Seven Iconic Rock Albums Turning 50 in February

By mporter on January 25, 2020
An electric guitar with a speaker in a concert (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

By: Madeleine Porter

Once you reach the big 5-0 there is no turning back. The 50th anniversary is known as the golden year for many reasons. In this case, there are certainly some gold, and platinum records celebrating in February.

Fifty years ago, rock had, conclusively, its greatest year featuring a run of debut albums. 1970 is an unrivaled year for the genre’s history.

Big-time bands formed in the ’60s played to thousands in arenas and outdoor stadiums claiming their names to fame. A wide variety of rock emerged in the ’70s because of the distribution channels and expanding markets. The Beatles break up in 1970, but all four members continued to impact the 70’s with their solo careers. Many acts were born that more than filled the void they left behind.

Read below for the top rock album anniversaries to celebrate this February.

Top Rock Albums’ 50th Anniversaries in February 2020 

anniversary icon (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Harry Nilsson- ‘Nilsson Sings Newman’

Release Date: February 1, 1970

Harry Nilsson (1941 – 1994) at the piano, 1972. (Photo by Stan Meagher/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Harry Nilsson’s unconventional recording methods and high voice fit perfectly in this album. The singer wrote all the songs for the famous album and recorded himself on the piano. Nilsson’s piano provides the sole sound to the multi-tracked method of harmonies.


James Taylor- ‘Sweet Baby James’

Release Date: February 1, 1970

NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 20: James Taylor performs onstage during The Nearness Of You Benefit Concert (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

James Taylor just returned to America after recording in England when he learned his late brother Alex Taylor had become a father. Alex and his wife decided to name their baby boy after James himself, James Richmond Taylor. Making it a little confusing but Taylor was elated to have a nephew. An album dedicated to his nephew to be a soft lullaby. ‘Sweet Baby James’ sets the stage for character development and inspiration for the listeners.


The Doors- ‘Morrison Hotel’

Release Date: February 9, 1970

NASHVILLE, TN – MAY 15, 2016: John Densmore of The Doors joins R.A.T.S., (Rock Against Terrorism) (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Met with both praise and critique, this change in sound was a commercial success for rock. The band reached Top 5 on the US album charts and became the band’s highest-charting album in the UK. ‘Morrison Hotel’ has been in a long dispute over the title. Originally named ‘Hard Rock Cafe’, lead singer Jim Morrison was involved in composing every song on the album.


Pink Floyd, The Kaleidoscope, The Grateful Dead, ect.- ‘Zabriskie Point’

Release Date: February 13, 1970

LAS VEGAS, NV – JUNE 16: Recording artist Roger Waters performs at T-Mobile Arena on June 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A plethora of rock artists contributed to the soundtrack album to the Michelangelo Antonioni film Zabriskie Point. Some feel the film failed to capture the hippie’s new leaf counterculture of the era. Pink Floyd completed eight records for the film but only three made the cut. The Youngbloods, Ray Orbison, The Kaleidoscope, Pattie Page, Rolling Stones, and The Grateful Dead contributed in the studio to round out the soundtrack.


Black Sabbath- ‘Black Sabbath’

Release Date: February 13, 1970

LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 26, 2014: (L-R) Musicians Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath, winners of Best Metal Performance for ‘God Is Dead?’. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Black Sabbath founded the heavy metal rock genre we know today. The experimental construction of the album digs into the style of rock founded by Black Sabbath. The band, two-years-old at the time, became exceedingly famous through the years as fans appreciate the music. Reaching #8 on the charts in the UK, ‘Black Sabbath’ proved contemporary critics wrong.


Funkadelic- ‘Funkadelic’

Release Date: February 24, 1970

LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 04, 2014: Recording artist George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic performs at the 13th annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational)

Funkadelic sealed their fate in classic rock history with their album ‘Funkadelic’. Starting small, the band backed up George Clinton’s Parliaments in the late 60s. When Clinton was frustrated with his label Revilot, he would start recording the backup band instead, using the original Parliaments singers. The record peaked at #16 on the Soul LPs chart and planted the seed for more funk-rock.


Van Morrison- ‘Moondance’

 Release Date: February 27, 1970

NASHVILLE, TN – SEPTEMBER 14, 2017: Recording Artist Van Morrison performs during the 18th Annual Americana Music Festival & Conference (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images for Americana Music)

Van Morrison’s music is impossible to match. His detail to melody, verbal magic, and inventive lyrics contribute to the success of ‘Moondance’. Morrison blends tones of jazz, country, rock, and American soul into his music creating a cohesive album. The result is a record of redemption and rejuvenation of rock which is as every bit as authentic as its writer, Morrison. Water is a big theme on this album symbolizing clear and cleansing thoughts of power.


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