50 Key Events in Rock Music History

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,

A look at 50 of the most important events in the history of rock music, from the early days of rock and roll to the present day.

The Beatles

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they became widely regarded as the foremost and most influential music band in history. Rooted in skiffle and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later utilised several genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical elements in innovative ways during the height of their popularity. Their clothes, styles, and writings influenced young people of the time and helped shape the culture of the 1960s.

The Rolling Stones

Formed in London in 1962, The Rolling Stones rose to prominence in the late 1960s and have become one of the most iconic and influential bands in rock music history. Here are 50 key events in the band’s remarkable career.

1. The Rolling Stones make their live debut at London’s Marquee Club on July 12, 1962.

2. The band releases their debut album, “The Rolling Stones,” in April 1964.

3. The Stones have their first number one single in the UK with “I Wanna Be Your Man” in November 1963.

4. The band makes their US live debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall on October 1, 1964.

5. The Stones release their second album, “The Rolling Stones No. 2,” in January 1965. It reaches number one in the UK and features the singles “The Last Time” and “Satisfaction.”

6. The Stones embark on their first major UK tour, culminating with a show at London’s Wembley Stadium on September 5, 1965.

7. The band releases “Out of Our Heads” in September 1965, featuring the singles “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Get Off of My Cloud.” The album reaches number one in the US and UK. Shortly afterwards, the band embarks on their first major US tour.
8 The tape of an interview with Mick Jagger is played backwards on radio station KHJ in Los Angeles, resulting in controversy over its allegedly obscene content. 9 The Stones release “Between the Buttons” in January 1967, featuring the singles “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday.” 10 Mick Jagger is arrested for possession of drugs during a party at Keith Richards’ house, Redlands, sparking a media frenzy surrounding Britain’s so-called decadent `permissive society.’ 11 In May 1967, The Rolling Stones release their controversial single “We Love You,” which is promptly banned by several radio stations due to its reference to illegal drug use (`We love you’). 12 Brian JonesLeave leaving studio during recording sessions for Beggars Banquet he would never return playing only harmonica on Street Fighting Man 13 January 1968 Saw them return to Olympic Studios to complete work that had been interrupted by Brian’s hospitalization 14 On June 3rd 1968 they released Beggars Banquet it would be thE last album to Include Brian Jones 15 July 5th 1969 – Brian�s replacement – 20 year old Mick Taylor – made his public debut with the band 16 August 1969 they headlined at Woodstock playing an extended set which included parts of St Louis Blues 17 they begin work what will become Let it Bleed but without Brian 18 November �69 saw them return to America this time appearing on Ed Sullivan show 19 a week later they make Their live return to British soil with a free concert Hyde Park 20 December 6th �69 saw them headline a gig which saw 350 000 people descend onto altamont speedway it ended In tragedy as 18 year old Meredith Hunter was stabbed To death by Hells angels security guards 21 may 1970 saw them Release let it bleed no 1 In both America And Britain it includes Gimme Shelter And you can�t always get want You want 22 july 1970 saw keith ricHards Charged With `causing grievous bodily harm For hitting photographer robin bailey round head with poker 23 september 1970 saw mick marriage An model bianca jagger giving birth 24 march 1971 sees Exile On Main Street recorded In France 25 may 1971 sees Single brown sugar/Bitch reach no 1 In both Britain And America 26 august 1971 sees Release sticky fingers Includes brown sugar Wild horses Can’t you hear me knocking 27 september 1971 sees Start Of american tour features Ronnie wood Making his stones debut 28 june 1972 sees Release Of brain Jones’ posthumous credit portfolio 29 november 1972 Ses Release roots rock revolutionaries Live Concert Recording 30 march 1973 Sees Mick Convicted drink driving Fined £200 given three month driving ban 31 march 1974 seeS Them Start Another exhaustive american tour 32 may 1974 seeS Release It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll but I Like It reaches no 2 In both countries 33 july 1974 Ses Release ronnie Wood officially joins band 34 1975 sees them take A break from touring 35 february 1975 sees Release black and blue features Miss you Fool To Cry Hot Stuff 36 september 3rd 1975 sees Opening Of rolling stones Archive exhibition In new york 37 april 1976 Sees Recording Some girls begins 38 june 1977 sees Exile On Main Street reissued hits no 1 once again 39 july 1977 They Play Their last ever uk gig Knebworth Festival 40 september 1978 They Play First london date since hyde park 11 years

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author, musician, and artist who has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. His music has shaped generations of artists and listeners, and his influence can be seen in every corner of the musical landscape. Here are 50 key events in Bob Dylan’s career, from his first album to his performance at the Nobel Prize ceremony.

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin was an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. With their heavy, guitar-driven sound, they are regularly cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal.

