Lennon -- singer, songwriter and guitarist for the Beatles --
is shot and fatally wounded in front of his residence in New York
City on Dec. 8.
MTV (Music Television) launches Aug. 1, airing its first music video, "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles, permanently altering the pop music industry.
Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five releases "The Message," an early demonstration of technical innovation that would forever change hip hop.
Michael Jackson releases "Thriller," the world's all-time best selling album, with roughly 51 million albums sold.
Smiths, one of the most influential alternative-rock bands in
Britain in the '80s, releases its first album, "The Smiths."
U2 plays Red Rocks in Colorado -- a concert that arguably launches the Irish group's career.
Michael Jackson receives hospital treatment after a filming accident on the set of a Pepsi commercial causes his hair to catch fire.
Madonna performs "Like a Virgin" at the first MTV Video Music Awards.
Parental Advisory stickers, affixed to album covers to warn listeners of explicit language, introduced.
Live Aid, a multi-city rock concert, is held for the first time to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.
Beastie Boys releases "Licensed to Ill," the first rap album to top Billboard's Pop Albums chart.
Prince releases "Sign 'O' the Times," an eclectic double-album and a symbol of pop music in the late 1980s.
Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine releases "Let It Loose," which
helps pave the way for subsequent Latin pop stars, such as Ricky
New Kids on the Block releases "Hangin' Tough," and junior high schoolers everywhere are pleased.
N.W.A., a hip hop group from the West Coast, releases "Straight Outta Compton," a controversial album due to subject matter and profane language, but profoundly influential on gangsta rap.
2 Live Crew's album, "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" is banned, sparking a major debate over free speech in music.
Vanilli (Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus) is exposed for lip syncing.
Curtis Mayfield is paralyzed when lighting equipment falls on him while playing on stage in Brooklyn. He dies in 1999.
Garth Brooks releases country music classic "No Fences," which sells 30 million copies.
Judas Priest, a heavy metal band from England, is accused by parents of promoting suicide in songs.
Massive Attack releases "Blue Lines," the first of numerous albums to heavily influence the trip-hop genre.
Nirvana releases "Nevermind" and projects grunge rock into the mainstream.
Michael Jackson is accused of sexual abuse.
Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana, commits suicide.
Dave Matthews Band releases "Under the Table and Dreaming" -- and helps
bridge the gap between mainstream and hippy music (Phish).
Guitar great Jerry Garcia, leader of the rock-blues band Grateful Dead, dies from a heart attack.
2Pac, gangsta-rap symbol revered for his album "Me Against the World," is murdered in Las Vegas.
legend Notorious B.I.G. (Business Instead of Game) is shot and
killed in Los Angeles.
Michael Hutchence, singer for Australian-Canadian rock group INXS, is found dead in his hotel room.
Britney Spears, a former member of the Mickey Mouse Club, releases "…Baby One More Time," launching her pop music -- and pop culture -- career.
Napster, a music file-sharing platform, sends waves through the industry by allowing people to download music to their computers for free.
Following a public dispute over the rapper's use of the word "fag,"
Eminem (Marshall Mathers) and Elton John play together at the
American Idol, the hugely popular music talent contest television show, airs for the first time. Kelly Clarkson wins!
Knowles releases the album, "Dangerously in Love," launching her
solo R&B career.
Britney Spears and Madonna kiss on stage while performing at the Grammy Awards.