1971: the Soul, Funk, Folk and Glam that made it the Greatest Year in Music

1971 marks the first live performance of “Stairway to Heaven” and Concert for Bangladesh takes place at Madison Square Garden.

Not to mention Blue by Joni Mitchell, a string of classic soul albums from Bill Withers, The Stylistics, Al Green, The Chi-Lites and Marvin Gaye, a melting pot of funk and more. Here’s what Sleepy Hollow host Keith Kelleher had to say about 1971:

Why is 1971 the best year in Music? As someone said to me, “Well, it has to have the Beatles and Dylan in it…!” Not so! Even though the contributions of said artists are important, we had solo contributions from three of the four Beatles instead and there was even more going on in all genres like folk, country, jazz, singer-songwriter and of course rock.

Landmark albums for such important groups like the Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin, along with the swan song of the Doors, put 1971 right in the forefront of great musical years. We had classic soul from Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and The Stylistics. Gil Scott-Heron blazed The Revolution Will Not Be Televised to the distraught masses. Carole King and Joni Mitchell created the singer-songwriter genre with Tapestry and Blue, respectively. Isaac Hayes’s masterpiece Shaft and Earth, Wind & Fire’s debut got us funkin’ to the 70’s. The birth of glam was just starting with Bowie’s Hunky Dory and T. Rex’s Electric Warrior.

The “live album” concept became a cherished find with The Allman Bros at Filmore East and Aretha Live at Filmore West. Debuts by ZZ Top, The Doobie Bros, Little Feat, America, Nazareth, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Steve Winwood and Bonnie Raitt made it an epic year for new bands. The 70s erupted in 1971, giving the people of the era many ways to find meaning, love and purpose.

Has Keith convinced you that 1971 was the Greatest Year in Music? Let us know in the comments or across social media with #XPNGreatestYear.


Chicago III – Chicago
Pearl – Janis Joplin
Hooker ‘n Heat – John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat
ZZ Top’s First Album – ZZ Top
Little Feat – Little Feat
Melting Pot – Booker T & The MGs
Tapestry – Carole King
The Yes Album – Yes
Crazy Horse – Crazy Horse
Jack Johnson – Miles Davis
Long Player – Faces
In My Own Time – Karen Dalton
Tago Mago – Can
Stone Age – The Rolling Stones
Hunky Dory – David Bowie
Aqualung – Jethro Tull
Songs of Love and Hate – Leonard Cohen
Carly Simon – Carly Simon
Electronically Tested – Mungo Jerry
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Every Picture Tells a Story – Rod Stewart
War – War
Leon Russell and the Shelter People – Leon Russell
Just as I Am – Bill Withers
Blue – Joni Mitchell
Maggot Brain – Funkadelic
Master of Reality – Black Sabbath
Fireball – Deep Purple
(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People – The Chi-Lites
The Inner Mounting Flame – Mahavishnu Orchestra
Who’s Next – The Who
One Dozen Roses – Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
Surf’s Up – The Beach Boys
Freedom Flight – Shuggie Otis
Imagine – Imagine
Teaser and the Firecat – Cat Stevens
American Pie – Don McLean
Grateful Dead – Grateful Dead
Tupelo Honey – Van Morrison
Cold Spring Harbor – Billy Joel
The Stylistics – The Stylistics
Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin
Fragile – Yes
The Concert for Bangladesh – George Harrison & Friends
Carpenters – Carpenters
Histoire de Melody Nelson – Serge Gainsbourg
Poems, Prayers & Promises – John Denver
4 Way Street – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Givin’ It Back – The Isley Brothers
Where I’m Coming From – Stevie Wonder
L.A. Woman – The Doors
Sky’s the Limit – The Temptations
Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones
Thin Lizzy – Thin Lizzy
The Doobie Brothers – The Doobie Brothers

Category: 70s


Article by: Julie Miller