Three words: Frampton Comes Alive. Journeyman UK rocker Peter Frampton scores a ginormous hit with this live double-album, spending 10 weeks at # 1 and becoming the best-selling album of 1976. It includes the smash hit singles "Baby, I Love Your Way", "Do You Feel Like I Do? ", And" Show Me The Way ".
The Eagles release "Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975" in February and becomes the first album to be awarded the new RIAA Platinum certification, given for sales of one million copies. The band then releases the new studio album "Hotel California" in December.
Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels makes an on-air offer to pay the Beatles $ 3000 if they reform on his show. While certainly meant in jest, the show was seen by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, who were together at the time in New York. According to a Playboy interview with John Lennon, upon watching Lorne Michael's on-air plea, the pair almost went to the show, but came to the conclusion that the show would be over before they arrived, but they were both quite tired by that time .
In March, Kiss release "Destroyer", which makes the group's best-selling studio album ever. They are also immortalized by placing their footprints in cement outside Grauman's Chinese Theater. The band then releases another new studio album, "Rock & Roll Over", in November.
Jackson Browne's wife commits suicide in March. This particularly dark period influences much of the material that enterprises his new album, "The Pretender", which is released in November.
"Fly Like An Eagle" becomes a hit album (# 3) and single (# 2) for the Steve Miller Band. Both the album and single also chart in the Top 20 on the Black charts as well.
In April, the Ramones release their own-titled debut album on Sire / ABC Records.
"Sara Smile" becomes the first Top 10 hit single for Hall & Oates. Later in the year, they score their first # 1 single with "Rich Girl", from the "Bigger Than Both of Us" album.
Graceland security escorts Bruce Springsteen off the grounds after the rocker scaled a security wall in an impromptu attempt to meet Elvis Presley.
Cheap Trick sign to Epic Records and begin work on their debut album with Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Starz, Knack, John Lennon, etc.). John Lennon had originally been the band's first choice to produce. Lennon's manager at the time twisted the band's request without introducing it to Lennon. When Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos worked with Lennon during the Double Fantasy sessions, Nielsen told Lennon that he'd been their first choice. Lennon responded, "I've done it." [Check out their live version of "Magical Mystery Tour."]
Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. form a new band in Dublin called "Feedback", which is then changed to "The Hype", and, finally, to "U2". [Check out "Life On A Distant Planet".]
Other bands who form this year include the Clash, Wire, Madness, Foreigner, Generation X, the Jam, Elvis Costello & the Attractions, the Damned, the Cure, and Black Flag.
Bands that broke up in 1976 include Deep Purple, Grand Funk Railroad, the Pretty Things, Argent, Soft Machine, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Ike & Tina Turner also split up and Roxy Music went on "official hiatus" until 1980.
Michael Bolotin releases "Every Day Of My Life", the second and final album using his real name. The album is a commercial disappointment and leads to his resignation from RCA Records. He later changes his name to Michael Bolton.
The Sex Pistols are signed to EMI Records.
Genesis release "A Trick Of The Tail", their first album since Peter Gabriel's departure, marking Phil Collins' debut as lead singer. While only a moderate success, sales of this album were twice that of previous Genesis albums, which was quite encouraging, as the band had been over $ 400,000 in debt by the time Gabriel left. [Check out "Entangled" from their '76 tour.]
Blondie releases their own-titled debt album in December. [check out these four cuts.]
Boston's debut album is released in June, going gold (for sales of over 500,000 copies) only two months later. To date, the album has sold over 19 million copies.
In November, with Robbie Robertson tired of touring and Richard Manuel recovering from a boating accident, The Band retire from live performance with a final concert on Thanksgiving Day in San Francisco. Director Martin Scorcese filmed the concert and would see theatrical release two years later as "The Last Waltz", with accompanying three-record soundtrack album. [Check out "The Weight" from their final performance.]
KC & The Sunshine Band release their fourth album, "Part 3", which includes the smash hit singles "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" (# 1), "I'm Your Boogie Man" and "Keep It Comin 'Love" (# 2).
ABBA's "Arrival" is their first UK # 1 album and US Top 20 album, establishing the band as worldwide hit-makers with such singles as "Dancing Queen" (the biggest hit of their career, "Knowing Me, Knowing You", and "Money, Money, Money".
Wings "At The Speed Of Sound" is released in conjunction with the band's highly anticipated '76 US tour and spends 7 weeks at # 1, and includes the # 1 singles "Silly Love Songs" and "Let 'Em In".
Captain & Tennille score three massive pop hits from their second album "Song Of Joy"; "Muskrat Love" (# 4), "Shop Around" (# 4), and "Lonely Night (Angel Face)" (# 3).
David Bowie reached # 3 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart with "Station To Station". The single "Golden Years" was also a Top 10 hit. The album was recorded in LA, a city he attributes to the cocaine addiction that hampered the subsequent US tour, going so far as to say of LA, "The fucking place should be wiped off the face of the earth" (source: NME) . [Check out this zany version of "Changes" from the '76 tour rehearsals.]
George Harrison loses the court case wherein his song, "My Sweet Lord" was determined to have been plagiarized from the Chiffs' 1963 single, "He's So Fine". The Chiffs would later record their own version of "My Sweet Lord" to capitalize on the controversy. Subsequent court disputes over damages would drag on for many years, leading Harrison to eventually buy the publishing rights to "He's So Fine".
Blue Oyster Cult release "Agents Of Fortune" in May. It is most notable for featuring the band's most popular song to date, "(Do not Fear) The Reaper", which peaked at # 12 on the singles charts, but has continued as a staple of AOR and classic rock radio formats.
Stevie Wonder's "Songs In The Key of Life" is released in September and would go on to spend 14 weeks at # 1 and sell over ten million copies.