Rock Music Timeline:
An online chronology of rock and roll history. Experience rock & roll in the order it happened, decade by decade, year by year, and month by month. Enjoy vintage band photos, important events in music history, along with all the hit songs and albums in the first fifty years of rock music.
What's included on this website:
(main navigation at the top of each page) includes the following info:
- Key music events by decade
- Top 100 Songs of the decade
- Top 100 Albums of the decade
- Top Artists of the decade
- Music genres by decade
(secondary navigation at top of
each decade/year page) includes the following information:
- Key music events by Month/Year
- Top Songs by Year
- Top Albums by Year
- Links to more detailed info
- Links to #1 Songs US & UK
- Links to #1 Albums US & UK
(links on the left navigation of each Decade and at the top of the left navigation on each Yearly Timeline)
Check out our Rock Music Timeline Blog for recent news on Rock Music and Rock and Roll history. (more)
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All text copyright 2010-2016 Rock Music Timeline.
The 1950's - The Birth of Rock and Roll:
Rock & Roll music is born in the 1950's from a fusion of electric blues, country and gospel music. Confined to the Rhythm & Blues charts early in the decade, rock crosses over to the Pop charts from 1955 onward. Electric Blues, R&B, Doo Wop, Rockabilly.... more 1950's
The 1960's - Expanding The Boundaries of Rock:
In the sixties rock music comes of age and dominates the popular music charts. Rock diversifies with new styles such as soul, surf, folk rock, the British Invasion, psychedelic and hard rock. Television becomes a factor as prime time variety shows feature rock... more 1960's
The 1970's - Rock Becomes Big Business:
The early seventies are marked by the deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. Pyschedelic music declines, but morphs into hard rock, progressive rock and heavy metal. Touring bands move from playing clubs and theaters, to playing sports arenas... more 1970's
The 1980's - CD's, Synths, and the Rise of MTV:
MTV (Music Television) is launched on 300 cable TV systems in 1981. By 1983 MTV is available on 2,000 cable systems. The prevalance of music videos as a 24/7 marketing tool is influential in bringing numerous new bands and music styles to the mainstream... more 1980's
The 1990's - The Internet and Digital Music:
The internet and sound compression allow for digital distribution of music both legally and through peer to peer file sharing, threatening the dominance of major record labels. Hip hop, alternative rock, and jam bands no longer play by record label rules... more 1990's
L to R: '50's rock n' roll pioneers The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis.
L to R: '60's rock icons The Supremes, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison of The Doors.
L to R: '70's rock - Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Saturday Night Fever, Bruce Springsteen, and The Sex Pistols.
L to R: '80's rock stars - Bono of U2, Michael Jackson, Run DMC, Madonna, and Prince.
L to R: '90's stars - Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Whitney Houston, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Beck, R.E.M. and Britney Spears.
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This Month in Rock Music History: March
Former NYC punk band The Beastie Boys switch to rap and hit #1 in the US with their debut album License to Ill. It was the first rap album to top the US charts.
UK punk band The Clash release their debut album. The album was not released in the US, but became one of the best selling import albums with 100,000 copies sold.
Jimi Hendrix lights his guitar on fire for the first time at the end of a 45 minute concert at London's Astoria. Hendrix was later treated for burns to the hand at a London hospital.
Happy, TX singer songwriter Buddy Knox tops the US charts for the first time with his single "Party Doll" recorded at Norm Petty's studio in Clovis, New Mexico.
Leeds, UK band The Kaiser Chiefs score a number one UK hit with their single "Ruby" from their second album which also reaches #1 UK (#45 US).
Brooklyn, NY rapper Notorious B.I.G. is shot and killed by an unknown assailant while leaving a Los Angeles party hosted by Vibe Magazine and Qwest Records.