|Stylistic origins||Rock and roll, pop rock, rhythm and blues, folk rock, smooth jazz|
|Cultural origins||Late 1960s in the United States and United Kingdom|
|Typical instruments||Electric and acoustic guitar, bass guitar, twelve string guitar, drums, piano, synthesizer|
Hard rock had been established as a mainstream genre by 1965. From the end of the 1960s, it became common to divide mainstream rock music into soft and hard rock, with both emerging as major radio formats in the US. Soft rock was often derived from folk rock, using acoustic instruments and putting more emphasis on melody and harmonies. Major artists included Carole King, Cat Stevens, James Taylor and Bread. Soft rock songs generally tend to focus on themes like love, everyday life and relationships. The genre tends to make heavy use of acoustic guitars, pianos, synthesizers and sometimes saxophones. The electric guitars in soft rock are normally faint and high-pitched.
On April 1, 1970, Phil Spector remixed the Beatles' single "The Long and Winding Road" with a symphonic orchestra, giving them a "Middle of the road" (MOR) appeal and a "softer" rock sound than had been customary in the 60s, the heyday of acid rock's popularity. Spector did this without the Beatles' knowledge, and in the resulting furor they disbanded a few days later, although the song became an influential hit. The Carpenters' hit version of "(They Long to Be) Close to You" that summer, followed by Bread's "Make It with You", were harbingers of the softer sound that was coming to dominate the charts.
It reached its commercial peak in the mid-to-late 1970s with acts such as Billy Joel, Elton John, Chicago, Toto, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Air Supply, Seals and Crofts, America and the reformed Fleetwood Mac, whose Rumours (1977) was the best-selling album of the decade. By 1977, some radio stations, like New York's WTFM and WYNY, had switched to an all-soft-rock format. By the 1980s, tastes had changed and radio formats reflected this change, including musical artists such as Journey.
See also 
- Alan Stephenson, David Reese, Mary Beadle, 2013, Broadcast Announcing Worktext: A Media Performance Guide p. 198.
- R. B. Browne and P. Browne, eds, The Guide to United States Popular Culture (Popular Press, 2001), ISBN 0-87972-821-3, p. 687.
- M. C. Keith, The Radio Station: Broadcast, Satellite and Internet (Focal Press, 8th edn., 2009), ISBN 0-240-81186-0, p. 14.
- J. M. Curtis, Rock Eras: Interpretations of Music and Society, 1954-1984 (Popular Press, 1987), p. 236.
- Soft Rock. "Soft Rock : Significant Albums, Artists and Songs, Most Viewed". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- "Soft Rock - Profile of the Mellow, Romantic Soft Rock of the '70s and Early '80s". 80music.about.com. 2012-04-12. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- Howard Sounes, 2010, Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney, p. 265.
- Simpson, 2011 Early 70s Radio, chap. 2 "Pillow Talk: MOR, Soft Rock, and the 'Feminization' of Hit Radio".
- P. Buckley, The Rough Guide to Rock (Rough Guides, 3rd edn., 2003), p. 378.
- C. H. Sterling, M. C. Keith, Sounds of Change: a History of FM broadcasting in America (UNC Press, 2008), pp. 136-7.
- "Journey: The band who did not stop believing". BBC News. November 12, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
- "10 Best Soft Rock Ballads". Made Man. Retrieved December 6, 2010. “Journey fans can easily list a dozen soft rock ballads from the band...”
- C. H. Sterling, M. C. Keith, Sounds of Change: a History of FM Broadcasting in America (UNC Press, 2008), p. 187.
- Kim Simpson, 2011, Early 70s Radio: The American Format Revolution ISBN 978-1-441-13678-7