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The Cleveland Music Timeline 

How exactly we came to be the Rock capital of the world

1938 Leo Mintz opens Record Rendezvous, one of the country's first record shops

July 1951

Alan Freed gets job at WJW radio, starts "The Moondog Rock & Roll House Party," sponsored by Mintz

March 21, 1952 The first rock concert, the Moondog Coronation Ball, ends after one song by Paul Williams when 20,000 show up to oversold Cleveland Arena; Freed's popularity soars

Feb. 26, 1955

Tommy Edwards and WERE radio bring an unknown Elvis Presley to town for the Circle Theater's "Hillbilly Jamboree"

1958 Baldwin-Wallace's WBWC becomes the U.S.'s first totally student-funded and -operated radio station

1958 O'Jays form in Canton, originally as the Triumphs and the Mascots before becoming the O'Jays in 1963

1961 Robert Johnson protégé Robert Lockwood Jr. moves to Cleveland from Chicago and puts out adventurous, creative albums and plays locally until his death in 2006 at 91

1962 Stan Kain takes over La Cave at 10615 Euclid, books Velvet Underground, Simon & Garfunkel, Jimi Hendrix, Judy Collins, and Neil Young, among others

1962 Jane Scott premieres her teen music column in The Plain Dealer

1963 DJ/television performer Ernie Anderson hosts WJW's horror movies as Van Dyke-sporting hipster alter-ego Ghoulardi, inspiring future musicians from the Cramps to Pere Ubu

1964 Upbeat Show debuts on WEWS Channel 5 as The Big Five Show, later changing its name for syndication around the country, peaking at more than 100 stations. Show runs through 1971

June 27, 1964

The Valentinos release "It's All Over Now" by Bobby Womack and his sister-in-law Shirley Womack; a month later, Rolling Stones turn it into their first #1 hit

Sept. 15, 1964 Beatles show at Public Hall creates such a furor that Mayor Ralph Locher bans them

Nov. 3, 1964 Rolling Stones play Public Hall, supporting their second album, 12x5, featuring mostly covers, including "It's All Over Now"

Late 1965 Mike & Jules Belkin form Belkin Productions, book first show in early 1966; they become one of the country's top concert promoters. The company today is part of Live Nation

Dec. 12, 1965 WIXY 1260 AM starts its climb to the top of the Cleveland radio pack with off-the-wall promotions keyed by teenage program director Eric Stevens and lively young DJs like Jack Armstrong and later Dick Kemp

Feb. 26, 1966 Agora Theatre and Ballroom open in Little Italy on Cornell Road as a college club near the Case Western Reserve campus

April 16, 1966 Begun as the band the Starfires, the Outsiders achieve their biggest success with Top 5 hit "Time Won't Let Me"

Aug. 14, 1966 Beatles ban doesn't last: They play to 20K at Municipal Stadium on final U.S. tour; the concert is stopped for 30 minutes when fans overrun the barriers

Nov. 25, 1966 First paid gig at the Coffee House by the Mr. Stress Blues Band, then featuring guitarist Glenn Schwartz, and later, other local icons including Peter Laughner, James Gang bassist Dale Peters, and drummer Anton Fier

1967 Agora moves to East 24th St., below Agency Recording, where David Bowie once spent all night mixing and mastering a show with Iggy Pop at the Agora earlier in the evening

Feb. 26, 1967 Case radio station WRUW 91.1 FM signs on

Dec. 9, 1967

Otis Redding performs at Leo's Casino club, dies in plane crash heading to Madison, Wisconsin, the next day

January 1968 Glenn Schwartz quits the James Gang on Sunday (to join Pacific Gas and Electric); Joe Walsh solicits the empty slot on Monday

Summer 1968

Blossom Music Center opens as home of the Cleveland Orchestra and starts booking rock shows the following year, including Blood Sweat & Tears and Janis Joplin

June 7, 1969 John Carroll radio station WJCU 88.7 FM signs on (initially as WABU and later WUJC)

June 27, 1970 James Gang plays at Public Auditorium with the Who and James Taylor (!!??). The Who ask them to open on their upcoming U.K. tour. A few weeks later they release their biggest album, James Gang Rides Again, led by the hit "Funk #49"

July 1970 First issue of Scene is published; staff celebrates by getting wasted, decides to make a second issue

Summer 1972 Raspberries form in 1970, rising from ashes of popular local acts Cyrus Erie and the Choir, sign to Capitol, and release their self-titled debut of catchy Beatles-inspired power pop. Their debut single

"Go All the Way" climbs to #5

Aug. 1972 O'Jays release their first hit album, Backstabbers, fueled by the title track and chart-topper "Love Train"

Sep. 22, 1972 David Bowie plays his first U.S. date at Music Hall


The earliest six-piece form of

Devo plays its first show at the Kent State performing arts festival

July 1973 Denny Sanders brings his friend John Gorman from Boston to run WMMS; Gorman becomes architect of the station's glory years

June 16, 1974 Rocket From the Tombs debut at the Viking Saloon, featuring future Pere Ubu frontman David Thomas; shortly thereafter guitarist Peter Laughner would join and later Dead Boys Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz

June 23, 1974

Belkin Productions stages first World Series of Rock, featuring Beach Boys, Joe Walsh, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and REO Speedwagon

Fall 1974 Richfield Coliseum opens with Frank Sinatra show and huge traffic jam. Stevie Wonder plays a few weeks later

