Every culture has those moments where it defines, re-defines, or reaffirms itself. Rock is no different so here are my top defining moments in rock history.
10. The Kid is Not My Son: Michael's Moonwalk
May 25, 1983
Say what you will but Mike changed the game. And this is the moment the world looked up and said this isn't the same boy from the Jackson 5. It ushered in a new musical era.
9. Ladies and Gentleman, Rock and Roll: MTV Airs
August 1, 1981
For better or worse, after MTV music became a visual medium. Mostly MTV changed how people got music. Also like I said in my intro to channels month it gave music lovers a place to get info about music. Which leads me to.
8. Punk Rock 101: Kurt Cobain's Death
April 8, 1994
To this day nobody knows exactly why he did it. But most agree the Cobain had problems. He was the reluctant voice of a generation and he hated it. His death made people question how much of the look and style of rock existed because of it's icons and whether or not that might be a problem.
7.The Band May As Well be Working at a 7-Eleven: Courtney Says Fuck You to The Labels
June 14, 2000
I know. I'm going to get some flack from adding her to the list especially right after Kurt, but hear me out. Now a days people hate the record labels. A lot of that can be traced to a little speech Courtney Love gave in 2000. She pretty much spells out how the labels have been giving the screws to artists for years. That speech pretty much paved the way for how now days bands bypass the major labels entirely with myspace and itunes.
6. That's Enough!: The Who Literally Blow up on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
September 17, 1967
I don't how. I don't know why. But this moment so screams rock and roll. Damn you late great Keith Moon and your not telling anyone you added more explosives than planned.
All that leads me to the one where I'm going to cheat.
5. Where The Hell is Paul Revere When you Need him : First British Invasion
I wanted to stick to moments but well the British invasion is just too important and it's hard to find one defining moment for that thing. I'll get into why later but in the early 60's there was real doubt as to whether this rock and roll thing would survive. That is until the Brits got their hands on our old records. They dug it. A lot. It inspired them. Heck the Stones are named after an old Muddy Waters song. Rock and Roll wasn't dead. Rock was alive. Rock cried from the heavens, "Wherever there is a kid and a guitar I will live."
5. The Shot that Started The Heavy Metal Arms Race: Dave Mustaine Is Kicked out of Metallica
April 11, 1983
You young wiper-snappers and your Lady Gagas and Keshas. SLAP. Miles, you're only 23. Stop shaking your old man fist. Anyway in the 80's and early 90's there was a heavy metal arms race. The Triumvirate, Metallica, Anthrax, and Megadeth, were all trying to outdo each other in how complicated and how fast they could play. Yes ladies and gentlemen we have this era to thank for the double pedal.
Why? Because the lead guitarist and front man of Megadeth Dave Mustaine was kicked out of Metallica, and vowed he would be better than them. There is a bunch of stuff around that. It is a legendary rivalry.
But the result is what I want to focus on. It set up a competition in metal that lasted for over a decade and dominated the sound of rock and roll.
4. Metaphorically Flipping the Bird to the Queen Takes Balls: The Sex Pistols on The Thames
June 7, 1977
First off, The Sex Pistols did not invent punk. It was more a result of a convergence of attitudes and musicals styles of the mid to late 70's. That said this was big.
To understand have to know bit of non-musical history. In particular Jubilee day. I'm American so I'm talking a bit out of my ass on this one, but Jubilee day celebrates Queen Elizabeth II's ascension to the throne. In 1977, due to it being the 25th anniversary, there was to be a larger celebration than usual all culminating with a royal procession sailing down the river Thames. Two days before that was going to happen the Sex Pistols rented a boat and decided do sail down the Thames playing "God Save the Queen", and I don't mean the version the queen would have actually liked. Forevermore rock and roll would be about quasi-angrily sicking it to the man.
And yes we Americans did rip off the melody as "My Country Tis of Thee".
3. Sex, Drugs and Politics : Jimi Hendrix's National Anthem
August 17, 1969
There are disagreements as to why he did it and what he was trying to say, but Jimi's guitar shooting a machine gun, throwing grenades and manning the chopper, it was important. Rock was no longer just about kids having fun playing and listening. It was about how people saw the world and how they communicated those views through music and culture.
2. The Pelvis of Elvis: Hound Dog on Ed Sullivan
September 9, 1956
I'll admit it I rip on Elvis a lot for being a white guy who danced and sung like a black guy and was then credited for the creation of the entire genre, but there is no question that he widened rock's audience and helped define what rock and roll would look and sound like in that age. This right here was the moment America looked up and said this rock and roll thing might be important.
1. The Day the Music Died aka The Death of Richie Valens, the Big Bopper and Buddy Holly
February 3, 1959
Towards the end of the 1950's rock was being questioned. A lot of folks thought it was just a fad. Not only that but a lot of rock and roll legends were starting to become unable to practice their craft. Elvis was drafted in '57 and in '59 Chuck Berry was arrested and eventually imprisoned. All this came to a head in February 1959 when three of rocks legends died in a plane crash. It was the day the music died. Nobody knew what would happen to rock after that, but people knew it would never be the same.