Hear the Song
Why We Create Music
Watch the Film
Watch the Film
"More Than the Stars"
ASCAP members featured in our Why We Create Music film were
each asked to contribute a musical or lyrical element to the score.
Then something magical happened. A new song was born.
  Hear the Song
audio interviews from the filming
song2
withers
kelley
haywood
grant
neyo
wilson
mcreary
Stargate
burwell
kear
brandt
kotecha
lang
blacc
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ASCAP!
The world's leading performing rights organization.
500,000+
9 million
$5 billion
250 billion
PLAY: Happy 100th Birthday, ASCAP!
2014
ASCAP's Top 100 Songs of All Time
Top 100 ASCAP Songs
Top ASCAP Songs By Year
2013
Championing Fair Payment for Songwriters and Composers
2013

ASCAP spreads its message of fair payment for songwriters and composers further than ever. Our Pandora campaign calls out the streaming music giant for trying to pay writers less; Josh Kear, Paul Williams and Jimmy Webb speak out in The Huffington Post and The Hill; we bring Kear, Ne-Yo and Dan Wilson to DC to convince lawmakers of the importance of online royalties and copyright reform to their livelihoods. Pictured (l-r) are Wilson and Kear at an advocacy event in DC.

  • The US government shuts down for 16 days after Congress fails to pass a budget for fiscal year 2014. The shutdown impacts more than two million federal workers, and is the third-longest in US history.
  • Netflix rolls out its own original programming. House of Cards and Arrested Development shake up the TV landscape by earning Emmy nominations.
  • Pope Benedict XVI becomes the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years. He is succeeded by Francis, the first ever Jesuit Pope and first from the Americas.
In the same year that he drops the hyphen from his name, starts a sports management agency and collaborates with performance artist Marina Abramovic, Jay Z tries a unique strategy to release his twelfth album Magna Carta Holy Grail: offering the album for free to one million Samsung customers. The album earns Jay Z nine Grammy nominations, more than any other artist in 2013. Song Information
Music
2012
Rocking Out, Cashing In
2012
ASCAP launches ASCAP OnStage. The program gives ASCAP members the opportunity to receive royalties when their music is performed live at venues of all sizes throughout the country. Find out more about it at www.ascap.com/onstage.
  • After 244 years, the Encyclopedia Britannica officially ceases publication of its print edition.
  • Korean pop star Psy's "Gangnam Style" becomes the first YouTube video to hit one billion views.
  • The Curiosity Rover, the largest spacecraft ever to land on another planet, successfully lands on Mars.
Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum became ASCAP members in 2012. Their most recent original single "Goodbye Town," from their 2013 album Golden, was co-written by ASCAP songwriter Josh Kear. Lady Antebellum and Kear also wrote the multiple Grammy-winning single "Need You Now" together. Song Information
Music
2011
Beyond a Chateau of a Doubt
2011
ASCAP brings 18 songwriters to a medieval chateau in France for a song camp aimed at writing hits and getting cuts. Formerly a hitmaking haven, Château de Marouatte was dormant for a decade before ASCAP came calling. The song camp has since become an annual tradition. Pictured here are the 2013 group and chateau owner Miles Copeland (far right).
  • The Occupy Wall Street protests begin.
  • Apple founder Steve Jobs passes away.
  • President Barack Obama announces that Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been killed by US military operatives in Pakistan.
EDM breaks through to the US mainstream in 2011. Superstar ASCAP DJs David Guetta and Calvin Harris notch major pop hits, Electric Daisy Carnival moves to its new home in Vegas, and Skrillex gets five Grammy nominations and wins three - including Best Dance Recording for "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites." Song Information
Music
2010
Just the Two of Us
2010

In one of the most entertaining panels in ASCAP "I Create Music" EXPO history, Justin Timberlake and Bill Withers share the EXPO's Grand Ballroom stage on April 24th. The two speak candidly and swap stories about their lives and music careers in this quintessential "only at the EXPO" session. Photo by Rick Miller/MRES Photography.


  • WikiLeaks releases 250,000+ classified US gov't cables.
  • Justin Bieber's My World 2.0 debuts at #1, making him the youngest solo male act to top the charts since Stevie Wonder.
  • A Tunisian street vendor sets himself on fire to protest police corruption. The event sparks the Arab Spring, a wave of popular unrest resulting in four overthrown governments and protests throughout the Arab world.
Katy Perry launches into the pop stratosphere with her third studio album Teenage Dream. She becomes the first female artist in pop music history to have five songs from the same album hit #1. Helping her achieve this feat is an amazing team of ASCAP songwriters, including Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Stargate, Greg Wells, Tricky Stewart, Ammo, Sandy Vee, Stacy Barthe and Kuk Harrell. Song Information
Music
2009
Paul Williams Elected President of ASCAP
2009
Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe-winning Hall of Fame songwriter Paul Williams is elected ASCAP President in April. The charismatic writer of "We've Only Just Begun" and "The Rainbow Connection" brings renewed passion and vigor to ASCAP’s advocacy efforts in the digital age.
  • UNESCO and the Library of Congress launch the World Digital Library - an online archive of manuscripts, books, musical scores, recordings, photographs and other cultural materials.
  • Michael Jackson dies unexpectedly. Stevie Wonder, Usher and many others perform at his memorial event.
  • The H1N1 influenza strain, aka "swine flu," is deemed a global epidemic.

The Pixar film Up floats into theaters on May 26th, accompanied by a score from ASCAP composer Michael Giacchino. The score goes on to win an Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy and BAFTA. Song Information
Music
2008
Educating and Empowering the Music Community
2008

ASCAP establishes a Bill of Rights for Songwriters & Composers and publishes its powerful position paper, Music Copyright in the Digital Age. The Bill of Rights has received over 13,000 signatures so far. Read and sign it at www.ascap.com/rights.

  • Michael Phelps breaks the record for most gold medals in one Olympics and most career gold medals by winning eight in swimming events in Beijing.
  • The Writers Guild of America ends a 100-day strike protesting the residual rates that TV, film and radio writers receive for digital distribution of content (among other issues).
  • On November 4th, Barack Obama is elected as the first African-American President of the United States.
In the Heights, the innovative musical with music and lyrics by ASCAP member Lin-Manuel Miranda, opens on Broadway on March 9th. The musical wins four Tonys (including Best Musical), nabs a Grammy for its original cast recording, and is nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Song Information
Music
2007
A Wonder-ful Night in Washington
2007

ASCAP gives its first Troubadour Award to the great Stevie Wonder in 2007. The award is bestowed at ASCAP’s exclusive annual "Songwriter Night" in Washington, DC, and accompanied by a tribute concert featuring Tony Bennett, Smokey Robinson, India.Arie, Wyclef Jean, Joan Osborne, Chaka Khan and Dianne Reeves. Stevie is pictured here with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Congressman John Conyers, Jr. at the event.

  • Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, donates $10 billion to establish an educational foundation in the Middle East. It is believed to be the largest single charitable donation in modern history.
  • The iPhone hits the market.
  • JK Rowling releases Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the fastest-selling book of all time.

The Dixie Chicks win three Grammys (including Song of the Year and Record of the Year) for "Not Ready to Make Nice," a powerful response to the controversy that erupted after their very public anti-war statements in 2003. Song Information
Music
2006
The ASCAP EXPO Unveiled
2006

ASCAP holds its first "I Create Music" EXPO in Los Angeles. Among the many music luminaries that participate in the inaugural EXPO is Tom Petty, an ASCAP member since 1981. He's shown here with ASCAP's Erik Philbrook during the EXPO's first keynote interview. The ASCAP EXPO continues to educate and inspire the music community today: ascap.com/expo

  • Twitter launches on July 15th.
  • iTunes sells its billionth song.
  • Pluto is demoted to "dwarf planet" status.

Patti Smith performs the last-ever show at famed New York club CBGB on October 15th, 2006, closing the night with "Elegie" from her classic debut Horses (watch the performance here). Smith was one of the many punk rock and new wave artists that got their start at CBGB in the 1970s. She was given the ASCAP Founders Award in 2010.


Song Information
Music
2005
JD & Alicia Keys Shine at R&S Awards
2005

R&B luminaries Jermaine Dupri and Alicia Keys share Songwriter of the Year honors at the 2005 Rhythm & Soul Awards. Just a few months earlier, Keys had earned four Grammys and Dupri was honored with the Golden Note at the 2005 ASCAP Pop Awards. Keys would win the Golden Note in 2009.

  • The first-ever YouTube video is uploaded on April 23rd. The video depicts YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim in front of an elephant cage at the San Diego Zoo.
  • The first Guitar Hero game is released for PlayStation 2.
  • Hurricane Katrina strikes Louisiana, Mississippiand Alabama, flooding 80% of the city of New Orleans.
"We Belong Together" is released as the second single off Mariah Carey's Emancipation of Mimi album. It earns two Grammys (including Best R&B Song), tops the Billboard End-of-the-Decade chart, and is named "Song of the Decade" at the 2010 ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards. It is widely regarded as Carey’s return to form.

Song Information
Music
2004
A New Deal for Radio
2004
ASCAP and the Radio Music License Committee, representing most of the nearly 12,000 commercial radio stations in the US, strike a new licensing agreement totaling more than $1.7 billion – the largest single licensing deal in the history of American radio.
  • Facebook launches as a social network for Harvard students.
  • Outkast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below becomes the first rap album to win Album of the Year at the Grammys.
  • Massachusetts becomes the first state in the US to permit same-sex marriage.

R&B superstar Usher goes global with his fourth album Confessions. The album hits #1 in five countries and yields the two best-selling US singles of 2004: "Yeah!" and "Burn." Click here to watch Usher accept the Golden Note at the 2013 ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards.

Song Information
Music
2003
A Killer CMJ Showcase
2003

An unsigned Las Vegas band called The Killers performs at the annual ASCAP CMJ showcase. Two days later, they sign to Island; they go on to sell millions of albums and earn seven Grammy nominations. Frontman Brandon Flowers reminisces: “When record labels were not willing to step up, ASCAP took us under their wing.” Here they are at the 2010 ASCAP Pop Awards, where they were honored with the Vanguard Award.

