Music Monday: An Eclectic List of Musical Firsts

For whatever reason, I have always been fascinated by the “first” of things.

So I thought I’d spend some time searching the web and looking for some historic firsts in the world of music. I’m sure there are many other categories I could come up with, but the ones shown below will do for now. For awards shows, I selected what is considered to be the most prestigious award for those shows.

First music video on MTV:

  • Video Killed the Radio Star (1981)

First album and single to go platinum, signifying 1,000,000 units sold:

  • Album: The Eagles’ “Eagles/Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975” (1976)
  • Single: Johnnie Taylor’s “Disco Lady” (1976)

First Grammy Award for Album of the Year:

  • The Music From Peter Gunn by Henry Mancini (1958)

First Entertainer of the Year, Country Music Awards 

  • Male: Eddy Arnold (1967)
  • Female: Loretta Lynn (1972)

First MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year

  • The Cars for the video “You Might Think” (1984)

First Movie to have a musical score for an orchestra:

  • Birth of a Nation (1915)

First Musical Instrument:

  • The date and origin of the first device considered a musical instrument is disputed. The oldest object that some scholars refer to as a musical instrument, a simple flute, dates back as far as 67,000 years.

First Song:

  • Most historians point to “Hurrian Hymn No. 6,” an ode to the goddess Nikkal that was composed in cuneiform by the ancient Hurrians sometime around the 14th century B.C. for the title of oldest extant song.

First Recorded Song:

  • The first-ever piece of music to be recorded was the French folk song “Au clair de la lune”, sung by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. He recorded it on April 9th, 1860, using his invention, the Phonautograph

First song converted to MP3 format, which led to the groundbreaking Napster

  • Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega

At some point, I may add to this list. Items to add may include

  • first person/group inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
  • first song played on American Bandstand
  • first group to perform at halftime of a Super Bowl

If anyone has any interesting firsts related to music, I’d love to hear them!

26 thoughts on “Music Monday: An Eclectic List of Musical Firsts

  1. The Eagles and The Cars were two of my all two favorite bands. With the passing of Ric Ocasek about a month ago and Benjamin Orr nineteen years ago, the two main cogs of the Cars are no longer with us. So many talented musicians made up The Eagles, but I always loved Don Henley’s voice.

    1. thanks, Norah! When I came up with the idea, I thought it would just take about 30 minutes to write the blog. It turned into nearly three hours of work! But it was fun, I learned a few things, and I got a blog out of it!

  2. Great list!
    I don’t know if it qualifies as a real “first” but how about the first musical romance comic book? A-ha’s 1984 video that tells a romantic story with a mix of live-action and pencil-sketch animation.

    It still holds up 35 (!) years later. My son loves it too. When it came on the loud speaker at our pool he came running into the ladies’ locker room to show me how he liked to dance to it. I figured a teacher taught him about it in school when they were teaching the kids with autism how they could find songs on YouTube.

    I love it and I love even more that he wanted to share it with me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV11Xbc914

    1. thanks for the link, Susan. I had never heard of this, and it was fascinating to watch the video. Love the story of your son running into the ladies’ locker room to dance to the song!

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