The HyperTexts

Timeline of Popular Vocalists (1800-present):

For the most part, singers are listed in the decades in which they emerged as stars and are only listed once. The names of the biggest "game changers" in my opinion are bolded. American popular music as we think of it today probably started in the 1840s with the Hutchison Family Singers, who wrote their own songs and wove elements such as falsetto, "mountain melody" and close four-part harmonies into a distinctively American sound. Around the same time, African-American music was making its presence felt through composers like Stephen Foster and black musical groups like the Luca Family and Fisk Jubilee Singers. They would be followed by early 1900s blues and jazz singers like Lead Belly, Ma Rainey and Jelly Roll Morton. Country music took off when Jimmy Rodgers and the Carter Family cut their first records a day apart in 1927. Bob Wills pioneered western swing in the early 1930s and that led to rockabilly. Ike Everly, the father of the famous Everly Brothers, was "instrumental" on the guitar and no one could match his family's heavenly harmonies. Did you know The Everly Family had a hillbilly radio show in the 1940s? Those ethereal harmonies would blow away and greatly influence groups like the Beatles, Beach Boys, Bee Gees and Simon & Garfunkel. All these influences can be found in the rock 'n' roll of Elvis Presley when he appears in the 1950s. But did you know that as a teenager Elvis was an opera buff who bought the records of Mario Lanza?

Early vocal performances especially worth listening to are hyperlinked below ...


1492 - Columbus discovers the New World.
1640 - The Bay Psalm Book is the first book printed in British Colonial America.
1700 - The horrors of slavery lead to the development of negro spirituals.
1775 - British soldiers sing "Yankee Doodle Dandy" to mock American colonists; the colonists adopt the song.

1800s: Anna Milder-Hauptmann, Gertrud Elisabeth Mara, Luísa Todi aka "the Singer of all Centuries"

1801: William Little and William Smith publish their shape-note system.
1805: Anna Milder-Hauptmann sings the title role in the first performance of Beethoven's only opera, Leonore.
1807: The Irish poet Thomas Moore publishes his first volume of Irish Melodies

1810s: Isabella Colbran, Caroline Branchu

1810: Poems by the poet Sir Walter Scott are set to music by Benjamin Carr.
1813: Thomas Moore writes the popular song "The Last Rose of Summer." 
1814: Beethoven's Mass in D.
1815: Francis Scott Key sets one of his poems to music, creating "The Star-Spangled Banner."

1820s: Elizabeth Austin, Henry Anderson, Anna Bishop

1820: The birth of Jenny Lind, who would be called the "Swedish Nightingale."
1823: Franz Liszt, a 12-year-old Hungarian pianist, earns a reputation as a virtuoso performer.
1824: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, his last complete symphony, premiers in Vienna to a packed audience.
1825: Franz Schubert composes "Ave Maria."
1829: Gioacchino Rossini's opera William Tell premieres in Paris.
1829: American minstrel performer George Washington Dixon popularizes "Coal Black Rose," the first blackface comic lovesong

1830s: Jenny Lind, Giuditta Pasta, Giulia Grisi, Giovanni Matteo De Candia aka "Mario the Tenor"

1830: Jenny Lind, the "Swedish Nightingale," begins singing onstage at age ten.
1831: Giuditta Pasta was held in such high regard that three operas were written with her voice in mind.
1833: Samuel Francis Smith's patriotic hymn America ("My country 'tis of thee") is sung for the first time in Boston on the Fourth of July.
1833: Thomas H. Bayley composes “Long, Long Ago,” which becomes one of the most popular songs in 19th-century America.
1835: "Amazing Grace" is published to the tune of "New Britain" in William Walker's The Southern Harmony.
1839: Frédéric Chopin completes his Preludes.

1840s: The Hutchinson Family Singers ("Battle Hymn of the Republic"), The Christy Minstrels ("Old Folks at Home"), The Virginia Serenaders aka the Virginia Minstrels ("Dixie"), the Harmoneons

1842: The Philharmonic Society of New York is founded, the nation's first symphony orchestra.
1842: The Christy Minstrels are formed by Edwin Pearce Christy.
1843: Hans Christian Andersen meets Jenny Lind and falls in love with her; she inspires several of his fairy tales.
1844: "Woodman Spare That Tree" with lyrics by George Pope Morris may be the first environmental protest song.
1844: Marion Dix Sullivan publishes "The Blue Juniata," the first commercial hit written by an American woman.
1845: Stephen Foster hears Negro singing and minstrel shows in Cincinnati.
1846: Adolphe Sax invents the saxophone.
1847: The birth of Thomas Edison; recorded music and movies are fast approaching.
1848: Oh! Susannah is published by Stephen Foster, his first songbook.

