A Chronology of Rock Music - The 1920s

Excerpted from my book "A History of Rock and Dance Music"

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Origins 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

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These, of course, are my personal opinions on when genres where invented, who invented them, and which were the most significant events. To understand how I justify these opinions you have to read my book "A History of Rock Music".

1920
  • Mamie Smith's Crazy Blues is the first blues by a black singer to become a nation-wide hit
  • Eric Satie composes music not to be listened to ("musique d'ameublement", furniture music)
  • Westinghouse Electric starts the first commercial radio station, "KDKA"
1921
  • 106 million records are sold in the USA, mostly published on "Tin Pan Alley", but control of the market is shifting to the record companies
  • Okeh introduces a "Colored Catalog" targeting the black community, the first series of "race records"
  • The Donaueschingen Festival of avantgarde music is founded
1922
  • Trixie Smith cuts My Man Rocks Me With One Steady Roll
  • Texan fiddler Eck Robertson cuts the first record of "old-time music"
  • Laszlo Moholy-Nagy advocates the use of phonograph records to produce music, not only to reproduce it
  • James Sterling buys out the British division of Columbia
1923
  • Bessie Smith cuts her first blues record
  • John Carson records two "hillbilly" songs and thus founds country music
  • Arnold Schoenberg completes his 12-tone system of composition (the first form of "serialism")
1924
  • The Music Corporation of America (MCA) is founded in Chicago as a talent agency
  • German record company Deutsche Grammophon (DG) founds the Polydor company to distribute records abroad
  • Andre' Breton publishe the "Surrealist Manifesto" in Paris
  • Riley Puckett introduces the "yodeling" style of singing into country music
1925
  • The Mills Brothers popularize the "barbershop harmonies"
  • Carl Sprague is the first musician to record cowboy songs (the first "singing cowboy" of country music)
  • The electrical recording process is commercially introduced, quickly replacing the mechanical one
  • Victor and Western Electric create the first electrical recording
  • 78.26 RPM is chosen as a standard for phonographic records because phonographs at that speed could use a standard 3600-rpm motor and 46-tooth gear (78.26 = 3600/46).
  • Nashville's first radio station is founded (WSM) and begins broadcasting a program that will change name to "Grand Ole Opry"
1926
  • Bing Crosby cuts his first record and invents the "crooning" style of singing thanks to a new kind of microphone
  • Blind Lemon Jefferson is the first bluesman to enter e major recording studio
  • Will Shade founds the first "jug band" in Memphis, inspired by Louisville's first jug bands
  • The magazine "Phonograph Monthly Review" is founded
  • Vitaphone introduces 16-inch acetate-coated shellac discs playing at 33 1/3 RPM (a size and speed calculated to be the equivalent of a reel of film)
  • The British magazine "Melody Maker" is founded
  • General Electric founds the "National Broadcasting Company" (NBC)
1927
  • Meade Lux Lewis cuts Honky Tonk Train, the most famous boogie woogie
  • Russian composer Leon Termen performs the first concerto with the "theremin"
  • Jimmie Rodgers, the first star of country music, adopts "yodeling" style of singing, the blues style of black music, and the Hawaian slide guitar
  • Classical composer Kurt Weill begins a collaboration with playwright Bertold Brecht, incorportating jazz, folk and pop elements in his soundtracks
  • Sales of "race records" reach $100 million
1928
  • The United Independent Broadcasters (later renamed Columbia Broadcasting System, or CBS) of 47 affiliate stations is founded
  • Clarence "Pinetop" Smith cuts Pinetop's Boogie Woogie
  • Maurice Martenot invents an electronic instrument, the Ondes-Martenot
1929
  • Decca is founded in Britain by Edward Lewis as a classical music company
  • RCA buys Victor Talking Machines
  • The "Great Depression" destroys the record industry
  • Blind Lemon Jefferson dies

Origins 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

Legend: Avantgarde | Music industry | Instruments | Media | Necrology | Exotic