January 15 – K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s Harry Wayne Casey is seriously injured in an automobile accident in Miami, Florida.
January 20 – Ozzy Osbourne bites the head off a live bat thrown at him during a performance in Des Moines, Iowa. He thought it was rubber.
January 21 – B. B. King donates his personal record collection, which includes nearly 7,000 rare blues records, to the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
January 22 – Tommy Tucker, writer of “Hi Heel Sneakers”, dies of carbon tetrachloride poisoning sustained while finishing floors in his home.
February 13 – A 300-pound (136 kg) gravestone from the grave of Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant is stolen from an Orange Park, Florida cemetery. Police found the gravestone 2 weeks later in a dry river bed.
February 19 – Ozzy Osbourne is arrested after urinating on The Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas.
February 20 – Pat Benatar marries her guitarist, Neil Giraldo on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
February 27 – The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company gives its final performance at the Adelphi Theatre after more than 110 years.
March 3 – The Mamas & the Papas begin a reunion tour with a show in the New York club The Other End. Spanky McFarlane replaces Mama Cass.
March 4 – Frank Zappa’s son Dweezil and daughter Moon Unit form Fred Zeppelin.
March 5 – Comedian and Blues Brother John Belushi is found dead of an apparent drug overdose in the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles.
March 18 – Teddy Pendergrass is severely injured in a car accident in Philadelphia. Pendergrass’s injuries result in him being paralyzed from the waist down.
March 19 – Ozzy Osbourne’s lead guitarist, Randy Rhoads, is killed in a freak accident in Leesburg, Florida when the plane in which he is riding buzzes Osbourne’s tour bus and crashes into a house. The plane’s pilot and a female passenger are also killed.
March 22 – Iron Maiden release The Number of the Beast (album), the critically acclaimed yet controversial album which is often hailed as Iron Maiden’s greatest. Christians in the USA went out and bought Iron Maiden’s albums (along with those of Ozzy Osbourne’s) and burnt them in protest to what they thought were Satanic lyrics. This album hit number one in the UK charts.
March 28 – In Los Angeles, David Crosby is arrested for possession of Quaaludes and drug paraphernalia, driving under the influence of cocaine and carrying a concealed weapon.
April 13 – David Crosby is arrested on drug charges for the second time in three weeks when Dallas police catch him preparing cocaine backstage before a show.
April 15 – Billy Joel is seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in Long Island, New York. Joel spends over a month in the hospital undergoing physical therapy for his hand.
April 17 – Johnny Cash hosts Saturday Night Live with Cash and Elton John and his classic band as the musical guests. Cash sings I Walk The Line, Folsom Prison Blues, Ring of Fire and Sunday Morning Coming Down. John sings Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny) and Ball and Chain. The latter would not appear on the NBC show again until 2011.
April 24 – Germany wins the 27th annual Eurovision Song Contest, held in the Harrogate Conference Centre, North Yorkshire, with the song “Ein bißchen Frieden”, sung by 17-year-old Nicole. She also records the song in English as “A Little Peace”, which becomes the 500th chart-topping single in the UK.
April 26 – Rod Stewart is mugged in Los Angeles. Stewart loses his $50,000 Porsche to the mugger, but is not hurt. The car is recovered several days later. Joe Strummer vanishes, forcing The Clash to postpone their U.K. tour.
April 30 – Influential rock journalist Lester Bangs dies in his New York apartment of an apparent accidental overdose of prescription drugs.
May 14 – The first Prince’s Trust charity concert is held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. With The Prince of Wales in attendance, Status Quo, becomes the first contemporary band to play to British royalty.
May 18 – Three weeks after disappearing, Joe Strummer and his girlfriend are found living in Paris, two days after they ran the Paris Marathon.
May 26 – The Rolling Stones open their European tour in Aberdeen, Scotland.
June 11 – Grease 2, starring Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer (in her feature film debut), is released.
June 16 – James Honeyman-Scott dies of heart failure caused by cocaine intolerance. He was 25 years old.
June 19 – Amy Grant marries Gary Chapman.
July 4 – Ozzy Osbourne marries his manager Sharon Arden in Maui, Hawaii.
July 21 – A second Prince’s Trust charity concert is held at the Dominion Theatre in London. Performers include Pete Townshend, Robert Plant, Madness, Phil Collins, Joan Armatrading and Kate Bush.
August 17 – In Langenhagen near Hanover, Germany began the first mass production of the compact disc.
August 18 – Four streets in Liverpool are named after each of The Beatles.
August 31 – Ronnie James Dio plays his final show with Black Sabbath (until 1992).
September 3–5 – The first US Festival is held over Labor Day Weekend near Devore, California. The Police, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead, Talking Heads and The B-52’s are among the many performers.
September 7 – The musical Cats begins its 18 year run on Broadway.
September 22 – The Who begin their only formally announced “farewell” tour in Washington, D.C.
October 1 – The first compact discs appear in music stores in Japan.
October 6 – Madonna’s debut single, “Everybody”, is released on Sire Records.
November 5 – The first edition of The Tube is broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK. Guests on the first programme include The Jam, making their last live TV appearance together.
November 21 – Joni Mitchell marries producer and bassist Larry Klein in Malibu.
November 25–27 – The Jamaica World Music Festival is held in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Acts over the three-day festival include Peter Tosh, Rick James, The Clash, Grateful Dead, Aretha Franklin and, in their final show before disbanding, Squeeze.
November 29 – Sena Jurinac appears on stage for the last time, with the Vienna State Opera.
November 30 – Thriller is released by Michael Jackson and goes on to be greatest selling album of all time, with 110 million units sold worldwide.
December 3 – The most successful group of the 1970s, Abba, release their final original single “Under Attack”. A split is never officially announced.
December 31 – The eleventh annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special airs on ABC, with appearances by The Go-Go’s, Hall & Oates, Ronnie Milsap, Barry Manilow and Jermaine Jackson.