1850s: Adelina Patti, Thérèse Tietjens, The Luca Family, Elizabeth Greenfield aka the "Black Swan"

1850: Jenny Lind is a mega-hit touring the United States and is paid the unheard-of sum of $187,000 by P. T. Barnum.
1850: Col. Sandford C. Faulkner writes the music and words to The Arkansas Traveler, an early country music song.
1850: "Go Down Moses" was sung by Harriet Tubman to identify herself to slaves who might want to escape and flee north.
1851: Stephen Foster writes "Old Folks at Home" aka "Swanee" for a minstrel show.
1853: The Christy Minstrels perform "Yellow Rose of Texas" and publish it in a songbook.
1853: Stephen Foster writes "My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night."
1854: Stephen Foster writes "(I Dream of) Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair."
1857:  J. S. Pierpont writes "Jingle Bells."
1857: "The Village Blacksmith" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is set to music.
1859: The popular song "(I Wish I Was in) Dixie" was ironically written by Daniel Decatur Emmett, a Northerner from Ohio.

1860s: Music played an important role on both sides during the Civil War

1861: Julia Ward Howe writes the poem "Battle Hymn of the Republic" which is set to the music of "John Brown's Body."
1863: Patrick S. Gilmore composes "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."
1864: Robert Lowry composes the hymn "Shall We Gather at the River."
1865: Wallis Willis, a Choctaw freedman, writes "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."
1865: "Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen" and "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" appear in hymnals.
1866: Fisk University, a black college and future home of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, is founded in Nashville, Tennessee.
1867: The birth of Scott Joplin, the African-American pianist and composer known as the "King of Ragtime."
1867: Negro spirituals are published as Slave Songs of the United States.
1867: One of the hymns, "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," would be performed by major artists like Marian Anderson.
1868: The popular folk song "Tom Dooley" is based on the real-life case of Tom Dula, who was hanged for murder in 1868.

1870s: The Fisk Jubilee Singers, Ángela Peralta, George Primrose, Billy West

1870: The traditional song "In the Pines" will be recorded by artists as diverse as Bill Monroe, Leadbelly and Nirvana.
1871: Verdi's opera Aida.
1871: The Fisk Jubilee Singers are formed. Within two years they would perform for President Grant and the Queen of England.
1872: The Fisk Jubilee Singers perform "Nobody Knows the Trouble I See" with slightly different lyrics from the 1867 version.
1872: "Home on the Range" will become the unofficial anthem of the American west, and the state song of Kansas.
1873: The Fisk Jubilee Singers perform for Queen Victoria on their European tour.
1873: The birth of Enrico Caruso, the great operatic tenor and first recording star.
1874: The birth of Henry Thomas, a Texas bluesman who influenced Bob Dylan, Canned Heat and other rock acts.
1875: Georges Bizet's opera Carmen debuts.
1876: The lyrics to the hymn "Beulah Land" are written by Edgar Page Stites.
1876: The popular songs "Molly Malone" and "Grandfather's Clock" debut.
1877: Thomas Edison changes everything when he invents the phonograph
1877: The debut of the ballet Swan Lake.
1878: The New York Symphony Orchestra is formed.
1878: The debut of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera H. M. S. Pinafore.
1879: "Uncloudy Day," also known as "Unclouded Day," is a gospel song written by Josiah Kelley Alwood.
1879: The debut of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera The Pirates of Penzance.

1880s: Chauncey Olcott ("When Irish Eyes Are Smiling"), Ada Jones, George M. Cohan ("Give My Regards to Broadway")

1880: The traditional song "Blow the Man Down."
1881: Tony Pastor, a former circus ringleader, invents what we now call vaudeville for his New York theaters.
1881: The traditional song "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."
1881: Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal.
1882: Francis James Child publishes a book of 305 popular ballads known as the "Child ballads."
1882: Samuel A. Maderna composes the tune that will become "America, the Beautiful."
1883: The Metropolitan Opera House opens in New York.
1884: The traditional songs "Oh My Darling Clementine" and "Rock-a-Bye Baby."
1884: The birth of the singer Sophie Tucker.
1885: The birth of Tin Pan Alley.
1886: The births of the singers Al Jolson and Ma Rainey.
1887: The popular hymn "Away in a Manger."
1888: The birth of the composer Irving Berlin.
1888: The first classical music recording, of Handel's Israel in Egypt.
1888: Columbia Records, the first major American record label, is founded.
1889: The first recordings of music by Edison Records.
1889: Robert Burns' "Comin' Thro' the Rye" is recorded with instrumentals by George Schweinfest (flute) & Edward Issler (piano).

