Music of Athens, Georgia

History of popular music in Athens, Georgia / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The music of Athens, Georgia includes a wide variety of popular music and was an important part of the early evolution of alternative rock and new wave.[1] The city is well known as the home of chart-topping bands like R.E.M., Widespread Panic, and The B–52's, and several long-time indie rock groups.[1] Athens hosts the Athens Symphony Orchestra and other music institutions, as well as prominent local music media, such as the college radio station WUOG.[2] Much of the modern Athens music scene relies on students from the large University of Georgia campus in the city.[1][3] The University sponsors Western classical performances and groups specializing in other styles.

Athens became a center for music in the region during the Civil War and gained further fame in the early twentieth century with the founding of the Morton Theatre, which was a major touring destination for African American performers. The city's local rock music scene can be traced to the 1950s, with live music at Allen's Hamburgers in Normaltown. International attention came in the 1970s when The B–52's began releasing the first of several best-selling recordings.[3] Athens-based rock bands have performed in a wide array of styles, and the city has never had a characteristic style of rock; most of the bands have been united only in their quirky and iconoclastic image.[3]

Music author Richie Unterberger describes the town as an unlikely center for musical development, as a "sleepy [place where] it's difficult to imagine anyone working up a sweat, let alone playing rock music."[3] The contributions of Athens to rock, country music, and bluegrass have earned it the nickname "the Liverpool of the South", and the city is known as one of the American birthplaces for both modern alternative rock and new wave music.[4][5] Athens was home to the first and most famous college music scene in the country, beginning in the 1970s.[6]