8 moments that shaped music history

Within just the last half of the 20th century, music has become democratized. Available to everyone and found in virtually all homes, the spread of music has brought us all new talents, new rules and 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 and 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" and was a "Possibly good balladeer.” But when Presley attempted Arthur Crudup’s That’s Alright Mama the magic of Elvis was revealed. Captivated, Phillips immediately offered a contract.

Beatlemania in full swing

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 (female) spectators, the performance was also the most expensive paid concert of its time. The fans' frenzy outnumbered the ill-equipped musicians and 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 and music in Bethel, New York. The festival counted over 70,000 attendees along with the greats (of whom The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Santana and Joan Baez were present). The event’s popularity soon forced the organization to break down barricades, welcoming more than 500,000.

The invention of karaoke

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 and then think.”

Launch of MTV

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 and powerful springboard for artists to promote music via video.

CD production and commercialisation

The compact disc, with the adopted moniker CD, developed by Sony and Phillips, landed on the market in 1982. Renowned for its indestructibility, the CD was expected to completely replace the vinyl record.

Michael Jackson shatters records

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 and 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 and a price tag of $900,000.

Apple launches iTunes

June 10, 2001
Steve Jobs announced with great fanfare a small revolution: a platform to download paid music in digital format.

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  • 2 years ago
      I would have regarded Live Aid, July 13 1985 as just as momentous? Shaped music as a medium to generate money for charity?
    • 2 years ago
        The Beatles first U.S. performance was on the Ed Sullivan Show (studio in New York City) in early February 1964 followed by a show at Washington Coliseum in D.C. and then a return to NYC to perform at Carnegie Hall where I had the good fortune of being in the audience. The Shea Stadium concert was in 1966 and was the fourth-from-last show in the Beatles final tour before becoming a studio-only band. The last show of the tour was at Candlestick Park near San Francisco.
      • 2 years ago
          I had an Elvis Presley record in 1954 that Elvis had given to my Brother to give to me as they were both driving trucks in Memphis and hanging out afterwards .
        • 2 years ago
            Some nice tidbits here, and thank you for publishing this. But I'm a little surprised that you say the Beatles "started" the British Invasion with the Shea Stadium concert. Was it not their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show a year and a half before that opened the floodgates for groups like The Dave Clark Five and the Rolling Stones?
          • 2 years ago
              C.D.s "reknowned for their indestructibility"- what a joke!! They were marketed as such but what a HUGE con that was! They are extremely easily damaged as we all know, - not in the same league as the mini-disc which actually IS almost indestructible, unless done deliberately.It's a great pity that the big money went into the by far inferior C.D..
            • 2 years ago
                Hi Guys These eight moments were obviously key building blocks that lead us to where we are now. That said, I think it would've been good to include an honourable mention for s skinny little kid called Buddy Holly. who opened for both Elvis Presley and Billy Haley concerts in 1955. Bill Helman, Port Perry, Ontario
              • 2 years ago
                  It is cool to hear about though. All you know it alls that are criticizing wouldn't even be here if this had not been published. So keep your heads clear and mouths shut. I liked the article with the information it has. We could go on forever talking dates and who and who was first. But not doing anybody any good. Thanks for publishing the article.
                • 2 years ago
                    Although some interesting writing on the history of music, I believe the title should have read " 8 moments that HELPED shape music history". This would have been a more apprpropriate title. And yes please have your writer or editor confirm your facts but please don't just depend on Wikipedia either. Thnx, Ruben
                  • 2 years ago
                      You made an attempt to educate the evolution of music eras which is appreciated. There are so many true facts, assumed facts, and incorrect information, thank you for your effort to bring interesting information to your subscribers. Sing-cerely yours, Al
                    • 2 years ago
                        The least you could do for the eight moments is to verify the facts. Elvis was born in 1935 (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_Presley) His first recordings began in 1955. But Bill Haley introduced Rock and Roll with "Rock around the Clock" in 1954 The Beatles headed the British Invasion which commenced in early 1963 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beatles) See the paragraph "British Invasion" to get your dates correct. But I guess never let the facts get in the way of a story!!!!
                      • 2 years ago
                          Great article, but Shea Stadium was in New York...