Nov. 28, 1975 Punk experimentalists Pere Ubu, formed from ashes of Rocket From the Tombs, release seminal punk single "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" b/w "Heart of Darkness"

1976 Cleveland State University radio

station WCSB 89.3 FM takes the air

July 9, 1976 John De Frasia puts a half-size replica of the HMS Bounty in the Phantasy Concert Club complex in Lakewood. When his daughter Michele takes over in the '80s, it becomes one of the area's most important venues for a decade, drawing acts like Public Image Ltd., the Jesus & Mary Chain, and Sonic Youth

Sept. 18, 1976 Steubenville's Wild Cherry take "Play That Funky Music" to #1, sell 2 million copies

March 12, 1977 Devo settle on a solid lineup and release their first single, "Mongoloid" b/w "Jocko Homo," followed later that year by their cover of "

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"

Oct. 21, 1977 After being rejected by everyone else, Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell becomes one of the first releases by Cleveland International Records. It eventually sells 43 million copies; in the summer of 1978, Meat Loaf and his label get gold record awards onstage during a concert at Blossom

1979 WMMS begins eight-year run as Rolling Stone's "Radio Station of the Year"

March 27, 1979 Ian Hunter releases "Cleveland Rocks" after initially releasing the song as "England Rocks" two years earlier, though he swears it was written with Cleveland in mind

July 30, 1980 A particuarly hard night of drinking between the members of Def Leppard, Judas Priest, and the Scorpions after a show at Public Hall inspires the latter to write "Blackout"

July 19, 1980

The 15th and final World Series of Rock takes place, with Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, J. Geils Band, Eddie Money, and Def Leppard

January 11, 1982 Akron's Waitresses release their debut, Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful, led by the durable classic

"I Know What Boys Like"

Aug. 25-26, 30-31, 1982

Michael Stanley Band draw 66,377 over

four nights at Blossom

October 1983 Auburn Records founder Bill Peters releases Cleveland Metal comp with Tim Stewart, putting Cleveland on the metal map and launching the career of locals Breaker, whose career took off in Europe

Fall 1984 Agora burns down, moves almost a year later to new East 55th St. location in the WHK building, where it remains to this day

June 1985 Mike Shea publishes the first issue of his fanzine Alternative Press from his bedroom

May 5, 1986 Cleveland chosen over New York, Memphis, Chicago, San Francisco, and other cities as site for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after pledging $65M in public money

Feb. 6, 1987 Release of Paul Shrader film Light of Day, starring Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett as siblings in a struggling Cleveland rock band; local musicians Mark Addison and Trent Reznor appear as musicians in another band

April 5, 1988 Cleveland resident Tracy Chapman signs to Elektra right out of college (Tufts) and releases her chart-topping self-titled debut, bouyed by the hit "Fast Car"

October 1, 1988 The R&B sibling group LeVert, featuring Sean and Gerald (sons of O'Jays founder Eddie Levert) score their first R&B #1 with "Addicted to You." Group released seven albums between 1985 and 1997, and Gerald had successful solo career before dying of an accidental overdose of prescription medications in 2006. Sean died in jail in 2008

1989 After working as a janitor at Right Tracks studio in exchange for free recording time, Trent Reznor releases Pretty Hate Machine; he recruits onetime roommate drummer Chris Vrenna (Marilyn Manson) and guitarist Richard Patrick (Filter)

1991 Beachwood High School and Oberlin grad Marc Cohn has Top 10 hit with "Walking in Memphis," wins Best New Artist Grammy

Sep. 1992 Grog Shop opens on Coventry Rd. in a space not much bigger than an efficiency apartment

1993 Mushroomhead play their first show; within a year, the band fills venues to over-capacity with fans who mimic their masks and costumes

June 7, 1993 Ground is broken on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Nov. 12, 1993 Belkin Productions opens the Odeon Concert Club in the Flats with a show by the Cranberries; they'd go on to bring in artists like Kid Rock and Oasis

June 21, 1994 Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, a rap quintet formed in 1991 in Cleveland's Glenville neighborhood, release their multi-platinum debut EP, Creepin on Ah Come Up

Sep. 2, 1995 Rock Hall opens with inaugural concert held at Municipal Stadium featuring Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, George Clinton, and the Kinks, among others; McDonald's signs must be covered to accommodate unnamed vegan artist

July 27, 1999 Canton's Macy Gray scores a hit with On How Life Is, which sells more than 6 million copies worldwide, led by the hit "I Try"

March 2000 Beachland Ballroom and Tavern open in Collinwood, becoming an off-the-beaten-path magnet for touring artists

April 2002 Plain Dealer legend Jane Scott retires

May 20, 2002 Akron's Black Keys release their debut album, The Big Come Up

Nov. 19, 2004 House of Blues opens in downtown Cleveland; a week later, the Raspberries reunite there for first show in 30 years

March 14, 2005

O'Jays become first Northeast Ohio act inducted into the Rock Hall, along with Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders

May 22, 2007 Bay Village's Kate Voegele reaches #6 on the Rock charts with her debut LP, Don't Look Away

Sept. 15, 2009 Kanye West protégé Kid Cudi releases his debut, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, which reaches #4 and goes gold

Aug. 3, 2011

Kid Cudi protégé Machine Gun Kelly signs to Puffy Combs' Bad Boy label, prepares 2012 release of his debut, Lace Up

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