The 1975 release of the song “No Woman, No Cry” by the legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers is cited by Stacker, a data analysis firm, as one of the most iconic moments in the history of music. This recording made Marley a global reggae star and the only reggae musician to reach the status of “icon,” according to Sean O’Haga of The Guardian newspaper.
Slacker examines data from multiple sources and presents it in a concise way. The firm took on the enormous task of identifying the most iconic moments in the entire history of music The list begins with the America-born songwriter John Hill who wrote the first American ballad to gain international fame in 1827 and follows the development of Western popular music through the years to 2018 when rapper Kendrick Lamar received the Pulitzer Prize in music for his album entitled “Damn.” Lamar was the first winner of this award who was not a classical or jazz musician.
Stacker’s Iconic moments in music history include notable performances, “firsts” of many kinds, and technological advances that expanded the reach of recording artists to larger and larger audiences. To compile the list, Stacker consulted music publications like Rolling Stone and Billboard, general news outlets like major newspapers, and the “Historical Dictionary of Popular Music ” by Norman Abjorensen. No strict criteria were used to compile the list, and it includes a broad range of iconic moments such as record-breaking albums, major music festivals, and musician stunts from a variety of genres and time periods.
Undoubtedly, the intention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison in 1877 was a critical development in the history of music as it made music accessible to mass audiences in a reliable way. This was arguably the beginning of the very lucrative recording industry. Other important moments of technical innovation followed, including the introduction of the Stratocaster guitar by Leo Fender in 1954, Phil Specter’s “Wall of Sound” recording technique in 1962, the introduction of the compact cassette tape by Phillips in 1963 that made music more portable than records and allowed fans to create their own mix tapes, the introduction of compact discs in 1982 that allowed for greater storage of music in a portable format and the introduction of the first iPod by Apple in 2001 which brought even greater storage capacity, portability and mixability to the personal listening experience.
The launching of music publications, notably Billboard magazine which began publication in 1894 and published its first Music Popularity Chart in 1940. The magazine has continued to rank the popularity of recordings on numerous Hit Charts classified by genre. These rankings can have a highly influential effect on the fortunes of an artist’s recording.
The list of “Firsts” compiled by Stacker includes the recording of the first rock and roll song in in 1951, which was identified as “Rocket88” by Ike Turner. Other firsts listed by Stacker:
First recording by jazz and blues singer Bessie Smith in 1923. The recording of “Down Hearted Blues” made her an immediate success.
First display of teen fandom shown in 1942 when Frank Sinatra performed in New York City and “bobby soxers” crowded into Times Square, causing a riot to break out.
Harry Belafonte’s album “Calypso “ in 1956, which included the “Banana Boat Song” became the first record album to sell over 1 million copies in a single year.
First Grammy Awards ceremony was held in Beverly Hills, California, on May 14, 1959.
In 1987, Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2010, Nicki Minaj became the first female soloist to perform on seven singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at the same time.
In addition to Marley’s iconic performance, notable achievements by other musicians over the years listed by Stacker include :
- Elvis Presley’s hip-shaking performance on television’s Ed Sullivan Show in 1956.
- James Brown’s live performance before 1,500 fans at the Apollo Theater in Harlem in 1962.
- Live performance by The Beatles on American TV in 1964.
- Bob Dylan’s recording of “Like a Rolling Stone” marked the birth of modern rock in 1965.
- About half-a-million music fans attended the Woodstock music festival in upstate New York in 1969.
- In 1982, Michael Jackson released his “Thriller” album, which was a worldwide sensation and sold over 47 million copies globally.
- In 1983, Michael Jackson performed the moonwalk for the first time in public in a TV special honoring Motown.
- In 2009, Taylor Swift became the youngest person to win Entertainer of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards.
- In 2010, Michael Jackson got the biggest record deal in history with Sony Music for rights to his music—after his death.
- In 2010, Beyoncé became the first woman in history to win six Grammy Awards in one night.