  • The Do Not Call list now allows consumers to limit the amount of telemarketing calls they receive.
  • Napster relaunches with a legal version of its services, charging 99 cents per song.
  • After more than 20 years of research, an international consortium of geneticists announce that they have mapped the complete human genome.
Marco Antonio Solís, co-founder of the popular Mexican band Los Bukis and a superstar singer-songwriter in his own right, joins ASCAP in 2003, and goes on to be ASCAP's Latin Songwriter of the Year three times. His album Tu Amor o Tu Desprecio hits #1 on the Latin albums chart that same year. The title track hits #1 on the Latin singles chart, too. Song Information
Music
2002
A Prizeworthy Year for Young ASCAP Composers
2002
The ASCAP Foundation complements its Morton Gould Award with two new awards for ASCAP composers under the age of 30: the Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards and The Frederick Fennell Prize for Concert Band. Here's Marilyn Bergman with the 2002 Young Jazz Composer honorees in front of our Jazz Wall of Fame at ASCAP's New York office.
  • Jimmy Carter becomes the first US President (current or former) to visit Cuba since Fidel Castro assumed power in 1959.
  • The billionth living person in India is born on May 11th.
  • ASCAP songwriter Kelly Clarkson wins the first season of American Idol.

Randy Newman ends a 20-year Oscars losing streak in 2002, earning his first Academy Award for "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. It was his 16th career nomination. Click here to watch his acceptance speech. Song Information
Music
2001
ASCAP Honors the Rain Dog Himself
Play Video
2001

Here's Tom Waits in performance at the 2001 Pop Awards, where he received the ASCAP Founders Award. An excerpt from his acceptance speech: “To say a few serious things about songs, I guess they’re really like vessels. When people migrate, they take with them their seeds and their songs, and I think that’s pretty much all you’ll need when you get there.” Click the video link to watch part of the speech.

  • Wikipedia goes online.
  • Napster is closed down.
  • On September 11th, terrorists hijack four commercial jets and crash them into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia and a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3000 people are killed in the attacks, including ASCAP Licensing Manager Jane Simpkin.

The iPod is released on October 23rd and soon revolutionizes the way that we listen to music. The very first iPod advertisement features the Propellerheads track "Take California."

Song Information
Music
2000
John Mayer: A Superstar in the Making
2000
In this photo, John Mayer plays the ASCAP Presents...Quiet on the Set showcase at SXSW in 2000, shortly before signing to Aware Records. He is awarded the ASCAP Foundation Sammy Cahn Award the following year. Mayer later recalls: "ASCAP is one of the few places where, when people ask me to do something, I don't ask 'What do I get?'"
  • George W. Bush is elected the 43rd President of the United States.
  • The DotCom bubble bursts.
  • The first season of Survivor wraps up.

The first ever Latin Grammys ceremony takes place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on September 13th. Marc Anthony's Spanish-language hit "Dímelo" is named Song of the Year. Song Information
Music
1999
The Stories Behind the Songs
1999
ASCAP stages the first Stories Behind the Songs concert in Washington, DC. The event, featuring music by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, Hal David, Rudy Perez and Jimmy Webb, is intended to raise awareness in the US government about ASCAP's mission by giving a glimpse into the experiences of songwriters hard at work. Here's a photo of Webb and Dionne Warwick at the 1999 concert.
  • The Euro is introduced as the official currency of 11 countries in the European Union.
  • MySpace is officially introduced to the internet.
  • The RIAA introduces the Diamond certification level for albums and singles that have sold 10 million units.

Teen pop hits a commercial peak, with albums by The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and Westlife breaking sales and chart records. Swedish songwriter-producer Max Martin emerges as one of the key architects of the sound. He earns his first of six Songwriter of the Year honors at the 1999 ASCAP Pop Awards. Song Information
Music
1998
Beyoncé Joins ASCAP
1998

The same year her R&B group Destiny's Child releases its first album, future superstar Beyoncé Knowles makes ASCAP her performing rights organization of choice.

  • Google is founded on September 4th by Stanford doctoral students Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
  • MTV's Total Request Live is born.
  • President Bill Clinton is impeached by the House of Representatives for perjury and obstruction of justice. He is later acquitted by the Senate.

The Fugees member Lauryn Hill launches her solo career with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The album receives universal acclaim, earns five Grammys (including Album of the Year) and goes on to sell more than 18 million copies worldwide. Song Information
Music
1997
Wall That Jazz
1997
The Jazz Wall of Fame is dedicated at ASCAP's NYC offices to honor members who have made important contributions to this vital American genre. Each year, awards are given to both “living legends” and promising young jazz musicians. The first of ASCAP's living legends was saxophonist and composer Benny Carter, pictured here.
  • Sovereignty over Hong Kong transfers from Great Britain to China, ending over 150 years of British colonial rule.
  • Mike Tyson is suspended from boxing after he bites Evander Holyfield's ear during a match. 
  • The Notorious B.I.G. is shot after the Soul Train Awards.

The film Titanic becomes an unparalleled success, earning more than $2 billion in worldwide revenue. James Horner's Oscar-winning score set its own records, and yields a Grammy-winning hit in the Horner co-penned "My Heart Will Go On." Song Information
Music
1996
Membership Has Its Benefits
1996

ASCAP officially launches its Member Benefits program. The first offering was a credit union membership. It's since grown to include insurance options, travel discounts, magazine subscriptions, online education discounts and more. Some Member Benefits partners used to require ASCAP members to present their official membership card. Here's John Belushi's card from 1975 - the same year he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live.

  • Dolly the sheep is born in Scotland on July 5th. She is the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.
  • Madeleine Albright becomes the first female Secretary of State in US history.
  • On February 10th, IBM computer Deep Blue wins a chess game against reigning world champion Garry Kasparov. Deep Blue would eventually lose the match, but defeat Kasparov in a re-match the following year.
ASCAP rapper Tupac Shakur is shot in Las Vegas on September 7th and dies six days later. The assault comes months after Shakur releases the acclaimed All Eyez on Me, a milestone for West Coast hip-hop. The single "I Ain't Mad Atcha" is released just two days after Tupac's death. Song Information
Music
1995
ASCAP Enters the Digital Age
1995
In the same year that ascap.com goes online, ASCAP issues its first performance license to a website (pictured here), RadioHK.com. We would later become the first PRO to distribute royalties from internet performances. Today, ASCAP licenses thousands of websites and streaming music services.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, co-winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, is assassinated by a Jewish extremist on November 4th.
  • Gary Larson publishes the final The Far Side cartoon, exactly 15 years after the first one.
  • The Dot-Com boom helps the Dow Jones Industrial Average surpass 4000 in February and 5000 in November - the first time it had hit two millennium marks in one year.
Alaska-raised singer-songwriter Jewel releases her debut Pieces of You in 1995, the same year she joins ASCAP. The album eventually becomes one of the best-selling debuts in music history, shifting more than 12 million copies on the strength of singles like "Who Will Save Your Soul." Song Information
Music
1994
Marilyn Bergman Elected President of ASCAP
1994
Oscar-winning film and TV songwriter Marilyn Bergman becomes ASCAP's first woman president in 1994. Bergman held this post during some of the organization's most crucial years, in which she made sure that ASCAP remained ahead of the many technological curveballs that came its way with the dawn of the new millennium.
  • Woodstock '94 takes place, 10 miles from the site of the original Woodstock 25 years earlier. Click "play video" to watch Nine Inch Nails' mud-caked set.
  • Former NFL star OJ Simpson leads police in a televised car chase, five days after the murder of his wife and her friend. Simpson's arrest leads to what some call "the trial of the century" the following year.
  • The underwater Channel Tunnel that connects England and France opens after six years of construction.
Aerosmith's 1994 song "Head First" is the first single available exclusively on the internet. The song is released to CompuServe subscribers for eight days before going on sale to the general public. Song Information
Music
1993
Brad Paisley Interns at ASCAP
1993
Future country star Brad Paisley interns at ASCAP Nashville during his tenure at Belmont University. Paisley wrote the following in his autobiography Diary of a Player: "Looking back now, I know for a fact that the path I wound up taking was due to ASCAP." Here he is (at right) at a 2000 party celebrating "He Didn't Have to Be," his first #1 hit as a songwriter-artist. Also pictured: ASCAP co-writer Kelley Lovelace and Kelley's stepson McCain, who inspired the song.
  • British mathematician Andrew Wiles publishes his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem, a notoriously difficult math problem that had confounded the math world for more than three centuries.
  • The Clinton Administration introduces the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays and lesbians serving in the US military. 
  • A study shows that tuberculosis threatens to kill more than 30 million in the next decade.

Pearl Jam establish themselves as alternative rock's leading lights with second album Vs. The album sells more copies in its first week (over 950,000) than any other in history, a record it would hold for five years.

Song Information
Music
1992
A New Home in Music City
1992
After thirty years, ASCAP’s Nashville branch outgrows its initial headquarters. In order to accommodate the burgeoning country music business, the Society builds a new, state-of-the-art building in 1992, where it continues to reside and flourish today.
  • Bill Clinton is elected the 42nd President of the United States.
  • Compact discs surpass cassette tapes as the preferred medium for recorded music.
  • A text-based web browser is first made available to the public. Within a few years, millions of people will become regular internet users.

Mary Chapin Carpenter has a breakthrough year, putting out her most successful album to date (Come On Come On) and winning a Grammy for "I Feel Lucky." She is also named Female Vocalist of the Year by the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. Song Information
Music
1991
Shut Up and Listen!
1991
Our Quiet on the Set series has brought 400+ acts to the (attentive) masses over the years. Pictured at the first QOTS on July 22nd, 1991 at Largo: (standing, l-r) Debra Dobkin, Mark Goldenberg, Mark Browne, Mona Enos, former ASCAP exec Brendan Okrent, Joseph Williams, Paul Gordon, Vonda Shepard; (seated) the William Brothers
  • A study shows that 50% of India is living at or below the poverty line.
  • Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, issues a public statement confirming that he has AIDS. Mercury dies the next day.
  • The Cold War comes to an end as the governing body of the Soviet Union decides to dissolve the USSR on December 26th.

Metallica simplify their complex thrash metal for the eponymous "black album," released on August 12th. The result? One of the best-selling albums of all time, at 16x platinum and counting.

Song Information
Music
1990
Richard Rodgers Theatre Dedicated on Broadway
1990
Broadway’s 46th Street Theatre is spiced up with a new name: The Richard Rodgers Theatre. To celebrate this honor for one of its most beloved members, ASCAP builds a permanent exhibit in the theatre that details Rodgers’s lengthy career. Pictured (l-r) at the March 27th opening: Rupert Holmes, Jule Styne, ASCAP President Morton Gould, Richard's daughter Mary Rodgers, Sammy Cahn, Cy Coleman and publisher Frank Military. Photo by RJ Capak.
  • The first Amoeba Music opens on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, CA.
  • Nelson Mandela is released from prison on February 11th, a major step in the dismantling of the apartheid regime that segregated South Africa for nearly five decades.
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa is closed to the public over concerns that it was leaning too far (5.5 degrees). It would re-open again in 2001 after a decade of restoration and stabilizing efforts.

