Including Kurt Cobain's death, Napster and OK Computer...
GIGWISE

11:49 29th October 2008

After countless delays and prolonged studio tomfoolery, Axl Rose has finally set the release date of Guns N Roses' sixth studio album Chinese Democracy next month. To mark the occasion that we truly never thought would happen, Gigwise is taking a look at 50 pivotal music moments over the 15 years since Guns N Roses released their last studio effort 'The Spaghetti Incident?' on November 23, 1993. Click through and see how the music world has drastically changed...

  • The iPod Is Launched – In October 2001 Apple unveiled their MP3 player the iPod. Easily the most popular MP3 player on the globe, it has revolutionised the way that people listen to music, with entire record collections condensed into the palm of the users' hands. Since its launch, over 163million iPods have been sold across the various designs.

  • Radiohead Release 'OK Computer' – In June 1997 five men from Oxford released easily one of the greatest albums of all time. Teeming with paranoia, pre-millennial anxieties and, more importantly, jaw droppingly stunning music it's a unique and fascinating work that pushed the boundaries of guitar music forward.

  • Johnny Cash Dies – Legendary country star and one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century, Johnny Cash, dies in September 2003 aged 71. He'd released an astonishing 96 albums and 153 singles during his sprawling five decade career. His poignant cover of the Nine Inch Nails track 'Hurt', very much became his epitaph on the year of his death.

  • 9/11 – Ten days after the atrocities of September 11, actor George Clooney organised a benefit concert dubbed 'America: A Tribute to Heroes'. Filmed in the style of a telethon, it featured performances from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, U2, Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty and Sting while Muhammad Ali, Tom Hanks and Will Smith were amongst the speakers. The event raised money for the victims, their families and emergency workers.

  • The Rise of Eminem – Thanks to his inimitable songs and controversial ways, Mr Marshall Mathers has risen to astronomical popularity over the past decade. Such has been his influence, he has revitalised rap music and has inspired millions of people to immerse themselves in the genre. To date he's sold an impressive 70million records – a figure that's will grow when his sixth studio album 'Relapse' is released in December.

  • Dimebag Darrell Killed - The legendary guitarist and founding member of Pantera was performing with Damageplan at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio on December 8, 2004 when a schizophrenic ex-Marine called Nathan Gale drew out a gun and fired fifteen shots. Three hit Darrell in the face and he died instantly. Three others were killed in the carnage; 23-year-old Nathan Bray, roadie Erin Halk and Damageplan security chief Jeff 'Mayhem' Thompson.

  • Phil Spector Trial – In February 2003 the dead body of actress Lana Clarkson was found at Spector's California Mansion. The eccentric producer was charged with her murder a year later – something he has vehemently denied. In 2007 a mistrial was declared after the first jury failed to reach a decision. His second trial is now in the preliminary stages.

  • The Rise of Emo Kids – From its humble beginnings in hardcore punk in the eighties and nineties, Emo (emotional hardcore) music hit the mainstream at the turn of the century with a flurry of bands like Fall Out Boy, Paramore and Dashboard Confessional. Arguably its biggest impact was the fashion it inspired amongst 'emo kids' with their swept fringes, piercings, make-up and black attire. Kind of like watered down goths.

  • Tupac Shakur Shot Dead - In September 1996, 25-year-old rapper Tupac was fatally wounded in a drive by shooting in Las Vegas. Such is his enduring appeal, six albums (largely from out-takes) have been released posthumously on top of the six he recorded in his short life.

  • Napster – In 1998 a teenage computer nerd called Shawn Fanning created the pioneering peer-to-peer file-sharing site Napster. Its users could freely share and distribute music between themselves much to the contempt of Metallica, Dr Dre et al. After a string of high profile court cases, the original platform eventually shut down in 2001 but it inadvertently spawned a whole host of similar sites.

  • The Millennium Passes - And fortunately the world doesn't end! Santana's 'Smooth' is the number one US single, while Celine Dion's 'All The Way... A Decade Long' sadly takes the album title. Westlife's 'I Have A Dream' is the UK's top selling single and Shania Twain's 'Come On Over' is the album number one. Pretty dismal chart toppers, then.

