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100 iconic moments from music history

  • Ronald Reagan references Bruce Springsteen in 1984 campaign

    After Bruce Springsteen turned down a request to use “Born in the U.S.A” in former President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 reelection campaign, the conservative politician mentioned the musician in a speech, saying helping men like him make dreams come true is the purpose of the president’s job, according to Steven Inskeep of NPR Music. The Boss began criticizing Reagan for not really listening to his music shortly after, and he would soon become known as an outspoken liberal.

  • Live Aid raises $127 million in aid for Ethiopian famine

    In an effort to raise money and increase awareness for the famine in Ethiopia, musicians Bob Geldof and Midge Ure organized the Live Aid superconcert at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium and London’s Wembley Stadium, and broadcast it via satellite around the world. The concert had performances from more than 75 stars, including Queen, Madonna, Mick Jagger, and Elton John, and it would be watched by more than a billion people in 110 countries, according to History.com. Telethons during the event would raise $127 million for famine relief.

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  • 46 famous singers collaborate on We Are the World

    Dozens of the most famous singers in the United States teamed up in 1985 to record USA for Africa’s “We Are the World,” a charity single co-written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson. It would sell more than 20 million copies worldwide. Participants included Paul Simon, Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles, Cyndi Lauper, Ray Charles, and more.

  • Prince tops the Filthy 15 list

    After Tipper Gore heard her adolescent daughter listening to “Darling Nikki,” a provocative song by Prince, in 1985, she created the Parents Music Resource Center to lobby for censorship in the record industry. The PMRC developed its “Filthy 15” list of what it deemed were the most offensive songs of the time, featuring two of Prince’s tracks.

    [Pictured: Sally Nevius (left) and Tipper Gore (right) of the PMRC appear at a senate hearing at Capitol Hill.]

  • Aerosmith collaborates with Run-DMC

    In 1986, Aerosmith teamed up with Run-DMC to create a new version of its 1970s hit, “Walk This Way.” While the two musical groups were initially reluctant to collaborate, the hip-hop/rock hybrid creation became an international success, according to James Parker of The Atlantic.

  • Madonna kicks off her first world tour

    The singer began the “Who’s That Girl World Tour”—her first global concert series—in July 1987. Despite requests from Pope John Paul II to boycott her concert in Italy, the tour was considered a massive success, according to Joe Lynch of Billboard.

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  • Aretha Franklin becomes first female Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee

    In 1987, a year after the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first group of honorees, Aretha Franklin became the first woman to join the prestigious ranks. The “Queen of Soul” was just 25 when she released her legendary cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect.”

  • N.W.A. releases protest song against racial injustice

    California hip-hop group N.W.A. released its controversial song slamming racial injustice and police brutality, “F*** tha Police,” in 1988. Its title would become a pop culture slogan, while the track itself would live on as a protest anthem for decades to come. It would see a nearly 300% increase in streams 32 years later during the Black Lives Matter protests, according to Kory Grow of Rolling Stone.

  • Rosanne Barr butchers the national anthem

    Singing the national anthem was a career-defining moment for musicians like Whitney Houston and Jennifer Hudson. But when Roseanne Barr belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a televised baseball game on July 25, 1990, it would go down as one of the worst renditions in music history. She ended the performance by grabbing her crotch.

  • Whitney Houston gives iconic performance of The Star-Spangled Banner

    Wearing a memorable white jogging suit, Whitney Houston gave an iconic performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 1991 Super Bowl. Her rendition of the national anthem garnered unanimous acclaim.

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