Revered conductor and ASCAP composer Leonard Bernstein, best known for his music for West Side Story, dies on October 14th. Listen to these recordings of Bernstein conducting his "Kaddish" Symphony, named after the Jewish prayer for the dead.

Song Information
Music
1989
Rhythm & Soul Music Takes Center Stage
1989
Here's a vintage invitation from the 2nd annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards, held March 13th, 1989. Originally titled the "Black Music Celebration," the R&S Awards recognize the achievements of ASCAP members in R&B, hip-hop and soul. The 1989 ceremony honored hit-makers Rick James, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, George Michael, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Luther Vandross and many more.
  • The fall of the Berlin Wall: East Germany opens its doors to the West after nearly three decades. The move heralds the erosion of communist power in eastern Europe. 
  • Scientists pronounce 1989 as the warmest on record, possibly a sign of the greenhouse effect.
  • Nintendo begins selling the Game Boy in Japan.
ASCAP writer-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis move from strength to strength on Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814. The record combines contemporary R&B, dance-pop and rap to become a defining document of new jack swing. Song Information
Music
1988
Nurturing the Top Composers of Tomorrow
1988

Composer Fred Karlin founds the ASCAP TV & Film Scoring Workshop. The program gives young composers access to the same tools and contacts afforded the professionals, including a cue recorded by a 60-piece orchestra. Graduates have scored major films, TV series and video games. Several have won Emmys and BAFTAs. Pictured are the participants and orchestra from the 25th anniversary Workshop in 2013.

  • Benazir Bhutto wins the first open election in Pakistan in a decade, becoming the first female Prime Minister of a Muslim state.
  • The first trans-Atlantic fibre optic cable is laid, able to carry 40,000 telephone calls simultaneously.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope is put into operation.

NWA's debut studio album Straight Outta Compton pioneers the gritty urban imagery of gangsta rap and introduces future superstars Ice Cube and Dr. Dre to the masses. It's a surprise hit despite virtually no airplay or tour support.

Song Information
Music
1987
Horne of Plenty
1987
Lena Horne is added to the distinguished list of ASCAP Pied Piper Award recipients, in recognition of her 50 years as an actress, recording artist and performer. She's pictured here at the award ceremony with Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick and ASCAP President Morton Gould.
  • The Simpsons make their first appearance on TV as a series of short cartoons on The Tracey Ullman Show.
  • The first "naked-eye" supernova since 1604 is observed.
  • The world's population reaches five billion.

Les Misérables debuts on Broadway on March 12th at The Broadway Theatre. It would run for 16 years and 6,680 performances, surpassed only by Cats and Phantom of the Opera as Broadway's longest-running musical. Song Information
Music
1986
Morton Gould Elected ASCAP President
1986
Morton Gould, the sought-after composer of classical music, musicals and ballets, is elected President of ASCAP in 1986. During his eight years as President, he guided ASCAP through the early years of the advent of the internet. He's pictured here with Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand and Lionel Richie at the 1987 ASCAP Pop Awards.
  • The USSR launches the Mir space station, the first consistently inhabited research station in space.
  • The Human Genome Project is launched with the mission to understand and map the human genome and help medicine progress.
  • The experimental airplane Voyager completes the first non-stop, around-the-world flight.

Slayer revolutionize heavy metal in just 29 minutes on their major label debut Reign in Blood, released on October 7th. The album brings a new level of extremity and songwriting purity to the thrash metal that ruled the underground at the time. Song Information
Music
1985
Rudolf Nissim Prize Established
1985
Created in memory of Dr. Rudolf Nissim (pictured), former head of ASCAP's International department and founder of our Concert Music department, this annual $5,000 ASCAP Foundation prize goes to composers of concert music requiring a conductor.
  • Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey discover a hole in the ozone layer.
  • A joint American-French expedition locates the wreck of the RMS Titanic.
  • Microsoft Corporation releases the first version of Windows.
ASCAP members Neil Young and John Mellencamp co-found Farm Aid with Willie Nelson. The first concert is held in Champaign, IL on September 22nd. Young starts off his set with this song from his Old Ways album, released the previous month. Click here to watch him performing "Heart of Gold" later in the same Farm Aid set. Song Information
Music
1984
Pop Goes the ASCAP
1984

ASCAP holds its first Pop Music Awards, initiating a tradition that has become one of the Society's most star-studded events. The first ASCAP Pop Songwriter of the Year is Lionel Richie, pictured here at the inaugural Pop Awards with (l-r) Henry Mancini, Kenny Rogers, Hal David and Marilyn and Alan Bergman. Richie would win again in 1985 and 1986, and come back at the milestone 25th Pop Awards to earn the Golden Note Award.

  • The longest game in Major League Baseball history begins on May 8th between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Chicago White Sox. It ends two days and 25 innings later.
  • Genetic fingerprinting is developed for obtaining evidence in a crime.
  • Widespread famine spreads in Ethiopia. As many as 10 million people face starvation.

The first CD manufacturing plant in the US opens in Terre Haute, IN on September 21st, 1984. The first new album pressed? ASCAP rock legend Bruce Springsteen's blockbuster seventh album, Born in the USA. Song Information
Music
1983
The Material Girl Joins "Everybody" at ASCAP
1983

The same year she releases her debut album (with its infectious first single "Everybody"), a young New York singer and dancer named Madonna Ciccone becomes an ASCAP member.

  • Astronaut Sally Ride becomes the first female American in space.
  • The first mobile phones are introduced to the public by the Motorola Company.
  • China's population reaches one billion.

The title track from Flashdance dances its way to the top of the charts, wins the Oscar for Best Song, and earns ASCAP co-writer Irene Cara a Grammy for her vocal performance. "What a Feeling" and its Flashdance soundtrack pal "Maniac" become unofficial anthems of the legwarmer industry.

Song Information
Music
1982
A Musical Theatre Tradition Begins
1982
The ASCAP Foundation issues the first Richard Rodgers award. The prestigious honor is given to composers and lyricists for lifetime achievement in musical theatre. Notable recipients include Betty Comden and Al Green, Stephen Sondheim, Marvin Hamlisch and Irving Caesar (pictured here with ASCAP President Morton Gould).
  • Time names the computer as its Person of the Year.
  • The first CD player is sold in Japan.
  • Doctors perform the first implant of a permanent artificial heart.

Michael Jackson's Thriller comes out on November 30th. ASCAP member Quincy Jones is responsible for the album's innovative production. Thriller goes on to become the best-selling album of all time. Song Information
Music
1981
The Man in Black Joins ASCAP
1981
ASCAP adds another legend to its roster of country superstars when Johnny Cash switches to ASCAP, where he would stay until his passing. Johnny made it clear how he felt about his new PRO home in this billboard ad from the following year.
  • The Center for Disease Control documents five cases of AIDS in the US in the June 5th edition of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This is considered the first reporting on the AIDS epidemic.
  • NASA's first space shuttle flight
  • MTV airs for the first time, with spoken words from creator John Lack: "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll."

The Buggles' hit single "Video Killed the Radio Star" becomes the first video played on MTV, which launches at 12:01 AM on August 1st.

Song Information
Music
1980
Hal David Elected ASCAP President
1980
Lyricist Hal David becomes ASCAP's ninth President in 1980. David was a tireless advocate for intellectual property rights, and served as President for five years. Here he is (at right) with Burt Bacharach, his longtime collaborator on such enduring songs as "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" and "I Say a Little Prayer."
  • On December 8th, former Beatle John Lennon is assassinated by Mark David Chapman in New York City.
  • US breaks diplomatic ties with Iran.
  • Smallpox is eradicated.

"The Breaks" is one of the earliest successful rap singles, and the first to be released on a major label. It paves the way for hip-hop's ascendance to the pop mainstream. Song Information
Music
1979
ASCAP Goes to College
1979
ASCAP becomes the first PRO to license, survey and make royalty payments for college radio performances. Today, ASCAP licenses over 750 college stations throughout the US. Pictured are past recipients of the College Vanguard Award, which ASCAP gave (from 1996 and 2006) to songwriters who made a major impact on college radio audiences.
  • The Sugar Hill Gang releases the first commercial rap hit, "Rapper's Delight," bringing rap off the New York streets and into the music mainstream.
  • The accidental release of anthrax spores at a Soviet bioweapons facility in Sverdlovsk kills several hundred.
  • The Sahara Desert experiences snow for 30 minutes.

Desmond Child co-pens his first smash, "I Was Made for Lovin' You" for KISS. It’s the first in a decades-long string of hits by Child, including Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," Aerosmith's "Crazy," Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca" and Katy Perry's "Waking Up in Vegas." Child currently sits on the ASCAP Board.

