The great thing about San Antonio radio in the 1970s was the diversity of its music. One could hear a Motown tune followed by a Country-Western song followed by some rock and roll.
Even today, San Antonio is still celebrating music’s diversity. Concerts at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, the Majestic Theatre, the Aztec Theatre, and the AT&T Center this fall will present a cross-section of performers from that 1970s era, all of which have won Grammy or Hall of Fame awards. Most have been honored with both.
Electronic music was in its infancy when Kraftwerk released its first LP in 1970. Founding member Ralf Hütter helped direct the team of German musicians that laid down the robotic beat that gave birth to techno, synth-pop, house, and hip hop. His band of multimedia artists will bring a three-dimensional concert to the Tobin on Sept. 12.
Jazz and psychedelic music is mixed within the sounds of British pop-rocker Donovan, who shared styles with protest-singer Joan Baez and Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones. He also reportedly taught John Lennon a new way to pick guitar. Fans around the world were listening to “Barabajagal” in 1969 and “Riki Tiki Tavi” in 1970, and they still are. You can catch Donovan’s San Antonio stop of his Sunshine Superman 50th Anniversary Tour at the Tobin’s Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater on Sept. 22.
Folk and blues were stirred together by John Sebastian and the band he founded in Greenwich Village. Their album The Very Best of the Lovin’ Spoonful, released in 1970, contained such hits as “Younger Girl,” “Daydream,” “Do You Believe in Magic?,” and “Rain on the Roof” – all written by Sebastian. He also is remembered for his appearance at Woodstock. Sebastian will perform in an intimate setting at the Tobin on Sept. 27.
Surf music was still riding the waves in 1970. The Beach Boys began merging the California sound with hard rock in the albums 20/20 in 1969 and Sunflower in 1970. Founding member Mike Love has a new lineup of the Beach Boys, but they still run the gamut from doo-wop, rhythm and blues, baroque pop, country, and psychedelic. Throughout their various permutations, the Beach Boys remain one of the most acclaimed, successful, and influential rock bands. Catch 50 Years of Good Vibrations at the Majestic Theatre on Oct. 4.
Meanwhile, soul music crossed boundaries between the R&B and pop charts. “The Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, was a No. 1 hit in 1970. “Shop Around,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Tracks of My Tears,” and “I Second That Emotion” were just some of the other top 10 hits by the Miracles, all of which were written or co-written by Robinson. The Motown sound continues as the Majestic Theatre presents Smokey Robinson on Oct. 8.
Today, we call it Americana. In 1970, songs like “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and “For the Good Times” – written by Kris Kristofferson – were considered country. That same year Kristofferson released his first album, and his song “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” was recorded by Johnny Cash. And, as Kristofferson related in a TV interview, “I never had to work another day in my life after that.” This Brownsville, Texas-native will appear at the Tobin on Oct. 8.
A Chicago blues musician cut a lot of records with the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Sonny Boy Williamson in the 1960s. His style of guitar playing influenced everybody from Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Today, we know him as Buddy Guy. He still has a little blues club in Chicago where his friends drop in from time to time. Rolling Stone magazine lists Buddy Guy as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Find out why at the Aztec Theatre on Oct. 21.
The pioneers of Heavy Metal – Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath – released their first album in 1970. Paranoid had worldwide hits such as War Pigs and Iron Man. Osbourne and his band are still rocking it – but who knows for how long? This is rumored to be Black Sabbath’s last tour and San Antonio will be their last concert in the U.S. Catch Osbourne and his original band mates, Tony Iommi on guitar and Geezer Butler on bass, at the AT&T Center on Nov. 12.
The Nashville Sound in 1970 was exemplified by artists like Dolly Parton, who kept busy cranking out albums such as In the Good Old Days and My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy in 1969 and The Fairest of Them All in 1970. The Tobin Center’s third annual benefit concert will feature Parton’s Pure and Simple tour. VIP packages range from $800 to $8,000. Regular ticket prices start at $95. Keep your calendar open for Dolly Parton when she comes to the Tobin on Dec. 9.
Top image: Folksinger John Sebastian will perform in an intimate setting at the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater on Sept. 27, 2016. Photo courtesy of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.