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March 4, 2020

Amazing Pics of Musicians’ Backstage in the 1970s

It was the post-Beatles decade—years of soul and rock and disco and punk. The 1970s was the era that fully embraced the change of the ’60s counterculture, a time when artists waged their own protests against wars, social injustice, and the rapidly shifting American Dream.

Some of the greatest names in contemporary music reached their zenith in the ’70s. Here’s what was happening behind the scenes.

Pete Townshend sitting backstage, circa 1970

Elton John relaxes backstage at Doug Weston's Troubadour on August 25, 1970 in Los Angeles (now West Hollywood), California

Elvis Presley and Sammy Davis, Jr. backstage in Elvis' dressing room, opening night at the Showroom International Hotel on August 10, 1970 in Las Vegas, Nevada

Jimi Hendrix backstage at the Love And Peace Festival on the Isle of Fehmarn, his final official concert appearance, on September 6, 1970 in Germany

Mick Jagger in London, England in 1970

Rick Wright, David Gilmour, and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd backstage in Germany, doing interview on November 14, 1970

Singer-songwriter James Taylor enjoys a few moments to himself before performing at The Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles in 1970

The Beach Boys pose in a green room backstage before a concert in December 1970

Robert Plant and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin backstage at the Fillmore East, 1971

Princess Margaret and her husband, Lord Snowdon, join Elton John backstage at a benefit concert in London in 1972

The Who drummer, Keith Moon, poses with fans while dressed in a blonde wig and sequin outfit backstage at a concert in 1972

Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton pose backstage while in Newport, Rhode Island in 1973

David Bowie, preparing for a performance backstage, circa 1973. He is being dressed in an extravagant costume by his wife Angie Bowie (right) and an assistant

Gladys Knight & friends backstage at the Apollo, Harlem in 1973

James Brown poses backstage in London in 1973

Michael Jackson and his brother Randy (right) backstage at the Inglewood Forum, August 26, 1973

Patti Smith poses with Iggy Pop and James Williamson of The Stooges in November 1974 backstage at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles California

Pink Floyd's Robbie Williams, Mick Kluczinsky, Roger Waters, Rick Wright (visible in mirror), David Gilmour backstage in Burmingham on December 4, 1974

Stevie Wonder backstage at the Rainbow Theatre, using a cassette player, on January 30, 1974 in London

Aston 'Family Man' Barrett and Bob Marley of The Wailers playing guitar and keyboards backstage at the Odeon, Birmingham, United Kingdom, July 18, 1975

Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers, David Bowie, Yoko Ono, John Lennon, and Roberta Flack at The Grammys on March 1, 1975 in New York City

Cher, Elton John, and Diana Ross pose together while backstage at the first Rock Music Awards in Los Angeles in 1975

Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys hang out after an outdoor concert in 1975

Diana Ross backstage at a concert on the Rolling Stones' 1975 Tour of the Americas

Elton John chats with music journalist Lisa Robinson after a concert on the the Rolling Stones' Tour of the Americas in 1975

Eric Clapton speaks with his support staff while on tour in the United States in 1975

Mick Jagger practices his bowling in the corridor during the Rolling Stones Tour of the Americas, 1975

Patti Smith backstage with friends at The Boarding House Nightclub in 1975 in San Francisco, California

Patti Smith posed backstage before performing with the Patti Smith Group at CBGB's club in New York City on April 4, 1975

Rod Stewart chats with David Bowie backstage after a performance at Madison Square Garden in 1975

Ron Wood and Keith Richards backstage during the group's 1975 Tour of the Americas

Ron Wood embraces Keith Richards backstage during the Rolling Stones' 1975 Tour of the Americas

Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac poses backstage in New Haven holding her dog on October 1, 1975

AC/DC celebrates after a successful performance at the Marquee Club in London in 1976

Aerosmith lead singer, Steven Tyler, cools himself off backstage after a performance at the RFK Stadium in 1976