Song Information
Music
1978
Quincy Jones Joins the ASCAP Family
Play Video
1978
A decade of successful songwriting, film scoring, arranging and producing left music icon Quincy Jones in high demand by the late '70s. The same year he joined ASCAP, Q moved into musical theater, producing the soundtrack to the Wizard of Oz adaptation The Wiz. He's pictured in the company of ASCAP President Paul Williams and film legend Sidney Poitier at the 2012 ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards, where he won the prestigious Founders Award. Click the video link to watch his acceptance speech.
  • Pope Paul VI dies at 80. The new Pope John Paul I, 65, dies unexpectedly after 34 days in office, and is then succeeded by Karol Cardinal Wojtyla of Poland, rechristened John Paul II on Oct 16th.
  • Sony introduces the Walkman, the first portable stereo.
  • Recombinant DNA techniques are used to produce human insulin.
Q's single "Stuff Like That," taken from his 1978 album Sounds...and Stuff Like That!!, features vocals from ASCAP members Chaka Khan, Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson (an ASCAP Board member). It hit #1 on the Billboard R&B singles charts on July 1st. Song Information
Music
1977
ASCAP and HBO Sign Historic Licensing Agreement
Play Video
1977
ASCAP negotiates a license fee with HBO, the first network to broadcast continuously via satellite and the first true premium cable network. Other major cable providers are soon to follow. Today, ASCAP licenses some 11,000 cable services. Pictured are vintage logos that ASCAP and HBO used in the '70s. Click the video link to watch an HBO sign-off clip from 1977.
  • A nuclear non-proliferation pact, curbing the spread of nuclear weapons, is signed by 15 countries, including the US and USSR on September 21st.
  • Star Wars hits theaters, eventually becoming the second highest-grossing film of all time.
  • The space shuttle Enterprise makes its first test glide, from the back of a 747.
Disco officially goes pop with the tremendous success of Saturday Night Fever, released in December of 1977. Among the many hits on its best-selling soundtrack is "A Fifth of Beethoven," a disco reimagining of Beethoven's 5th by ASCAP composer Walter Murphy. The track was later sampled for Robin Thicke's first single, "When I Get You Alone." Murphy now composes for Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and others. Song Information
Music
1976
A New Era for Copyright
1976
The Copyright Act of 1976 overhauls US copyright law for the first time since 1909. Among its many provisions, the Act extends protection of copyrighted works to 75 years for pre-1978 works, and "life plus 50" for works published in 1978 or later (these terms would be extended again in 1998). The Act remains a critical piece of legislation for ASCAP members. ASCAP continues to lobby to maintain strong copyright protection in the digital age.
  • NBC broadcasts Gone with the Wind and scores record-breaking ratings.
  • Richard Leakey discovers a 1.5 million year old Homo erectus skull in Kenya.
  • Palestinian extremists hijack an Air France plane in Greece with 246 passengers and 12 crew. Israeli commandos storm the plane in Uganda, freeing the hostages.
ASCAP composer Philip Glass premieres his first opera Einstein on the Beach at the Festival d'Avignon on July 25th. The Washington Post praises it as "one of the seminal artworks of the century." Song Information
Music
1975
The ASCAP Foundation Established
1975
Jack Norworth, ASCAP charter member and writer of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," donates his royalties to ASCAP with instructions to create a support program for young composers. His bequest results in the ASCAP Foundation, a non-profit committed to nurturing talent and preserving the legacy of American music. Norworth is pictured here in 1908 with his first wife Nora Bayes, who co-wrote "Shine On, Harvest Moon" with him.
  • ABC, CBS and NBC agree to create a "family hour," an early evening time slot that is free of violence and sex.
  • Home videotape systems (VCRs) are developed in Japan by Sony (Betamax) and Matsushita (VHS).
  • Oil prices rise dramatically to $13 per barrel worldwide.
Country star Glen Campbell takes ASCAP singer-songwriter Larry Weiss's anthemic "Rhinestone Cowboy" to the top of the US country and Hot 100 charts. The song is named Song and Single of the Year by the Academy of Country Music. Over the years it's been covered by an incredible array of artists, from Loretta Lynn to David Hasselhoff, Guns N' Roses to Radiohead. Song Information
Music
1974
José Feliciano Brings the Barrio to the TV Screen
Play Video
1974
ASCAP songwriter-guitarist José Feliciano was a towering figure in Latin pop by 1974, the year he wrote the theme to the hit NBC sitcom Chico and the Man. The show was a cultural milestone, bringing a Mexican-American barrio onto the small screen for the first time in US television history.
  • India successfully tests an atomic device, becoming the world's sixth nuclear power.
  • People magazine debuts, with Mia Farrow gracing the cover.
  • A new elementary particle psi (now called J) is discovered by Burton Richter of Stanford University.
Not only did José Feliciano write the theme to Chico and the Man, he also appeared in the show as Chico's cousin, singer Pepe Fernando. Click the video link to watch Feliciano performing it plus his hit version of The Doors' "Light My Fire" during one of his many cameos. Song Information
Music
1973
The Way They Were
1973
The 1973 film The Way We Were, starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, also starred one of the greatest collaborations in movie music history. The title song was written by (pictured, l-r) lyricists Alan Bergman and (future ASCAP President) Marilyn Bergman with composer Marvin Hamlisch. It was performed by Streisand. The song won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.
  • Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) hikes oil prices in retaliation for Western countries' involvement in Yom Kippur War.
  • The Jamaican film The Harder They Come, starring Jimmy Cliff, helps spread the popularity of reggae music in the US.
  • Skylab, the first American space station, is launched.

The Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning "The Way We Were," written by lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman and composer Marvin Hamlisch made it on the American Film Institute's list of Top 100 Songs from Film. Here is the great Barbra Streisand's version of it from the film of the same name.

Song Information
Music
1972
Bob Marley's Reggae Revolution
1972
Jamaica's Bob Marley joined ASCAP in 1971 and in the years that followed he spearheaded an explosion of interest in reggae music around the world. With his group The Wailers he created some of the most beloved and iconic music of the 20th Century, including "I Shot the Sheriff," "Stir It Up," "Could You Be Loved," "Three Little Birds," "Get Up, Stand Up" and more. His greatest hits collection, Legend, holds the distinction of being the second longest-charting album in the history of Billboard magazine.
  • Atari introduces the arcade version of Pong, the first video game. The home version comes out in 1974.
  • CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scanning is developed in England.
  • Pilots organize worldwide strike protesting increased air piracy/hijacking and lack of government action.
"Stir it Up" was written by Bob Marley in 1967 for his wife Rita. It was first made popular by fellow ASCAP member Johnny Nash, whose recording of it it hit the top 15 in both Britain and America in 1972. "Stir it Up" was Bob Marley's first successful song outside Jamaica. Marley's first "own" international hit wouldn't be until 1975 with "No Woman No Cry." Here is Bob Marley's version of his now classic song. Song Information
Music
1971
The Band Breaks Through
1971

After touring as Bob Dylan's band in the late 1960s, The Band, featuring (l-r) Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson, set off on their own musical journey. Their debut album, Music from Big Pink, established their sound evoking old time rural America, and earned them a growing following. Their second self-titled album was a critical and commercial success and featured the song "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," which became a hit for Joan Baez.

  • Intel releases world's first microprocessor, the 4004.
  • Greenpeace formally comes into existence.
  • Jim Morrison of The Doors is found dead in a bathtub in Paris.

"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," written by The Band's Robbie Robertson, tells the story of the last days of the American Civil War and the suffering of the South. Sung by drummer Levon Helm, the song is one of the group's signature works. Joan Baez enjoyed the biggest hit of her career with her 1971 recording of it. Here are The Band and Baez's versions.

Song Information
Music
1970
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
1970
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were the first successful recording act for Motown Records, and one of the most influential and important groups in pop and R&B history. Their numerous hits included “Shop Around,” "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," "Ooo Baby Baby," "The Tracks of My Tears," "I Second That Emotion" and the 1970 hit "The Tears of a Clown." Robinson was also a writer for his Motown label mates, including The Temptations, Mary Wells, The Marvelettes, among others.
  • Four students at Kent State University in Ohio slain by National Guardsmen during a protest.
  • The Beatles break up. By the end of the year, each member had released a solo album.
  • Bar codes (computer-scanned binary signal code) are introduced for retail and industrial use in England.

"The Tears of a Clown" originated as an instrumental work written by Stevie Wonder and producer Hank Cosby. It wasn't completed until after Wonder shared the music at the 1966 Motown Christmas party and Smokey Robinson created lyrics for it, that it became the song we know today. An international multi-million seller, "The Tears of a Clown"was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Notably, the record is one of the few hit pop singles to feature the bassoon.

Song Information
Music
1969
Woodstock Wows the World
1969
From August 15th through 18th, 1969, 400,000 young people came together for the Woodstock Music & Art Fair at Bethel, New York. A cultural phenomenon that made headlines around the world, Woodstock signaled that the counterculture was truly the movement of the moment and featured career-making performances by ASCAP members Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Richie Havens, Melanie and Arlo Guthrie. 
  • ARPANET, the predecessor of the internet, is created.
  • Children's Television Workshop introduces Sesame Street.
  • The first in vitro fertilization of a human egg is performed in Cambridge, England.

"Piece of My Heart" was co-written by legendary songwriter-producer Jerry Ragovoy. Originally written in 1967 for Erma Franklin (Aretha's sister), the song achieved greater mainstream attention when Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin on lead vocals, covered the song in 1968 and had a much bigger hit with it. Her performance of the song at Woodstock immortalized it even more. Here is that version.

Song Information
Music
1968
Jimi Hendrix Joins ASCAP
1968

Singer, songwriter and musician Jimi Hendrix is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music. With the Jimi Hendrix Experience, he released three extraordinary albums in 1967 and 1968: Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland, immortalizaing such songs as "Hey Joe," "Purple Haze" and "The Wind Cries Mary," among others. A year after joining ASCAP, he headlined the Woodstock Festival.  

  • Pope Paul VI bans Catholics from using the contraceptive pill for birth control.
  • The first Big Mac goes on sale in McDonalds, costing 49 cents.
  • Prototype of world's first supersonic airliner. The Soviet-designed Tupolev Tu-144 made its first flight, Dec. 31. It first achieved supersonic speed on June 5, 1969.
"Crosstown Traffic" was the second single released from the 1968 Electric Ladyland album, featuring the full line-up of the Experience with Hendrix, Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. Background vocals on the song are performed by Redding and Dave Mason. The master version of the song is featured in the video game Rock Band 3. Song Information
Music
1967
The Doors Join ASCAP
1967

The Doors were vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger. They unleashed their debut album in 1967 and rock music would never be the same. They quickly became one of the most controversial and influential rock acts of their time because of the band's unique instrumentation and Morrison's wild charisma. Their first album was just one in a series that would reach the top ten.  

  • The US and USSR propose a nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
  • The Public Broadcasting Act establishes the The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) in the U.S.
  • The first ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) is put into service in Barclays Bank in London.

"Light My Fire" appeared on The Doors' debut album in 1967. The song originated as an unfinished Robby Krieger composition and was later expanded upon by the group. When the song was released in April '67, it spent three weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Doors famously performed the song on The Ed Sullivan show, leaving in some controversial lyrics.  

Song Information
Music
1966
Cy Coleman Elected to ASCAP Board
1966
1966's Broadway musical, Sweet Charity, featured music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields and a book by Neil Simon. It was also directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse. It was a smash and advanced the already successful career of Coleman, who had written many '50s pop hits , including "Witchcraft" and "The Best is Yet to Come." Coleman was a major advocate for his fellow music creators and served on the ASCAP Board from 1966 to his death in 2004.
  • The first Star Trek episode, "The Man Trap," is broadcast on September 8th. 
  • India suffers the worst famine in 20 years; Lyndon Johnson asks for $1 billion in aid to the country.
  • Insulin is first synthesized in China.
Tony Award-winning actress, dancer and singer Gwen Verdon, the wife of Sweet Charity director/choreographer Bob Fosse, also played the lead role in that musical. She memorably introduced Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields's song "If My Friends Could See Me Now" to the world. Song Information
Music
1965
The Theatres Are Alive with The Sound of Music
1965
The Sound of Music, with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, originally appeared on Broadway in 1959. But it was the 1965 film musical adaptation, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, that established it as one of the most successful and beloved musicals of all time. The film won five Academy Awards. The songs have become standards, such as "Edelweiss," "My Favorite Things," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "Do-Re-Mi" and "The Sound of Music." 

