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25 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll History

Rock and Roll: An Unruly History

Pia Blake

on 17 December 2014

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Transcript of 25 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll History

25 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll History
Present and Future
It is hard to find a stopping point for a rock and roll timeline since music is always evolving. Contemporary bands have obviously made an impact on music, but ending it earlier makes it easier to draw the line, especially since it is difficult to measure the impact that contemporary bands will have. Nonetheless, music lovers can always take a step back in time and listen to their favorite classic hits, or look forward to the next chart topping tune.
Rock and Roll: An Unruly History
Pia Blake

May 12,1951
Rocket 88
debuted on the Hot R&B Singles Chart
Rocket 88
, as recorded by Jackie Brenston in 1951, is regarded by many as the first rock and roll song; even though at the time of its release it hit number one on the R&B charts.
Rocket 88
employs the first known instance of distorted electric guitar. In addition to this song having a significant impact on future rock and roll songs, the song’s lyrics are also a perfect testament to the car culture that was prevalent in the 1950s.
April 12, 1954
Bill Haley and the Comets record
Rock Around the Clock

July 5th, 1954
Elvis Presley records
That’s Alright Mama
May 21st, 1955
Chuck Berry records
February 9th, 1964
The Beatles Make Their First Appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show
Impact of LSD
July 20th, 1965
Bob Dylan’s
Like a Rolling Stone
is released
November 20th, 1965
My Generation
is released in the U.S.
May 16th, 1966
The Beach Boys Release “Pet Sounds”
March 12th, 1967
“The Velvet Underground and Nico” album is released
August 15th, 1969
Woodstock Music and Art Fair
December 6th, 1969
Altamont Speedway Festival
February 13th, 1970
Black Sabbath releases their 1st album
May 21st, 1970
Marvin Gaye’s album, “What's Going On” is released
November 8th, 1971
Stairway to Heaven
is released
January 5th, 1973
Bruce Springsteen’s “Greetings from Asbury Park” is released
December 8th, 1980
John Lennon is murdered
August 1st, 1981
MTV Launches
July 13th, 1985
Live Aid Concert
September 10th, 1991
Smells like Teen Spirit
is released on Nirvana’s album “Nevermind”
July - August 1991
Lollapalooza begins
March 1st, 2000
Napster hits 20 million users
April 28th, 2003
Opening of the iTunes Store
Rock Around the Clock
, used in the opening credits of the film “Blackboard Jungle”, sort of became an anthem for rebellious teenagers. As a result of exposure from the movie, the song stayed on as number one on Billboard’s Pop 100 for eight weeks, and was the first international number one hit for rock and roll.
You cannot have a rock and roll timeline, and not feature a song sung by Elvis, who is known as the “King of Rock and Roll”. Rolling Stone says the following about Elvis’ version of
That’s Alright Mama
: “Recorded in a shockingly fast, lusty new style, the single was the place where race and hillbilly music collided and became rock & roll.”
is a huge song in regards to the history of rock and roll; Rolling Stone magazine remarks that rock and roll guitar starts with this song. This tune broke down racial barriers, and was a major hit among black and white audiences. The quick opening riff of
and the steady backbeat gives the song an attitude and energy that was quite revolutionary for the time. Chuck Berry influenced future artists such as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and Bruce Springsteen.
The Beatles first appearance on Ed Sullivan was the beginning of Beatlemania. According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the viewing audience was estimated at about 74 million people. Shortly after their appearance on Ed Sullivan, During the week of April 4, 1964, the Beatles held the first five slots on the Billboard Singles chart. The Beatles are one of the most recognizable names in music today, and would go on to sell more than a billion records.
LSD was a big part of the shared musical experience during the 1960s. The Psychedelic culture of the 1960s really started to gain followers in 1965, and a genre called psychedelic rock was found. The following artists were known for their LSD use and contributions to psychedelic rock: the Beatles, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors.
One of the most revolutionary songs of its time, Bob Dylan wrote
Like a Rolling Stone
when he was just 24 years old.
Like a Rolling Stone,
and Dylan going electric at Newport shortly after the song’s release, mark Dylan’s transformation from folk singer to an electrified rock n roll musician.
The Rock and Roll Hall of fame describes The Who as “arguably the most divisively anarchic yet fiercely committed band in rock history.” The Who’s
My Generation
is the perfect anthem to youth Mod culture that was prevalent during the 1960s.
June 6th, 1965
Rolling Stones release
in the U.S.
was the Stone’s first number one hit in the U.S. The song’s grittiness and sexual references embodies perfectly the fact that they are essentially the antithesis of the Beatles. Nearly 50 years later, Keith Richard’s opening guitar riff in
is still one of the most recognizable guitar riffs in the world.
“Pet Sounds”, primarily created by Brian Wilson, is the beginning of what rock and roll will become. The level of self-disclosure by Brian Wilson that can be found in the songs on "Pet Sounds" was unprecedented at the time. Numerous songs from Pet Sounds become top hits in the U.S. and U.K. The album will also inspire future great works such as the Beatles' “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
This album was truly ahead of its time. In his songwriting for this album, Lou Reed discusses tough subjects such as homelessness, the negative effects of drug addiction, and sexual sadism. As Rolling Stone so rightfully points out, “much of what we take for granted in rock would not exist without this New York band.”
Rolling Stone makes the claim that “‘Sgt. Pepper’ is the most important rock and roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, studio art, songwriting, and studio technology. " The Brilliancy of the team that was Lennon and McCartney is quite obvious in this album, which is one of the many reasons why it is the Beatles’ greatest album ever. This album was also the indication of the end of the Beatles being the pop boys that girls screamed over, and the beginning of them being serious musicians. As already the biggest band on the planet, the release of “Sgt. Pepper” adds immensely to the impact the Beatles had on rock and popular music.
June 2nd 1967
“Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Club Hearts Band” was released in the U.S.
Woodstock was the epitome of the hippie counterculture revolution. Nearly half a million people show up to the three day event. Famous artists of the time such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, the Grateful Dead, the Who, and Creedence Clearwater Revival play during the event. It is rather significant that lovers of folk, could join together and sit in peace and unity for three days during such a tumultuous time in U.S., with mod rockers who would much rather listen to acts such as The Who. The same cannot be said for Altamont.
Although this event only occurred only a few months after Woodstock, Altamont was the exact opposite of the three day peace and love festival that was Woodstock. Altamont was filled with intense violence including the rather unfortunate death of a young African-American man by a member of the Hells Angels during the Rolling Stones performance. Altamont served as the symbol of the end of the 60s hippy era.

