Country music is one of those things that you either love or you hate, you just can’t be both. But in any case, it’s still considered as one of the beating hearts of American culture. Throughout the years, country music has evolved tremendously; from cowboys to honky tonk to bro-country and so on. Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Barbara Mandrell, and more, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Which is why we’ve gathered the ultimate list of 70’s music legends that changed the way we forever look at the country music scene.
Scoff all you want but it only makes sense to kick off this list with “The Man in Black”. Granted he was already a powerhouse musician before the 70’s but his influence in the country music scene is the very definition of revolutionary. Aside from his music genius, Cash was an avid activist for Native American and prison reform causes, as well as the poor, the depressed, the hungry, the addicts, and the list could rattle on for miles. Sadly, in 2003 just four months after his adored wife June passed away, Cash also succumbed from compliacation with diabetes.
As most of us know, the Osmond’s are quite the show business family and undoubtedly you’ve seen Marie on their TV show the Osmonds. While Marie herself wasn’t a member of the family singing group, she did launch her own solo career in the 70’s and 80’s. Her 1973 single titled “Paper Roses” is still one of her best known works. Ever since, Marie’s success has only continued as an actress, author, and an avid philanthropist.
1976 is when “The Queen of Country” released her first ever album but she didn’t reach international success until 1984. Now, Reba McEntire is one of the best-selling artists of all time! To date, she has released 29 studio albums with 28 then being certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum. To put it lightly, this redhead isn’t slowing down any time soon.
David Allan Coe
“Penitentiary Blues” was David Allan Coe’s first album and that was it – his career literally took off like lightning after that. Some of his greatest singles include “Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile” and “You Never Even Called Me by My Name”. Currently, Coe is still creating music albeit in a new genre of country music, “country metal.”
Ask almost anyone and they’ll tell you that Lynn Anderson dominated the country music scene in the 70’s. With her country-pop single “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden,” her name is forever etched in the history books. Especially considering that that very single is still one of the biggest selling country hits of all time. Before Anderson passed away in 2015, she was still performing and highlighting as a concert attraction.
All throughout the 70’s and 80’s, Crystal Gale pumped out hit after hit. What with her floor-length hair and six gold-certified albums, Gale was a star in the making. Currently she’s working on a brand new album, her first in 13 years.
During the 60’s and 70’s, if you weren’t listening to one of many of Glen Campbell’s hits on the radio then you were surely watching him on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. In his 50 year career, Campbell racked up tons of accolades which includes four Grammys and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Two years after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Campbell officially retired in 2013. Sadly it is this very illness which lead to recent death in August 2017.
June Carter Cash
If you only know June Carter Cash as a singer-songwriter then we have some news for you. June was so much more than a musician. Her creative spirit also led to her to become an actress, comedian, author, and dancer. But it was her pure heart that lead to her become a massive philanthropist and humanitarian. Combined with five Grammys, June continued to record and perform with her beloved husband, Johnny Cash, until her untimely death in 2003.
As an established recording artist, Jeannie Seely decided that it was time to try her hand at songwriting in the 70’s. Eventually she returned to the stage, and at 76, Seely is still making music. Heck, she even released a new album in 2017 titled “Written In Song.”
Despite the fact that many music stations outright refused to play Loretta Lynn’s controversial hits such as “The Pill,” “One’s on the Way,” and “Dear Uncle Sam,” she was still awe-inspiring to many fans. To this day, Lynn still performs at the famed Grand Ole Opry. Moreover, she’s been inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame and also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 from President Barack Obama.
As we speak, 32 of John Conlee’s singles have featured on the coveted Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. From 1981, Conlee has been a member and performer at the Grand Ole Opry. Lastly, just in 2015, he released his latest single ‘Bread and Water’.
To this day, John Denver is considered one of the most popular acoustic artists of the 70’s. In fact, AllMusic has gone so far as to describe Denver as “among the most beloved entertainers of his era”. Sadly, at 53, Denver – an avid pilot – was flying an experimental aircraft when it crashed leading to a single-fatality crash.
