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Seattle Music Map

An Insider's Guide to Seattle's Music History

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Seattle Music Timeline

1864 – 1925 VAUDEVILLE ERA
1903 — First Seattle Symphony performance.
1914 — Cornish College of the Arts opens.

1917 – 1933 CLASSIC JAZZ ERA


1920 — “Jelly Roll” Morton the “inventor” of jazz and Oscar Holden play the Entertainer’s Club.
1921 — Musical Arts Society denounces jazz as something that “tears down the moral fiber.”
1921 — Madame Mary Davenport-Engberg, first woman symphony conductor in U.S. history, becomes Seattle Symphony Conductor.

1937 – 1951 JACKSON STREET JAZZ HEYDAY


1941 — Woody Guthrie commissioned to write “Roll on Columbia” – declared the Washington State folksong in 1987.
1942 — Founding of Seattle Youth Symphony, currently the largest youth symphony in the U.S.
1948 — Ray Charles arrives in Seattle & befriends fellow teenage jazzer Quincy Jones.
1958 — Desegregation, black musicians’ union joins white union, Local 76-493.

1959 – 1966 NORTHWEST GARAGE ROCK ERA


With agitated guitars, reckless bass chords and “evil” drum beats, the Northwest garage rock era affirmed everything parents believed was dangerous about rock and roll. But according to legendary guitarist Larry Coryell, during that historic time “…the kids in Seattle and the Northwest were [just] into a much stronger form of R&B than in any other parts of the country.”
1960 — The Ventures cut their #1 international hit, ”Walk—Don’t Run,” in Seattle...
1961 — The Wailers record their classic At The Castle LP live at the Spanish Castle Ballroom
1962 — Elvis Presley films It Happened at the World’s Fair in Seattle.
1963 — Seattle’s Jerden label issues the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie” which becomes a controversial worldwide hit.
1965 — The Northwest’s Paul Revere and the Raiders becomes the house band on Dick Clark’s TV show Where the Action Is.

1967 – 1970 FLOWER POWER, LIGHT SHOW


1968 – Jimi Hendrix first Seattle headlining gig at Seattle Center Arena.
1970 – Jimi Hendrix plays his last Seattle show, at south-end baseball park Sick’s Stadium.

1971 – 1976 TAVERN ROCK ERA


1971 – Bumbershoot Arts Festival debuts.
1975 – Tacoma’s Diane Schuur debuts at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
1975–76 – Sax ace Kenny G cuts debut 45s with Seattle funk group Cold, Bold & Together.

1976 – 1983 PUNK ERA




1976 – Heart’s Dreamboat Annie released, Ann and Nancy Wilson gain international fame.
1979 – Bruce Pavitt launches photocopied zine Subterranean Pop in Olympia, which lays the foundation for Sub Pop Records.
1979 – The Rocket magazine debuts in October & covers the local music scene for two decades.
1984 – The Young Fresh Fellows’s LP, Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest, lauded as “perfect” by Rolling Stone.
1985 – Seattle initiates controversial Teen Dance Ordinance restricting young people’s access to music.
1985 – Local rocker, Duff McKagan joins Guns and Roses and becomes a star.
1986 – Tacoma’s Robert Cray finds worldwide fame with his Grammy-winning third album, Strong Presuader.
1986 – CZ Records Deep Six compilation showcases new hybrid “grunge” sound of punk and heavy metal.
1988 – DJ Nasty Nes hosts Seattle’s first radio hip hop show, “Rap Attack,” on KCMU.

1989–1996 GRUNGE ERA


The early 1990s saw top Northwest bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, & the Screaming Trees ruling all of rockdom.
1990 – Future super group, Temple of the Dog record released. Pearl Jam forms from this group.
1991 – Nirvana’s Nevermind hits #1 and breaks new grunge
genre to world.
1991 – Feminist wave, Riot Grrrl movement starts in Olympia, gains international attention.
1994 – Death of Nirvana frontman,
Kurt Cobain.
1996 – Film Hype, exposes grunge movement, creates more hype.

1997. . . FROM MUSIC SCENE TO MUSIC INDUSTRY


2000 – First Rockrgrl Music Conference.
2000 – Experience Music Project music museum opens.
2001 – First Vera Project concert on January 27th at IBEW Union Hall, Local 46.
2003 Mayor Greg Nickels creates official Seattle Music Office and commissions a ground-breaking economic impact study, revealing $1.3 billion in annual revenues and nearly 8,700 jobs generated by Seattle’s growing music industry.

1864 1925 VAUDEVILLE ERA

1917 1933 CLASSIC JAZZ ERA

1937 1951 JACKSON STREET JAZZ HEYDAY

1959 1966 NORTHWEST GARAGE ROCK ERA

1967 1970 FLOWER POWER, LIGHT SHOW

1971 1976 TAVERN ROCK ERA

1976 1983 PUNK ERA

19891996 GRUNGE ERA

1997. . . FROM MUSIC SCENE TO MUSIC INDUSTRY