A History of Rock n' Roll

By rdokus
  • Jerry Lee Lewis debut

    Jerry Lee Lewis debut
    Late rock n' roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis makes his performance debut in Louisiana. He was only 14 at the time.
  • Fender Telecaster released

    Fender Telecaster released
    Originally known as the broadcaster, Fender's first solid-bodied guitar has become synonymous with rock n' roll.
  • Phrase "rock n' roll" first used

    Phrase "rock n' roll" first used
    Alan Freed first used the terms "rock n' roll" and "rocking" on his radio show in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Gibson Les Paul released

    Gibson Les Paul released
    Another instrument that goes hand in hand with rock n' roll, the Gibson Les Paul, was released in 1952.
  • Little Richard first release

    Little Richard first release
    One of the first rock n' roll artists Little Richard released his first record on this day.
  • Fender Stratocaster launched

    Fender Stratocaster launched
    The 1950s were a revolutionary decade for electric guitars, which are the main instrument in rock. The Fender Stratocaster is possibly the most recognizable electric guitar.
  • Elvis releases Heartbreak Hotel

    Elvis releases Heartbreak Hotel
    Elvis Presley released the song Heartbreak Hotel, which became the first of many #1 hits fro the rock n' roll legend. Having rock songs so high on the charts helped popularize rock n' roll.
  • Hound Dog

    Hound Dog
    Elvis debuts his song Hound Dog on Milton Berle television show. His suggestive hip movements caused a stir among more conservative viewers.
  • The day the music died

    The day the music died
    Young rock n' roll stars Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper die in a plane crash following a performance in Iowa. The Big Bopper was 28, Buddy Holly was 22, and Richie Valens was only 17.
  • First Grammy Awards

    First Grammy Awards
    The National Association of Record Merchandisers holds the first Grammy Awards.
  • The Beatles

    The Beatles
    The Beatles release their first single in the UK, Love me Do / PS I Love You. The Beatles went on to become one of the most successful and influential rock groups of all time.
  • Beatles on Ed Sullivan

    Beatles on Ed Sullivan
    The Beatles made their American debut on the Ed Sullivan show, with a then-record 73 million viewers.
  • British Invasion

    British Invasion
    After the Beatles, many other British artists made their way into the US charts. Some of these include The Kinks, The Animals, and The Who. Bands from the UK dominated the US charts for 2 more years.
  • Newport Folk Festival

    Newport Folk Festival
    Bob Dylan goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, RI and is booed by attendees.
  • Influential rock bands debut

    Influential rock bands debut
    Many rock n' roll bands released debut albums in 1967. Grateful Dead, The Velvet Underground, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, The Doors and Steve Miller Band all put out debut albums.
  • Woodstock

    The Woodstock Music and Arts Fair is arguably one of the most important events in rock history. Around 400,000 people came to a farm in NY to appreciate peace, love, and music. The Vietnam War was going on at the time, and Woodstock was a way to spread a message of peace and unity.
  • The Beatles break up

    The Beatles break up
    The most popular band in the world breaks up after less than 10 years. Tensions had been rising in the band the late 1960s, and Paul McCartney announced they would be disbanding on April 10, 1970.
  • Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin deaths

    Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin deaths
    Rock icons Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin die of an overdose, only weeks apart, with Hendrix's death on Sept. 17, and Joplin's on Oct. 4. . Both had been revolutionary in psychedelic rock of the 1960s.
  • Concert for Bangladesh

    Concert for Bangladesh
    Former Beatle George Harrison and Ravi Shankar organized 2 concerts to benefit refugees from the genocide in Bangladesh. The concert become a movie as well as an album.
  • First New Year's Rockin' Eve

    First New Year's Rockin' Eve
    The first New Years Rockin' Eve is was televised on NBC in 1972, and was hosted by Dick Clark.
  • The Dark Side of the Moon

    The Dark Side of the Moon
    Pink Floyd release their eighth studio album, The Dark Side of the Moon, a concept album, unlike any other of it's time. It has become one of the best-selling and most recognizable albums of all time.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    Bohemian Rhapsody
    The band Queen releases their song Bohemian Rhapsody, which hits #1 in the UK. The song is a rock opera, and changed the concept of what a rock n' roll band could do. It remains an extremely popular song to this day.
  • Elvis Presley death

    Elvis Presley death
    The King of Rock n' Roll, Elvis Presley, is found dead in his home at the age of 42. His funeral procession leads to 80,000 people lining the streets to watch.
  • Pink Floyd's "The Wall"

    Pink Floyd's "The Wall"
    Another concept album, The Wall is a masterpiece by the band Pink Floyd, hitting #1 in the US and #3 in the UK.
  • John Lennon murdered