1890s: Enrico Caruso (the first recording superstar), J. W. Myers ("In the Good Old Summertime"), The Edison Quartet aka The Haydn Quartet, Harry Macdonough ("My Wild Irish Rose"), Billy Murray, Steve Porter ("A Bird in a Gilded Cage"), Lina Cavalieri, William F. Denny, Arabella Fields aka the "Black Nightingale"

1890: The birth of Jelly Roll Morton, American pianist, bandleader and composer.
1891: Carnegie Hall opens in New York.
1891: "Turkey in the Straw" by Billy Golden.
1891: The birth of blues singer Mamie Smith and singer/actress/comedian Fanny Brice.
1892: "Harlem Rag" by the pianist Tommy Turpin is the first known ragtime composition.
1892: The debut of the ballet The Nutcracker.
1892: The birth of the singer Eddie Cantor.
1893: The birth of the blues musician Blind Lemon Jefferson.
1894: The popular song "I've Been Working on the Railroad" is published.
1894: Enrico Caruso makes his operatic debut in Naples.
1894: The birth of blues singer Bessie Smith.
1895: "America the Beautiful" by Katherine Lee Bates.
1895: Buddy Bolden forms a band; he has been credited with the countermelody of jazz.
1896: Etta Parker is the first composer to set a poem by Emily Dickinson to music: "Have You Got a Brook in Your Little Heart?"
1896: Amy Marcy Cheney Beach is the first American woman to compose a symphony.
1896: The birth of the singer Ethel Waters.
1897: "Danny Deever" by the poet Rudyard Kipling is set to music by Walter Damrosch.
1897: "A Hot Time in the Old Town" by Dan W. Quinn
1897: The birth of the country music singer Jimmie Rodgers.
1898: The birth of the singer Paul Robeson and the blues singer and guitarist Blind Willie McTell.

1899: Scott Joplin, a black composer, publishes the ragtime classic "Maple Leaf Rag."
1899: "My Wild Irish Rose" by Chauncey Olcott.
1899: The birth of Duke Ellington, jazz musician and composer.

1900s: Lead Belly ("Midnight Special"), Ma Rainey ("See See Rider Blues"), Sophie Tucker, John McCormack, Nora Bayes, Jack Norworth, Arthur Collins, Bryan Harlan, Henry Burr, Frank Stanley, Joe Natus, Arthur Fields, Geraldine Farrar, Frehel

1900: John Rosamond Johnson sets "Lift Every Voice and Sing" by James Weldon Johnson to music.
1900: Harry Lauder makes his first London appearance at Gatti's music hall in Westminster.
1900: The King Family performs the traditional song “Cripple Creek” on banjo, mandolin, guitar, fiddle and bass fiddle.
1901: Carrie Jacobs Bond's "I Love You Truly" is the first song written by a woman to sell a million copies of sheet music.
1902: Hughie Cannon writes "Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home" for minstrel John Queen.
1902: Enrico Caruso cuts his first records and has the first record to sell over a million copies.
1902: Victor Records issues the first known recording of black music, "Camp Meeting Shouts."
1903: The birth of Roy Acuff, known as "the King of Country Music."
1904: George M. Cohan's musical play Little Johnny Jones helps create indigenous American musical theater.
1904: Hughie Cannon writes "He Done Me Wrong" for the musical Frankie and Johnny.
1904: Billy Murray has a hit with "Meet Me in St. Louis," a song written for the St. Louis World Fair.
1905: Billy Murray has a hit with "Give My Regards to Broadway."
1905: Charles H. Gabriel writes the hymn "His Eye is on the Sparrow."
1907: The Ziegfeld Follies feature stars like Billie Burke, Fannie Brice, W. C. Fields, Eddie Cantor and Will Rogers.
1908: Jack Norworth and Albert von Tilzer write "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
1908: Jack Norworth and Nora Bayes write "Shine on, Harvest Moon."
1909: The Fisk Jubilee Singers record "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and it becomes the first hit gospel song.

1910s: The Peerless Quartet ("Swanee"), The Big Four Quartet, The American Quartet ("Casey Jones"), Al Jolson, Jelly Roll Morton ("Hesitation Blues"), Josephine Baker ("J'ai deux amours"), Elsie Griffin ("Danny Boy"), Fiddlin' John Carson, Elsie Baker, Aileen Stanley, John H. Meyer, Albert Campbell, Frank Croxton, Alma Gluck, Cliff Edwards ("Singin' in the Rain"), Maurice Auguste Chevalier, Rosa Ponselle, Marion Harris, Ted Lewis aka "Mr. Entertainment"

