Within just the last half of the 20th century, music has become democratized. Available to everyone & found in virtually all homes, the spread of music has brought us all new talents, new rules & new practices.
Here are 8 moments that changed the course of music history.
The birth of the King
July 5, 1954
En route to becoming a delivery driver, the young Elvis Presley, passionate about Gospel & African inspired music, could have never imagined the fate that awaited him when he stepped through the doors of Sun Records Studios, run by Sam Phillips. Originally set to record only two of his original works, Presley was spotted by Phillips who noted that he had “a voice to listen to” & was a “possibly good balladeer.” However when Presley attempted Arthur Crudup’s That’s Alright Mama the magic of Elvis was revealed. Phillips immediately offered a contract.
August 15, 1965
Already superstars in Europe, The Beatles began their British Invasion with a first stop in New York at Shea Stadium. With a packed house of over 55,000 hysterical (mainly female) spectators, the performance was also the most expensive paid concert of its time. The fans’ frenzy outnumbered the ill-equipped musicians & caused as much ruckus as a noisy jet taking off.
August 15-18, 1969
The hippie generation had a rendez-vous with history during this 3.5 day event of peace & music in Bethel, New York. The festival counted over 70,000 attendees along with the greats – The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Santana & Joan Baez. The event’s popularity soon forced the organization to break down barricades, welcoming more than 500,000.
Daisuke Inoue invented a machine for amateurs to sing along live to a pre-recorded version of the song. Karaoke was born. Despite not being financially recognized for his invention, in 2004, Inoue received an Ig Nobel Prize (a parody of the the more famous Nobel Prize) recognizing him for his contribution to making “people first laugh & then think.”
August 1, 1981
The arrival of the channel Music TeleVision turned the music market upside down. Extremely popular with the younger generation, it became a popular & powerful springboard for artists to promote music via video.
The compact disc, with the adopted moniker CD, developed by Sony & Phillips, landed on the market in 1982. Renowned for its indestructibility, the CD was expected to completely replace the vinyl record.
The King of Pop exploded the charts with his 1983 hit album Thriller. Powered by the international hits The Girl is Mine, Beat It, Thriller & Billie Jean, the album reached stratospheric sales figures that to this day are unsurpassed: nearly 100 million copies to date. It also revolutionized music videos as a form of art with a short film of 14 minutes & a price tag of $900,000.
June 10, 2001
Steve Jobs announced with great fanfare a small revolution: a platform to download paid music in digital format.