Pink Floyd

Formed in London in 1965, Pink Floyd initially earned a following as part of the city’s underground music scene, playing experimental and psych-influenced music. They would eventually become one of the most commercially successful and influential rock bands of all time, with hits like “Another Brick in the Wall,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “Comfortably Numb.” However, they also experienced significant internal turmoil, particularly during the 1970s when founding member Syd Barrett’s mental health deteriorated.

The Who

The Who is an English rock band that formed in 1964. The group consists of Roger Daltrey (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Pete Townshend (guitar, vocals, keyboard), John Entwistle (bass guitar, horns, vocals) and Keith Moon (drums, percussion). The Who is considered to be one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. The group has sold over 100 million records worldwide.

The Who rose to fame in the United Kingdom with their 1964 single “I Can’t Explain”. The song reached number eight on the UK Singles Chart. The group’s next single, “My Generation”, became a worldwide hit and peaked at number two on the UK chart. The song is regarded as an anthem for the mod subculture. The Who’s 1965 debut album, My Generation, was a critical and commercial success. It reached number two on the UK Albums Chart and number five on the US Billboard 200.

The Doors

The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, with vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore. The band got its name from the title of Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception. They were one of the most controversial and influential rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s due largely to Morrison’s lyrics and his erratic stage persona. They were unique for their time because they attempted to combine elements of different genres including rock, jazz, blues, and classical music.

The Doors released their self-titled debut album in 1967 which contained their breakthrough single “Light My Fire”. The single spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The success of the album led to a tour of the United States and Europe.

The Doors’ second album, Strange Days, was released in 1967 and reached number three on the Billboard 200 chart. The lead single “People Are Strange” peaked at number 12 on the Hot 100 chart. The album was certified platinum by the RIAA.

The band’s third album, Waiting for the Sun, was released in 1968 and reached number one on the Billboard 200 chart. The lead single “Hello, I Love You” topped the Hot 100 chart for two weeks. The album was certified gold by the RIAA.

The Doors’ fourth album, The Soft Parade, was released in 1969 and reached number six on the Billboard 200 chart. The lead single “Touch Me” peaked at number three on the Hot 100 chart.

After a lengthy period of touring throughout 1969 and 1970 to support their albums, tensions began to mount between Morrison and the rest of bandmates due to his increasing alcoholism and drug abuse which led to erratic behavior onstage and offstage. On July 3, 1970, Morrison died in Paris from an apparent heart attack at age 27.

Despite Morrison’s death, Densmore Manzarek Krieger decided to continue as a trio and released two more albums: Other Voices (1971) Full Circle (1972) before disbanding permanently in 1973.

Jimi Hendrix

Few electric guitarists have exerted as profound and pervasive influence on rock music as Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix expanded, redefined, and ultimately transcended the role of the electric guitar in popular music. Unmatched in his ability to evoke sonically textures ranging from searing white-hot pentatonic blues to psychoacoustic feedback, Hendrix was able to conjure up new sonic possibilities for the electric guitar that had not been previously explored. In so doing, he inadvertently created an entirely new vocabulary for rock guitarists that would prove to be an endless source of inspiration for generations of future players.

David Bowie

David Bowie was born on January 8, 1947, in Brixton, London. He was a musical pioneer who changed the face of rock music. He is known for his eclectic skills as a songwriter, singer, actor, and producer. He has sold over 140 million records and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame. Bowie passed away on January 10, 2016, after a battle with cancer.


Formed in London in 1970, Queen was one of the longest-lasting and most commercially successful bands of the classic rock era. With their blend of hard rock, glam rock, and camp theatrics, they exerted a powerful influence on the development of popular music. The band’s classic lineup was Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (guitar, vocals), John Deacon (bass guitar), and Roger Taylor (drums, vocals).

Queen’s 1977 album News of the World contained the smash hits “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions,” which have become anthems at sporting events around the world. The band reached new heights of popularity with their 1980 album The Game , which featured another batch of Queen classics such as “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

In 1985 Queen joined forces with singer David Bowie for “Under Pressure,” one of the most successful collaborations in rock history. That same year, Queen made an appearance at Live Aid, one of the largest charity concerts ever held. A return to form took place with The Miracle (1989) and Innuendo (1991), two albums that proved that Queen were still a force to be reckoned with after more than two decades in the business.

In 1992 John Deacon retired from active duty with Queen, but the remaining members soldiered on as a trio. They recorded Made in Heaven (1995), a collection of previously unreleased tracks that became a posthumous tribute to Freddie Mercury , who died in 1991 after a battle with AIDS. With Brian May and Roger Taylor taking on lead vocal duties, Queen carried on as a touring and recording entity into the 21st century.

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