1910: Carrie Jacobs-Bond's "A Perfect Day" will sell more than 8 million copies of sheet music and 5 million records.
1911: Al Jolson makes his first recording, "That Haunting Melody," for the Victor label.
1911: Irving Berlin has his first major hit with "Alexander's Ragtime Band."
1912: Memphis Blues is composed by W.C. Handy, known as "the father of the blues."
1912: Billy Murray sings "The Ballad of Casey Jones."
1912: "God Moves on the Water" is a song about the sinking of the RMS Titanic. 
1913: "Danny Boy" is a ballad written by Frederic Weatherly, set to the Irish tune of "Londonderry Air."
1913: Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky provoke an uproar in Paris with The Rites of Spring.
1916: The first reported blues show was on Ashley Street in Jacksonville; the performer was Ma Rainey.
1916: W. C. Handy writes Beale Street Blues.
1916: American poet Carl Sandburg writes and later records "I’m Sad and I’m Lonely."
1917: Jazz sets New York abuzz when the Original Dixieland Jazz Band performs in Reisenweber's restaurant.
1918: Al Jolson has a hit with "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby (with a Dixie Melody)."
1919: George Gershwin's first and biggest hit is "Swanee." It is introduced by Al Jolson, famous for performing in blackface.

1920s: Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Jimmie Rodgers ("Honeycomb"), Carter Family, Bill Monroe ("Blue Moon of Kentucky"), Ethel Waters ("Stormy Weather"), Mahalia Jackson, Mamie Smith ("Crazy Blues"), Paul Robeson, Edith Piaf ("La Vie en rose"), Fanny Brice ("My Man"), Fred Astaire, Bessie Smith ("St. Louis Blues"), Rudy Vallee, Ruth Etting, Fats Waller ("Ain't Misbehavin'"), Ivie Anderson, Eddie Cantor, Gene Austin, Blind Willie McTell, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, Whispering Jack Smith, Edith Wilson, Al Bowlly ("Blue Moon"), Connee Boswell ("Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"), Irene Dunne

1920: Al Jolson has a hit with "Swanee."
1920: The first blues record is recorded on Valentine's Day when Mamie Smith, a black vaudeville performer, cuts "Crazy Blues."
1922: The first commercial recordings of country music are made by hillbilly fiddlers Henry Gilliland & A.C. (Eck) Robertson.
1923: Bessie Smith has a smash hit with "Downhearted Blues," selling two million copies within a year.
1923: Ralph Peer of Okeh records the hillbilly music of Fiddlin' John Carson in an empty loft in Atlanta.
1923: The birth of Hiram King "Hank" Williams. He will become country music's greatest icon and most imitated performer.
1924: George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue debuts in New York.
1925: In Nashville, the center of country music, the Grand Ole Opry begins Saturday night radio broadcasts.
1925: Louis Armstrong forms a band called the Hot Five in Chicago.
1925: Ma Rainey has a hit with "See See Rider Blues."
1926: Jelly Roll Morton and the Red Hot Peppers record "Black Bottom Stomp."
1926: Bing Crosby has his first hit at age 23 with "I've Got the Girl."
1926: Columbia Records acquires Okeh Records, adding jazz and blues artists like Louis Armstrong and Clarence Williams.
1927: The Carter family, a country music group, makes its first recordings.
1927: Jimmie Rogers, the "father of country music," records "Blue Yodel," better known as "T for Texas" and is catapulted to stardom.
1927 Show Boat becomes the first hugely popular American musical comedy.
1928: Pine Top Smith records "Pinetop's Boogie-Woogie," the first boogie-woogie song so titled.
1928: Texas bluesman Henry Thomas records "Going Up the Country" which will be a hit for Canned Heat forty years later, in 1968.
1928: Canned Heat took its name from the 1928 song "Canned Heat Blues" by Tommy Johnson.
1928: Blues singer and guitarist Blind Willie McTell records "Statesboro Blues," later a hit for the Allman Brothers in 1971.
1928: The Threepenny Opera, by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, features "Mack the Knife."
1929: Fats Waller begins recording with his Buddies, one of the first racially integrated musical groups.
1929: The birth of Charline Highsmith Arthur, an early female pioneer of boogie-woogie, blues and rockabilly.
1929: The Great Depression cripples the American economy, hurting the sales of books, phonographs and records.