Although many critics describe Black Sabbath’s self titled album as lackluster, this album goes on to define and influence the genre of heavy metal.
This concept album is one of the greatest and most scathing criticisms of American culture ever recorded. Marvin Gaye left his sex icon pop image, and produced a soul filled emotional album that forced people to pay attention to what was happening in the world. “What’s Going On” would have a major impact on black music.
Led Zeppelin's most recognizable song is probably
Stairway to Heaven
. Jimmy Page says the song "crystallized the essence of the band. It had everything there and showed us at our best. It was a milestone. Every musician wants to do something of lasting quality, something which will hold up for a long time. We did it with 'Stairway.'" Whatever one thinks of the song, it has been covered by numerous artists, and is still popular today. Jimmy Page is often considered one of the best guitarists of all time, and this song features quite the solo played by Page.
Although the album did not sell that many copies, Bruce’s first album was a testament to his songwriting abilities, and his fearlessness to detail the lives of working class America. Bruce would go on to produce many more albums such as “Born in the U.S.A”, and “Born to Run”, which would result in him selling more than 120 million records worldwide.
John Lennon, founder of the Beatles, and peace activist (among other things) was murdered on this date when he was just 40 years old. Many tributes and memorials followed his death ensuring that his legacy would endure for years to come.
MTV is the first TV channel to play music all the time. The emergence of MTV brings about the importance of music videos for a successful mainstream career, and starts the beginning of a major change in the way people enjoy music.
The Live Aid charity concert featured many famous musicians including, The Who, Elton John, Queen, Paul McCartney, Joan Baez, Black Sabbath, Crosby Stills and Nash, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Bob Dylan Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards. Many people have varying opinions about Live Aid. Opinions aside, Live Aid sparked efforts by musicians to come together and use their talents for positive change.

Cobain claims he was “trying to write a pop song” when he wrote
Smells Like Teen Spirit
, and it looks like he succeeded, for the song was Nirvana’s biggest hit. Rolling Stone describes the song as “a shockwave of big-amp purity, ‘Teen Spirit’ wiped the lingering jive of the Eighties off the pop map overnight.” One could consider Smells like Teen Spirit the 90s version of My Generation. Despite their short lived run, Nirvana is one of the bands responsible for giving alternative rock more mainstream success.
Perry Ferrell, front man for the rock band Jane's Addiction, organizes Lollapalooza, a series of concerts featuring a diverse mix of performers. For awhile Lollapalooza was a touring festival, but due to its decline and hiatus, it is now a single weekend event that takes place during the summer in Chicago.

Napster, an online platform where users could share songs freely, was developed by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker. Many artists such as Metallica, were not happy about the creation of Napster, and saw its use as stealing. Even though Napster eventually declined due to legal trouble, Napster revolutionized the way we share music.
The iTunes music store has been the largest music vendor in the United States since 2008. Itunes brought back a return to people buying individual songs, instead of entire albums. Concept albums like Sgt. Pepper would not have fared well on the iTunes store, for today people do not have much interest in purchasing entire albums. Although sound quality and album art quality diminished, iTunes is widely popular, for as of 2010, it has been the largest music retailer in the world.
Works Cited
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"500 Greatest Songs of All Time." Rolling Stone. 7 Apr. 2011. Web. <http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-500-greatest-songs-of-all-time-20110407>.
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Ford, Peter. "Rock Around the Clock and Me." PeterFord.com. 11 May 2011. Web. <http://www.peterford.com/ratc.html>.
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Suskind, Alex. "15 Years After Napster: How the Music Service Changed the Industry." The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 6 June 2014. Web.
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