American Music Awards had its first telecast, with Helen Reddy, Roger Miller and Smokey Robinson as hosts. Cher filed for divorce from Sonny Bono. Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack dominated the Grammy Awards. The first Knebworth Concert was headlined by The Allman Brothers Band. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac. 

The year was 1974. Fifty years ago … the year that President Richard Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal. Saigon fell, Patty Hearst was kidnapped, “Jaws” premiered, Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, Muhammad Ali won “The Rumble in the Jungle,” and the Rubik’s Cube was invented.

Through it all, we had our transistor radios and turntables tuned to our favorite albums. There were many classics that year, like …

Jan. 11

“Lookin’ for a Love Again,” Bobby Womack — his sixth album, featuring the title track and “You’re Welcome, Stop On By”; producer: Womack (United Artists)

Jan. 17

“Planet Waves,” Bob Dylan — his 14th album; supported by The Band; it briefly topped the Billboard 200 chart, surprisingly the first No. 1 LP of his career; producer: Rob Fraboni (Asylum)

“Court and Spark,” Joni Mitchell — her sixth and most commercially successful album, featuring her only Top 10 hit “Help Me,” plus “Raised on Robbery,” “Free Man in Paris” and “Car on a Hill”; Grammy winner for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist[s] for “Down to You”; it was also a Grammy nominee for Album of the Year; producer: Mitchell; guests: Robbie Robertson, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Tom Scott, José Feliciano, Larry Carlton, Joe Sample, et al (Asylum)

January (release date unknown)

“Sundown,” Gordon Lightfoot — his ninth and only U.S. No. 1 album, featuring the title track and “Carefree Highway”; producer: Lenny Waronker (Reprise)

“Grievous Angel,” Gram Parsons — his second and final solo album, released four months after his death; guests: Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Bernie Leadon, et al; producer: Parsons (Reprise)

Other January releases: “Wild Tales,” Graham Nash … “”Hotcakes,” Carly Simon … “The Way We Were,” Barbra Streisand

Feb. 1

“What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits,” The Doobie Brothers — their fourth album, featuring “Black Water,” “Another Park, Another Sunday” and “Eyes of Silver”; producer: Ted Templeman (Warner)

“Jolene,” Dolly Parton — her 13th album, featuring the title track and “I Will Always Love You,” which the country legend has said were written on the same day; producer: Bob Ferguson (RCA)

Feb. 18

“KISS,” KISS — their debut album, featuring “Strutter,” “Cold Gin” and “Deuce”; original lineup: Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley; producers: Kenny Kerner, Richie Wise (Casablanca)

Feb. 20

“Pretzel Logic,” Steely Dan — their third album and the last to feature the full lineup of Walter Becker, Donald Fagen, Denny Dias, Jim Hodder, and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter; featuring their biggest hit, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”; producer: Gary Katz (ABC)

Feb. 25

“Let Me In Your Life,” Aretha Franklin — considered one of her best Atlantic-era albums, featuring “Until You Come Back to Me [That’s What I’m Gonna Do]”; producers: Arif Mardin, Jerry Wexler, Franklin, Tom Dowd (Atlantic)

Other February releases: “It’s Too Late to Stop Now,” Van Morrison … “Burn,” Deep Purple … “If We Make It Through December,” Merle Haggard … “Slaughter on 10th Avenue,” Mick Ronson … “Radio City,” Big Star

March 4

“Waterloo,” ABBA — their second album was the beginning of their massive international success, featuring the Eurovision Song Contest-winning title track and “Honey, Honey”; producers: Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus (Atlantic)

March 8

“Queen II,” Queen — it’s one of the band’s lesser-known albums, but it’s regarded as one of its finest, featuring “Seven Seas of Rhye”; producers: Roy Thomas Baker, Robin Geoffrey Cable, Queen (Elektra)

