Timelines :: Rock & Roll

A DJ from Cleveland Ohio, Alan Freed, is credited for coining the phrase “rock and roll”, referring to the newest style of music brought to the airwaves during that time. One of the records played was Roy Brown’s “Good Rocking Tonight”, making the first ostensible reference to sex through music.

Alan “Moondog” Freed organizes the first rock and roll concert in Cleveland called the “Moondog Coronation Ball”. The audience and the performers were mixed in race and the evening ended after one song almost ended in a riot.

Elvis Presley begins recording and performing the hit titled “That’s Alright Mama”, a rock/country-western fusion known as rockabilly. His unique vocals and instrumental sounds earned him the title the “King of Rock ‘N Roll”, and Elvis became known as the first teen idol and most famous musical celebrity to date.

American rock influences The United Kingdom, and a new group called Cliff Richards and the Drifters was formed.’ Racial barriers weren’t as much trouble in The U.K., and teens quickly embraced the new style of music known as The British Invasion (1964-1969).’ Richards is credited for the ideas of a ‘lead guitarist’ and ‘electric bass guitar’, which would pave the way for other British groups like The Beatles.

Early 1960’s
Rockabilly hits the West Coast and transforms into a mostly instrumental version infused with vocal harmonies, referred to as “surf music”. This music features more heavily played guitar, thus influencing modern heavy metal later on.’Popular artists in this era were The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean.

The Beatles make an appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’, making TV history for rock and roll.’ Other British bands followed suit, including The Rolling Stones, The Animals, and The Who, introducing an edgier sound to British Rock.

Bob Dylan releases the tune ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ to mainstream radio.’ With over 6 minutes of playing time and intense poetic contents, this would forever change all preconceived notions of what radio music should sound like.’

The Rolling Stones are credited with being the first band to do away with band uniforms.’ The lead to longer, untamed hairstyles, radical clothing changes, and a more ‘wild’ look compared to previous bands that had a more ‘clean-cut’ appearance.

Late 1960’s
As a reaction to the Vietnam war, drugs, and social injustices, a new wave of music called psychedellic rock is ushered in.’ Artists like The Grateful Dead, JimiHendrix, and Jefferson Airplane play a large roll in changing the sound of music with dramatic guitar riffs and electronic sounds.’ The British had their own versions of this music style, as featured by the popular group Pink Floyd.’ The culmination of this style of music was brought to fruition by the mass gathering for peace and love through music at the famous three-day gathering calledWoodstock.

Transition from 60’s psychadelic styles became more sexually charged, creating a metamorphosis into a more free form of music in the 80’s.’ Blues-rock bands were formed, including Cream and Led Zepplin, who would later influence heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.’ These bands were ruled by the heavy guitar sounds and stunning on-stage performances.

A new dance-style of music, influenced by earlier funk bands of the early 1970’s, began to emerge called disco.’ Popular groups such as K.C and the Sunshine Band, The O’Jays, The Bee Gees, Barry White, and Gloria Gaynor topped the charts with their versions of the disco beat.’ The style created a need for disco clubs nation-wide, including the famous Studio 54, and a new need for teens to gather together for a more sexually charged style of dance, as featured in 1977’s Saturday Night Fever.’ The trend wouldn’t last long as people became increasingly upset at the loss of more classic rock sounds. The anti-disco movement culminated in the disco demolition riot in Chicago during the summer of 1979.

New pop groups emerged on the scene, like Van Halen, Queen, The Go-Go’s, and Michael Jackson.’ These artists became more mainstream in music, appealing to a wider variety of people.’ Some of these were the ever famous ‘hair bands’, such as Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, and Ratt, whose sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle began to sway public opinion of the bands’ normal behaviors.’ Rock and roll became more of a lifesyle as well as a musical style.’ Many current music channels today report on many bands’ quick climax to fame, only to come crashing down due to substance abuse, lawsuits, and the consequences of over spending.

