1978: Disco, punk, funk, hair metal and showtunes made it the greatest year in music

It’s nearly impossible to boil 1978 down to a singular musical theme; it had something great for everyone.

The bands that would go on to define the 80s hair metal trend started to gain traction in 1978: the year brought debuts from Van Halen and Iron Maiden, while Def Leppard solidified their line-up and began touring.

On the punk end of the spectrum, the Dead Kennedys recorded their first demos and play their first show in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, The Village Voice names Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Model the best album of the year, Kate Bush made her debut with The Kick Inside and Dire Straits introduced themselves with a self-titled LP

But disco wasn’t dead, as evidence by the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack topping sales lists at the end of the year followed closely by Grease. Barry Gibb was at the top of his game, writing a series of number 1 singles including the theme song to Grease and “Shadow Dancing” for his brother Andy.

The Who released Who Are You which peaked at number 2 on the US chartsbut sadly drummer Keith Moon passed away 20 days later.

Career highlights came from Kenny Rogers with “The Gambler,” The Rolling Stones returning to peak form with Some Girls, Warren Zevon’s perennial favorite Excitable Boy and Patti Smith’s commercial hit Easter.

These are just a few of the musical highlights that make 1978 a standout year in music, but was it the greatest? Let us know in the comments below and across social media with #XPNGreatestYear.


This Year’s Model – Elvis Costello
Some Girls – The Rolling Stones
Give Em Enough Rope – The Clash
Comes a Time – Neil Young
More Songs About Buildings and Food – Talking Heads
The Cars – The Cars
David Johansen – David Johansen
Darkness On the Edge of Town – Bruce Springsteen
Road to Ruin – The Ramones
Pure Pop for Now People – Nick Lowe
The Modern Dance – Pere Ubu
Van Halen – Van Halen
The Kick Inside – Kate Bush
I’m Ready – Muddy Waters
Bootsy? Player of the Year – Bootsy’s Rubber Band
Excitable Boy – Warren Zevon
Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! – Devo
Plastic Letters – Blondie
Easter – Patti Smith
Stardust – Willie Nelson
City to City – Gerry Rafferty
Waylon & Willie – Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson
Generation X – Generation X
Hermit of Mink Hollow – Todd Rundgren
Cats Under the Stars – Jerry Garcia
The Only Ones – The Only Ones
But Seriously, Folks – Joe Walsh
Double Vision – Foreigner
A Tonic for the Troops – The Boomtown Rats
One Nation Under a Groove – Funkadelic
Dire Straits – Dire Straits
Outlandos D’Amore – The Police
Germfree Adolescents – X Ray Spex
All Mod Cons – The Jam
Visions of the Country – Robbie Basho
The Gambler – Kenny Rogers
Here, My Dear – Marvin Gaye
Minute By Minute – The Doobie Brothers
Alive On Arrival – Steve Forbert
Bruised Orange – John Prine
Pat Metheny Group – Pat Metheny Group
Third – Big Star

Category: 70s


Article by: Julie Miller