Iconic Moments in Music History You Wish You Witnessed

Published on 08 February 2021

Do you ever wish that you had a time machine?

Us too! 

Well, strap yourselves in folks and hop on board the GG time machine as we transport ourselves back in time and dive into the iconic moments of music history.

These are the moments that rocked the musical world. We’re looking at the most groundbreaking and electrifying moments that impacted music as a whole and us, the fans!

Please note, we won’t be counting the deaths of any musicians as they are all equally as sad! We'll also be taking a look at events in chronological order because that totally makes sense. 

Okay, let's goooooo!

1956 - "The King" on The Milton Berle Show

You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog. This was not the first television appearance, nor even his first time appearing on the Milton Berle show for 21-year-old Elvis. This performance has great significance and one that would change his career forever - this was the birth of the famous 'Elvis Pelvis'! Every performance before this, Elvis was either singing a slow ballad or was restricted by an acoustic guitar, unable to show off his smooth moves.  But this particular moment was Elvis’ time to shine and put all his energy and moves into an overcharged and ‘scandalous’ performance of “Hound Dog.” After that, America very promptly named him the King of Rock and Roll after this performance, and quite rightly so. 

1961 - The Beatles first show at The Cavern Club

Sixty years ago, on February 9th, The Beatles made their debut at The Cavern Club. The band played a 1pm slot at the iconic Liverpool venue, featuring John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best on drums. It wasn't long until The Beatles soon established themselves as the venue's signature act, and went on to play there a total of 292 times between 1961 and 1963. Some fun facts for you - the band were paid a grand total of £5 for the gig and Geroge Harrison was almost denied entry to play because he was wearing jeans. 

Check out the video below of them playing The Cavern club, suited and booted, in 1962. 

1964 - The Beatles first live appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show

Exactly three years to the day that they made their first appearance at The Cavern Club, on 9th of February 1964, The Beatles made their US television debut on the Ed Sullivan show to an estimated 73 million viewers. Still  suited and booted, the band took to the stage and kicked off the British invasion. The performance launched America into a craze it's never seen before. Beatlemania had well and truly arrived. 

1967 - Jimi Hendrix's Guitar Goes up in Flames

Is it us, or did it just get a little bit hot in here? One of Jimi's most poignant moments in his career - the iconic guitar on fire moment. Jimi set alight his black Fender Strat at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967. Watch the video below to see the iconic spectacle... 

1969 - Woodstock 

Three (but really four) days of peace and love, fun, and music. It’s been over 50 years ago now since hundreds of thousands of people descended upon the 600-acre farm in Bethel, New York for the now-iconic Woodstock Music & Arts Fair. It was the mix of bands and artists - from The Grateful Dead to The Who, we can't think of a more perfect festival line up! Let’s be honest, I think we all wish we had witnessed Woodstock. 

1969 - Jimi Hendrix Plays Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock

This was more than a performance, this was a statement. Jimi Hendrix took to the stage on an early Monday morning (which totally beats getting up early for work, right?) to perform a passionate version of the American National Anthem, as a response to the anger felt towards the Vietnam War but also Jimi’s love for his country.

1969 - The Last Ever Public Performance by The Beatles

We covered their first performance, now we look at their last. The Beatles rooftop concert is the stuff of legend - even for the biggest band in the world. The 42-minute gig in on the rooftop of their Apple Corps office in the midst of a cold January day was their final live performance and became the grand finale of their documentary, "Let It Be"- marking the end of an era for many fans. 

1981 - The Birth of MTV 

Video killed the radio star... "ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll." Little did we know it at the time, but the launch of MTV would change the way we consumed music and would go on to lead some of the most significant moments in pop culture. MTV was the world's first 24-hour music video channel and originally was centered around helping artists gain exposure. Since its debut, MTV has helped connect us with music on another level and it's gotta be said the music industry owes a lot to MTV. 

1985 - Queen at Live Aid

Among greats such as Crosby, Nash & Stills, Black Sabbath, and The Who, it was Queen who stole the show at the Live Aid concert in 1985. In an energetic 21 minute set, the band packed in their ultimate showstopper classics such as We Are the Champions, Bohemian Rapsody, Radio Ga Ga, ending with the foot-stomper We Will Rock You. Freddie, being the phenomenal frontman he was, utterly captivated the 72,000 strong crowd and was sadly one of his last major performances.

1988 - Bruce Springsteen Plays East Berlin

“I’m Not Here For Any Government. I’ve Come to Play Rock” Bruce stated while playing the outdoor concert to 300,000 fans in 1988. In true Bruce fashion, he played an eyewatering 32 song setlist…a total of FOUR HOURS on stage. Pretty crazy, eh?

1993 - Nirvana MTV Unplugged Performance 

26 years ago, Nirvana took to the stage at Sony Music Studios in NYC to perform in front of a small hand-picked audience. Everything about this performance is truly magical, everything down to the staging - which was literally dressed for a funeral with white lilies and black candles. Sombre is the word that comes to mind.  The band's performance was the series’ most iconic episode, and even the cardigan worn that night by Cobain sold for a staggering £334,000. Reportedly unwashed and complete with a cigarette hole.

Final Thoughts

Well there you have it folks! The iconic moments in music history that we wish we had witnessed. We could have went on and on as they're are so many moments that impacted music and pop culture - we've only just scratched the surface here. Which moment would you love to have witnessed? 

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