March 18

“Rush,” Rush — the Canadian rock legends’ debut album; original drummer John Rutsey played on the entire album but retired after the LP was released because he couldn’t tour due to complications with his diabetes; he was soon replaced by Neil Peart; contains “Finding My Way,” “In the Mood” and “Working Man”;  producers: Rush (Mercury)

March 25

“Open Our Eyes,” Earth, Wind & Fire — their fifth album opened a lot of eyes, indeed, scoring their first Top 40 hits, “Mighty Mighty” and “Kalimba Story”; producers: Maurice White, Joe Wissert (Columbia)

Other March releases: “Chicago VII,” Chicago … “Get Tour Wings,” Aerosmith … “Pure Smokey,” Smokey Robinson … “On the Border,” Eagles … “Somethin’s Happening,” Peter Frampton

April 5

“Secret Treaties,” Blue Öyster Cult — their third album is most notable for a songwriting contribution from Patti Smith, who penned “Career of Evil”; producers: Murray Krugman, Sandy Pearlman (Columbia)

April 15

“Second Helping,” Lynyrd Skynyrd — their second album contained “Sweet Home Alabama,” their answer song to Neil Young’s “Southern Man”; producer: Al Kooper (MCA)

April 20

“Bridge of Sighs,” Robin Trower — his second album after leaving Procol Harum was his commercial breakthrough, reaching No. 7 on the Bilboard chart; producer: Matthew Fisher (Chrysalis)

April 30

“I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight,” Richard and Linda Thompson — initially ignored by the critics, this album is vintage English folk rock, but it took decades for it to be appreciated; producers: Richard Thompson, John Wood (Hannibal)

Other April releases: “Desitively Bonnaroo,” Dr. John … “Seven,” Poco … “Big Fun,” Miles Davis … “Son of Dracula,” Nilsson … “Skin Tight,” Ohio Players

May 1

“Kimono My House,” Sparks — this glam-rock classic was a smash in Britain, where it peaked at No. 4, preceded by the No. 2 hit “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us,” plus “Amateur Hour,” “Hasta Mañana, Monsieur” and “Talent Is an Asset”; producer: Muff Winwood (Island)

May 24

“Diamond Dogs,” David Bowie — his eighth album marked the end of his glam-rock phase, eventually moving on to more experimental territory; highlights include “Rebel Rebel,” “1984” and “Big Brother”; producer: Bowie (RCA)

“Bad Company,” Bad Company — a strong debut album from the British supergroup of Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs, Boz Burrell and Simon Kirke; it reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200, generating a pair of hits — “Can’t Get Enough” and “Movin’ On” — plus classic-rock staples “Bad Company,” “Ready for Love” and “Rock Steady”; producers: Bad Company (Swan Song)

Other May releases: “Journey to the Centre of the Earth,” Rick Wakeman … “Preservation Act 2,” The Kinks … “Back to Oakland,” Tower of Power … “Sheet Music,” 10cc … “Rags to Rufus,” Rufus … “Body Heat,” Quincy Jones … “Monkey Grip,” Bill Wyman

June 15

“Back Home Again,” John Denver — his eighth album was his second straight No. 1, eight months after “John Denver’s Greatest Hits” topped the charts; it contained his No. 1 “Annie’s Song” and the title track, plus the studio versions of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and “Sweet Surrender”; it was also a Grammy nominee for Album of the Year; producer: Milton Okun (RCA)

June 20

“Before the Flood,” Bob Dylan & The Band — his first live release documented their 1974 U.S. tour and is widely regarded one of the best live LPs ever; all but one track on the double album was recorded at the L.A. Forum; producers: Dylan, The Band (Asylum)

June 24

“Caribou,” Elton John — critics were not fond of his eighth album, but there’s no denying its commercial power; it was his fourth chart-topping LP in the U.S., generating two big hits, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” and “The Bitch Is Back”; it was also a Grammy nominee for Album of the Year; producer: Gus Dudgeon (MCA)

