Those who remember the 1970s will know that it was a colourful, culturally interesting time on both sides of the Atlantic! In fact, some of the most important political and pop culture moments were born out of this decade, and many of them are enduring enough to still be with us to this day. Whether or not you were around in the 1970s, there is plenty that we can be thankful for from this magical decade.
Therefore, we thought we’d put together a fact file of amazing details and data that you may not know about from the 70s. Take a look through and see if there is anything that might surprise you – we always try to dig as deep as we can!
Gay Pride has firm roots in the 1970s, and it was in New York City in 1970 when the first pride parade took place at the end of June 1970. This took place to commemorate the first year since the Stonewall riots. These riots saw conflict between police and homosexual attendees at the Stonewall Inn, in New York City. Fittingly, further events were held in other US cities for years after, and Pride would eventually become the worldwide phenomenon we know it to be today.
Diana Ross started embarking on her solo career in this decade, with the Supremes having performed their last concert together at the start of 1970. They would perform together for the last time in January of that year in Las Vegas.
The world was half the size in the 1970s than it is today, and we don’t mean any hyperbole by this! There were around 3.7 billion people in the world as of 1970, while there were around 7.594 billion people on the planet by 2018. That’s an incredible boom in citizenship the world over, and it’s only increasing!
The 1970s also saw the debut of some of the most iconic TV and movie characters of all time. Not only did the decade give birth to Star Wars, it also saw the Muppets head to our screens for the first time ever. They actually made their world TV debut in the Muppet Show as of September 1976. Rita Moreno was the first guest in New York, with future episodes taking place in Chicago and LA.
One of the biggest movies of the decade, of course, was Jaws. This colossal sea monster movie changed the way that people saw sharks for good. While it’s actually more likely you’ll get killed by a cow than a shark, it’s safe to say that Steven Spielberg’s variation on the Peter Benchley novel helped to create a whole new fear for movie watchers all over the world. Jaws was released in June 1974 and would go on to claim $7 million on the weekend of its initial release. Many feel that Jaws helped to kickstart the summer blockbuster trend we know all to well to this day.
The Green Revolution took place in the 1970s, which actually saw a huge period of growth for many developing countries. This was a period during which many territories continued to gain economic stability following the mass uncertainties of World War II.
However, beyond war time, the decade was still tinged with tragedy. In fact, at the Summer Olympic Games in 1972, it emerged that 11 Israeli competitors would be killed via the violent actions of the Black September group, a Palestinian terrorist group. It’s thought that the terrorists were able to break into the venue for the Games by stealing keys and taking athletes hostage.
The 1970s, of course, was also known for being the final decade for the legendary rock star Elvis Presley. Presley would suffer a heart attack at his home and would be found dead in his bathroom as of August 16th, 1977. His body was available to view ‘in state’ in Graceland for many days afterwards, though there are still many people who believe that the King never actually died at all. Around 100,000 people came to say goodbye to their hero.
The 70s was also a hugely popular time for the movie musical to take off. This was the decade of Grease, which would of course help to make huge stars of its leads, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The musical is still hugely popular to this day, would spawn a sequel, and was the highest-grossing movie musical of all time at its release in June 1978.
A few years before, a very different type of musical made its way to the big screen – the outlandish Rocky Horror Picture Show, which debuted in September 1975, but which wouldn’t actually win over audiences for several years afterwards – it was not a success on its initial release.
1970 was also the final year for the Beatles. The Fab Four would announce as of April that year that they would be splitting up and releasing one final album, Let It Be. It was at this point where the band’s members were variously conflicted regarding the artistic future of the band, and the same year, Paul McCartney would release his first solo album – jumping the gun, or fully telegraphed? Who’s to say?
Africa, as a continent, made huge strides in pulling away from colonisation in this decade. It was in the middle of the decade when both Mozambique and Angola, for example, split away from Portugal after years of empirical rule.
Apple actually has origins in the 1970s. They have been around for longer than many people imagine! It was in 1976 when Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne and Steve Wozniak first formed Apple Computers. They would, as we all know, go onto be huge technological innovators, and one of the biggest companies on the planet.
The 70s was also very much the decade of MASH, one of the most popular US sitcoms of all time. So much so, that the final episode of the series, which wouldn’t air until 1983, became the single most-watched TV event in history.
