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Once Upon a Time in New York: The Birth of Hip Hop, Disco and Punk

How the squalid streets of '70s New York gave birth to music that conquered the world - punk, disco and hip hop - inspired by the Velvet Underground, loft parties and the Bronx.

How the squalid streets of '70s New York gave birth to music that would go on to conquer the world - punk, disco and hip hop.

In the 1970s the Big Apple was rotten to the core, yet out of the grime, grit and low rent space emerged new music unlike anything that had gone before.

Inspired by the Velvet Underground, a new wave of 'punk' rock emerged in lower Manhattan including The New York Dolls, The Ramones and the Patti Smith Group. Meanwhile, downtown loft parties held by gay New Yorkers heralded the birth of disco, which would eventually spawn the ultimate club for the privileged few: Studio 54. The swanky mid-town discos were out of bounds to black New York so in the Bronx DJs such as Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa created their own parties, heralding the birth of hip hop.

With David Johansen, Patti Smith, John Cale, Richard Hell, Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Herc, Nile Rodgers, Chuck D, Tommy Ramone, Chris Stein, Fab 5. Freddy, Lenny Kaye, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, Syl Sylvain, Nicky Siano, David Mancuso, DJ AJ, David Depino, Jayne County, Leee Childers, Nelson George, Victor Bokris and Vince Aletti.

1 hour

Last on

Fri 12 Aug 2011 23:40

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Bernard Herrmann

    Taxi Driver - Main Title

  • Ramones

    Blitzkrieg Bop

  • Donna Summer

    I Feel Love

  • Incredible Bongo Band

    Bongo Rock

  • Michael Tilson Thomas

    Rhapsody in Blue

  • Ella Fitzgerald


  • The Shirelles

    Will You Love Me Tomorrow?

  • The Byrds

    All I Really Want To Do

  • Bernard Herrmann

    Thank God for the Rain

  • The Velvet Underground

    Venus In Furs

  • The Velvet Underground

    I'm Waiting for the Man

  • The Velvet Underground


  • Lou Reed

    Walk On The Wild Side

  • Sly & the Family Stone

    Dance to the Music

  • MFSB

    Mysteries Of The World

  • Manu Dibango

    Soul Makossa

  • MFSB

    Love is the Message

  • Jayne County

    I'm Living In Shame

  • The Isley Brothers

    Get Into Something

  • Funky Nassau

    The Beginning of the End

  • The O’Jays

    For the Love of Money

  • New York Dolls


  • New York Dolls

    Personality Crisis

  • The Eagles - Take It Easy

  • New York Dolls

    Jet Boy

  • Television

    Marquee Moon

  • Television

    Little Johnny Jewel

  • Patti Smith Group


  • Blondie


  • Talking Heads

    96 Tears

  • Talking Heads

    Psycho Killer

  • Patti Smith Group


  • Bee Gees

    Stayin' Alive

  • Vicki Sue Robinson

    Turn the Beat Around

  • Odyssey

    Native New Yorker

  • Chic

    Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)

  • Chic

    Le Freak

  • James Brown

    Give It Up Or Turn It Loose

  • The Jimmy Castor Bunch

    It's Just Begun

  • Chic

    Good Times

  • Incredible Bongo Band


  • Babe Ruth

    The Mexican

  • Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force

    Planet Rock

  • Fred Wesley and The J.B.’s

    Blow Your Head

  • Blondie

    Heart of Glass

  • Blondie

    Call Me

  • Blondie


  • Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

    The Message


Role Contributor
Executive Producer Mark Cooper
Director Ben Whalley