U.S. Pop Music Timeline


c. 1775
British soldiers sing "Yankee Doodle" to mock colonists; Americans adopt it as their own tune.
1815
Francis Scott Key publishes "The Star-Spangled Banner."
1861
Julia Ward Howe writes the poem "Battle Hymn of the Republic"; set to music, it becomes a popular Civil War song.
1891
Carnegie Hall opens in New York.
1893
The "Happy Birthday" tune is written by two teachers in Louisville, Kentucky.
early 1900s
Based on Mississippi River boat music and black as well as French and Spanish piano music, jazz develops in New Orleans.
1907
Florenz Ziegfeld launches the elaborate musical stage shows known as the Ziegfeld Follies.
1911
Popular songwriter Irving Berlin completes "Alexander's Ragtime Band."
1916
President Woodrow Wilson issues an executive order making "The Star-Spangled Banner" the national anthem.
1922
Jazz musician Duke Ellington moves to New York and forms the band that becomes the legendary Duke Ellington Orchestra.
1927
Show Boat, with music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, is the first hugely popular musical comedy.
1932
Radio City Music Hall opens with a musical show featuring the Rockettes.
1935
George Gershwin's folk opera Porgy and Bess premieres.
1936
Electric guitar debuts.
1948
Columbia Records introduces the "long playing" vinyl record.
1951
Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed coins the term "rock and roll."
c. 1955
Elvis Presley becomes the first rock star.
1957
Leonard Bernstein's musical West Side Story debuts.
1958
Billboard magazine begins their Hot 100 chart listing popular songs.
1959
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presents the first Grammy Award.
1959
Berry Gordy, Jr., founds Motown record company; in the 1960s Motown stars include the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye.
1961
1961 Country singer Patsy Cline becomes a mainstream pop music hit.
1964
The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" is a sensation, igniting the "British invasion."
1969
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair, featuring such artists as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Joan Baez, is attended by hundreds of thousands of fans.
1971
The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour popularizes such hits as "I Got You Babe."
c. 1975
CBGB (Country Bluegrass & Blues) club in New York showcases "punk rock."
1977
The movie Saturday Night Fever popularizes disco music.
1978
Hip hop, a blend of rock, jazz, and soul with African drumming, is born in the South Bronx.
1981
MTV music television debuts with nonstop music videos.
1982
Cats begins its 18-year run on Broadway.
1983
Compact discs begin to replace vinyl records.
Madonna releases her debut album; the single "Holiday" becomes a hit.
1984
Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" moves up the charts.
Twelve-year-old Ricky Martin begins his five-year stint with Menudo.
1985
Michael Jackson releases Thriller; the video becomes a classic.
1989
Eight-year-old Britney Spears makes her musical television debut on Star Search.
early 1990s
Grunge rock rises in Seattle, featuring such bands as Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
1992
Backstreet Boys and Blackstreet, two of the top male groups of the 1990s, form.
1995
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum opens in Cleveland, Ohio.
1998
Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," from the movie Titanic, is the top song of the year.
1999
Lauryn Hill takes home five Grammys for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
2001
More than 30 years after breaking up, the Beatles have a chart-topper with the greatest-hits album 1.
The Beatles' lead guitarist George Harrison dies of lung cancer.
2002
Kelly Clarkson becomes the first American Idol. About 50 million viewers tune in to the show's finale.
2003
Eminem's The Eminem Show, the top-selling album of 2002, wins the Grammy for Best Rap Album. It is the Detroit native's third consecutive record to win the award, making him the first rapper to accomplish this feat.
Usher's Confessions, which produces four No. 1 songs, is the top-selling record of the year.
2004
Green Day releases the politically charged album American Idiot, which goes on to sell over six million copies in the United States.
2005
50 Cent scores five No. 1 singles on his album The Massacre.
2006
The Red Hot Chili Peppers release Stadium Arcadium, a double-album that reaches No. 1 in 26 different countries its first week out.
Revered New York music club CBGB closes its doors and moves to Las Vegas.
2007
A number of big-name acts return to touring after long hiatuses including The Police and Genesis.

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