  • Slash Becomes A Member of THREE Bands – While Axl's been busy twiddling his thumbs, Slash kept himself busy by forming both Slash's Snakepit and Slash's Blue Ball, as well as becoming a core member of Velvet Revolver. Aside from this, he's played guitar with artists including Michael Jackson and Lenny Kravitz, plus he's become the face of Guitar Hero.

  • Woodstock Riots '99 - Organisers hoped to recreate the peace and love of the original event 30 years earlier, but sadly Woodstock '99 is now remembered for its incidents of rape, violence, arson and its ultimate early abandonment. 200,000 people turned up, but in the scorching temperatures the facilities were not enough. Anger eventually boiled with people starting fires and violence erupting. Police reported four incidents of rape, while numerous people were taken in for looting and arson.

  • Led Zeppelin Reform - In memory of the late Atlantic Records boss Ahmet Ertegun, Led Zeppelin reform in December 2007 for a one-off show at the O2 Arena. Millions of people tried to get their hands on the 20,000 tickets to what has zealously been described by some as the gig of the decade. There's now talk of a reformation without Robert Plant.

  • Prince's Ego Swells To Astronomical Proportions – After falling out with his record label Warners in 1993, Prince decided to change his stage moniker to that unpronounceable symbol thing. He's since dropped it, but remains to act like a twat by threatening to sue his own fan sites, banning photos and videos of his gigs etc.

  • The Rise and Fall of Britney Spears - The singer provocatively burst onto the scene in 1998 at the age of 17 dressed as a schoolgirl in the video to ...Baby One More Time. She went on to become the biggest selling female of her generation before the pressures of fame got too much, resulting in her shaving her hair off and losing the plot. Nowadays she's back on the straight and narrow.

  • Jeff Buckley Drowns - He may have only released one studio album, 1994's breathtaking 'Grace', but Jeff Buckley has been eulogised by music lovers since his untimely death in March 1997 thanks to such moments of brilliance as his cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'. He drowned while taking an evening swim in the Wolf River Harbor in Tennessee.

  • Michael Jackson Accused Of Child Molestation – In 2003, Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation and two counts of administering an agent to commit the crime upon Gavin Arizo who was under the age of 14 at the time of the alleged incident. The child had appeared in the controversial Martin Bashir documentary. The trial lasted five months and Jackson was acquitted in May 2005. He's currently putting the finishing touches to his new album.

  • Aaliyah Dies In Plane Crash – One of R & B music's most promising talents, Aaliyah, died in a plane crash in the Bahamas at the tender age of 22 in August 2001. The overloaded light aircraft crashed shortly after take off as the singer headed home to Florida. Her hits included 'Try Again' and 'Are You That Somebody?'

  • Jay-Z Becomes A Hip-Hop Megastar – Not only has the rapper sold 26million records over the past 12 years, but he's also one of the most successful entrepreneurs out there. He was the former CEO of Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella Recordings, he's joint owner of the basketball team New Jersey Nets and The 40/40 Club, not to mention his clothing line, lucrative Live Nation deal and production work. A true genius.

  • Madonna Evolves and Adopts – Since the last G n' R record, Madonna has starred as Evita, embraced dance music, hip-hop and ballads, shifted millions of units, married and divorced British film director Guy Ritchie, adopted a Malawi child, had a baby of her own, upset the catholic church yet again and much, much more. The exact antithesis of Axl Rose, then.

  • Green Day Spearhead Pop Punk – With the release of 'Dookie' in February 1994, Green Day firmly broke pop punk into the mainstream, fusing hooky melodies with angular guitars and teenage friendly lyrics. This record paved the way for a deluge of pop-punk acts in the shape of Blink-182, The Offspring, Sum 41 and more recently New Found Glory, McFly, Yellowcard and +44.

  • The Amy Winehouse Circus – Amazingly Amy was just 10-years-old when 'The Spaghetti Incident' was released back in 1993. Her unique, retro voice and mammoth second album 'Back To Black' have catapulted the London singer to blanket success on both sides of the Atlantic, but sadly we're more used to seeing paparazzi shots of her looking gaunt, withdrawn and out-of-her skull due to her drug addictions.