June 26

“Holiday,” America — the trio turned to George Martin for their fourth album, and it paid off with a pair of Top 5 singles, “Tin Man” and “Lonely People”; producer: Martin (Warner)  

Other June releases: “Marvin Gaye Live!,” Marvin Gaye … “From the Mars Hotel,” Grateful Dead … “Endless Summer,” The Beach Boys … “Walking Man,” James Taylor … “Hell,” James Brown

July 3

“Up for the Down Stroke,” Parliament — the funk band’s second album is a P-Funk classic, thanks largely to the return of Bootsy Collins; includes a funk remake of The Parliaments’ “(I Wanna) Testify,” shortened to “Testify”; producer: George Clinton (Casablanca)

July 19

“On the Beach,” Neil Young — not a big seller for him at the time, but over the years there’s a new appreciation for it; featuring “Walk On,” “Revolution Blues” and “See the Sky About to Rain”; producers: Young, David Briggs, Mark Harman, Al Schmitt (Reprise)

July 22

“Fulfillingness’ First Finale,” Stevie Wonder — perhaps the year’s most decorated album, it won Grammys for Album of the Year, Best Male Pop Vocal and Best Male Rhythm and Blues Vocal Performance; featuring “You Haven’t Done Nothin'” and “Boogie on Reggae Woman”; producer: Wonder (Tamla)

Other July releases: “Another Time, Another Place,” Bryan Ferry … “Machine Gun,” Commodores … “Rock Bottom,” Robert Wyatt … “461 Ocean Boulevard,” Eric Clapton … “Phoebe Snow,” Phoebe Snow

Aug. 6

“Can’t Get Enough,” Barry White — third time’s a charm: his third album reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200, bolstered by “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” and “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything”; producer: White (20th Century)

Aug. 9

“Feats Don’t Fail Me Now,” Little Feat — their fourth album contains two of their signature songs, “Oh Atlanta” and “Rock & Roll Doctor”; producers: Lowell George, Van Dyke Parks (Warner)

“Perfect Angel,” Minnie Riperton — her second album didn’t take off till “Lovin’ You” topped the Hot 100 in early April 1975; Riperton wanted Stevie Wonder to produce her, but he agreed to do it under one condition: He wanted to use a pseudonym, as Motown was hesitant to allow him to work outside of the label; he was officially credited as El Toro Negro, which translates to “The Black Bull” in Spanish; producers: Wonder, Richard Rudolph (Epic)

Other August releases: “Pussy Cats,” Nilsson … “So Far,” Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young … “Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends… Ladies and Gentlemen,” Emerson, Lake & Palmer … “Live It Up,” The Isley Brothers … “AWB,” Average White Band … “Not Fragile,” Bachman-Turner Overdrive … “Verities & Balderdash,” Harry Chapin

Sept. 13

“Late for the Sky,” Jackson Browne — his third album is a masterpiece, even though he didn’t have any chart singles; highlights include “Fountain of Sorrow,” Walking Slow,” “Before the Deluge” and “For a Dancer”; producers: Browne, Al Schmitt (Asylum)

Sept. 16

“Starting Over,” Raspberries — Eric Carmen and Co.’s fourth and final album included the power-pop classic “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)”; too bad it wasn’t much of a hit record; producer: Jimmy Ienner (Capitol)

Sept. 26

“Walls and Bridges,” John Lennon — his fifth solo album was written and recorded during his 18-month separation from Yoko Ono, and around the same time as his “Lost Weekend” with Harry Nilsson; it included his first solo No. 1, “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night,” and “#9 Dream”; producer: Lennon (Apple)

Other September releases: “Dancing Machine,” The Jackson 5 … “Heroes Are Hard to Find,” Fleetwood Mac … “Good Old Boys,” Randy Newman … “Love Is Like a Butterfly,” Dolly Parton … “Serenade,” Neil Diamond … “Eldorado,” Electric Light Orchestra … “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley,” Robert Palmer … “Wrap Around Joy,” Carole King