  • The Beatles perform the first stadium concert in the history of rock at Shea Stadium
  • Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov becomes the first person to walk in space.
  • Black-nationalist leader Malcolm X is shot to death in Harlem.
"My Favorite Things" made its debut in the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, and was sung by Mary Martin. The 1965 musical film featured Julie Andrews singing the song, which over time has become a popular Christmas song due its winter-related images in the lyrics. Song Information
Music
1964
'60s Pop Princes: Hal David and Burt Bacharach
1964

Lyricist Hal David (left) and composer Burt Bacharach began collaborating in the late 1950s. As they honed their craft they brought a new sophistication to the Brill Building sound of the mid 1960s with their songs for Dionne Warwick, their greatest interpreter. They would go on to become one of history's greatest songwriting teams. America's musical tastes expanded in diverse directions in the '60s, from Britpop to Broadway show tunes to jazz instrumentals.

  • The Beatles lead a new British invasion of America
  • Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa
  • The Ranger VII takes 4,316 high-resolution pictures of the moon
Here are three songs that illustrate the diversity of what was popular on mid '60s radio: Hal David and Burt Bacharach's "Walk On By" as performed by Dionne Warwick; Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' "As Tears Go By" as performed by Marianne Faithfull; and the title song from Jerry Herman's Broadway smash "Hello Dolly!" as performed by Louis Armstrong, who took it to #1 in the face of Beatlemania! Song Information
Music
1963
ASCAP Opens a Membership Office in Nashville
1963

To better serve ASCAP's growing country music membership, ASCAP opened a southern regional office building in "Music City" in 1963. Here is a photo of the original ASCAP building on Music Row. It would serve ASCAP's Nashville community for 30 years until a new structure would go up on the same location in 1992. Among the many country greats who were signed through that office were Johnny Cash, Lyle Lovett, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire and so many more.

  • John F. Kennedy is assassinated on Novemember 22nd
  • John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney take Britain by storm; the term "Beatlemania" is coined
  • The first liver transplant is performed by F.D. Moore and T.E. Starzl
Skeeter Davis's 1963 recording of "The End of the World," written by ASCAP members Sylvia Dee, an Arkansas-born lyricist, and Arthur Kent, enjoyed international success, reaching the top five of the country and pop charts in the US. The song was produced by Chet Atkins and featured keyboard work by Floyd Cramer. The song was actually played at Chet Atkins funeral. Song Information
Music
1962
Mancini and Mercer's Year
1962
The 1962 film Days of Wine and Roses, directed by Blake Edwards, starred Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick (pictured). Composer Henry Mancini and lyricist Johnny Mercer wrote the film's theme music, which would win the 1963 Academy Award for Best Original Song. That same year, their "Moon River," written for 1961's Breakfast at Tiffany's, also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, as well as Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis: USSR to build missile bases in Cuba; Kennedy orders Cuban blockade, lifts blockade after Russia backs down.
  • Johnny Carson takes over hosting duties of The Tonight Show.
  • The commercially sponsored Telstar communications satellite is launched. It relays the first live trans-Atlantic television signal.
"Days of Wine and Roses," written by Henry Mancini with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, was written for the 1962 film of the same name. The song is composed of only two sentences, one for each stanza. A jazz standard, the song has been recorded many times by such artists as Perry Como, Wes Montgomery, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Pass and others. However, it is Andy Williams's version that is the best-known. Song Information
Music
1961
America Twists Again and ASCAP Opens LA Office
Play Video
1961

ASCAP member Chubby Checker's 1960 cover of the Hank Ballard R&B hit "The Twist" was a smash, launching a dance craze and a thirst for more dance-driven songs. The following year, Checker followed up that success with "Let's Twist Again," written by Kal Mann and Dave Appell. The song won the Grammy Award for Best Rock and Roll Song. That same year, ASCAP opened its LA office. This video shows audiences twisting across America to Checker's classic recording.

  • East Germany erects the Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin to halt flood of refugees on August 13.
  • Moscow puts first man in orbit, Yuri Gagarin
  • West Side Story is adapted for the big screen, and wins four Oscars for Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Directing.
One of the biggest hit singles of 1961, "Let's Twist Again," performed by Chubby Checker and written by Kal Mann and Dave Appell (all ASCAP members), reached number eight in the US on the Billboard pop chart. The song was used memorably in the 2011 film The Help. Song Information
Music
1960
Ed Sullivan Salutes ASCAP
1960

To show his support for ASCAP and its members, Ed Sullivan began making yearly salutes to the Society on his program. The first time he did so was in January of 1956, when the impressive list of guests on the show included Jack Norworth and Cab Calloway. Later ASCAP tributes featured the likes of theatre director Moss Hart (far left), Kitty Carlisle, and Liberace (far right) with then ASCAP President Stanley Adams and Sullivan (center).

  • Communist China and Soviet Union split in conflict over Communist ideology.
  • John Coltrane forms his own jazz quartet and releases Giant Steps, his breakthrough album as a leader
  • The first working laser is built by T. H. Maiman (U.S.)
Oscar winner Elmer Bernstein, who also served briefly on ASCAP's Board, was one of the most versatile and prolific film composers in cinema history. His career spanned 50 years and he created the music for hundreds of film and television productions. Among his great scores are those for The Ten Commandments, The Great Escape, The Man With the Golden Arm and The Magnificent Seven. Here is that film's rousing theme.   Song Information
Music
1959
John Cage Joins ASCAP
1959
A pioneer of the post-war avant-garde movement in music, John Cage was a composer, a music theorist, writer and artist. He studied under Henry Cowell and Arnold Shoenberg, both known for their radical innovations in music, but Cage drew inspiration from Eastern and South Asian cultures, as well as Indian philosophy and Zen Buddhism. His study of the classic Chinese text, I Ching, led him to compose by "imitating nature" or using chance as an approach.
  • Fidel Castro assumes power in Cuba on February 16th.
  • The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences sponsors the first Grammy Award ceremony for music recorded in 1958.
  • Jack S. Kilby of Texas Instruments supervises the development of the first integrated circuit.
Composed in 1946 to 1948, Cage's collection of 20 pieces for prepared piano reflect his fascination with Indian philosophy and the teachings of art historian Ananda K. Comaraswamy, both of which became major influences on the composer's later work. Performing Cage's "Sonata 1" here is Giancarlo Cardini. Song Information
Music
1958
Members Rube Goldberg and Otto Harbach Collaborate on Advocacy Effort
1958

One of ASCAP's most unique members, cartoonist, artist, engineer, songwriter and inventor Rube Goldberg (yes, of "Rube Goldberg machine" fame) was a great advocate of music creators' rights. In 1958, he made headlines when he teamed up with former ASCAP president Otto Harbach to draw a political cartoon criticizing a loophoole in copyright law that forbade artists to collect royalties from jukebox profits. Unfortunately, the two were unsuccessful, and the law was not revised until 1978.

  • Elvis Presley is inducted into the US Army on March 24.
  • NASA initiates Project Mercury, aimed at putting a man in space within two years.
  • Alaska becomes the 49th state
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," written by lyricist and onetime ASCAP President Otto Harbach and composer Jerome Kern, was orginally written for the 1933 musical Roberta. It later appeared in the 1935 film adaptation starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott and Irene Dunne (who sang it). It has been covered numerous times. But the 1958 version recorded by The Platters, which went to number one on the Billboard chart that year, is the best-known rendition today. Song Information
Music
1957
West Side Story and Stephen Sondheim's Broadway Debut
1957
West Side Story debuted on Broadway in 1957 with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein (at right in photo) and conception, choreography and direction by Jerome Robbins. It also marked the Broadway debut of a young lyricist Stephen Sondheim (seated at piano), who would go on to become a musical theatre legend. Although the musical didn't win a Tony (losing to Meredith Wilson's The Music Man), it later spawned a 1961 musical film which would win 10 Academy Awards.
  • Russia launches Sputnik I, first earth-orbiting satellite—the Space Age begins.
  • Martin Luther King Jr heads nationwide resistance to racial segregation and discrimination in the U.S.
  • The great family sit-com Leave It to Beaver premieres on CBS
"Maria" appears in Act 1 of West Side Story, sung by male lead Tony, a caucasian, who pines for the girl he just met, who is Puerto Rican. Thus the racial conflict that drives the love story is established. Here is the song from the original cast recording, sung by Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence. Song Information
Music
1956
Hitchcock Film Spawns Major Hit in "Que Sera, Sera"
1956
The 1956 Alfred Hitchcock film, The Man Who Knew Too Much, starred two major Hollywood talents, Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart. It also launched another star - the song "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)," written by the songwriting team of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, and recorded by Doris Day. The song received the 1956 Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was the third Oscar win for Livingston and Evans.
  • The DNA molecule is first photographed.
  • Soviet troops and tanks crush anti-Communist uprisings in Hungary.
  • The Wizard of Oz has its first airing on TV.
Doris Day's recording of "Que Sera, Sera" made it to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one on the UK Singles Chart. From 1968 to 1973, it was used as the theme song to the Doris Day Show, and became her signature song. Today, the song is regularly sung at English football matches when a team is progressing to the next round of competition. Song Information
Music
1955
Tito Puente, El Rey de los Timbales
1955
The son of native Puerto Ricans, Tito Puente grew up in New York City's Spanish Harlem community. Best known for dance-oriented mambo and Latin jazz compositions that fueled his career for over 50 years, he became known as "The Musical Pope," "El Rey de los Timbales" and "The King of Latin Music." He and his music appear in many films, including The Mambo Kings, and he was a frequent guest on TV series such as Sesame Street, The Cosby Show and even The Simpsons.
  • African-American Rosa Parks is arrested after refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Narinder Kapany of England develops fiber optics.
  • 70mm film is introduced with the musical film Oklahoma!
One of Tito Puente's most beloved and enduring compositions is "Oye Como Va," which he wrote in 1963. Its literal translation is "Listen to how it goes." In 1970, guitarist Carlos Santana and his band recorded the song for their album Abraxas, and it catapulted Santana into stardom, with the song reaching #13 on the Billboard Top 100. Song Information
Music
1954
America Starts to Rock Around the Clock
1954
After achieving great success with their recording of "Shake, Rattle and Roll," Bill Haley & His Comets recorded "Rock Around the Clock" in 1954. When the song was used for the opening credits of the film Blackboard Jungle, it soared to the top of the American Billboard chart for eight weeks. After the record rose to number one, Haley was give the title "Father of Rock and Roll" by the media, and by teenagers who were thrilled by the new style of music.
  • NBC’s “The Tonight Show” was first aired with Steve Allen as the host.
  • In 'Brown v. Board of Education' of Topeka the Supreme Court unanimously bans racial segregation in public schools.
  • Boeing tests the 707, the first jet-powered transport plane.
ASCAP member Bill Haley & His Comets turned "Rock Around the Clock" into one of the early rock era's most iconic anthems. The song was written in 1952 by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers (aka "Jimmy De Knight"). It is widely considered to be the song that brought Rock 'n' Roll into mainstream culture around the world. Song Information
Music
1953
Dragnet's Instrumental TV Theme Song Becomes Hit
1953
Dragnet, originally a radio show, featured an instrumental theme by composer Walter Schumann. The music, which was inspired in part by Miklos Rozsa's score to the 1946 film The Killers, was later used on the hit TV series starring Jack Webb. The first run of the TV series consisted of 276 original episodes. A 1953 recording by bandleader Ray Anthony and his orchestra became a No. 2 chart hit.
  • Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin dies on March 5th.
  • The first issue of TV Guide magazine hits the newsstands on April 3rd in 10 cities with a circulation of 1,560,000.
  • Cigarette smoking is reported as causing lung cancer.
The Dragnet theme music was divided in two parts, an opening "Main Title" and the "Dragnet March" used over the closing credits. Ray Anthony's "Dragnet" hit recording combined the two musical parts and made it danceable.  Song Information
Music
1952
High Noon Rides High in Song and On Screen
1952