  • Boy Bands Plague The Charts – Although New Kids on the Block (and The Beatles) pre-date 'The Spaghetti Incident', by the mid nineties a fresh flurry of boy bands dominated the charts. Backstreet Boys are the most successful of the bunch, shifting a phenomenal 40million copies of their 1999 record 'Millennium' making it one of the best selling records of all time. Take That, Boyzone, N Sync and Busted are some of the other success stories.

  • Slipknot Go Huge – Masks have been a part of music for decades, but Iowa collective Slipknot have truly made the gimmick their own with their assorted horror guises. The band have quickly become one of the most visceral and visually absorbing acts around and have easily risen above the status as a cult band with over 10million record sales to their name.

  • Reality TV – The turn of the millennium has sadly seen the rise of reality television where young hopefuls bid to become the next multi-million selling pop star on shows like American Idol, X Factor and Pop Stars (thankfully the vast majority get their hopes dashed). Thanks to Simon Cowell and his cronies there's more dross clogging up the charts now than ever.

  • Myspace – In August 2003, a number of Friendster employees started their own social networking site and just three years later 106million people had Myspace profiles. Despite dwindling popularity, Myspace is still an important music portal where bands can upload their tracks and break into the public domain and users can listen for free.

  • Elton John performs at Diana's funeral – When the 'Queen of Hearts', 'The People's Princess' etc. died in a car smash following a chase with paparazzi in August 1997, the only man to sing at her funeral was her close friend Elton John. With his right eyebrow twitching ferociously, Sir Elt sang his 1973 hit 'Candle Of The Wind' – with the tragic hero switched from Marilyn Monroe to Diana in the lyrics.

  • Marilyn Manson Blamed For Columbine – In April 1999 two teenagers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, walked into their school with an arsenal of guns and killed 12 students and a teacher and injured a further 23 before shooting themselves. Manson was handily made a scapegoat by the media when it was alleged that the murderers were influenced by his music. It later transpired that neither of them listened to his songs.

  • Dance Music Goes Mainstream – A number of dance acts had already broken through into the mainstream before the release of 'The Spaghetti Incident'. By the mid nineties, thanks to acts like The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy, electronic music was propelled into the upper echelons of the charts and for a brief period even overshadowed guitar music.

  • Live 8 / Live Earth – In July 2005 a series of concerts were arranged around the globe to raise awareness of global poverty ahead of the G8 summit, instigated by Live Aid organisers Midge Ure and Bob Geldof. Two years later, Live Earth was launched to raise awareness of global change. Despite the music events' good intentions, some argue that they have had limited impact.

  • Barack Obama Becomes Presidential Candidate – Never before have so many musicians united to get behind one presidential hopeful as with Barack Obama in 2008. Bruce Springsteen, Arcade Fire and Jay-Z have all held fund-raising concerts, while Pete Wentz, Bob Dylan, P Diddy and Pearl Jam are amongst the army of other endorsers. Back in 1993 the relatively drab Bill Clinton had just taken to the White House.

  • Kurt Cobain Kills Himself – In April 1994, Cobain's dead body was discovered by an electrician at his Seattle home. The drug addled 27-year-old died from a single gunshot wound to the head. He is now considered one of the most iconic rock stars of alternative music and has inspired countless bands.

  • Celine Dion Is Number One Forever – For a number of dark weeks at the end of 1997, Celine Dion's Titanic theme song 'My Heart Will Go On' was number one simultaneously around the globe, bring misery and woe into the lives of anyone with a reputable music taste. It incredibly went on to become the 14th best selling song of all time.

  • Classic Rock Bands Reform – The past decade or so has seen a smorgasbord of wrinkly bands from yesteryear reform for either one-off shows or lucrative tours. Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Police, Pink Floyd, My Blood Valentine and the Pixies are just some of the seminal bands who've got back together either briefly or more permanently.

  • The Rise of MOR Indie – Don't get us wrong, middling guitar music definitely pre-dates the last Guns N Roses record. However, this millennium it has gone huge thanks to bands like Coldplay, Travis, Razorlight, Keane et al. The bands may occasionally make nice songs, but too often they lack any real substance.

  • The Spice Girls and Girl Power– After first hitting the top spot with 'Wannabe' in 1996, by the end of the decade The Spice Girls were the biggest pop group on the planet and helped instigate the social phenomenon 'Girl Power'. 55million record sales and one brief reunion later, the irksome fivesome have now split for good.