Oct. 11

“Streetlife Serenade,” Billy Joel — it was hard to follow up “Piano Man,” but he did an admirable job, highlighted by “The Entertainer” and “Los Angelenos,” as well as a pair of instrumentals, “Root Beer Rag” and “The Mexican Connection”; producer: Michael Stewart (Columbia)

Oct. 18

“It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” The Rolling Stones — the last album to feature guitarist Mick Taylor contained the title track, “Time Waits for No One” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”; producer: The Glimmer Twins (Rolling Stones)

Oct. 25

“Crime of the Century,” Supertramp — their third album was a breakout hit in the U.K., powered by “Bloody Well Right,” which didn’t chart in the U.S. until spring 1975; it did become the band’s first Top 40 album; other standouts: “Dreamer,” “Rudy,” “School” and “Hide In Your Shell”; producers: Ken Scott, Supertramp (A&M).

Other October releases: “Odds & Sods,” The Who … “Smiler,” Rod Stewart … “This Is The Moody Blues,” The Moody Blues … “David Live,” David Bowie … “War Babies,” Hall & Oates … “Al Green Explores Your Mind,” Al Green … “Inspiration Information,” Shuggie Otis … “Waitress in a Donut Shop,” Maria Muldaur … “The Heart of Saturday Night,” Tom Waits

Nov. 1

“Autobahn,” Kraftwerk — a highly influential electronic rock album, its centerpiece was the 22-minute title track; the album was a surprising Top 5 hit in the U.S.; producers: Florian Schneider, Ralf Hütter (Philips)

Nov. 8

“Elton John’s Greatest Hits,” Elton John — it’s noteworthy because it went on to become the best-selling album of 1975, spent 10 weeks at No. 1 in the U.S. and sold more than 24 million copies worldwide; surprisingly, the 10-track set didn’t include “Tiny Dancer” and “Levon” (MCA)

“Sheer Heart Attack,” Queen — their second album of the year was significant because it contained their first U.S. Top 40 hit, “Killer Queen,” plus “Stone Cold Crazy,” “Brighton Rock” and “Flick of the Wrist”; it was a glam-rock tour de force; producers: Roy Thomas Baker, Queen (Elektra)

Nov. 15

“Country Life,” Roxy Music — just another sophisticated album from the British art-rock greats; featuring “All I Want Is You” and “The Thrill of It All”; producers: John Punter, Roxy Music (Atco)

Nov. 19

“Heart Like a Wheel,” Linda Ronstadt — her fifth solo album might be her best; it was a Grammy nominee for Album of the Year in 1976 and won the Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female for “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still in Love With You”; it was her first U.S. No. 1 album, led by her only No. 1 song, “You’re No Good,” as well as “When Will I Be Loved”; producer: Peter Asher (Capitol)

Nov. 22

“The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,” Genesis — their sixth album and last with Peter Gabriel was classic Genesis, from the title track to “Carpet Crawlers”; producer: John Burns, Genesis (Atco)

Other November releases: “Fly to the Rainbow,” Scorpions … “Nightlife,” Thin Lizzy … “Stormbringer,” Deep Purple … “Goodnight Vienna,” Ringo Starr … “Woman to Woman,” Tammy Wynette … “Relayer,” Yes … “Desolation Boulevard,” Sweet … “Miles of Aisles,” Joni Mitchell

Dec. 5

“Rufusized,” Rufus featuring Chaka Khan — their second album of the year contained the Gavin Christopher-penned “Once You Get Started” and “Please Pardon Me (You Remind Me of a Friend)”; producer: Bob Monaco (ABC)

Dec. 9

“Dark Horse,” George Harrison — his fifth solo album came after the dissolution of his marriage to Pattie Boyd; it featured the title track and “Ding Dong, Ding Dong”; producer: Harrison (Apple)

Other December releases: “So What,” Joe Walsh … “A1A,” Jimmy Buffett

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