Bassist Paul Simonon of British punk group The Clash, backstage at a concert at the Royal College of Art (RCA), London, November 5, 1976

David Blue, Lainie Kazan, Bob Dylan, Robert De Niro, Sally Kirkland, Ronee Blakley, and Martine Getty backstage at the Roxy for Ronee Blakley's concert on August 18, 1976 in Los Angeles, California

Neil Young (3rd from left) and Frank Sampedro and Ralph Molina of Crazy Horse stand backstage with Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney at the Kuip stadium in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 1976

Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath pose for a portrait backstage at Cobo Hall on November 26, 1976 in Detroit, Michigan

Paul McCartney with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd backstage at Knebworth Music Festival, 1976

Steven Tyler slips into a skintight cheetah print suit before a concert at Madison Square Garden in 1976

The Runaways (L-R Joan Jett, Jackie Fox, Lita Ford, Sandy West) backstage at CBGB's in New York on August 2, 1976

British rock band Queen backstage during the band's US tour, January 1977

David Bowie and Gerald Casale of Devo pose backstage on November 14, 1977 at Max's in Kansas City

Fleetwood Mac (L-R Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks Christine McVie, and John McVie) backstage at the Los Angeles Rock Awards on September 1, 1977 in Los Angeles, California

Freddie Mercury gets his hair done backstage, before a concert, circa 1977

Freddie Mercury of Queen applies make-up backstage before a concert in the US, January 1977

Jimmy Page (fore, right) and Robert Plant (center, rear) as they walk backstage at Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, June 10, 1977

Joan Jett of The Runaways backstage at the Whiskey a Go Go in Los Angeles, California in 1977

Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon, and Mick Jones of the Clash backstage at the Rainbow Theatre on the White Riot tour on June 9, 1977

Led Zeppelin's bassist, John Paul Jones, singer, Robert Plant, and guitarist, Jimmy Page, walk backstage at the Forum in Los Angeles in 1977

Queen holds up the Toronto Maple Leaf jerseys they were gifted while performing in Canada in 1977

Debbie Harry backstage at the Philadelphia Spectrum on January 1, 1978

Debbie Harry meets a snake before a Philadelphia concert in 1978

George Benson, Valerie Simpson, and Nickolas Ashford of Ashford & Simpson pose backstage with Stevie Wonder in New York, 1978

Joey Ramone backstage at the Paradise Theater (now the Paradise Rock Club) in Boston, Massachusetts, March 22, 1978. In the background are bassist Dee Dee Ramone and drummer Tommy Ramone

Paul and Linda McCartney (right) backstage with Mick Jagger (left) and Bill Wyman (centre) at a Rolling Stones concert at The Palladium, New York City, June 19, 1978

Paul and Linda McCartney with Ronnie Wood backstage at the Palladium in New York City on June 19, 1978

Robert Quine, Elvis Costello, and Richard Hell backstage of CBGB in 1978

The Ramones pose backstage at the Old Waldorf club in January 1978 in San Francisco, California

Joni Mitchell, Mimi Farina, and Herbie Hancock enjoy a moment backstage at the Berkeley Jazz Festival, which was held at the Greek Theatre in May 1979 in Berkeley, California

Keith Richards at Knebworth Pop Festival for a special appearance with fellow Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, August 12, 1979

(Photos: Getty Images, via Esquire)


  1. How about some photo credits for these images? If they're worth your attention, they're worth noting the photographers who took them.

    1. The original post on Esquire has a gallery that lists credits.

  2. I loved the Peaches Tshirt in one of the pics. It was the coolest record shop in my town and just huge. Great pics!

  3. Fantastic Photographs, love them xx

  4. It's only rock 'n' roll, but I like it! Sweet pics. Can't imagine any of today's musos putting up with such squalid conditions. Don't they look like high school gyms and flophouses? And dig my boy, Elton's quick rise to fame. That first one taken at the Troubadour was his first big gig in the US. His career took off from there. Dig him hanging with royalty only two years later.




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