Home > 70s Music > Progressive Rock Bands

Progressive Rock Bands

Grown out of 60s psychedelic rock, progressive rock enjoyed its height of popularity in the 70s.

A form of rock and roll that incorporated new intricate instrumental patterns and moved away from the typical chorus and verse pattern of most standard rock music.

It took its cue from the classical music of 19th and 20th century composers and also incorporated aspects of jazz and world music.

The genre was represented by bands whose songs were often mired in fantasy, especially in the case of so-called concept albums, which were popular with progressive rock bands.


Formed in 1968, this English rock band is considered the pioneer of the progressive rock genre.

In its lifetime, the band has sold more than 30 million albums and is still going strong.

They’re known for their high-register vocals and for their incredible symphonic sounds.

Rick Wakeman was probably the most well-known member of the group but the only one who stayed with the group is bass player Chris Squire.

Yes released 8 albums during the 70s.


Another English band formed in the late 1960s, Genesis is one of the 30 highest-selling recording artists of all times, with about 150 million albums sold.

Phil Collins, of course, is their most revered member but Peter Gabriel was once a major part of the band as well.

Genesis was known not only for its elaborate instrumentation but also for its over-the-top theatrical concert appearances.

Their album cover art was also notable. Their top-selling album in the U.S. was 1978’s And Then There Were Three.

Emerson, Lake, and Palmer

This English progressive rock group sold about 40 million albums and was known for its large stadium concerts.

They used lots of Hammond organ and Moog synthesizer in their arrangements, which were largely influenced by their favorite classical composers, like Mussorgsky and Copland.

They did, however, include some light acoustic pieces on their albums as well.


A Canadian rock band out of Toronto, Rush was one of the few non-English bands to truly make a mark on the progressive rock world.

Their first album, self-titled, debuted in 1974 and the band immediately became known for their science fiction/fantasy themes and their need to address humanitarian, environmental, and social concerns in their music.

Pink Floyd

One of the world’s best-known and highest-selling progressive rock bands, Pink Floyd has sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, about one-third of that in the United States.

The group’s top-selling 70s albums included Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animal and The Wall.

The latter featured top U.S. single, Another Brick in the Wall. Pink Floyd’s lyrics were high philosophic and their live stage shows quite elaborate.

The Moody Blues

The Moody Blues began as a psychedelic rock band and moved forward into the progressive genre in the 1970s.

Like most other progressive rock bands, they enjoyed recording their own interpretations of classical pieces and employed the extensive use of orchestral strings.

Their best known songs in the U.S. were Knights in White Satin and Tuesday Afternoon.


One of just a handful of American-bred progressive rock bands, Kansas is still heard on classic rock stations throughout the country.

The group rose to national prominence in 1974 when their self-titled debut album was released.

They used violin extensively in their arrangements along with other traditionally classical instruments.

They catapulted to the top of the charts with singles like Dust in the Wind and Carry On, My Wayward Son.

Jethro Tull

Formed in the 1960s, Jethro Tull enjoyed a prolific progressive rock period from about 1972 to 1976.

Led by flutist Ian Anderson, the group is also known for its early blues rock and, later, its hard rock and heavy metal offerings.

They’ve sold 60 million albums worldwide, albeit with some new members of the band.

Electric Light Orchestra

Formed in 1971 in Birmingham, England, the Electric Light Orchestra – better known as ELO – was among the best at creating classical versions of pop and rock tunes.

The group was much more successful in the U.S. than they were in the UK. During their lifetime, they scored 19 Top 20 Billboard hits in the United States.

Among their most memorable singles were Can’tGet It Out of My Head, Evil Woman, Strange Magic, Livin’ Thing, and several others. ELO’s late 70s albums were heavily influenced by disco.