Top 10 Greatest Music Stories Never Told

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Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 2:00 PM
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If the history of the world had a playlist, it would run the gamut from Bach to Big Boi. The folks at the History Channel are putting out another of Rick Beyer's The Greatest Music Stories Never Told series on June 7. We picked up the book expecting to inflate our egos, reinforcing the myth that we know everything there is to know about music history. Short answer- we were wrong, very wrong. This is everything they leave out of the music classes that left you drooling on your notebook. And just like Cliffs Notes, we've read the book so you don't have to. Now all you have to do is rattle off these fun facts to your closest friends and sound like the music nerd you really are. Here are our Top Ten Greatest Music Stories Never Told:

10. Lenin Loves Electronica
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You can thank Communism for all the pills, back rubs, and glow sticks at every rave. Leon Theremin was mediocre musician who gained overnight fame thanks to a little invention of his, the first popular electronic instrument considered to be the predecessor of all synthesizers. He modestly named it the "theremin," and the instrument's spacey alien-like sounds have been featured in the Beach Boys hit "Good Vibrations" as well in countless science-fiction movies. You're welcome, every electronic musician ever.

9. Brought To You By Satan

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  • Peter Beste
Giuseppe Tartini was a famous Italian composer and a violinist in the 1700's (yeah, we're going that far back). Tartini lived in a time were most of the music was composed to praise God. You could say that Tartini was way ahead of his time, because it was not God but Satan who inspired him. In a dream, Satan played a solo for him that "surpassed all the music I had ever heard." He woke up and wrote a piece that would be often called "The Devil's Trill." Today it is regarded as one of the most challenging pieces to play on the violin. Satan doesn't play around. Before Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" or Tenacious D's "The Greatest Song In The World," or any black metal band burned down any church in Norway, Tartini dabbled in the dark arts. In other words? Tartini is the Adam and Eve for Black Sabbath, Gorgoroth, and Mayhem.

8. Footloose: Dance, Go to Hell

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Evangelist Bob Jones said New Yorkers were tangoing themselves to "the brink of hell," and added, "The only difference between Manhattan and hell is that Manhattan is surrounded by water." Taking the world by storm in 1913, the tango was so popular that the French quarter in New Orleans became known as the "Tango Belt." We can replace "tango" with a number of other things that scared society to the brink of culture wars like this one. They all subside and turn into something lame that our parents think is groovy, swell, and so on.

7. "Hey, you're doing that wrong."
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We're sure that's what they were saying to Clive Campbell when he began isolating and repeating instrumental breaks in funk records while DJing at parties in the Bronx. Clive Campbell not only made a name for himself, but also with the help of Africaa Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash gave name to a new genre of music. Hip Hop. Clive Campbell more commonly goes by the name Kool Herc. Not one of the weirdest stories on the list but one of the more important ones.

6. The First Reality TV Show
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John Roberts and Joel Rosenman planned to pitch a television sitcom about two naïve young venture capitalists with more money than brains who get involved in wacky antics. Humor and drama follow. The two men ended up being the main characters in their own real life sitcom. They invested money in the idea of a recording studio in upstate New York, which turned into a idea for a Dylan concert, which turned into Woodstock. Not a bad investment.

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