1971 Photo Gallery: 50 Classic Albums Celebrating Their 40th Anniversary in 2011

Nineteen hundred and seventy-one. Even for a year that falls squarely in the heart of the "classic rock" era, it was a particularly classic year.

It was the year of Who's Next, Sticky Fingers and Fragile, albums that are so renowned that we don't have to name the bands that created them (But, just in case, it was The Who, The Rolling Stones and Yes).

On the heavier side of things, there was Led Zeppelin's mega-classic Led Zeppelin IV, Black Sabbath's Master of Reality and Deep Purple's Fireball.

Three of the recently dubbed "ex-Beatles" were busy; John Lennon and Paul McCartney released their first truly polished solo albums, Imagine and Ram, respectively. Meanwhile, George Harrison hosted his legendary Concert For Bangladesh that August and released the corresponding triple live album in December. (Ringo Starr was busy too, but he didn't release an album in 1971.)

In blues land, all three ax-wielding Kings released killer albums -- Getting Ready... by Freddie King, B.B. King in London by B.B. King and Lovejoy by Albert King -- not to mention At Fillmore East by The Allman Brothers Band, ZZ Top's First Album by -- you guessed it -- ZZ Top and The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions by Howlin' Wolf.

Well, I could keep going, but that's what the photo gallery below is for. Here's our list of 50 classic albums that are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. Remember: Life begins at 40!

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