In 1952 theatre-goers were treated to Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly on the big screen in the classic Western drama High Noon. The film tells the story of a town marshall forced to face a gang of killers by himself. It won four Academy Awards and two Golden Globes. The score was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin, who also co-wrote the theme song with lyricist Ned Washington. Both the score and theme song won Oscars. 

  • Television's first magazine-format program, The Today Show, debuts on NBC with Dave Garroway hosting.
  • Elizabeth II becomes Queen upon the death of her father George VI in the United Kingdom.
  • South African police arrest Nelson Mandela for treason.

"High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)," with music by Dimitri Tiomkin and lyrics by Ned Washington, was introduced in the Academy Award-winning film High Noon. Performed by Tex Ritter, the song won the 1952 Academy Award for Best Original Song and became a hit for both Ritter and Frankie Laine.

Song Information
Music
1951
Listening for Royalties
1951

A picture of ASCAP’s old index department. After listening to hours-long tapes of radio recordings from across the nation to search for ASCAP songs, staffers then had to sift through licensing data to ensure that royalties could be properly distributed to songwriter, composer and music publisher members. Today ASCAP processes more than 250 billion performances annually.

  • I Love Lucy makes its television debut on CBS
  • Truman signs peace treaty with Japan, officially ending World War II
  • The new United Nations headquarters in New York City officially opens
"In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," with music by Hoagy Carmichael and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, was written for the 1951 film Here Comes the Groom , and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Song Information
Music
1950
Otto Harbach Elected ASCAP President
1950

Young Otto Harbach (right) fell in love with librettos and abandoned his literary career to become a songwriter. He wrote over 50 musical comedies and became a charter member of ASCAP, eventually serving as the Society's fifth President from 1950-1953. Harbach is pictured here with ASCAP’s sixth President, Stanley Adams.

  • The Korean War begins
  • The first Peanuts cartoon strip appears
  • The first modern credit card is introduced
“Luck Be a Lady, written by Frank Loesser and published by Frank Music Corp., debuts in the 1950 Broadway musical Guys & Dolls. This recording is from the 1955 musical film, performed by Marlon Brando. Song Information
Music
1949
ASCAP Licenses Television for the First Time
1949

By the end of the 1940s, ASCAP was processing an ever-increasing amount of data. In response, ASCAP created a "tabulating department," the forerunner of the state of the art data center ASCAP utilizes today. In 1949, ASCAP began licensing a brand new music user - television - which remains a major force in performance royalties today. In 2012, ASCAP collected more than $308 million from its TV and Cable licensees.

  • George Orwell publishes 1984
  • A Boeing B-50 bomber named Lucky Lady II achieves the first non-stop flight around the world
  • The Peoples Republic of China is officially proclaimed
The first television Western, Hopalong Cassidy, began airing on NBC in 1949. The series was culled from feature films that were produced starting in 1935 starring movie actor William Boyd. The TV series was a huge success. Here is the theme song to the show. Song Information
Music
1948
Songwriter Fred E. Ahlert Elected ASCAP's 4th President
1948

A songwriter with a background in law and music publishing, Fred E. Ahlert was an integral part of the ASCAP team during his 30 year career. He went on to serve as President for two years, 1948-1950. Ahlert is credited with writing "Mean to Me," "Walkin' My Baby Back Home," "I'll Get By" and "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter," among others.

  • Indian pacifist and leader Mahatma Gandhi is murdered on 26th January by a Hindu extremist
  • The United Nations create the WHO: World Health Organization
  • The stock car racing organization NASCAR is founded

Fred Ahlert and Roy Turk's "Mean to Me" was originally written in 1929. A popular standard, it has been recorded by many artists, including Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughn, Doris Day, Julie London, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker and Linda Rondstadt. Here is a modern version by Nellie Mckay from her tribute album to Doris Day.

Song Information
Music
1947
Broadway's Big Year
1947
1947 was a boom year for Broadway musicals. Making their debuts were: Brigadoon, with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe: Finnian's Rainbow, with a book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy and music by Burton Lane; and the Tony Award-winning Kiss Me Kate, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. Pictured are members of the 1947 cast of Brigadoon at a recording session.
  • ENIAC, one of the world's first digital computers, is turned on after a memory upgrade. It remains in continuous operation until October 2, 1955.
  • Jackie Robinson takes to the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first black athlete in Major League Baseball.
  • The United Nations votes in favor of the creation of an independent Jewish state of Israel.
Here are three classic songs that emerged from the Broadway musicals of 1947: "Almost Like Being in Love" from Brigadoon (from the hit film version in 1954 starring Gene Kelly); "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" from Finnian's Rainbow; and "Too Darn Hot" from Kiss Me Kate.
Song Information
Music
1946
Deems Taylor Presides Over ASCAP
1946

Composer Deems Taylor was elected ASCAP President in 1942 and served for six years, a time when the Society faced new competition from BMI and a Justice Department Consent Decree which ASCAP had accepted in 1941. A music critic and radio host, Taylor also narrated Walt Disney's 1940 animated film Fantasia. The ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards, honoring music books, articles and broadcasts, was established in 1968 in his name.

  • AT&T announces first car phones.
  • Tupperware sold in department and hardware stores.
  • The Philippines gain independence after 48 years of US rule

"(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66," written by songwriter Bobby Troup, was first recorded by the Nat King Cole Trio in 1946. The song's lyrics follow the path of the US Route 66 highway, which traversed the country from east to west, and evoked America's post-war fascination with automobile travel. Other notable versions of the song include those done by Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode and John Mayer.

Song Information
Music
1945
Aaron Copland Wins Pulitzer Prize
1945

In 1945, ASCAP member Aaron Copland's famous piece of Americana, "Appalachian Spring," won the Pulitzer Prize in the music category. The piece was commissioned by choreographer Martha Graham, who requested "music for an American ballet" from Copland. Originally titled "Music for Martha," it was Graham who envisioned the Appalachian Mountains while listening to the piece and gave it its name.

  • The United States detonates an atomic bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6th. Three days later the U.S. drops another bomb nicknamed "Fat Man" over the city of Nagasaki, Japan.
  • Adolf Hitler and his wife of one day, Eva Braun, commit suicide.
  • World War II ends.
Appalachian Spring, a ballet commissioned by choreographer Martha Graham, premiered in 1944 at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, with Graham dancing the lead role. The set was designed by the Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. In 1945, Copland rearranged the ballet work as an orchestral suite divided into eight sections. Song Information
Music
1944
On the Town
1944

On the Town got its start in 1944 as a Jerome Robbins ballet called Fancy Free, which used Leonard Bernstein's music. It subsequently evolved into a Broadway musical with music by Bernstein and lyrics by the talented songwriting team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Pictured (l-r) are actress Alice Walker, Bernstein, Green and Comden backstage. The show was later made into a beloved musical film in 1949.  

  • Allies invade Normandy on D-Day on June 6th.
  • The first network censorship occurs when the sound is cut off on the Eddie Cantor and Nora Martin duet, "We're Having a Baby, My Baby and Me."
  • GI Bill of Rights is passed, providing benefits for armed-service veterans.
On the Town premiered on Broadway at the Adelphi Theater on December 28, 1944, directed by George Abbott and with choreography by Jerome Robbins. The original production lasted 462 performances, and starred songwriters Betty Comden (as Claire) and Adolph Green (as Ozzie). Here is "New York, New York" from the original cast recording as well as a version sung by the songwriters themselves. Song Information
Music
1943
The Hi De Ho Man
Play Video
1943

Cab Calloway, who joined ASCAP in 1942, was a songwriter, jazz singer and bandleader most associated with the Cotton Club in Harlem. A master of scat singing, Calloway also led one of the most popular big bands in the country from the start of the 1930s through the late '40s. In 1988, ASCAP presented him with its Duke Ellington Award. Here is a video of Cab with his orchestra appearing in the 1943 film Stormy Weather.

  • Great Depression ends in the United States, with unemployment figures falling fast due to World War II-related employment.
  • The annual Golden Globe Awards begins.
  • Famine in Bengal, India leaves up to 3 million dead.
"Minnie the Moocher" is most famous for its scat lyrics "Hi De Hi De Hi De Hi," which helped the song sell over 1 million copies when it was first recorded in 1931. A signature song for Calloway, he would later perform it memorably in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers at the age of 73. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. Song Information
Music
1942
"White Christmas" Becomes Holiday Classic
1942
Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," recorded by Bing Crosby for the 1942 musical film Holiday Inn, resonated strongly with listeners during World War II. The Armed Forces Network was flooded with requests for the song as the holidays neared in 1942 and by the end of the year, it was a #1 hit. It went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song and today it remains the best-selling single of all time.
  • 26 countries agree to create the United Nations.
  • 30 members of the Duquesne Spy Ring operating in the US are jailed for 300 years.
  • U.S. gas rationing goes into effect with no more than 3 gallons used per week.
Bing Crosby originally recorded "White Christmas" with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers for Decca Records on May 29th, 1942. However, the version heard today is not the original Crosby recording as the master had become damaged. He re-recorded it in 1947, accompanied again by the same musicians. The song remains the most recorded Christmas song in history with over 500 recordings. Song Information
Music
1941
Music in Uniform
1941

As World War II continued to rage, military themes became more and more prevalent in popular culture. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" was co-written by Don Raye and Hughie Prince during a peacetime draft to expand the armed forces in anticipation of American involvement. The Andrews Sisters introduced the song in the Abbott and Costello film, Buck Privates, released in 1941.The hit became an iconic World War II tune.