1930s: Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Robert Johnson (the first guitar god and a big step toward rock 'n' roll), Howlin' Wolf ("Spoonful Blues"), Muddy Waters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe ("This Train"), Marian Anderson, Sonny Boy Williamson ("Help Me"), Andrews Sisters, Ink Spots, Bob Wills, Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Eddy Arnold, Cab Calloway, Vera Lynn ("Lili Marlene"), Sons of the Pioneers, Kate Smith, Pearl Bailey, Perry Como, Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, Bob Lawrence, Martha Tilton, Patsy Montana, Hank Snow, Helen Forrest ("Deep Purple"), Gene Autry, Jimmie Davis, Ozzie Nelson, Hazel Scott

1930: The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) forms a Symphony Orchestra.
1931: "The Star-Spangled Banner" is made the official US national anthem.
1931: George Beauchamp, a musician, and Adolph Rickenbacker, an electrical engineer, invent the first amplifiable electric guitar.
1932: Duke Ellington performs on radio from Harlem's Cotton Club nightclub; his "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" ushers in swing music.
1932: Blues pianist Thomas A. Dorsey has been called the "father of gospel music." 
1933: Blues singer Huddie Ledbetter, aka Leadbelly, is first recorded singing in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, including "Midnight Special."
1933: Ethel Waters has a hit with "Stormy Weather."
1933: Charles Ives writes "Walt Whitman" based on a stanza from the poet's "Song of Myself."
1935: The Carter Family kickstarts the country music recording industry with "Can the Circle be Unbroken," their version of the hymn "Will the Circle be Unbroken."
1935: French cabaret singer Edith Gassion is called la môme piaf ("the little sparrow"), and thus becomes Edith Piaf.
1936: Billie Holiday has a hit with "Summertime."
1936: Paul Robeson sings "Ol' Man River" in the movie version of Jerome Kern's Showboat.
1936: Debut of the electric guitar; the dawn of the rock 'n' roll age. Legendary Delta bluesman Robert Johnson begins his brief recording career.
1936: Roy Acuff and the Crazy Tennesseans have a country hit with "Wabash Cannonball."
1937: The birth of Wanda Jackson, known as the "Queen of Rockabilly."
1938: Roy Acuff moves to Nashville, joins the Grand Ole Opry, and changes his group's name to the Smoky Mountain Boys.
1938: Irving Berlin writes the revised version of "God Bless America."
1939: Harold Arlen writes "Over the Rainbow" for the movie The Wizard of Oz. It becomes one of the most popular songs of all time.
1939: Judy Garland has a hit with Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Billie Holiday has a much darker hit with Strange Fruit.
1939: Frank Sinatra records his first singles; he would be Billboard's top male vocalist by 1941.
1939: Marian Anderson's concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington effectively launches the American Civil Rights Movement.

1940s: Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Maria Callas, Mario Lanza, Peggy Lee ("Fever"), Sarah Vaughan ("Summertime"), Dinah Washington, Hank Williams Sr., Mills Brothers ("Paper Doll"), Ames Brothers, Julie London, Doris Day, Dinah Shore, Frankie Laine, Lena Horne, Carmen McRae, Johnny Hartman ("Lush Life"), Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and the Weavers, The Everly Family (mom & dad with tiny tots Phil & Don), The Louvin Brothers, Vaughn Monroe ("Ghost Riders in the Sky"), Helen Ward, B.B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Big Mama Thornton ("Hound Dog"), Ruth Brown aka the "Queen of R&B", Ray Price, Ricky Nelson

1941: The debut of FM radio stations.
1941: Alan Lomax records McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, at Stovall's Farm in Mississippi.
1941: Greek soprano Maria Callas sings her first Tosca, in the Athens opera house.
1941: The Andrews Sisters have a hit with "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."
1942: The first award of a gold record for a million-selling hit goes to Glenn Miller for "Chatanooga Choo-Choo."
1942: Bing Crosby has the all-time bestselling single with Irving Berlin's "White Christmas."
1942: The birth of Lorrie Collins, an early country, rockabilly and rock pioneer.
1944: The birth of Brenda Lee, who would have 47 chart hits during the 1960s including her mega-hits "Sweet Nothings" and "I'm Sorry."
1944: Janis Martin, the "female Elvis," begins singing at age four. She would be an early female pioneer of country, rockabilly and rock.
1946: The Irving Berlin musical Annie Get Your Gun is huge hit. Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup records "That's All Right."
1947: Opera tenor Mario Lanza is called "the voice of the century."
1947: Saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker forms a Harlem quintet, often to be heard at Minton's Playhouse.
1948: Columbia Records introduces the LP ("long playing") vinyl record, or "album."
1949: Hank Williams Sr. debuts on the Grand Ole Opry.
1949: Jerry Wexler coins the term "rhythm and blues."

