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Firsts for the first

Since today is the first day of the new year, what I’m going to do is throw you some light and frivolous trivia on the firsts in music history, since we seem to be relegating music history to obscurity as time goes by, writes Luke Kenny.

music Updated: Jan 01, 2010 18:29 IST
Luke Kenny

Happy new year everyone, hope you all had a great holiday season and brought in the tenth year of the 21st century with great enthusiasm and style. Today, I’m not going to bore you with the best of lists of the past year, films, music bla bla bla, you’ve already read it all in the past few days.

But since today is the first day of the new year, what I’m going to do is throw you some light and frivolous trivia on the firsts in music history, since we seem to be relegating music history to obscurity as time goes by.

A little effort on my part to keep it in your memories will hopefully help to some extent in this random access world we currently live in.

So here goes: The first jukebox was installed in 1899 at the Palais Royal Hotel in San Francisco... I wonder what music it had on it. By the way, 1899 was also the birth year of Ernest Hemingway, Alfred Hitchcock, Duke Ellington, Vladimir Nabokov, Humphrey Bogart and er… Al Capone.

Back to the music, if you thought Pink Floyd were the laser show kings, then think again. The first lasers to be used in rock concerts was in 1976 when The Who were on tour.

Classic firsts
Speaking of Floyd, the first single the band ever released wasn’t even on an album. ‘Arnold Layne’, a song about a transvestite who steals womens’ underwear, was released in 1967 and was banned from London radio for being too risqué. Although it never featured on an album, it has since been included on various Pink Floyd compilations.

The Beatles have had many firsts, all of them being revolutionary, of course. The Beatles were the first to use reverse tapes, or backward loops in their song ‘Rain’. The first solo single by a Beatle was John Lennon’s, ‘Give peace a chance’ in 1969, and the first solo album by a Beatle was ‘McCartney’ by Paul McCartney.

Around the world
The first album to be officially released in the (then) USSR was Let it Be in 1972. The first cover of the first issue of the iconic Rolling Stone magazine featured John Lennon in 1967, and the first album to have printed lyrics was Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The first 24-hour music channel in the world was, as we know, MTV, but did you know some of the first videos that were played way back on August 1, 1981? ‘Video killed the radio star’ by Buggles is the most famous. Among others were, ‘You better run’ by Pat Benatar, ‘Brass in pocket’ by The Pretenders, ‘Iron maiden’ by Iron Maiden, ‘Once in a lifetime’ by Talking Heads, ‘Rapture’ by Blondie, and 55 others that changed the music world as we know it, for a short 20 years. But that’s all over now.

Some more crazy firsts: The first rap song to reach number one was ‘Ice ice baby’ by Vanilla Ice; the first compact disk to be pressed in the US was Born In The USA by Bruce Springsteen; the first double album to be released was Blonde On Blonde by Bob Dylan.

Personal memories
The first Queen song I heard was Bohemian Rhapsody, the first album I got on CD was Thriller by Michael Jackson; and the first music video I saw was Billie Jean by Michael Jackson.

And my first column appeared here on January 5, 2007; it’s been three years and I hope you’ve had a wonderful time reading so far as I have had writing, and as they say, we’ve only just begun… if I may say so.