  • Citizen Kane is written and directed by Orson Wells.
  • Hitler and Mussolini announce they are at war with America who retaliates with its own declaration of war.
  • The first Royal Air Force aircraft equipped with radar is built.
An early example of jump blues music, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" is ranked at #6 on the RIAA's Songs of the Century list and was nominated for an Academy Award for its debut in the Abbott and Costello film Buck Privates. In 1973, Bette Midler recorded the song and it peaked at number eight on the Billboard chart. Song Information
Music
1940
An Historic Concert
1940

In 1940, ASCAP presented a concert at San Francisco's Treasure Island, highlighting great American music from the turn of the century up to that point. An incredible array of ASCAP writer and composer members took part in the concert, including Harold Arlen, who accompanied Judy Garland on "Over the Rainbow," as well as Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Berlin, W.C. Handy, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer and Deems Taylor.  

  • Walt Disney's animated film Pinocchio is released together with Fantasia.
  • Germany and Italy agree to form an alliance against France and the United Kingdom during WWII.

Here is the complete "Carousel of American Music" concert that was held on September 24th, 1940 on San Francisco's Treasure Island. Highlights include Albert von Tilzer singing his "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," L. Wolfe Gilbert performing "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee," Arthur Freed performing "Singin' in the Rain," Hoagy Carmichael performing "Stardust" and many other great songs performed by their creators.

Song Information
Music
1939
The Wizard of Oz
1939
When The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939, it gave moviegoers an unforgettable cinematic experience. It also gave them memorable songs by composer Harold Arlen and lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg that burrowed deeply into the collective American consciousness. "Over the Rainbow," the yearning ballad sung by Judy Garland early in the film, went on to win the Academy Award for Best Song and remains a monumental American standard. 
  • World War II: Nazi Germany attacks Poland on September 1st. France, Australia and the United Kingdom declare war on Germany.
  • The first air conditioned car, The Packard, goes on show.
  • Albert Einstein writes President Franklin Roosevelt about developing the atomic bomb using uranium. The Manhattan Project begins.

"Over the Rainbow" became Judy Garland's theme song and an anthem of hope that has inspired generations around the world. The song is number one on the "Songs of the Century" list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America. The American Film Institute also ranked it the greatest movie song of all time. Here is Garland's version from the soundtrack and a more recent version by the late Hawaiian artist Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole, which topped the charts as recently as 2004.

Song Information
Music
1938
Cowboy Music Rides High
1938

Thanks to the ubiquitous singing cowboy movies of the 1930s, starring Gene Autry (pictured), Roy Rogers, Sons of the Pioneers, Tex Ritter and Johnny Marvin, cowboy songs became part of the national fabric. Autry was not only an accomplished actor and vocalist but also a songwriter who reigned on the radio, in movies and on television for more than three decades. His original songs include "Back in the Saddle Again," "Blue Canadian Rockies" and "Here Comes Santa Claus," among others.

  • Action Comics issues the first Superman comic.
  • Orson Welles's radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds is broadcast, causing mass panic in the eastern United States.
  • Steam locomotive "Mallard" sets the world speed record for steam by reaching 126 mph.

Gene Autry's signature song, "Back in the Saddle Again," which was also the name of his auotobiography in 1976, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and was named one of the 100 Best Songs of the 20th Century by voters of the RIAA.

Song Information
Music
1937
Duke's Dynasty
1937
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington began making his mark as a jazz orchestra leader and composer in the 1920s. In the next decade he settled on a particularly strong ensemble of musicians with which he built a musical legacy that endures to this day. A few notable Ellington orchestra alumni include such legends as Johnny Hodges, Rex Stewart, Barney Bigard, Cootie Williams and Juan Tizol. Ellington and Tizol collaborated on two enduring jazz classics with a Latin feel, "Caravan" and "Perdido."
  • Amelia Mary Earhart mysteriously disappears over the Pacific Ocean during a circumnavigation flight.
  • Kiichiro Toyoda founds the Toyota Motor Company in Japan.
  • The German airship Hindenburg bursts into flames while attempting to moor at Lakehurst, New Jersey.
"Caravan" was first performed by the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1936. Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman and Gordon Jenkins all covered it. Woody Allen has used the song in two of his films, Alice and Sweet and Lowdown. Song Information
Music
1936
Strength in Members
1936

In 1936, another group of prominent ASCAP members traveled to DC to speak out on behalf of their fellow music creators, a tradition and a need that remains ongoing. This photo shows musical leaders of their day testifying at a Congressional hearing. Pictured (l-r) are superstar crooner Rudy Vallée, legendary songwriters Irving Berlin and George Gershwin and ASCAP President Gene Buck, who served from 1924 to 1942.

  • BBC starts the first public television broadcasts in London.
  • Eugen Schuelle, a French chemist, invents the first sunscreen. He went on to become the founder of the L'Oreal line of cosmetics.
  • Billboard Magazine publishes the first pop music chart.

"Pennies from Heaven," written by composer Arthur Johnston and lyricist Johnny Burke, was a song made hugely popular by the young Bing Crosby, who starred in the 1936 musical film of the same name. It was recorded the same year by Billie Holiday. Many other greats have since recorded the song including Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett, Dinah Washington, Louis Prima and Frank Sinatra, all represented here. In 1960s, The Skyliners revived it in a memorable Doo-Wop version.

Song Information
Music
1935
Big Band Boom
1935
By the mid 1930s, the sound of Big Bands such as those led by Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Earl Hines, Jay McShann and the Dorsey Brothers spread from ballrooms and clubs to radio and motion pictures, dominating the music scene.
  • President Frankin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law
  • Alcoholics Anonymous is founded
  • The Nuremberg Laws go into effect in Nazi Germany
"Lullaby of Broadway" was introduced in the musical film, Gold Diggers of 1935. The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra version, heard here, was a #1 hit in 1935. The song went on to win the 1936 Academy Award for Best Original Song and was later used, memorably, in a commercial for the Milford Plaza Hotel in New York. Song Information
Music
1934
ASCAP's First Oscar Winners
1934
In 1934, ASCAP members Herb Magidson and Con Conrad become the first people to take home an Oscar for music in a motion picture. The award winner is "The Continental" from The Gay Divorcee. To date, ASCAP members have won Oscars in all but three years, for a grand total of 169 Oscar-winning scores and songs.
  • The Dust Bowl begins
  • Cheeseburger created
  • Gangsters Bonnie & Clyde, John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd are all killed by US law enforcement
The musical film The Gay Divorcee, which featured the song "The Continental," starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Winning the very first Academy Award for Best Original song, the music is set in the film to a 20 minute dance sequence, sung by Ginger Rogers, Erik Rhodes and Lillian Miles, and danced to by Ginger and Fred. Song Information
Music
1933
ASCAP's First General Licensing Office Opens
1933

Throughout the 1930s, ASCAP's licensing efforts intensified. In 1933, ASCAP opened its first general licensing office in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here is a reproduction of an ASCAP license signed by a Des Moines, Iowa ballroom in 1936. Today, ASCAP has more than 700,000 licensed customers, and licensing representatives who cover every region of the country.

  • Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany
  • FDR launches New Deal
  • Prohibition ends in the US

Johnny Mercer, who joined ASCAP in 1933, struck musical gold when he was paired with composer Hoagy Carmichael. The two spent a year working on "Lazy Bones," which became a hit one week after its first radio broadcast, and each received a royalty check of $1,250. Mercer had arrived, and he received congratulations from Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Cole Porter, among others.

Song Information
Music
1932
Ira Gerswhin - ASCAP's First Pulitzer Winner
1932
Ira Gershwin (pictured at left with brother George) became ASCAP's first member to win the Pulitzer Prize (in Drama) for the musical Of Thee I Sing. The show lampooned American politics and ran for 441 performances. It has been revived several times in the U.S. and London.  
  • Amelia Earhart becomes first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic
  • Scientists split the atom
  • Air conditioning is invented
"Of Thee I Sing" is the title song of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical. Covered often, this version is by jazz chanteuse Chris Connor, recorded in 1961. Song Information
Music
1931
Cole Porter Joins ASCAP
1931
Indiana-born Cole Porter defied the wishes of his parents and sought a music career in New York City. He would gain great success in the 1920s and '30s as a composer and lyricist for musical theatre. Among his many hit shows were Fifty Million Frenchmen, Anything Goes, Can-Can and Kiss Me, Kate. His numerous standards include "Night and Day," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and "You're the Top."
  • "The Star-Spangled Banner," written by Francis Scott Key, is adopted as the United States National Anthem
  • Empire State Building is completed
  • Salvador Dali's The Persistence of Memory is displayed in Paris for the first time
Written in 1930 for the musical The New Yorkers, Porter's "Love for Sale" was written from the viewpoint of a prostitute. It was originally considered in bad taste and was banned from radio play. Nonetheless, Libby Holman's 1931 recording went to #5. Today, the song remains one of the most covered in the Porter catalog.This version is by ASCAP member kd lang. Song Information
Music
1930
Music Brightens the Great Depression
1930
Young composer Harold Arlen joins ASCAP and launches a career that will produce more than 500 songs, including the classics "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Stormy Weather," "That Old Black Magic," "Let's Fall in Love," "Get Happy," "Over the Rainbow," "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive," "One More for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" and many, many more. Arlen served on the ASCAP Board later in his career.
  • Warner Bros release their first cartoon series, Looney Tunes, in the US
  • Pluto is discovered
  • The first frozen foods go on sale in Springfield, Mass.
"Get Happy" was the first song that composer Harold Arlen wrote with lyricist Ted Koehler. It was introduced by Ruth Etting in The Nine-Fifteen Revue in 1930. It is most associated, however, with Judy Garland, who performed it in her last MGM film, Summer Stock (1950). Song Information
Music
1929
When Great Lyrics and Music Meet
1929

After Mitchell Parish added his poignant, poetic lyrics to the 1927 melody by Hoagy Carmichael (pictured), "Stardust" sailed into immortality, becoming one of the most recorded and performed songs of all time, with more than 1,500 recordings to date.