1950s: Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Luciano Pavarotti, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Etta James ("At Last"), Nina Simone ("Feeling Good"), The Staple Singers ("Uncloudy Day"), Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, George Jones, Conway Twitty, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Marty Robbins, Patti Page, Loretta Lynn, Tennessee Ernie Ford ("Sixteen Tons"), Dean Martin, Platters, Eddie Fisher, Shirley Bassey, Rosemary Clooney, Brenda Lee, Connie Francis, Bobby Darin, Johnny Mathis, Ricky Nelson, Frankie Avalon, Bill Haley, Bobby Darin, Frankie Lymon, Wanda Jackson, Paul Anka, Pat Boone

1950: Muddy Waters records "Rolling Stone," his interpretation of "Catfish Blues." The Rolling Stones and Rolling Stone magazine are named after the song.
1950: Nat King Cole hits the charts with "Mona Lisa."
1950: Little Richard is an electric star.
1950: Charline Arthur records "I've Got the Boogie Blues/Love is a Gamble" before Elvis arrives on the rockabilly scene.
1951: Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed uses the term "rock 'n' roll" to promote R&B to white audiences.
1952: Kitty Wells is the first female singer to sell a million records. Sam Phillips founds Sun Records. B.B. King has his first R&B hit with "Three O'Clock Blues."
1953: Elvis Presley, a Memphis truck driver, pays $3.98 to cut a demo of "My Happiness" at Sam Phillips' Sun Records studio.
1954: Bill Haley and the Comets have a smash hit with "Rock Around the Clock."
1954: Elvis Presley has his first hit with "That's All Right, Mama."
1954: Wanda Jackson, known as "the Queen of Rockabilly," is discovered by Hank Thompson. She would have one of the first integrated bands with Big Al Dowling.
1955: Black artists "race up" the pop charts: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, the Platters.
1955: Chuck Berry records "Maybellene."
1956: Elvis Presley appears on The Milton Berle Show. He is now the undisputed King of Rock 'n' Roll.
1956: Elvis tops the pop charts with "Heartbreak Hotel," "Don't Be Cruel," "Hound Dog" and "Love Me Tender."
1956: Ed Sullivan pays Elvis $50,000 to appear on his show.
1957: Elvis is "All Shook Up" and doing the "Jailhouse Rock."
1957: Rockabilly star Buddy Holly and the Crickets record "That'll Be the Day."
1958: Billboard magazine introduces its Hot 100 chart. Ricky Nelson's "Poor Little Fool" is the first No. 1 record.
1958: The first Grammy awards went to a diverse and eclectic group that included Ella Fitzgerald, Perry Como, Andre Previn, Frank Sinatra (for cover art) and the Chipmunks.
1958: "Rumble" by Link Wray and the Wraymen has been called the first punk rock song.
1958: Jerry Lee Lewis's "Great Balls of Fire" reaches #1.
1958: The births of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, Prince and Madonna.
1959: Berry Gordy Jr. founds the Motown record label; its future stars will include the Miracles, Supremes, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.
1959: The day the music died, as Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson perish in a plane crash.

1960s: Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Barbara Streisand, Janis Joplin, Roy Orbison, Jackie Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Harry Nilsson, Tom Jones, Neil Diamond, Animals, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Byrds, Monkees, Led Zeppelin, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Temptations, Righteous Brothers, Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Jackson 5, Otis Redding, Supremes, Drifters, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Patti LaBelle, Melanie, Sonny and Cher, Jefferson Starship, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, INXS, Gordon Lightfoot, Del Shannon, Dion and the Belmonts, Bobby Vinton, Gene Chandler

1965 - The Rolling Stones score with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Bob Dylan has a major hit with "Like a Rolling Stone" and goes electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival (receiving boos from the audience and producers). The Byrds' version of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" creates new music genre: "folk-rock." The Who's snarling "My Generation" is another song that feels like early punk rock.
1966 - The Beatles, Monkees, Beach Boys, Supremes, Rolling Stones, Petula Clark and Frank and Nancy Sinatra somehow manage to coexist on the pop charts. Jimmy Hendrix changes his name to the more exotic "Jimi" and puts together his backing group, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. They will go on to invent psychedelic rock. Hendrix would describe his music as "a mixture of rock, freak-out, rave and blues."
1967 - Lulu, Englebert Humperdink, the Sinatras, the Doors and the Rolling Stones incongruously top the charts. Dolly Parton begins singing on the Porter Wagoner show.
1968 - Canned Heat has a hit with their cover of the 1928 song "Going Up the County" by Texas bluesman Henry Thomas.
1968 - Cream, the Beatles, Bobby Goldsboro, Herb Alpert, Jeanie C. Riley and Richard Harris top the schizophrenic charts. Jimi Hendrix is becoming a guitar legend and pioneer of psychedelic rock.
1969 - Woodstock features folk poets and acid rockers like Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, John Fogerty, Sly Stone, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

1960: Sam Cooke scores big with "Chain Gang."
1960: Muddy Waters performs at the Newport Jazz Festival.
1962: James Brown records Live At The Apollo. Brown's drummer Clayton Fillyau introduces the break beat, which would later inspire b-boys and rappers.
1963: Bob Dylan becomes famous for protest songs like "Blowin' in the Wind."
1963: The song "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen has been called the "ur-text" of punk rock.
1964: The Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show and top the American charts. Beatlemania has begun.
1964: Other "British Invasion" groups include the Rolling Stones, Animals, Who and Herman's Hermits.
1964: "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks was influenced by "Louie, Louie" and seems like another step in the evolution of punk rock.
1964: Meanwhile, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground have the first "alt rock" band of note.
1965: Bob Dylan goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival.
1969: The original Woodstock music festival features Jim Hendrix, CCR, The Band, The Who, et al.
1969: Johnny Cash, the "Man in Black," performs live at San Quentin Prison. Merle Haggard is one of the inmates.