    John Lennon murdered
    Former Beatle John Lennon, who had a successful solo career in the 1970s, is shot in New York at the age of 40. A well known peace activist, Lennon's death leaves the world devastated.
  • MTV launches on cable TV

    MTV launches on cable TV
    The MTV (Music Television) channel launches, which plays music videos 24 hours a day. MTV promotions influence radio play and the music charts.
  • CD's introduced in Europe

    CD's introduced in Europe
    The CD (Compact Disc) is first introduced in Europe. Though not very popular initially, CD's would soon be the most popular media for listening to music.
  • Metallica debut

    Metallica debut
    Metallica releases their debut album, Kill em' All, which starts the emergence of thrash metal, a faster, more aggressive version of heavy metal. Other thrash metal bands from the 1980s include Anthrax, Megadeath, and Slayer.
  • VH-1 debut

    VH-1 debut
    MTV launches a sister cable channel, VH-1 (Video Hits 1). This channel plays music videos that are targeted at an older audience, as well as popular music-themed shows.
  • Live Aid

    Live Aid
    Live Aid was a benefit concert for the famine in Ethiopia at the time. It was held in London, Philadelphia, and other cities, as well as broadcasted via satellite to over 1.9 billion people across the world. Iconic rock bands such as Queen, David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin played this show.
  • CD's surpass cassette tapes

    CD's surpass cassette tapes
    CD's sales surpass cassette tape sales for the first time in 1989, having surpassed vinyl sales the previous year. This solidified CD's as the most popular audio format.
  • Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

    Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
    The single Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana instantly becomes a huge hit. The band's album later that month, Nevermind, shoots alternative music into the mainstream, moving away from the glam and glitter of the 1980s. Other alternative bands such as Pearl Jam and The Smashing Pumpkins also add to the popularity of alternative rock.
  • Rage Against the Machine

    Rage Against the Machine
    Rage Against the Machine release their debut album, which mixes rock instruments with rap vocals. Their content is very political and controversial, which has always been a huge part of rock n' roll. However, RATM was far angrier than groups that came before them, exemplifying how angry rock was in the 1990s.
  • Nirvana MTV unplugged

    Nirvana MTV unplugged
    Nirvana plays a show in the MTV unplugged series, where rock n' roll artists play acoustic versions of their songs. Millions of viewers watched it on MTV, and the band made the concert into a successful album.
  • Kurt Cobain death

    Kurt Cobain death
    Kurt Cobain, frontman for Nirvana, commits suicide at his home in Seattle. Cobain was an icon in the world of music and pop culture. He was the voice of a generation, and his death caused an uproar of emotion from the world. He was only 27 at the time, joining a bizarre group of rock artists who died at 27, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and now Kurt Cobain.
  • Jerry Garcia death

    Jerry Garcia death
    Leader of Grateful Dead Jerry Garcia dies of a heart attack. He was very important to the counter-culture movement in rock n' roll. Garcia and Grateful Dead's jam band style inspired other similar jam bands in the 1990's, such as Phish, Widespread Panic, and The String Cheese Incident.
  • Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Opens

    Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Opens
    The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio is a museum dedicated to all things rock n' roll. Each year, new artists are inducted to the hall of fame, but only those that have made a lasting impact on the culture of rock n' roll.
  • Digital music

    Digital music
    Capitol Records become the first music label to digitally release a single by a well known band, Duran Duran's song Electric Barbarella. Music being digitally downloaded became increasingly popular due to the internet as the convenience of listening to a digital track.
  • Korn Album: Follow the Leader

    Korn Album: Follow the Leader
    Korn, a Nu Metal band, releases their first album that hits #1. Nu Metal became an increasingly popular sub genre in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
  • Green Day: American Idiot

    Green Day: American Idiot
    Pop/punk rock band Green Day release their album American Idiot. Pop/punk became a very popular sub genre of rock in the early 2000s. This particular album had a lot of social commentary, which is a common theme in rock music.
  • Spotify

    Spotify is a music streaming service that has become quite popular as a way to listen to unlimited music. Music streaming was created as a way to prevent music piracy. There are many other ways to stream music, through Apple, Amazon, YouTube, Pandora, and plenty of other streaming programs.
  • Period: to

    Decline of rock n' roll

    Since the rise of rap and pop music, rock n' roll has been on the decline. New rock bands have been played less and less on the radio. However, local scenes have some great musicians, along with some of the bigger names. One good thing for rock is that music streaming apps make it possible for people to have access to any music, no matter the release date. My hope is that rock n' roll can once again be brought to the mainstream.