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100 iconic moments from music history

  • John Lennon is murdered

    Mark David Chapman fired five shots at former Beatle John Lennon outside his residence at the Dakota apartment building in New York City on Dec. 8, 1980, killing him and shocking the world. Less than five years later, Central Park would open Strawberry Fields as a memorial to the late musician and peace activist.

  • Rapper’s Delight becomes first hip-hop song to make Top 40

    The first hip-hop song to make it on the Billboard Top 40 chart was “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang, in January 1980. The success of the single would help push hip-hop music into the mainstream.

  • MTV airs its first music video

    Just after midnight on Aug. 1, 1981, MTV aired the first music video on the fledgling network, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” by The Buggles. The new 24-hour music channel would help make TV a major driver of music sales in the coming decade, according to Michelle Starr of CNet.

  • Grandmaster Flash creates single with samples from at least nine artists

    The influential single "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel,” released in 1981, was the first to use samples from other songs, according to Sean O’Hagan of The Guardian. It had snippets of music from at least nine other artists, including Blondie, Queen, and the Sugarhill Gang.

  • Simon & Garfunkel perform in front of 500,000 people at Central Park

    Half a million people attended Simon & Garfunkel’s iconic concert at New York City’s Central Park in 1981. The show was recorded and released in 1982 as an album, reaching sixth place on the Billboard 200 chart.

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  • Michael Jackson releases Thriller

    Mega sensation “Thriller” was released in 1982. Michael Jackson's sixth studio album would become a bestseller, with more than 47 million copies purchased around the world, according to Rhian Daly of NME.

    [Pictured: Michael Jackson 1983 presented with the first Triple Platimum awards for the multi-platinum 'Thriller" album by Jane Fonda.]

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  • Compact discs enter music market

    Philips Records and Sony Music introduced compact discs to the world in 1982. The medium offered significantly more storage than other recording mediums. CDs would eventually become an extremely popular medium for music in the 1990s and 2000s.

  • Michael Jackson does the moonwalk

    The King of Pop performed the moonwalk for the first time in public in late March 1983, during a live recording of a TV concert special celebrating Motown. The legendary move would become Jackson’s signature showstopper, according to Lauren Effron and Susan Walsh of ABC News.

  • Cyndi Lauper releases Girls Just Want to Have Fun

    “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” was Cyndi Lauper’s breakthrough hit in 1983. The girl power anthem has been covered by at least 30 other artists in the past few decades.

  • Madonna performs Like a Virgin at 1984 Video Music Awards

    The singer gave one of her most memorable performances of all time, wearing a wedding dress and a belt with a “Boy Toy” buckle, when she sang “Like a Virgin” at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards. The song became the artist’s first #1 hit single.

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