1940: The Showbox, an art-deco nightclub ballroom, opens on First Avenue near the Pike Place Market. Gypsy Rose Lee, who recorded “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy,” is among the first major stars to perform.
1940: Billboard magazine begins charting pop records. Tommy Dorsey’s “I’ll Never Smile Again” is the magazine’s first No. 1 national hit.
1941: Singer Dinah Shore, who would host her own TV-variety show in the ’50s, records “Blues in the Night,” in the style of a black folk song.
1942: Bing Crosby records Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” which would become the most popular Christmas song for decades to come.
November 1942: Future guitar god James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix is born in Seattle.
1942: Bandleader Glenn Miller, at the peak of his big-band career, enlists in the U S Forces, the same year the hit song “(I’ve Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo” is recorded. Two years later, his plane disappears over the English Channel.
1942: “Der Fuehrer’s Face,” the first big hit for Spike Jones and His City Slickers, establishes Jones as the king of novelty music. His songs influence generations of radio DJs and novelty artists, among them Dr. Demento and “Weird Al” Yankovic.
1947: Seattle jazz singer Ernestine Anderson, still in her teens, is dubbed “another Ella Fitzgerald” during a performance at the Metropolitan Theater. The concert includes nearly a half dozen encores.
1947: R&B singers Roy Brown and Wynonie Harris record competing versions of “Good Rockin’ Tonight.” It was one of the first songs to popularize the word “rock,” slang for sexual intercourse.
1947: Mahalia Jackson, “queen of the gospel singers,” records “Move On Up a Little Higher.”
June 1948: Columbia Records launches the lightweight 33 1/3-rpm “long play” album, thereby reducing the bulkiness and increasing the portability of record albums. The LP remains the most popular format until cassettes and compact discs make their debuts.
1948: Nat “King” Cole’s recording of the dreamy ballad “Nature Boy” (about a “strange, enchanted boy”) brings him international fame.
1949: John Lee Hooker records his first R&B hit “Boogie Chillen,” telling parents, “Let that boy boogie woogie/ If it’s in him, it’s got to come out.”
1949: Goree Carter’s “Rock Awhile” introduces a guitar style that Chuck Berry would take to the top of the charts in the mid-’50s.
1949: RCA Records introduces the lightweight 45-rpm single, the most popular format for “singles” in the 1950s.
1949: Country singer Hank Williams records “Lovesick Blues,” his first million-selling single.