1970s: Freddie Mercury and Queen, Al Green, Bee Gees, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Simon & Garfunkel, Billy Joel, Elton John, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Bono and U2, Paul McCartney and Wings, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen, Eagles, Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, Ann Wilson and Heart, Joe Cocker, Meatloaf, ABBA, Commodores, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, John Denver, Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Debbie Harry and Blondie, Yes, Sly & the Family Stone, The Guess Who, Rare Earth, Three Dog Night, The Carpenters, David Gates and Bread, Roberta Flack, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Andy Gibb, The Doobie Brothers, Styx, Donna Summer, Pat Benatar, Jennifer Holliday

1970: The Moody Blues, ELO and Pink Floyd invent "art rock." The New York Dolls and Iggy Pop and the Stooges are early punk rockers.
1971: John Lennon releases his Imagine album with its utopian title song. Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical Jesus Christ, Superstar.
1971: The Allman Brothers record "Statesboro Blues," a 1928 song by blues singer and guitarist Blind Willie McTell.
1972: The earliest "rap" events are held in the Bronx.
1973: An estimated one billion viewers watch Elvis Presley's Aloha from Hawaii concert on TV.
1973: American Graffiti is the first major movie about rock 'n' roll.
1974: The debut of disco.
1975: Queen releases the single "Bohemian Rhapsody" which features surreal, ultra-modernistic lyrics.
1975: Bruce Springsteen is the reigning rock poet with "Born to Run."
1975: Patti Smith pioneers punk music.
1976: Peter Frampton makes his guitar talk on Frampton Comes Alive!
1976: The Eagles' greatest hits album becomes the first platinum album.
1977: The movie Saturday Night Fever popularizes disco and makes the Bee Gees major stars.
1977: Elvis Presley dies. The King is dead but the Crown Prince is Michael Jackson, the Prince of Pop.
1978: Sony introduces the Walkman.
1978: The debut of hip-hop music and Soul Train.
1979: The Sugarhill Gang’s "Rapper's Delight" is released; it becomes the first rap/hip-hop song/poem to reach the Billboard's Top 40.

1980s: Whitney Houston, Prince, Madonna, Enya, George Michael and Wham!, Steve Perry and Journey, Axl Rose and Guns N' Roses, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, UB40, A-ha, Jon Bon Jovi, Chaka Khan, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Idol, Daryl Hall and John Oates, John Cougar Mellencamp, Peter Gabriel, Sting and the Police, Bryan Adams, Lionel Richie, Randy Travis, Toto, Olivia Newton-John, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Kim Carnes, Sheena Easton, Air Supply, Christopher Cross, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Survivor, Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics, Bonnie Tyler, Boy George and Culture Club, Kenny Loggins, Foreigner, Simply Red, Genesis, Boston, Kansas, Phil Collins, Taylor Dayne, Fine Young Cannibals

1980: Blondie has the first white rap/hip-hop hit with "Rapture."
1981: MTV debuts with innovative music videos.
1982: Michael Jackson's Thriller becomes the biggest-selling album of all time.
1982: The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats, based on poems written by T. S. Eliot, becomes the longest-running Broadway musical of all time.
1983: Compact discs begin to replace vinyl records.
1983: Madonna has her first hits with "Holiday," "Borderline" and "Lucky Star."
1984: Michael Jackson wows the MTV world with his first public moonwalk during a live performance of "Billie Jean."
1984: Marvin Gaye, who wrote "Father, father, there's no need to escalate" is shot and killed by his father, a preacher.
1984: Prince wins an Oscar for the score to "Purple Rain."
1985: Madonna becomes an international sensation with "Like a Virgin."
1985: Freddie Mercury and Queen steal the show at Live Aid.
1986: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame holds its first induction ceremony. 
1987: Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" is the year's biggest hit.
1988: Michael Jackson buys a ranch and calls it Neverland. His Bad album is the first album by a solo artist to have five number one singles.
1989: Roy Orbison joins Elvis Presley as the only singers to have two albums in the top five at the same time.

