January 1 – Townes Van Zandt dies
January 9 – David Bowie performs his 50th Birthday Bash concert (the day after his birthday) at Madison Square Garden, New York City, USA with guests Frank Black, The Foo Fighters, Sonic Youth, Robert Smith of The Cure, Lou Reed, and Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins, with the opening act Placebo. Proceeds from the concert went to the Save the Children fund.
January 10 – James Brown receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, USA.
January 19 – Madonna wins Best Actress In A Motion Picture, Musical Or Comedy, for her part in Evita, at the 54th annual Golden Globe Awards in the USA.
January 20 – Daft Punk’s debut album Homework is released.
January 28 – The Virginia Senate votes to retire “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” as the official state song, and begins looking for a replacement.
February 2 – Rich Mullins’ musical The Canticle of the Plains receives its première in Wichita, Kansas.
February 10 – Blur release their self-titled album, with a shift in sound from Britpop to a more lo-fi sound, to a critical and commercial success.
February 12 – David Bowie receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, USA.
February 13 – Michael Jackson’s first son Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. is born. The Spice Girls knock Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart” off the top spot in the US singles chart. They are the first female British group to have a US number one with their debut single.
February 20 – Ben and Jerry’s introduce “Phish Food”, a new flavor of ice cream named after the rock group Phish. The ingredients are chocolate ice cream, marshmallows, caramel and fish-shaped fudge.
February 24 – The Spice Girls win Best Video for “Say You’ll Be There” and Best Single for “Wannabe” at the BRIT Awards. Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress from the girls’ live performance hogs the headlines the next day.
February 28 – Death Row Records co-founder Suge Knight is sentenced to nine years in prison for violating his probation. He would be released in August 2001. Pianist David Helfgott performs at the Boston Symphony Hall, in Boston, USA, during his world tour. The Boston Globe describes his performance as “without phrasing, form, harmonic understanding, differentiation of style and often basic accuracy; worst of all, it was without emotional content.”
March 1 – The jam band Phish records “Slip Stitch and Pass” live at Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany.
March 3 – U2 release the opinion-dividing Pop album. Along with the Oasis album Be Here Now, it becomes a major release that fails to sell to industry expectations, particularly in the US, despite many strong initial reviews.
March 9 – The Notorious B.I.G. is shot dead while sitting in the passenger seat of a car after a Soul Train Awards party in the USA. The Spice Girls become the first act in the history of the UK Top 40 singles charts to have four consecutive number one hits with Mama/Who Do You Think You Are. Profits from the single go to Comic Relief and provide the biggest individual contribution of 1997.
March 10 – A Marilyn Manson concert in Columbia, South Carolina is canceled in response to pressure from religious and civic groups.
March 11 – Paul McCartney is knighted by Elizabeth II.
March 17 – Whirlwind Heat play their first show.
March 18 – Aerosmith releases Nine Lives, their 12th studio album.
March 19 – March 20 – The reunited Monkees perform two sold-out concerts at Wembley Arena in London, UK.
March 30 – The Spice Girls launch Britain’s new television channel, Channel 5.
April 2 – Joni Mitchell is reunited with her daughter, Kilauren Gibb, whom she gave up for adoption 32 years earlier.
April 7 – Wynton Marsalis became the first jazz artist to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
April 10 – Nigel Kennedy, now calling himself simply Kennedy, returns to the stage at the Royal Festival Hall after a five-year absence from the concert stage resulting from neck surgery.
April 14 – Depeche Mode come back with their 9th album Ultra
April 15 – Hanson releases MMMBop, one of the most successful debut singles of all time, reaching number one in 27 countries.
April 25 – April 27 – The first Terrastock festival is held in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.
May 1 – 5ive’s musical career begins after auditions are held in London, UK to find potential band members, with over 3,000 hopefuls showing up to audition. The Spice Girls attend the Cannes Film Festival to announce their plans to hit the big screen with Spiceworld: The Movie. A photo call on top of the Hotel Martinez entrance brings the area to a standstill.
May 3 – At the 42nd Eurovision Song Contest, held in Dublin’s Point Theatre, the UK win with “Love Shine a Light”, sung by Katrina and the Waves. The Notorious B.I.G. single Hypnotize is #1 for three weeks.
May 6 – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is held in Cleveland at the site of the hall itself for the first time. Prior to this year, the ceremony had only been held in New York City.
May 11 – The Spice Girls perform their first British live gig for the Prince’s Trust 21st anniversary concert at the Manchester Opera House They break royal protocol by kissing The Prince of Wales on the cheeks and even pinching his bottom.
May 15 – The Spice Girls’ album Spice reaches number one on the US charts, making them the first British act to top the charts with a debut album. May 20 – Foo Fighters release their album The Colour and the Shape. Michael Jackson releases Blood on the Dance Floor: History in the Mix which became the best seller remix album with 15 million copies sold.
May 23 – Brainiac frontman Tim Taylor is killed in a car crash driving to his Dayton, Ohio home. He was 29. The band soon announces they will not continue.
May 24 – The first proper Ozzfest tour kicks off at the Nissan Pavilion in Washington, D.C, featuring Pantera and a reconstituted Black Sabbath with three of the four original members.
June 14 – Puff Daddy and The Family’s “I’ll Be Missing You” single is #1 on the Hot 100 charts for the next eleven weeks, only to be replaced by The Notorious B.I.G. posthumous single “Mo Money Mo Problems”, also featuring Puff Daddy.
June 16 – Radiohead release OK Computer to huge critical acclaim.
