A Chronology of Rock Music - The 1940s

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

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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".

1940
  • Disney's "Fantasia" introduces stereo sound
  • Pete Seeger forms the Almanac Singers to sing protest songs with communist overtones
  • Keynote is founded by Eric Bernay
1941
  • Arkansas' radio station KFFA hires Sonny Boy Williamson to advertise groceries, the first case of mass exposure by blues singers
  • "La Discotheque" opens in paris, a club devoted to jazz music
1942
  • Bing Crosby's White Christmas becomes the best-selling song of all times (and will remain so for 50 years)
  • Los Angeles bluesman T-Bone Walker incorporates jazz chords into the blues guitar with I Got A Break Baby
  • Capitol is founded in Hollywood, the first major music company which is not based in New York
  • Savoy is founded in Newark (NJ) by by Herman Lubinsky to promote black music
1943
  • The first "disc jockeys" follow the American troops abroad
  • The USA army introduces V-Discs that play six minutes of music per side
  • Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein produce the musical Oklahoma that uses choreographer Agnes de Mille to design the ballets
  • King is founded in Cincinnati by Sydney Nathan to promote black music
1945
  • Les Paul invents "echo delay", "multi-tracking" and many other studio techniques
  • Sam Hoffman plays the theremin in film soundtracks
  • White bluesman Johnny Otis assembles a combo for Harlem Nocturne that is basically a shrunk-down version of the big-bands of swing
  • Mercury is founded in Chicago
  • Jules Bihari founds Modern Records in Los Angeles, specializing in black music
  • Bill Monroe's Kentucky Waltz popularizes the "bluegrass" style
1946
  • Louis Jordan launches "jump blues" with Choo Choo Ch'Boogie
  • Muddy Waters cuts the first records of Chicago's electric blues (rhythm and blues)
  • Carl Hogan plays a powerful guitar riff on Louis Jordan's Ain't That Just Like a Woman
  • Damstadt in Germany sets up a school for avantgarde composers
  • Raymond Scott founds "Manhattan Research", the world's first electronic music studio
  • Lew Chudd founds Imperial Records in Los Angeles, specializing in black music
  • The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) film company opens a recording business to sell their movie soundtracks
  • Specialty Records is founded by Art Rupe in Los Angeles to specialize in black popular music
1947
  • Billboard's writer Jerry Wexler coins the term "rhythm and blues" for Chicago's electric blues
  • Roy Brown writes and cuts Good Rockin' Tonight in Texas
  • Six majors control the music market: Columbia, RCA Victor, Decca, Capitol, MGM, Mercury
  • The Hollywood-based tv program of Korla Pandit (John Red), pretending to be an Indian guru and playing a Hammond organ, publicizes exotic sounds
  • Chess Records is founded in Chicago by two Polish-born Jews to promote rhythm and blues
  • Ahmet Ertegun founds Atlantic in New York to promote black music at the border between jazz, rhythm and blues and pop
1948
  • Pete Seeger forms the Weavers, which start the "folk revival"
  • Detroit rhythm'n'blues saxophonist Wild Bill Moore releases We're Gonna Rock We're Gonna Roll
  • Columbia introduces the 12-inch 33-1/3 RPM long-playing vinyl record that can play 20 minutes on each side, invented by Peter Goldmark
  • Pierre Schaeffer creates a laboratory for "musique concrete" in Paris and performs a concerto for noises
  • Rodgers & Hammerstein's Tale Of The South Pacific introduces exotic sounds to Broadway
  • Leo Fender introduces its electric guitar (later renamed Telecaster)
  • Moe Asch founds Folkways, devoted to folk music
  • Ed Sullivan starts a variety show on national television (later renamed "Ed Sullivan Show")
  • Homer Dudley invents the Vocoder (Voice Operated recorder)
  • Memphis' radio station WDIA hires Nat Williams, the first black disc jockey
  • The magazine "Billboard" introduces charts for "folk" and "race" records
1949
  • Moondog virtually invents every future genre of rock music
  • Fats Domino cuts The Fat Man, a new kind of boogie
  • Hank Williams' Lovesick Blues reaches the top of the country charts
  • Scatman Crothers cuts I Want To Rock And Roll (1949), with Wild Bill Moore on saxophone
  • RCA Victor introduces the 45 RPM vinyl record
  • Fantasy is founded
  • Todd Storz of the KOWH radio station starts the "Top 40" radio program
  • The "Billboard" chart for "race" records becomes the chart for "rhythm and blues" records
  • German physicist Werner Meyer-Eppler publishes the book "Elektronische Klangerzeugung", about making music by purely electronic devices
  • Aristocrat changes its name to Chess

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

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