  • Car radio is invented
  • First Academy Awards are presented
  • The Great Depression begins
Among the more than 1,500 recordings of "Stardust" is this one by the composer Hoagy Carmichael himself. Song Information
Music
1928
Another Great Songwriting Partnership is Born
1928

Lyricist Dorothy Fields was one of the first successful Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood female songwriters. Her career took off in 1928 when she collaborated with composer Jimmy McHugh on Blackbirds of 1928, which featured the now beloved standard “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.” The pair would go on to write several other classics, including "I'm In the Mood for Love" and “On the Sunny Side of the Street.”

  • Mickey Mouse debuts in the short film Steamboat Willie 
  • Bubble gum is invented
  • Penicillin is discovered
"I Can't Give You Anything But Love" was introduced by Adelaide Hall in 1928 in Lew Leslie's Blackbird Revue, which opened on Broadway later that year in the highly successful Blackbirds of 1928. It was Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields's first hit. This version features Fats Waller on organ. Song Information
Music
1927
The Jazz Singer Launches New Medium for Music
Play Video
1927
This 1927 film, starring Al Jolson, was the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences and heralded the beginning of the "talkies." The film featured six songs and launched a new era of movie musicals.
  • Babe Ruth makes home run record
  • BBC founded
  • Lindbergh flies solo across the Atlantic
Originally written by Irving Berlin in 1926 for the Rodgers & Hart musical Betsy, "Blue Skies" was an instant success. The next year, when it was featured in The Jazz Singer, Al Jolson immortalized the song. Song Information
Music
1926
Rodgers & Hart Join ASCAP
1926

Composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart would go on to become giants of musical theatre, contributing such monumental standards as "My Funny Valentine," "Blue Moon," "Where or When," "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," "The Lady is a Tramp" and so many others. They worked together on 28 stage musicals and more than 500 songs until their legendary partnership ended with the premature passing of Hart in 1943.

  • Harry Houdini dies
  • A.A. Milne publishes Winnie the Pooh
  • A woman swims the English Channel
"Baby Face" was among the most popular hits of the 1920s with hit versions by Jan Garber, Whispering Jack Smith and the version here by Ben Selvin and His Orchestra. It has received renditions by Bobby Darin, Little Richard, Paul McCartney and even a hit disco version by Wing and a Prayer Fife and Drum Corps in 1975. Song Information
Music
1925
W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" Becomes Bessie Smith Hit
Play Video
1925

W.C. Handy was widely known as "Father of the Blues." He was influential in taking the blues from a regional style with a small audience to a musical style that became a major national force. ASCAP member Bessie Smith was one of the most popular female blues singers of the 1920s and 1930s. Her version of Handy's "St. Louis Blues" is a powerful reminder of why she has influenced generations of jazz vocalists.


  • The Scopes (Monkey) Trial is held in Dayton, TN
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is published
  • The Great Sphinx of Giza is unearthed in Egypt

In 1925 Bessie Smith had a top ten hit with this version of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues," featuring Louis Armstrong on cornet and Fred Longshaw on harmonium. It was one of the first blues songs to succeed as a pop song. The song was the second most recorded of the first half of the 20th Century, only surpassed by "Silent Night."


Song Information
Music
1924
ASCAP Goes to Washington DC
1924
A delegation of 18 leading ASCAP members went to Washington D.C. in 1924 to meet with Congress and successfully lobbied for stricter copyright laws on the airwaves. ASCAP members pictured
  • First Winter Olympic Games
  • J. Edgar Hoover appointed FBI Director
  • V.I. Lenin dies
"It Had to Be You," written by Isham Jones and Gus Kahn, is one of the most popular songs to emerge from the 1920s and remains a great American standard. In 1924, there were no less than six top ten recorded versions of the song. This version is by Cliff Edwards (known in those years as Ukelele Ike), who later gain fame as the voice of Disney's Jiminy Cricket. Song Information
Music
1923
ASCAP Begins Licensing Radio Stations
1923
The emerging medium of radio was a major platform for the use and discovery of music. As the industry grew, it became an important source of revenue for ASCAP members. In 2012, ASCAP radio revenues topped $177 million.
  • The Charleston dance sweeps the nation
  • Hollywood sign is built
  • Turkey is proclaimed a republic
"The Charleston" popularized a dance named for the harbor city of Charleston, South Carolina. It originated in the Broadway show, Runnin' Wild, and become one of the most popular hits of the decade. This version was recorded by Django Reinhardt's Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Song Information
Music
1922
Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle Join ASCAP
1922
Composer, lyricist and pianist Eubie Blake and longtime collaborator Noble Sissle scored Shuffle Along, one of the first Broadway musicals to be written and directed by African Americans.
  • Insulin is discovered
  • The Reader's Digest first published
  • Tomb of King Tut discovered
The most popular number from the Broadway musical Shuffle Along, "I'm Just Wild About Harry" broke what had been a taboo against musical and stage depictions of romantic love between African Americans. It was later used in Harry Truman's 1948 presidential campaign to great effect. Song Information
Music
1921
ASCAP Makes First Royalty Distribution
1921

As the Roaring Twenties dawned, music boomed. After initiating the momentous task of licensing US restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and anywhere else a performance of music was likely, ASCAP makes its first royalty distribution to its writer and publisher members. In 2012, ASCAP distributed $828.7 million to its members.

  • The first radio baseball game is broadcast
  • Albert Einstein is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics
  • Lie detector invented
This popular foxtrot, published in 1921 with music by Richard A. Whiting and lyrics by Raymond Egan and Gus Kahn, became symbolic of the Roaring Twenties, even appearing in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The song was featured in the 1953 film By the Light of the Silvery Moon, performed by Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. Song Information
Music
1920
George Gershwin Joins ASCAP
1920
One of the greatest of all American songwriters is elected to membership after his song, "Swanee," with lyrics by Irving Caesar, becomes a hit.
  • Prohibition begins in the US
  • Harlem Renaissance begins
  • Women granted the right to vote in the US
George Gershwin was 20 years old when he wrote "Swanee" with lyricist Irving Caesar. It debuted in a revue called Demi-Tasse, but became popular when Al Jolson put it into his show Sinbad and then recorded it in 1920 for Columbia Records. After that, said Gershwin, it "penetrated the four corners of the earth." Song Information
Music
1919
ASCAP and PRS - Our First International Agreement
1919

ASCAP and PRS (Britain's Performing Rights Society) sign the first agreement for representation of ASCAP members abroad. Today, ASCAP has reciprocal agreements with more than 100 countries.

  • Treaty of Versailles formally ends World War I
  • Felix the Cat appears in Feline Follies, marking the first cartoon character to become popular

    "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" originated in the Broadway musical The Passing Show of 1918. Recorded versions were hits in 1919 for Ben Selvin's Novelty Orchestra and Henry Burr, respectively. The version here is by jazz vocalist Mildred Bailey.

    Song Information
    Music
    1918
    Harlem Steps Out as Songwriting Center
    1918
    Turner Layton was a leading singer-songwriter in NYC’s African-American music scene. He is best known for his work with lyricist Henry Creamer. The two scored many Broadway shows, including the Ziegfeld Follies. They also co-wrote the standard, "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans."
    • Daylight Savings Time introduced
    • Russian Czar Nicholas II and his family are killed
    “After You’ve Gone” was first recorded in 1918 by the white recording artist, Marion Harris, who was known for a time as “Queen of the Blues.” The song’s popularity has remained steady ever since with versions by such artists as Bessie Smith, Sophie Tucker, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Loudon Wainwright III and others. Song Information
    Music
    1917
    A Landmark Victory for All Music Creators
    1917
    In 1917 ASCAP wins a landmark victory in the Supreme Court in the case of Herbert v. Shanley in a unanimous ruling. The decision gives ASCAP the legal backing to pursue the licensing of music users.
    • US enters World War I
    • First Pulitzer Prizes awarded
    George M. Cohan, one of Broadway's greatest entertainers and songwriters, was inspired by America's entry into World War I in 1917 to write "Over There." Closely associated with vocalist Nora Bayes, the song was a boon to the war effort Song Information
    Music
    1916
    Birth of a Standard
    1916
    "Poor Butterfly" was written by two charter members of ASCAP: composer Raymond Hubbell and lyricist John Golden. It debuted on Broadway in the 1916 production of The Big Show. The song was inspired by Puccini's opera, Madame Butterfly.
    • The Easter Rising rebellion occurs in Ireland
    • First self-service grocery store opens in the US
    "Poor Butterfly" has become a jazz and pop standard. Among those who have recorded it are Julie Andrews, Benny Goodman, Erroll Garner, Tony Bennett, Sonny Rollins and this version by the great vocalist Sarah Vaughan. Song Information
    Music
    1915
    One of America's First Musical Giants
    1915
    ASCAP charter member Irving Berlin is widely considered to be one of the greatest American songwriters. During his lifetime (he lived to be 101!), he wrote hits like "White Christmas" and "Blue Skies." One of the first hits he published after joining ASCAP was 1915 crowd-pleaser "I Love a Piano."
    • Filmmaker D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation is released
    • The Lusitania is sunk by a German U-Boat
    Irving Berlin certainly had good reason to “love a piano,” as he had become a sensation four years earlier with the success of “Alexander's Ragtime Band." He never learned to formally read music and his piano was adapted so he could change key with a special transposing lever. Song Information
    Music
    1914
    A Monumental Year in Music History
    1914

    On February 13th, 1914, at the Hotel Claridge in NYC, a group of prominent, visionary music creators founded ASCAP. Pictured here a few years later are ASCAP composer Victor Herbert (seated) with other charter members (l-r): Gustave Kerker, Raymond Hubbell, Harry Tierney, Louis A. Hirsch, Rudolf Friml, Robert Hood Bowers, Silvio Hein, Alfred Baldwin Sloane and Irving Berlin. ASCAP's first president was publisher George Maxwell.

    • One day before ASCAP's founding, on February 12th, 1914, the first stone of the Lincoln Memorial is put into place
    • World War I begins when Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria and his wife Sophie are assassinated in Sarajevo
    "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life," here performed by Jeannette McDonald and Nelson Eddy, was one of ASCAP founder and composer Victor Herbert's most popular and enduring works. It was written for the operetta Naughty Marietta, which premiered in 1910. Song Information
    Music