Friday, May 10, 2013

The Top 20 Game-Changing Moments In Rock & Roll History, Part 1!

This is the first of a two-part series where we at The Shit celebrate those iconic moments that shaped rock & roll history.  While there are obviously more than twenty landmark moments in rock history, we've chosen the twenty moments that were the most important in changing in the direction of rock & roll.

Les Paul makes innovations to solid-body electric guitars and multi-track recording.

While Les Paul is best known for the solid-body Gibson guitar that carries his name, he also created the guitar known today as the Gibson SG and was instrumental in making innovations to multi-track recording that enabled the act of overdubbing, which bands like the Beatles and the Beach Boys would use to create their artistic high points, "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Pet Sounds".

Elvis records "That's All Right Mama" at Sun Studios.

While the session from which this recording came had been a total bust, it was only after Presley began performing the song in the studio as the other musicians packed up for the night that Sam Phillips heard the potential he saw in Presley come to fruition.  Phillips hastily reassembled the band and rolled tape.  While the single would not jettison Presley to the top of the charts, it was the first step in a journey that would reshape the face of rock & roll forever.

Chuck Berry releases "Maybellene".

Arguably lifting the music from the country song "Ida Red" and adding his own lyrics, Chuck Berry scored his first official "rock & roll" hit.  DJ Alan Freed was initially listed as a co-writer of the song despite having nothing to do with the creation of the song.  He did, however, accept co-writing credit in exchange for playing the song regularly on his successful radio show.  The song was the first of fourteen Top 40 singles for Berry.

The Beatles make their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

There is no other singular moment that ushered in such instant and long-term musical and cultural change as that of The Beatles' first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.  Sullivan had first taken notice of the hysteria created by the band's arrival at Heathrow airport and immediately contacted Brian Epstein to book the band for his show.

Epstein was offered one appearance, but asked for and received three appearances, all taking place in February 1964.

Phil Spector invents the "Wall of Sound" production technique.

By taking a symphonic approach to recording, utilizing large groups of musicians playing a wide variety of instruments - sometimes with multiple musicians playing the same instrument and part - Spector came up with a sound that translated to a superior sound on jukeboxes and radio.

Dylan goes electric at '65 Newport Folk Festival.

Up until his performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, wherein he performed with electric instrumentation for the first time, Bob Dylan had been a leader in the folk music movement.  With this performance and the album Bringing It All Back Home, which contained such hits as "Subterranean Homesick Blues", "Maggie's Farm", "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "It's All Over Now Baby Blue", Dylan's music was now fully ensconced in the world of rock & roll..

The Stones release "Satisfaction".

After acquiring his first tape recorder, Keith Richards would sit in his hotel room after a show and record himself playing the guitar so that he could listen back later for any interesting ideas.  After recording the riff, he promptly fell asleep, waking up to hear two minutes of playing the riff on an acoustic guitar and "me snoring for the next forty minutes".

The song enabled the Rolling Stones to successfully transition from blues covers to original material and, at the same time, gave rock & roll one of its first iconic riffs, one that remains as visceral and subversive today as it did then.


While drugs had always been present in rock & roll, it was the introduction of LSD to John Lennon and George Martin at a party, quite without their knowledge, that would ultimately lead to the drug's popularity and influence upon rock & roll.  Without LSD, there would have been no psychedelic movement, no "Sgt Pepper", no "Pet Sounds", no "Woodstock".

The Beach Boys Release "Pet Sounds".

Who woulda thunk that a "surf-based doo wop group" would be responsible for recording the album that would blow away the innovative Fab Four, leading them to up their game and record the landmark album, "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".

Ironically, much of the album was recorded by Brian Wilson, who was no longer a touring meber of the Beach Boys, while the rest of the band were on tour in Japan.  Wilson employed a recording style similar to that employed in Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, wherein large group of musicians recorded a take live-in-the-studio, also using studio effects to create a bigger sound.

The result was a radical departure for the band; one that met with a moderate drop in chart success compared to previous efforts, but one that was so inflential as to change the way the Beatles approached their next album,

Hendrix at Woodstock

While his performance took place at the close of the Woodstck festival, to a mostly empty and trash strewn field on the festivals's final morning, it is his histrionic performance of "The star Spangled Banner:" that signalled the final nail in the coffin of the "peace and love" movement.

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