June 17 – Blink-182 release their second studio album Dude Ranch (album) which gains small mainstream success. This is the last album that drummer Scott Raynor contributes to. He is replaced by Travis Barker in 1998.
June 24 – Disney-owned Hollywood Records drops Insane Clown Posse from their roster and pulls the album The Great Milenko after only six hours of release, in an attempt to placate the Southern Baptist Church who were threatening to boycott the company for straying from its family-friendly image. The controversy generates tremendous publicity for the band, who soon sign with Island Records.
June 29 – Missy Elliott releases single “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” from her debut album Supa Dupa Fly.
July 5 – The first Lillith Fair tour kicks off at The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington. Sarah McLachlan, Tracy Chapman anir last show with Johnny Colt and Marc Ford.
August 4 – Nigerian afrobeat pioneer and dissident pop star Fela Anikulapo-Kuti dies in Lagos, Nigeria, of HIV-related illness.
August 7 – Garth Brooks performs to an estimated 800,000 to one million people during a free concert given in Central Park, New York City.
August 16 – August 17 – Phish perform at the two day music festival, The Great Went, at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine, USA. They play 500 minutes of music, six sets and two encores. There was an estimated attendance of between 65,000–70,000 and it was the top grossing concert of the season making over $4,000,000 in box office receipts.
August 19 – The reunited Fleetwood Mac release The Dance and begin a concert tour in the United States.
August 21 – Oasis’ third album, Be Here Now, is released. It becomes the fastest selling music album of all time, moving 695,761 copies in the first week in the UK.
August 30 – “Mo Money Mo Problems” reaches #1 on the Hot 100 singles chart, making Notorious B.I.G. the first artist to achieve two posthumous #1 singles.
September 6 – Elton John performs “Candle in the Wind” at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales; John Tavener’s Song for Athene is performed at the same ceremony, with soprano Lynne Dawson singing the solo part.
September 16 -Aaliyah released “Hot Like Fire”/”The One I Gave My Heart To” single
September 17 – The KLF return for 23 minutes with their performance of “Fuck the Millennium”.
September 19 – While on his way to a benefit concert in Kansas, USA, Rich Mullins loses control of his Jeep, flipping the automobile and throwing both Mullins and passenger Mitch McVicker out onto the road. A tractor-trailer approaching the scene swerves to miss McVicker, striking and killing Mullins instantly. McVicker survives, but suffers major injuries.
September 23 – Björk releases Homogenic, moving towards a darker sound and away from her ‘pixie’ image. U2 perform a concert in Sarajevo during their PopMart Tour.
September 27 – Bob Dylan performs for Pope John Paul II at a Catholic youth event in Bologna, Italy.
September 29 – The Rolling Stones release Bridges to Babylon. The Verve release Urban Hymns. Ironically, in a controversial legal dispute, the majority of their royalties and songwriting credit for their single “Bittersweet Symphony” go to The Rolling Stones.
October 7 – Everclear release their multi-platinum third album So Much for the Afterglow, containing “Father of Mine” and “I Will Buy You a New Life”.
October 13 – The “Prince Igor” single, jointly performed by The Rhapsody, Warren G and Sissel Kyrkjebø is released.
October 15 – Michael Jackson ends the History World Tour,which included an attendance record of 4,500,000 fans.
October 23 – R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry announces his departure from the group.
November 3 – The Spice Girls release Spiceworld, their second number one album, making the group the first British band since The Beatles to have two albums in the US chart at the same time. Spice and Spiceworld have amassed enough sales for one out of every two people in Britain to own a Spice Girls album.
November 4 – Shania Twain releases her album Come on Over which goes on to sell over 34 million copies worldwide and later became the biggest selling album in country music history and the biggest selling album by a female music artist.
November 6 – The Spice Girls make the decision to take over the running of the group and drop Simon Fuller as their manager.
November 18 – American Indie Rock band Modest Mouse release their second full-length album, The Lonesome Crowded West.
November 19 – Gary Glitter is arrested after images of child pornography are found on a laptop computer that he had taken in for repairs.
November 22 – INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence is found dead of hanging in a Sydney, Australia hotel room. He was 37.
November 26 – In a performance billed as the “highest” gig on Earth, Spiritualized play in the deck of the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada for an audience of 150 people.
December 4 and 5 – Black Sabbath perform a pair of reunion shows in their hometown of Birmingham, England. They are the first full-length concerts by the original lineup of the band since 1978.
December 26 – The Spice Girls release their big screen debut Spiceworld: The Movie, starring Richard E. Grant, Roger Moore, Elton John and Stephen Fry. The movie makes £6.8m in its first week of release.
December 31 – The Home of Country Music, the Opryland USA theme park, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA closes and is subsequently demolished.
Also in 1997
Mikael Åkerfeldt & Peter Lindgren Fires Johan De Farfalla from Opeth. Then, Anders Nordin Quits The Band. To Replace the Ex-Members, Mike & Pete Hire Martin Lopez & Martin Mendez.
The companies Memorex, Maxell, and TDK introduce blank recordable CDs.
The first John Lennon Songwriting Contest is held.
Rob Gommerman leaves Finger Eleven due to extensive touring.
Derrick Green replaces Max Cavalera in Sepultura.
Glenn Ljungström & Johan Larsson leaves In Flames.
Big Audio Dynamite’s final album Entering a New Ride, which features Ranking Roger from The Beat, gets rejected for release by their record label, so was released independently as one of the first ever well known musical downloads, for free on their website.