New alternative rock groups like Pearl Jam and Nirvana emerged on the scene, completely wiping out former hair bands with their more mellow, depressed sounds of reality-based lyrics called grunge.’ In 1994, the leader of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, fatally shot himself, leaving a wife and daughter behind. ‘In 1996, rapperTupac Shakur was shot and killed in Las Vegas.’ Shortly after, in March of 1997, Christopher Wallace (a.k.a. Biggie Smalls or The Notorious B.I.G.) was shot inLos Angeles.’ Both parties had succumbed to gang violence and east coast/west coast feuds, resulting in the death of two artists.

Early 2000
The music industry takes on the major music-sharing company Napster in an effort to permanently ban music piracy.’ They win, forming the group RIAA, and for the first time pitting the public against the very artists they idolize.’ Shortly after that, American Idol debuts, allowing the general public to choose from a variety of artists of their discretion.

Sean Combs, also knows as Puff Daddy, P. Diddy etc., begins the ‘Vote or Die’ campaign, enlisting several musicians and celebrities to stand and vote in the very divided election of that year.’ He will use his position of power in the music industry to have an influence on the young Americans in the nation to vote their opinions.’ However, in the wake of the election, several of his recruits for the cause never even registered to voice their opinions.’

Finnish band HIM debuts their album Dark Light in the top 20 on the Billboard Top 200. The band was originally called His Infernal Majesty, but it was shortened to HIM after the band says they began getting “unwanted occult associations”, according to the band’s lead singer Ville Valo who admitted to making things up and joking about the name during interviews, leading to conflicting accounts of the origin of the name and the confusion that exists today. The band uses a symbol they call a “heartagram” which is a combination of a heart and a pentagram. Many fans of the band have heartagram tattoos, and it has been popularized in the US on MTV by professional skateboarder Bam Margera, who uses it for promotional purposes. The band has had several albums released, such as Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666 and 666 Ways To Love: Prologue. Their song “Join Me In Death” went No. 1 in Germany.

Female pop/rock singer Katy Perry’s debut single “I Kissed A Girl”, a song about same sex kissing, spends 6 weeks in the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and goes triple platinum in the United States.  Perry, the daughter of two pastors, is a former Christian singer who released a self-titled Christian album in 2001 under her real name, Katy Hudson.

June 25 – Michael Jackson, “King of Pop,” died in his home after suffering apparent cardiac arrest. His death was later ruled a homicide and it was determined that he died from lethal levels of Propofol, a powerful anesthetic, combined with sedatives in his system. Two years later, his physician, Las Vegascardiologist Conrad Murray, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison for his role in Jackson’s death. Jackson, who had begun his record-breaking career in music as a child, transformed the face of pop music with his singing, songwriting, dancing, and production skills, and was famous for his eccentric—and often downright strange—behavior.

September 13 – Rapper Kanye West took rudeness and unsportsmanlike conduct to new heights when he added a new stunt to his list of awards-show antics at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. As young country/rock/crossover sensation Taylor Swift began thanking all the folks who helped make the song “You Belong with Me” the Best Female Video award winner,  West went onstage, grabbed the microphone, and announced that his pal Beyonce (“All the Single Ladies” singer) was the one who really deserved the prize. The outburst stunned viewers, Swift, and Beyonce (seated in the audience), and before the show was over, West had issued an apology to Swift and her mother in his blog.

Beyonce and Taylor Swift were top winners at the 2010 Grammy awards, with Beyonce landing six trophies and Swift taking home four, plus the show’s biggest honor, Album of the Year.

Lady Gaga launched her “Monster Ball” tour, grossing $227.4 million and drawing 2.5 million people, making it the highest-grossing tour ever by an artist on a first worldwide run through large venues. The artist, known for her outlandish costumes, has a dedicated fan base known as “little monsters” and has become an award-winning LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) icon.

Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber, who was “discovered” on YouTube in 2008, reportedly earned $53 million in the year ending in May 2011. His concert documentary, “Never Say Never,” earned just over $30 million in just one weekend. He is said to earn over $300,000 per concert, plus royalties, merchandise and other career-related income. In March of 2011, he was cited as the second most popular celebrity on the Twitter website with 8.3 million followers (behind Lady Gaga).

