A Chronology of Rock Music - The 1990s

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".

1990
  • Paradise Lost invents "doom-metal"
  • Meat Beat Manifesto invents "jungle" (or "drum'n'bass"), a fusion of hip hop and techno, that is adopted at the London club "Rage" by disc jockeys Fabio and Grooverider
  • Stevie Ray Vaughn dies
  • The Burning Man festival moves to Nevada's Black Rock desert
  • Warner merges with Time Life to become the world's largest media conglomerate
  • Polygram acquires A&M
  • MCA buys Geffen
  • EMI buys Chrysalis
  • Independent labels founded in 1990 include: Trance Syndicate, Drag City, Ninja Tune, Warp, Too Pure
  • Other significant albums of the year: Royal Trux's Twin Infinitives, Nick Cave's The Good Son, Fugazi's Repeater, Phish's Lawn, Cop Shoot Cop's Consumer Revolt
1991
  • Codeine's Frigid Stars invents "slo-core"
  • Molly Neuman forms the Bratmobile in Olympia, the first riot-grrrl band
  • Boom of Seattle's grunge (Nirvana's Nevermind, Pearl Jam's Ten)
  • The Primal Scream's Screamadelica fuses rock'n'roll and acid-house
  • Kyuss' Wretch coins "stoner" rock
  • Mariah Carey becomes the first artist ever to have her first five singles all make #1 on the Billboard charts
  • N.W.A.'s Efil4Zaggin (1991) is the first rap album to debut at the top of the charts
  • Revival of the melodic song in Britain ("Brit-pop")
  • The Prodigy's Charly pioneers "big beat"
  • Massive Attack's Blue Lines invents "trip-hop"
  • Garth Brooks' Ropin' the Wind is the first country album to debut at number one in the pop charts
  • The "Lollapalooza" festival is born as the road show accompanying Jane's Addiction's final tour, but soon becomes an itinerant display of alternative rock
  • Freddie Mercury of the Queen dies of AIDS
  • Johnny Thunders dies
  • Independent labels founded in 1991 include: Skin Graft, Kill Rock Stars, VHF
  • The Pro Tools software is introduced
  • A Paul Simon concert in Central Park draws an audience of 750,000 people
  • Miles Davis dies at 65
  • Billboard begins tallying albums based on actual sales at retail stores (not word of mouth)
  • Other significant albums of the year: Slint's Spiderland, Dogbowl's Cyclops Nuclear Submarine Captain, Type O Negative's Slow Deep And Hard, Unsane's Unsane, Jesus Lizard's Goat, Swans' White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity, Fugazi's Steady Diet Of Nothing
1992
  • Rage Against The Machine's first album fuses funk, rap and heavy-metal
  • Atari Teenage Riot wed techno and hardcore ("digital hardcore")
  • D.J. Shadow is the first virtuoso turntablist on record
  • The Pavement's Slanted And Enchanted launches lo-fi pop in the charts
  • Boyz II Men set the new record for the longest running # single with "End Of The Road"
  • Disc-jockey Gregor Asch (DJ Olive) organizes the first Lalalandia multimedia party in Williamsburg and coins the word "illbient"
  • MP3 is invented as a format to store music in computers
  • EMI acquires Virgin Records
  • The first edition of Michael Erlewine's "All Music Guide" is published
  • Willie Dixon dies at 77
  • Independent labels founded in 1992 include: Cleopatra, Thrill Jockey, Nothing
  • Other significant albums of the year: Morphine's Good, Dadamah's This Is Not A Dream, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282's Mother Of All Saints, Red House Painters's Down Colorful Hill, Babes In Toyland's Fontanelle
1993
  • Labradford's Prazision launches the revival of analogical keyboards
  • Beck's Loser is a folk song for the age of hip-hop
  • Pearl Jam's Vs sells one million copies the first week of release
  • Autechre's Incunabula turns dance music into an abstract art
  • LTJ Bukem's Music invents "ambient jungle"
  • In London techno and jungle merge and yield "techstep"
  • German disc-jockey Sven Vath's Accident In Paradise invents "progressive house" (or "trance")
  • The Transglobal Underground launch "transglobal dance"
  • Eric Miller founds the magazine "Magnet", specializing in independent rock
  • Polygram buys Motown
  • Frank Zappa dies of cancer
  • Kranky is founded in Chicago
  • The first "Other Minds Festival" for avantgarde music is held in San Francisco
  • Other significant albums of the year: Kenneth Newby's Ecology Of Souls, Vampire Rodents's Lullaby Land, Stereolab's Transient Random Noise Bursts With Announcements, Pain Teens's Destroy Me Lover, Mark Lanegan's Whiskey For The Holy Ghost, Morphine's Cure For Pain, Barkmarket's Gimmick, Girls Against Boys's Venus Luxure No 1 Baby, Sugarsmack's Top Loader
1994
  • Korn's first album fuses rap and grunge
  • Oval's Systemisch invents "glitch" music
  • Portishead's Dummy launches trip-hop
  • Simon Reynolds coins the term "post rock" for Bark Psychosis' Hex
  • Tortoise's first album leads the "post-rock" generation
  • The British government enacts the "Criminal Justice Bill" aimed at curbing raves
  • 4 Hero's Parallel Universe introduces jazz in jungle
  • Sub Dub spearhead the fusion of hip hop, ambient house, middle-eastern folk and dub, the precursor to the "illbient" scene
  • Green Day's Dookie is the best-sold punk-rock album of all times
  • Piero Scaruffi begins work at this chronology
  • Kurt Cobain of Nirvana commits suicide
  • Independent labels founded in 1994 include: Rather Interesting
  • Polygram acquires 50% of Def Jam