Thought the Walkman was an 80s staple? That may well have been, but it has origins firmly rooted in the 1970s. In fact, it was right at the end of the decade when Sony would reveal their landmark Walkman personal music player, made available to the public as of July 1979. It was at this time when Sony wanted to push personal music listening on the go into the mainstream. Believe it or not, portable listening was already possible at this point, but Sony really pushed things to the next level. It’s safe to say they were onto something, as the Walkman would end up selling more than 50,000 pieces of hardware in just its first two months of release.
Of course, the 1970s was also the decade when videogames first started appearing in the mainstream, though they wouldn’t become such an enormous facet of everyday entertainment for many years after. It was in September 1977 when Atari would reveal their 2600 console, which quite literally changed the game for many people.
Many people will also remember the 1970s for being a decade of fashion choices that were at times fairly suspect! However, this decade really does it slug it out with the 1980s in this respect. The mini skirt came into fashion during this decade, as did platform shoes – and these would of course have a resurgence in the 1990s thanks to the Spice Girls.
Steven King made his debut as an author during this decade, as his book Carrie first hit shelves in 1974. By the end of the decade, he’d have written big novels such as The Shining, and it only took two years for Carrie to make it to the big screen, in 1976.
Wonder Woman lassoed her way onto TV screens for the first time ever by the middle of the decade, with Lynda Carter taking on the iconic role as of November 1975. To this day, she is widely remembered as being the superhero in her most iconic form and would transform a generation of comic book fans and TV watchers.
Many felt that the 1970s were very focused on individuality, so much so that the author Tom Wolfe would refer to the 70s as the ‘me’ decade. This theory posited that Americans, in particular, were moving away from the communised ideals that had been so popular the decade before.
The decade was also where we lost the hugely talented Jimi Hendrix, who would pass away from a drug overdose in 1970. Janis Joplin would be found dead by the same means just a few months later, too.
Believe it or not, we first landed on Venus in the 1970s. We didn’t send any people there, of course, but it was towards the end of 1970 when the Venera 7 probe landed on the planet and would lead the way for sending back information regarding Venus for much time to come. It was a real trailblazer!
Roller Discos first started appearing in the 1970s
Coming back to Elvis, did you know that the King was the first star to host a live satellite concert? It was in 1973 when the star set up his legendary Aloha From Hawaii performance, which would go on to be one of his most iconic and most rewatched.
The 1970s also saw the start of the Earth Day celebrations. The very first Earth Day took place at the start of the decade, aiming to help encourage people to learn more about the world around them and how they may be impacting on the environment. Several decades later, it is clear that there is still so much that we need to learn and do.
It was during this decade when African American people started making big changes to their fashion and hair, and in particular, it was the decade of the afro. This is the style where people would grow their hair big with a huge amount of volume. This was a very popular look for many pop stars and TV personalities, and naturally, it caught on just about everywhere.
In 1974, Philippe Petit made his famous tightrope walk between the Twin Towers in New York City. However, he would end up being arrested for doing so!
In fact, the World Trade Center had only been open a year before Pettit’s world-breaking attempt, with the Twin Towers having opened in 1973. It would take more than 12,000 people to bring to life.
This was also the decade when an end was brought to the infamous Manson Family and their murders. It was in 1971 when Manson and four followers caught by police would be sentenced to death for their killings.
The 1970s, on a happier note, was also the debut decade for Walt Disney World. The Florida resort would open in the autumn of 1971, bringing a whole new world of fun to fans of the animation company’s world-famous cartoons and films. Walt Disney himself had grand dreams for the park but would sadly pass away before it came to fruition. Other parks opened up in its stead, such as Disneyland Paris.
Disco was an odd genre of music in that it seemed to disappear just as quickly as it arrived. However, for a few heady years, starting with 1977, the music and movement would capture the minds and interests of people all over the world. It’s thought that the immensely popular movie Saturday Night Fever was in part responsible for the huge boom in disco music and clothing – and don’t forget the dancing!
Of course, the 1970s was also the decade that legendary boxer Cassius Clay – better known as Muhammad Ali – would wow audiences and become the self-proclaimed Greatest of All Time. His bout with Joe Frazier in 1975, which would become one of the most iconic bouts of all time, became known as the Thrilla in Manila!
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about the 1970s that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!