Now the US magazine Entertainment Weekly has gone for the mother of all lists, purporting to chart "The 100 Greatest Moments in Rock". With true transatlantic swagger, its humble editors have taken it upon themselves to inform the waiting world of the crucial events that moulded the genre into its present form.
It will come as little surprise that British acts and achievements generally figure only in the shadow of American "Moments", and no other countries appears in the top 50, which was published this week.
The number one slot, in fairness, does go to The Beatles. But the particular event featured is the Fab Four's appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in the US on 9 February 1964. The set launched the band on its way to the status of superstars by attracting a record television audience of 73 million viewers, or 60 per cent of the viewing public, and led to the group holding five entries in the Billboard Hot 100 chart two months later.
Entertainment Weekly credits the group with launching a whole counter- culture, although the neatest fact in this entry is that John Lennon was apparently so nervous that he taped the lyrics for the five songs to be sung on to his guitar. (The songs were "All My Loving", "Till There Was You", "She Loves You", "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" - for those who urgently need to know).
Interestingly, the day that John met Paul at a church fete in Liverpool (6 July 1957), impressing the then Quarryman with his Eddie Cochran interpretations, ranks only 12th - which seems to be putting the cart before the horse.
Judging from the rest of the top 20, very little else has happened in Britain. The Beatles get another entry at 15 for Sergeant Pepper, while the Sex Pistols come one higher, and the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" charts at 18.
Air-guitar favourite "Stairway to Heaven", by Brum band Led Zeppelin, scrapes in at 20. All of them rate below the launch of MTV on this cultural seismic scale.
Few, however, would argue with The King getting a number three rating for his first session at the Sun Studios in Memphis on 5 July 1954.
Elvis was reportedly nervous, too, and tried to be a Dean Martin-type crooner right up to the last track of day, when he suddenly broke into an obscure black blues number called "That's All Right", gyrations and all, and the musical world was never the same again.
Bob Dylan going electric at the Newport Folk Festival on 25 July 1965 apparently had a similar effect - it comes in at number four. His move away from acoustic purity was greeted by cheers and boos in equal measure. After this, according to the authors: "Suddenly, and for ever afterward, pop had meaning." Man.
Michael Jackson doing his Moonwalk might surprise some by coming in at five, not to mention grunge merchants Nirvana at eight. But DJ Kool Herc, credited with the invention of hip-hop at his sister's birthday party in July 1973 (another one in July), gets "respect due" at number six.
Motown Records, Woodstock and James Brown are more predictable top-ten hits, while Chuck Berry is ranked second for giving birth to rock guitar as we know it with his first hit "Ida Red" on 21 May 1955.
The point of such lists is to provoke discussions between the similarly sad, and this one should do its job. Places 50 to 100 appear in the next issue.
Music, Review, pages 14-18
The Moments That Made A Mark
1. The Beatles
First appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.
2. Chuck Berry
Records his first hit, `Maybelline', in 1955.
3. Elvis Presley
Begins recording at Sun Records in 1954.
4. Bob Dylan
Goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.
5. Michael Jackson
Steals the show at the Motown 25th anniversary in 1983.
6. Cool Herc (Clive Campbell) invents hip-hop in1973
7. Berry Gordy Jr
Starts Motown Records in 1959.
In 1991 the band release the `Smells Like Teen Spirit' video.
The quintessential festival in 1969.
10. James Brown
Records `Live at the Apollo' in 1962.
11. The Ramones
In 1974 the band debuts at New York's CBGB club.
12. John Lennon and Paul McCartney
The pair meet in 1957 at a church social club.
The music station begins broadcasting in 1981.
14. The Sex Pistols
In 1977 the punk rockers play a live show on a boat sailing down the Thames.
15. The Beatles
`Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' released 1967.
16. American Bandstand
In 1957 the television show goes out across America for the first time.
The festival attracts 200,000 fans in 1967.
18. Keith Richards
In 1965 the Rolling Stone writes the riff to `Satisfaction'.
19. Elvis Presley
`Heartbreak Hotel' reaches No1 in the US in 1956.
20. Led Zeppelin
In 1977 the band record `Stairway To Heaven'.
At the MTV awards in1984 the singer performs `Like A Virgin' in a white wedding dress.
22. Phil Spector
In 1962 he invents the Wall of Sound, recording `He's A Rebel'.
23. Bruce Springsteen
The singer-songwriter appears on the covers of both `Time' and `Newsweek' in 1975.
24. Grandmaster Flash
Rap is re-invented in 1982, as the group release `The Message'.
25. Pete Townshend
The Who's guitarist smashes his guitar at London's Railway Hotel in 1964.
26. Aretha Franklin
The Queen of Soul makes her first recordings for Atlantic Records in 1967.
27. Bob Dylan
In 1961 the singer signs a recording deal with Columbia Records.
28. Bill Haley
`Rock Around The Clock' becomes a hit in 1955 after being the music to the drama `Blackboard Jungle'.
The festival in 1969 erupts in violence after Hell's Angels are hired as security.
30. The Kingsmen
In 1963 the band record `Louie Louie', the `ultimate anthem for raucous behaviour'.
DJs begin playing the music they like in 1967, rejecting corporate control.
32. John Lennon
The ex-Beatle is assasinated in New York by an obsessed fan, Mark Chapman, in 1980.
33. Brian Wilson
In 1964 the Beach Boys' leader suffers a nervous breakdown.
34. David Bowie
He unveils his Ziggy Stardust persona at the Toby Jug in Tolworth, England in 1972.
35. The Who
In 1965 the band record the teen anthem `My Generation' which is banned by the BBC.Reuse content