  • Snoop Dogg Releases 'Doggystyle' – A week after the release of 'The Spaghetti Incident', Snoop Dogg's debut album and defining career moment was unleashed. Rightfully regarded as a classic album, along executive producer Dr Dre's album 'The Chronic', the record helped bring west-coast hip-hop to the fore with its witty lyrics and funky-as-hell tunes.

  • Tragedy Hits Roskilde Festival – During Pearl Jams' headline set on the Danish Festival in 2000 audience members pushed forward to get nearer to the stage. Unfortunately the ground was muddy and many of the crowd fell to the ground causing them to be trampled upon. Nine people died of suffocation while scores more were injured. In 2002, Pearl Jam wrote a song 'Love Boat Captain' which poignantly addressed the tragedy: "Lost 9 friends we'll never know... 2 years ago today."

  • George Michael Arrested For Lewd Conduct – In 1998, the pop singer was arrested for engaging in a “lewd act” in a public toilet in Beverly Hills. He was arrested by an undercover cop and soon after came out as gay. Not one to stay out of the headlines, the former Wham! star has also been arrested twice for possession of drugs and has been found at the wheel of his car asleep.

  • Radiohead Release In Rainbows - In October 2007, Radiohead announce on their website that their seventh studio album will be released as a 'pay what you want' download. The unprecedented move has undoubtedly changed the face of music forever and has been a major kick up the arse for big record labels.

  • The Rise And Fall Of Britpop – The mid-nineties sees an explosion in guitar bands in the UK, with Oasis, Elastica, Blur, Pulp, Suede and many more dominating the charts. By the end of the decade electronic music takes over, a number of bands disband and the scene rapidly dissipates. Oasis are one of the few notable survivors.

  • The Strokes Release 'Is This It' – In 2001, five posh kids from New York wearing skinny jeans managed to revitalise and change the face of indie music. A devastating brilliant rock record, the beauty of 'Is This It' is its sheer simplicity.

  • Jean Michel Jarre Breaks Concert Record – In September 1997, on the day of Princess Diana's funeral, French electro legend Jean Michel Jarre performed his hit album 'Oxygene' in Moscow as part of the city's 850th anniversary celebrations. The show attracted a staggering 3.5 million people and duly smashed previous attendance records to smithereens.

  • Oasis Play Knebworth – At the height of their popularity, in 1996 Oasis performed to 250,000 over two days at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire. Over 2.6million applied for tickets (almost one in every 20 Britons) making it the most in demand show in British history. The gig itself wasn't too bad as well...

  • Notorious BIG Murdered - Less than a year after the death of Tupac, in March 1997 Biggie was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles at the tender age of 24. Just a week earlier in a radio interview he admitted that he feared for his own safety.

  • John Peel Dies – Few DJs command as much respect and reverence of the late-great John Peel. A true music champion, he didn't just buy into musical trends, instead he pioneered fresh genres. He died while on holiday in Peru in October 2004 but his legacy still remains.

  • The Prodigy Release 'Smack My Bitch Up' – The track, lifted from the Essex boys' third album 'The Fat Of The Land', caused massive controversy upon its release in 1997 for pretty obvious reasons. This was augmented when The Beastie Boys asked them not to play it at the Reading Festival, only for The Prodigy to tell them to go fuck themselves. The Jonas Akerland video featured nudity, violence and drug taking for good measure and was banned by several stations.

  • Metallica Dominate Rock – Since November 1993 Guns N Roses' one-time touring buddies, Metallica, have headlined Woodstock, released four studio albums (including this year's phenomenal 'Death Magnetic') and a live album with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, appeared on The Simpsons, undertook several world tours, almost split up, sued Napster, undergone line-up changes and much more...

  • Super Clubs and Superstar DJs – The mid-nineties saw ecstasy and electronic music break from the underground spectacularly with the rise of superclubs in the UK, America, mainland Europe and most notably Ibiza. DJs like Carl Cox, Pete Tong, Danny Tenaglia and Sasha were revered like superstars and still command ridiculous fees for spinning other peoples' records.


Photo: WENN / PR Photos