Forget the Internet, back in the 70s, the only way to hear new music was either by watching Top Of The Pops, listening to the chart rundown, or phoning Dial-a-Disc when your parents were out! You know you were a child of the 70s when you grew up listening to...
If one band sums up a 70s childhood, it’s Abba! Dads across the land went a bit pink and squeaky whenever ‘the blonde one’ (Agnetha to you and me) jiggled across the TV screen, causing mums to purse their lips and huff, ‘The dark-haired one’s much better looking, you know!’
But no matter who your favourite member, one thing we all agree on is that Abba were ace!
The Bee Gees
Ah, the chest hair, the bouffants, the gleaming white gnashers, and – lest we forget – those amazing falsetto voices and awesome disco tunes!
It was also compulsory for fellas to strut – fingers pointing – onto the dancefloor at family gatherings the moment the opening bars of Saturday Night Fever blared out…then come limping back after an over-vigorous John Travolta impression left them with a slipped disc and groin strain.
In the days before cars had cassette players in them, mums would be required to sit holding a transistor radio in the passenger seat. And when anything came on by Queen, Dad would yell, ‘Turn it up!’
Naturally, when Bohemian Rhapsody came on, the whole car would erupt, Wayne’s World style, into a euphoric cacophony of singing. So what if none of us knew the lyrics? Queen were fantastically, riotously over the top and, oh, how we loved them.
Men wanted to be Freddie, mums wanted to snog him. And us kids, we just wanted to know what the heck ‘Spare him his life from these pork sausages’ meant…
Yes, yes, we know musically he was no Bowie, but David Essex certainly knew how to craft a corking glam-tinged pop tune. He also knew how to work his pretty-boy good looks, too! When David gazed into the Top Of The Pops camera with those big, blue eyes and sang ‘Hold me close don’t let me go’, schoolgirls across the UK swooned into their Spam fritters, as did a fair few mums!
From the moment the Boney M classic Brown Girl In The Ring hit school playgrounds across the UK (and ended up being reworded into something ‘slightly’ more vulgar), us kids knew we were on to a winner! Boney M had a strange yet enduring appeal with their infectious sing-along choruses.
And then there was front-man Bobby Farrell, whose wildly hairy chest and bonkers dance moves were simultaneously thrilling and terrifying! Truth is, he didn’t actually sing on most of the records…that glorious, deep voice belonged to singer/songwriter Frank Farian, who put the band together.
Back in 1978, us kids didn’t really have much experience of heartbreak (unless finding out David Cassidy had got married counts). But watching how the sexes reacted whenever I Will Survive was played at a wedding or family party told us it was something pretty potent.
Men would cower at the bar, pints of Double Diamond clutched protectively to their chests, while the women, arms linked, would glare in their direction and sing every word from the heart.
Later, as you and your siblings sat munching Frazzles on the back seat of the car, you’d catch your mum hissing something about ‘that trollop Shirley’, followed by your dad whimpering, ‘But that was in 1972…’
And, though you didn’t really understand, you knew, somehow, that Gloria did…
While it may seem inconceivable now, back in the 70s, us kids were utterly clueless that the Village People were toying with gay stereotypes and imagery. In fact, most of us didn’t even know what a YMCA was! We just knew the Village People’s outfits were fab and their pumping disco tunes even fabber!
If you were a child of the 70s, I guarantee you’ll have ‘done’ the YMCA at either a family wedding, party, or school disco at least once your life. And if you didn’t – it’s never too late!
Which bands of the 70s defined your childhood?