free range as he effortlessly transitions between gritty blues rock and soulful ballads to create the band’s unique sound.

Alvin Lee (Ten Years After)  

Alvin Lee was born in Nottingham, England in 1944 and became interested in blues and rock & roll at an early age. He formed Ten Years After in 1966 and after their appearance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival they became international rock stars. I saw them the next year at the Goose Lake Pop Festival in Michigan and they were great. Their electrifying set that displayed Lee’s phenomenal guitar work included his heartfelt vocalization of the lyrics. The band released eight albums before they broke up in 1974 and then Lee formed Ten Years Later and even reformed Ten Years After along with releasing solo albums until his death in 2013.

Steve Marriott (Small Faces, Humble Pie & Solo) 

British vocalist Steve Marriott was born in London, England in 1947 and became interested in pursuing a musical career at an early age. In 1965, Marriott formed the Small Faces with Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, and later Ian McLagan. They became popular during what is called British “Mod” culture of the early and mid-1960s. After gaining popularity and releasing five albums with Marriott playing guitar, writing songs, and singing lead he left the band. He then formed Humble Pie which released ten albums through the 1970 with Marriott once again singing lead, playing guitar, and writing songs. After a solo career in the 1980s he tragically died in a fire in his home in Arkesden, Essex, England in 1991.

Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) 

Robert Plant was born in West Bromwich, England in 1948 and became interested in music at an early age. He was heavily influenced by blues and rock & roll and was recruited by lead guitarist Jimmy Page to sing lead for the new Yardbirds which became Led Zeppelin in 1968. Through the collaboration between Plant, Page, bass guitarist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham they became one of the biggest blues rock groups in the world. Plant’s phenomenal vocal range was an integral part of Led Zeppelin’s sound with his ability to seamlessly transition from primal screaming to delicate melodic crooning. Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980 after the death of John Bonham but Plant’s career continued with both a solo career, collaborations, and reunions.

Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company)  

Legendary British rock vocalist Paul Rodgers was born in 1949 in Middlesbrough, England. He was the lead singer for Free and then Bad Company during the 1970s before he began a solo career. Rodgers’ powerful vocals and charismatic stage presence solidified his prominence as one of the greatest rock vocalists of his era. His exceptional vocal abilities combine his soulful delivery with a versatile range. His style is rooted in the blues and his versatility gives him the ability to deliver everything from bluesy growls to soaring melodic highs.

Bob Gersztyn

As a teenager in Detroit, Michigan during the early 1960’s Bob Gersztyn saw many Motown and other R&B artists including Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. After his discharge from the army in 1968 he attended school on the GI Bill and spent the next 3 years attending concerts and festivals weekly. It was the seminal period in Detroit rock & roll that Bob witnessed spawning the MC5 and Stooges along with shows featuring everyone from Jimi Hendrix and the “Doors” to B. B. King and John Lee Hooker. In 1971 He moved to Los Angeles, California to finish his schooling where he became an inner city pastor promoting and hosting gospel concerts. He moved to Oregon in 1982 and began photographing and reviewing concerts for music publications. Since that time he has published myriads of photographs, articles, interviews, and contributed to 2 encyclopedias and published 6 books on everything from music to the military. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Bob%20Gersztyn His rock & roll photo art is available for sale on Etsy @: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ConcertPhotoImages?ref=seller-platform-mcnav Bob may be contacted personally at bobgersztyn@gmail.com

43 thoughts on “10 Unforgettable Blues Rock Singers of the 1970s 

  • Steve Marriot no one can compare to him amazing voice x

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  • I saw Stone the Crows and recall being very impressed, especially with Maggie Bell on vocals. I had no idea that James Dewar was a band member.

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  • What, no Roger Chapman (Family & Streetwalkers) a TRULY unforgettable vocalist – that vibrato

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    • I was thinking the same Roger is always overlooked a most unique voice

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    • Absolutely no one sounded like him !! Instantly recognizable!

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  • It’s good to see James Dewar recognized. He Paul Rodgers, and Steve Marriott were THE voices of blues rock in the ‘70s. Dewar is grossly underrecognized. Today, that distinction goes to guys like Anthony Gomes.

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  • Pretty solid list. Only room for 10, but early day Rod Stewart with Jeff Beck, Faces and his early solo career in Blues Rock deserves honorable mention. Terrific voice.

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    • Totally agree. Rod definitely deserves a mention, but at the cost of who?

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      • Lol, right. Rod was definitely out for himself. The comment was in regards to his talent, personality however …. Shame we didn’t get to see where Jeff Beck Group and or Faces could gone.

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  • Great list. But I’m getting old, and the 60s and 70s often fade together in my mind. I ‘m surprised that you would have left out Stevie Nicks (and maybe Christie McVie too), they hit their peaks in 1977 with Rumours, and their voices were both recognizable and unforgettable. If Jagger and Plant are “blues rock”, then so was Fleetwood Mac, maybe even more so.

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  • I think James Dewar is one of the all time greats. Also Rory doesn’t get enough credit for his voice

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  • And what about John Mayall, one of the great British blues performers ever?

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  • Have a listen to Jo Ann kelly.
    An all time great.

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  • All righteous inclusions on the List, however, one more should be added – Joe Cocker – raw emotional vocals.

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    • Joe was incredibly individual a voice that gave me goosebumps! Bluesman to the core!!

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    • Yes always underrated. He tops list w greg.

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  • Top 20 ‘must’ include, the one & only Graham Parker…

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  • What about David Covidale, no one could come close when he was in his prime

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  • How about Ronnie Van Zant. Great songwriter and singer. He was the boss.

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  • I know it was a country band, but listen to Gram Parsons. Incredible expression of emotion.

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  • I feel blessed to have been a seventies girl so many incredible bands and singers!! So much talent and originality!! People who were true artists not like most of the manufactured drivel you hear today

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    • For you fine folks Id add Jimmy Barnes from Australia has worked with Cocker. Listen to Stone Cold on YouTube.

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  • Peter Green of the original Fleetwood Mac

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    • I’m surprised he and early Fleetwood Mac were not mentioned….one of the best Blues Rock bands ever

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  • My opinion is that no one came close to Chris Ulden & the Savoy Brown Band. The particular album I am speaking of is “Raw Sienna.” Ulden, a superb blues vocalist was beyond on that album. Instruments were superbly mastered by the players,also. A top 10 album is my opinion. Kim Simmonds (guitar) of the band is who recruited the players & vocalist for that album. One of the finest for me.

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  • What happens to the black blues breakers??

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  • Lonnie Brooks, Albert Collins, & Johnny Winter if you really wanna talk blues rock!

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  • What about

    Ishma, truly brilliant.
    Perry and Ivor master class.

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  • Amazing to hear these varied contributions!
    How about giving The Groundhogs a mention,The Rev. Tony Mc Phee & band were amazing!
    And from the States Mc Kenna Mendelson Mainline and SeaTrain!
    Frank Zappa, Jefferson Airplane,The Doors & Janis Jopilin weren’t too shoddy neither !
    What an Era to have experienced

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  • martin williams thay were not forgotten great singers lived life to the fuliest

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  • George Ratzlaff a little known band called potluquor. And Jack Bruce deserves mention.

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