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100 iconic moments from music history

  • Woodstock music festival draws nearly a half-million music fans

    Some 400,000 rock fans flooded an upstate New York farm for the multi-day Woodstock music festival in mid-August 1969. The hippie gathering would be remembered for countless memorable performances by the most famous musicians of the time, including Jimi Hendrix, who played a rock ’n’ roll version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

  • Johnny Cash records live album at a prison

    Johnny Cash, who was an early criminal justice reform advocate, recorded an album at the San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California in 1969. After it hit record stores on Independence Day of that year, the album would be certified gold in just over a month, and eventually achieved triple platinum in 2003.

  • The Beatles perform one last time

    The Beatles set up instruments at the top of their Apple Corps London headquarters for an impromptu 42-minute rooftop performance on Jan. 30, 1969. It would ultimately become the band’s last public performance ever and ended with the song “Get Back.”

  • Black Sabbath sets metal in motion

    Black Sabbath is credited with giving birth to the genre of heavy metal, with its first studio album of the same name released in 1970. It hit the 23rd spot on the Billboard charts.

  • Elton John releases seven consecutive albums

    The release of “Honky Chateau” in May 1972 marked the start of a run of seven #1 albums in a row for Elton John. “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Caribou,” “Elton John’s Greatest Hits,” “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,” and “Rock of the Westies” would go on to become extremely popular over the next three years, according to

  • David Bowie kills off Ziggy Stardust

    During a Ziggy and the Spiders concert on July 3, 1973, David Bowie announced that it was their last performance. It soon became apparent that it wouldn’t be Bowie’s last show, but the final appearance of his alter ego Ziggy Stardust, save for a brief resurrection in 1980. He’d soon emerge with a darker glam persona, complete with lightning bolt face paint.

  • Willie Nelson hosts his first Fourth of July Picnic

    Country musician Willie Nelson hosted his first Fourth of July Picnic at Hurlbut Ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas, in 1973 with a crowd of 40,000 fans. The music festival would go on to become a popular annual event for decades.

  • Dolly Parton releases Jolene

    “Jolene” became one of Dolly Parton’s first hit singles after its release in 1973. More than 30 singers have since covered the song, according to Tom Vitale of NPR Music. The country music star would revive the song as a duet with her goddaughter Miley Cyrus at the Grammy Awards in 2019.

  • Bob Marley and The Wailers release No Woman, No Cry

    The release of “No Woman, No Cry” in 1975 would propel Bob Marley into the role of international reggae star. He’s the only reggae musician “to achieve iconic status,” according to Sean O’Hagan of The Guardian.

  • Saturday Night Fever becomes one of the bestselling soundtracks

    John Travolta and the Bee Gees pushed disco into the mainstream with the general release of the soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever” in 1977. It would become one of the bestselling movie soundtracks of all time, according to Austin Thompson of Mental Floss.

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