1990s: Celine Dion, Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys, Toni Braxton, Seal, Savage Garden, Garth Brooks, Alison Krauss, George Strait, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Shania Twain, Martina McBride, Brooks and Dunn, Janet Jackson, Michael Bolton, Gloria Estefan, Amy Grant, Paula Abdul, TLC, Wilson Phillips, Puff Daddy, Monica

1990: MTV Unplugged airs for the first time.
1990: Bob Marley's birthday is made a holiday in Jamaica.
1991: Nirvana's first single, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," makes grunge cool.
1991: Freddie Mercury dies from complications of AIDS.
1992: The US Postal Service creates designs for an Elvis Presley stamp, which is issued the following January.
1993: The Who's rock opera Tommy debuts on Broadway.
1993: Kurt Cobain and Nirvana have an epic moment on MTV Unplugged.
1994: Green Day releases their album Dookie, ushering in a punk revival of sorts.
1995: Tupac Shakur becomes the first male solo artist to have a number one album on the American Billboard 200 chart while in prison.
1996: Rap poet Eminem releases his debut album, Infinite.
1997: Elton John sings "Candle In The Wind" with revised lyrics for the funeral of Princess Diana; it becomes the all-time best-selling single.
1998: Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" tops the charts, followed by Cher's "Believe" and hits by Aerosmith, Run DMC and Shania Twain.
1998: Sir Elton John is knighted.
1999: Britney Spears tops the charts with "Baby One More Time."
1999: TLC and Backstreet Boys have top five hits.

2000s: Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Pink, Alicia Keys, Usher, Christina Aguilera, Amy Winehouse, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Gwen Stefani, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Michael Buble, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Outkast, Jason Mraz, Miley Cyrus, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum, Shakira, Jennifer Hudson, 'N Synch, Creed, Destiny's Child, Joss Stone, Avril Levigne, Leona Lewis, The Black Eyed Peas

2000: The Internet begins to transform music, poetry and art.
2000: The movie O Brother, Where Art Thou rekindles an interest in bluegrass music with the hit "Man of Constant Sorrow."
2001: Apple releases the iPod, a portable MP3 player.
2001: Michael Jackson has the year's best-selling album with Invincible.
2002: Eminem, Pink, Usher, Shakira, Dixie Chicks and Nelly have top ten albums.
2003: Apple introduces its iTunes online store.
2003: An aging Johnny Cash releases the moving music video for his cover of "Hurt."
2004: Freddie Mercury and Queen steal the show at Live Aid.
2004: Janet Jackson has a "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl.
2005: Mariah Carey has her 17th number one single, tying her with Elvis Presley for second place; the Beatles are first with 20 number ones.
2006: U2 wins five Grammys and Mariah Carey wins three.
2006: Kelly Clarkson is the first American Idol contestant to win a Grammy.
2007: Sting and the Police have a reunion tour.
2007: The Dixie Chicks win five Grammys, including the biggest three.
2008: Katy Perry has her first big hit with "I Kissed a Girl."
2008: Usher, Rihanna, Pink, Beyonce, Leona Lewis and Flo Rida top the singles charts.
2009: Michael Jackson dies in the middle of his comeback tour.
2009: Alison Krauss and Robert Plant win five Grammys for their duet album Rising Sand.

2010s: Bruno Mars, Adele, Adam Lambert, Sia, Dimash Kudaibergen, Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, John Legend, The Weeknd, Drake, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Kesha, Adam Levine and Maroon 5, Demi Lovato, Cardi B, Post Malone, Jessie J

2010: Ke$ha, Lady Antebellum, Train, Usher and Katy Perry have top five singles.
2011: Katy Perry has two top five singles.
2011: Adele tops the Billboard Top 100 with "Rolling in the Deep."
2012: Adele's album 21 is the first to have three number one singles by a British female artist.
2012: Goyte and Kimbra top the singles charts with "Someone That I Used to Know."
2013: Macklemore, Robin Thicke, Pink, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons top the singles charts.
2014: Pharrell Williams tops the single charts with his upbeat "Happy," followed by Katy Perry, John Legend and Iggy Azalea.
2015: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars top the singles charts with "Uptown Funk," followed by Ed Sheeran with "Thinking Out Loud."
2016: Justin Bieber has the top two singles with "Love Yourself" and "Sorry." Other chart-toppers include Drake, Rihanna, Adele and the Chainsmokers.
2017: Ed Sheeran tops the singles charts with "Shape of You," followed by the catchy "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.
2018: "Havana" by Camila Cabello may have been the catchiest song of the year. Other chart-toppers were by Drake, Ed Sheeran and Bebe Rexha with Florida Georgia Line.
2019: The tops songs include "Someone You Loved" by Lewis Capaldi, "Giant" by Calvin Harris and Rag'n'bone Man, and "Shallow" by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

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Crucial Moments in Music History: A Musical Chronology/Timeline
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