The Evolution of Popular Music

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In Music
  • Edison records "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on tinfoil

    Edison records "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on tinfoil
    Thomas Edison was the first person who was able to record sound and play it back. This was the origin of music recording and sales.
  • Chess Records opens

    Chess Records opens
    Chess Records, a recording studio in Chicago is founded by Leonard and Phil Chess. Many influential blues and rock n' roll artists belonged to this label including Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Etta James.
  • Sun Records opens

    Sun Records opens
    Sun Records, founded by Sam Philips, would later sign some of rock n' roll's biggest stars, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins.
  • Elvis records his first song

    Elvis records his first song
    Elvis pays $3.98 to record "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" at Sun Studios as a birthday present for his mother. Elvis later becomes Sun Records' biggest star.
  • Bill Haley and the Comets release Rock Around the Clock

    Bill Haley and the Comets release Rock Around the Clock
    This is considered by many to be the very first rock n' roll song.
  • Little Richard releases "Tutti Frutti"

    Little Richard releases "Tutti Frutti"
    An important song for both Little Richard's career and rock n' roll, "Tutti Frutti" has been called "the sound of the birth of rock n' roll".
  • Million Dollar Quartet

    Million Dollar Quartet
    Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins come together at the Sun Records studio for an impromptu jam session.
  • Elvis enters the army

    Elvis enters the army
    This was a turning point in Elvis' career. When he entered the army, Elvis was one of the biggest names in music. While overseas, Elvis met his future wife, started using drugs and his mother died. Upon his return home in 1960, Elvis started to move away from rock n' roll as he began to focus on ballads and making motion pictures.
  • The Day the Music Died

    The Day the Music Died
    Rock n' roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and Big Bopper are killed in a tragic plane crash while on tour. All three were young musicians with promising careers ahead of them.
  • "Hitsville U.S.A." opens

    "Hitsville U.S.A." opens
    "Hitsville U.S.A." was the nickname given to Motown Record Corporation, founded by Berry Gordy in 1959 in Detroit, Michigan. Motown created a musical style entirely its own and signed many influential musicians including Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder and Jackson 5.
  • The Beach Boys release "Surfin' USA"

    The Beach Boys release "Surfin' USA"
    "Surfin' USA" is the Beach Boys' first big hit. The Beach Boys would become a symbol of the popularity of surf music in the 60's.
  • Phil Spector creates his "Wall of Sound" recording technique

    Phil Spector creates his "Wall of Sound" recording technique
    The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" (1963) best exemplifies Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" recording technique, in which he would create a layered sound by having several musicians play the same part in unison. Phil Spector would later work with other well-known artists such as The Beatles and Ike and Tina Turner. The "Wall of Sound" was very important to popular music, it changed the way music was arranged and recorded and many artists would try to emulate this sound.
  • The Beatles arrive in America

    The Beatles arrive in America
    The Beatles land at JFK Airport and are welcomed by a crowd of 3000 fans. This is just the beginning of The Beatles' massive success in America.
  • The Bealtes play the Ed Sullivan Show

    The Bealtes play the Ed Sullivan Show
    This is a defining moment in the Beatles' career. The show is seen on television by over 73 million Americans. It is the Beatles' first performance on North American television.
  • Dylan and the Beatles meet for the first time

    Dylan and the Beatles meet for the first time
    Bob Dylan offers the Beatles marijuana. Drugs become a huge influence on the Beatles' music.
  • Bob Dylan plays at the Newport Folk Festival

    Bob Dylan plays at the Newport Folk Festival
    Bob Dylan is booed by his fans when he tries his new electric sound for the first time.
  • The Beach Boys release "Pet Sounds"

    The Beach Boys release "Pet Sounds"
    "Pet Sounds" has been called one of the most influential albums of its time. This album was a response to the Beatles' "Rubber Soul", which was released the year before, and in turn was an influence for the Beatles' later album, "Sgt. Pepper".
  • The Beatles release "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

    The Beatles release "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
  • The Beatles rooftop concert

    The Beatles rooftop concert
    The Beatles perform their last live show on the roof of the Apple building in London.
  • Woodstock, 3 Days of Peace and Music

    Woodstock, 3 Days of Peace and Music
    The Woodstock Music and Art Fair is held on a dairy farm in Bethel, NY, from August 15 to August 18. Over the three days, 32 rock and folk musicians performed for a crowd of over half a million people. Woodstock is the most famous music festival to date.
  • The Beatles officially announce they are breaking up

    The Beatles officially announce they are breaking up
  • John Lennon is killed

    John Lennon is killed
  • The launch of MTV

    The launch of MTV
    Since its beginning in 1981, MTV has been popular among young people. The original purpose of the channel was to broadcast music videos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. MTV is responsible for the popularity of music videos. One of the original taglines for the channel was "You'll never look at music the same way again."
  • Billy Joel's "52nd Street" becomes the first album released on a compact disc

    Billy Joel's "52nd Street" becomes the first album released on a compact disc
  • Michael Jackson releases "Thriller" album

    Michael Jackson releases "Thriller" album
    "Thriller" stays on the top of the album charts for 37 weeks and becomes one of the best-selling albums of all time.
  • The first ipod is released.

    The first ipod is released.
    The ipod forever changed the way music is bought and listened to.