July 23 – Grammy winning soul singer Amy Winehouse died from too much alcohol on July 23, 2011. With a blood alcohol content five times higher than the limit for drunk driving, her death marked the end of a long public battle with substance abuse. Many of her performances were characterized by slurred speech and erratic behavior, and she was known for her involvement in destructive relationships.

February 11 – Whitney Houston Dead at the Beverly Hills hotel Whitney Houston was discovered dead in her hotel room bathtub. On March 22 the L.A. coroner’s office declared Whitney Houston’s death an “accident.” However, the toxicology report also stated: “Cocaine and metabolites were identified and were contributory to the death. Marijuana, Alprazolam (Xanax), Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) and Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) were also identified. Shortly after Whitney’s death, family members were told by the coroner her cause of death was from: Xanex and other prescription drugs mixed with alcohol.

August 9 – Madonna Defies Ban on Promotion of Gay Lifestyles -In St. Petersburg, Russia the singer did her best to disrespect and ignore the city’s ban on the “propagation of homosexuality” and “promotion of gay lifestyles” — in ways that went beyond just holding a Madonna concert. Fans were greeted at the entrance of the venue with pink wristbands─which represent “tolerance of the gay community” and she further took the opportunity to speak out from the stage in favor of the gay lifestyle and waved a few LGBT flags and encouraged the fans to hold up their hands up high in the air to draw attention to their pro-gay wristbands.

Madonna Sued for $10.5 Million  – Some very upset Russians have sued Madonna for $10.5 million because she deeply offended them causing “psychological stress and emotional shock” because of her blatant onstage support for gays and lesbians during a recent concert in St. Petersburg. The complaint includes a video taken at the concert showing the irreverent Madonna stomping on a cross. The city recently passed a law banning the propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, transgenderism and pedophilia.

June 8 – Ex-Fleetwood Mac Guitarist Found Dead – Bon Welch age 65 was found dead in his home in Nashville after an apparent self-inflicted shot in the chest. His wife said he left behind a suicide note.

Madonna’s Creepy NFL Super Bowl Halftime Show – A number of analysts have pegged Madonna’s halftime show as one loaded with satanic symbolism and rituals; a massive Illuminati ritual exposing her raunchy-dark ideology once again.

Singer M.I.A. Flips the Bird at Super Bowl Halftime Show – In front of some 114 million viewers, British singer M.I.A. flipped the bird and appeared to sing, “I don’t give a (expletive)” at one point, though it was hard to hear her clearly. The NFL and NBC wasted little time in responding. “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing and we apologize to our fans,” said Brian McCarthy, spokesman for the NFL, which produced Madonna’s halftime show.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
has officially announced the 2013 inductees: Rush, Public Enemy, Randy Newman, Heart, Donna Summer and Albert King will all join the class of 2013, with Summer, who passed away this May, and King, who died in 1992, earning the honor posthumously. Lou Adler and Quincy Jones will both receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award for non-performers. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held on April 18th, 2013 at the Nokia Theater and broadcast on HBO May 18th.

Gwar frontman Dave Brockie dies of an accidental heroin overdose on March 23, 2014.

April 20 – AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd
pleaded guilty to threat to kill and drug charges. In July, he was sentenced to eight months of house arrest.

Music suffered heavy losses in 2016, a year like no other in recent memory. David Bowie and Prince were two of the most popular artists that died.

Earlier this month, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its 32nd class: Joan Baez, Tupac Shakur, Electric Light Orchestra, Pearl Jam, Journey and Yes. The ceremony at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center – which airs Saturday on HBO – featured some of the funniest speeches in years and an impressively diverse performance lineup, with Baez’s folk, a multi-part Tupac medley and Lenny Kravitz’s gospel serving as a counterbalance to all the searing, arena-friendly rock. Here, we look back at the night’s most unforgettable moments.