Not surprisingly, the middle Mandrell sister has certainly followed in her sister’s footsteps – Barbara Mandrell is a famed country singer whereas Irlene Mandrell is an actress. Louise falls smack dab in the middle, kind of. Her biggest chart toppers include “Put It On Me” and “Everlasting Love”. Although as of late, she has taken a new career path in writing and theater.
Ladies and gents, you’re looking at the king of bluegrass. While Jimmy Martin was not a solo artist, he and his band toured the world, Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys. Unfortunately when Martin was 77, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and a year later, he passed away.
Next up is Dolly Parton’s younger sister, Stella – as if the last name wasn’t a dead giveaway. Her 1975 single “I Want to Hold You In My Dreams Tonight” is still regarded as her biggest hit. Stella has also appeared on various TV shows such as Dukes of Hazard. However she has since focused her life more toward working battered woman, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and the Christian Appalachian Project.
Cajun persuasion – sorry, bad joke. In any case, Eddy Raven is an incredibly talented songwriter and it’s this ability that he is best remembered for. Be that as it may, he released a string of singles in the 70’s, with his first being “Good News, Bad News”.
Everyone, allow us to introduce you to Johnny Cash’s eldest daughter, Rosanne. But, uhh, you already knew that now didn’t you? We can only hope! Over the years, she’s transformed into a talented singer, songwriter, and author. Fun fact: in 1978, Rosanne released her first album in Germany and it’s now a collectable. Shall we add that she has three Grammys and two gold records? Yup, she’s a force to be reckoned with.
Granted, John Anderson’s country music career took off just in 1977, but since then he has released many chart topping hits, such as “I’ve Got a Feelin’ (Somebody’s Been Stealin’)” and “The Girl At The End Of The Bar.” Currently he is still performing and released his last album back in 2015.
‘Pure Prairie League’ was the country rock band that Vince Gill was the frontman for, however by 1983, he started his solo career. Since 2017, Gill has earned 21 Grammy Awards, which is actually more than any male country music artist! Props to you, Gill.
Surely the great Olivia Newton-John needs no kind of introduction. Especially considering that her career sky rocketed after her portrayal of Sandy in the 1978 flick Grease. Then there’s the fact that Olivia has four Grammys to her name and is also one of the best-selling artists of all time. Moreover, she’s an avid environmental and animal rights activist.
We might as well call Willie Nelson the “King of Country.” Why’s that? Well he’s earned more accolades and awards than we can possibly fathom, including in 1998 when the Kennedy Center Honors lifetime achievement award of the Library of Congress. #legend
Let’s be real, Dolly Parton and country music are synonymous. Which explains why she is the most honored female country performer of all time. Yeah, let that sink in. And when you do, remember that she has nine Grammys and 25 RIAA certified Gold, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum awards. Parton may have started off as “just a songwriter” but ever since her debut album in 1967, Hello, I’m Dolly, she hasn’t slowed down once. In fact, singles such as “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” cemented Parton’s international stardom for years to come. #whoruntheworld
Honestly there isn’t much we could tell you about Bob Dylan that you haven’t heard a million times over. The man’s a walking legend. We will however note that so far he holds 11 Grammys, a Nobel Prize in Literature, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and so, so much more.
1958 marks the year that Kenny Rogers’ launched his musical career, with the jazz group The Bobby Doyle Three. However after the band split up in 1976, Rogers’ started his solo career and the rest is quite literally history. So far, Rogers’ has numerous AMAs, Grammys, ACMs and CMAs to his name – and let’s just say legend is an understatement when summing up Rogers’. Right now, he’s looking to retire so he can spend more time with his wife and twin boys.
Just 48 hours after performing at a nightclub near the Grand Ole Opry, Barbara Mandrell was hit with offers from six different record companies! Now, that’s impressive. During the 70’s and 80’s, Mandrell went on to snag number one slots and some awards too. To this day, her singles are thought of as classics, such as “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed”, “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right”, “Years”, and “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”. Sadly, at the peak of her massive popularity in 1984, Mandrell was involved in a grave car crash. Afterwards she spent a lot of time recovering and is a devoted seat belt advocate.