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Great Moments in Cassette History

By Tim Stegall, Fri., Aug. 30, 2013

May 7, 1965: Keith Richards awakes in a motel room on the Rolling Stones' third U.S. tour and finds his new cassette recorder still running. Rewinding, Richards hears an eight-note guitar hook and the words "I can't get no satisfaction." And then 40 minutes of snoring. Three years later, Richards overloads his acoustic guitar on the same cassette machine that produced No. 1 hit "Satisfaction" for "Street Fighting Man."

1968: Multi-instrumental R. Stevie Moore self-releases a cassette of home recordings, On Graycroft, thus pioneering "cassette culture," "outsider art," "indie rock," and genres likely still unnamed. Moore still prolifically self-releases tapes and CD-Rs via www.rsteviemoore.bandcamp.com.

1976: Industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle release their debut album, Best Of ... Volume 1, followed by 1977's Best Of ... Volume 2, on cassette months before issuing vinyl and thus set an example for future noise merchants.

November, 1980: Aussies Bruce Milne and Andrew Maine launch Fast Forward, one of the world's first cassette magazines, leading to other punk/indie-based cassette magazines worldwide, including future Sub Pop owner Bruce Pavitt's Subterranean Pop.

September, 1982: Working on a new studio LP, Bruce Springsteen falls in love with acoustic demos cut on a Portastudio, a cassette-based 4-track recorder from TEAC. He releases the demos instead as Nebraska.

Early Eighties: Austin fast-food worker Daniel Johnston begins handing out homemade tapes of his whimsical, sometime haunted, lo-fi Beatlesque pop, featuring hand-drawn covers, to complete strangers. Considering his occupation, maybe he should have called his label Burger Records.

1984: Kurt Cobain obsesses with Black Flag's "Damaged II" on a mixtape the Melvins' Buzz Osborne makes him. That September, Cobain sells his record collection to see Black Flag in Seattle.

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