  • University of North Carolina's college radio station WXYC becomes the first radio station in the world to broadcast its signal over the Internet
  • Other significant albums of the year: Lisa Germano's Geek The Girl, Nine Inch Nails's The Downward Spiral, Magnetic Fields's The Charm Of The Highway Strip, Aurora's Dimension Gate, Von Lmo's Cosmic Interception, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Orange, Today Is The Day's Willpower
1995
  • The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum opens in Cleveland
  • Legendary disc-jockey Wolfman Jack dies
  • Vivian Stanshall of the Bonzos dies
  • Sterling Morrison of the Velvet Underground dies
  • Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead dies, after performing 2,200 live concerts
  • The Chemical Brothers' Exit Planet Dust invents "big beat" that fuses techno and rock
  • Seagram acquires MCA
  • Independent labels founded in 1995 include: Digital Hardcore
  • Other significant albums of the year: Lightwave's Mundus Subterraneus, Lycia's The Burning Circle And Then Dust, Air Liquide's The Increased Difficulty Of Concentration, Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill, Low's Long Division, Bardo Pond's Bufo Alvarius, Fugazi's Red Medicine
1996
  • DJ Spooky's Songs Of A Dead Dreamer (Asphodel, 1996) launches the "illbient" scene of New York with a chaotic and non-melodic fusion of drum & bass, hip hop, dub
  • Naut Humon organizes "Recombinant", a multimedia festival for electronic musicians, in San Francisco
  • Two rap singles reach the #1 spot in the pop charts
  • "Macarena" is the biggest dance craze since the twist (one of its mixes stays at #1 for 14 weeks)
  • Jeffrey Lee Pierce of the Gun Club dies
  • Mariah Carey's One Sweet Day tops the U.S. charts for an unprecedented 16 weeks
  • The DVD is introduced in Japan
  • Disc-jockey Paul Oakenfold launches "Goa Trance" at the "Full Moon Party"
  • BMG buys Windham Hill
  • Independent labels founded in 1996 include: Alien8
  • Tupac Shakur is murdered
  • Other significant albums of the year: Black Tape For A Blue Girl's Remnants Of A Deeper Purity, Tortoise's Millions Now Living Will Never Die, Labradford's Labradford, Windy & Carl's Drawing Of Sound, For Carnation's Marshmallows, Neurosis's Through Silver In Blood, Subarachnoid Space's Delicate Membrane, Vas Deferens Organization's Transcontinental Conspiracy, Polvo's Exploded Drawing
  • Youstol Dispage tops the charts
1997
  • Roni Size's New Forms blends jungle's breakbeats with live instruments and singing
  • Matmos uses "organic" samples (noises, not instruments) to compose music
  • Elton John's Candle in the Wind becomes the best-selling song of all times, passing Bing Crosby's White Christmas
  • Armand Van Helden develops "garage" music
  • Laura Nyro dies
  • Tim Taylor of Brainiac dies
  • John Denver dies
  • Fela Anikulapo Kuti dies of AIDS
  • The "Terrastock" festival for psychedelic music is held in Providence (Rhode Island)
  • Nusrat Fateh Ali dies
  • Other significant albums of the year: Hash Jar Tempo's Well Oiled, Built To Spill's Perfect From Now On, Gravitar's Now The Road Of Knives, Dissolve's Third Album For The Sun, Amon Tobin's Bricolage
  • Townes VanZandt dies at 52
1998
  • The first portable MP3 devices are introduced
  • Seagram acquires Polygram and combines MCA and Polygram into the Universal Music Group, which thus comprises Polygram, MCA, Geffen, Mercury, Polydor, London, Vertigo, Verve, A&M, Island, Motown, Decca, DG
  • Other significant albums of the year: Dirty Three's Ocean Songs, Bran Van 3000's Glee, Calexico's The Black Light, Roy Montgomery's And Now The Rain
1999
  • Moondog dies at 83
  • Mark Sandman of Morphine dies
  • Shawn Fanning founds the Napster service that allows people to share music over the Internet
  • Revenues for the music industry peak at $23.7 billion
  • Barry Hogan organizes the first "All Tomorrow's Parties" festival in England
  • 'N Sync set the new record of sales in the first week of a new release (2.4 million copies)
  • "Option" ceases publication
  • The music world is ruled by five majors:
     1. Universal,
     2. Warner/Elektra/Sire/Atlantic,
     3. Sony/Columbia/Epic,
     4. EMI/Virgin/Capitol/Chrysalis,
     5. BMG/Jive/Private/American/Windham Hill.
  • The world's music market is worth 38 billion dollars. The five "majors" control 95% of the albums sold in the world, and 84% of the 755 million albums sold in the USA:
  • Independent labels founded in 1999 include: Absolutely Kosher, Tiger Style
  • Marc Doyle founds the metascore website metacritic.com

  •  1. Universal with 27% (26.3% in the USA),
     2. Warner with 20% (15.7%),
     3. Sony with 18% (16.2%),
     4. EMI with 16% (9.4%),
     5. BMG with 14% (16%).
  • The USA accounts for 37% of world sales, Japan for 16.7%, Britain for 7.6%, Germany for 7.4%, France for 5.2%, Canada for 2.3%, Australia for 1.7%, Brazil for 1.6%, Holland for 1.5%, Italy for 1.4%.
  • Other significant albums of the year: Black Heart Procession's 2, Heather Duby's Post To Wire, Hash Jar Tempo's Under Glass
  • Independent labels founded in 1999 include: Family Vineyard
  • The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festivals is born

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

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