Cliff Richard is appointed an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.
The Zorros audition drummer Greg Pedley.
January 5 – Donna Summer Brings her 3 double album in a 14-month period, to the top of the Billboard Albums charts; when Greatest Hits: On the Radio; Vol 1 & 2; reaches the top spot.
January 7 – At the age of 44, songwriter Larry Williams is found dead in his Los Angeles, California, home of a gunshot wound to the head. Investigators are never able to determine whether his death was a murder or suicide.
January 13 – The Beach Boys, Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Starship perform at a benefit concert at Oakland Coliseum for the people of Kampuchea.
January 14 – Rush release Permanent Waves, which eventually becomes the band’s fifth platinum album.
January 16 – Paul McCartney is arrested in Tokyo for possession of a half pound of marijuana. The remaining part of McCartney’s and Wings’ tour was then canceled.
January 19 – The first UK Indie Chart is published in Record Week, with Spizzenergi’s “Where’s Captain Kirk” topping the singles chart, and Adam and the Ants’ Dirk Wears White Sox topping the album chart.
January 25 – Paul McCartney is released from a Japanese jail and ejected from the country by Japanese authorities.
February 7 – Pink Floyd’s The Wall Tour opens at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
February 8 – David Bowie and his wife of nearly 10 years, Angie, file for divorce. Bowie gets custody of their 9-year-old son, Zowie.
February 14 – Lou Reed marries Sylvia Morales in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
February 19 – Bon Scott, lead singer of AC/DC, dies in London. Although common folklore cites pulmonary aspiration of vomit as the cause of his death, the official cause is listed as “Acute alcohol poisoning” and “Death by Misadventure”.
February 23 – Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones and his wife are arrested for cocaine possession on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. They are set free after spending five days in custody due to the inability of authorities to prove the cocaine in the apartment belonged to either of them.
February 29 – Buddy Holly’s trademark glasses and the Big Bopper’s wristwatch are “rediscovered” in old police files by the Mason City, Iowa, sheriff (both were killed in a plane crash on February 3, 1959, along with singer Ritchie Valens).
March 1 – Patti Smith marries former MC5 member Fred “Sonic” Smith.
March 3 – Sotheby’s auction house in London auctions off a Rivera Hotel, Las Vegas, napkin signed by Elvis Presley for ₤500. Other items auctioned included four American dollar bills autographed by the Beatles, for £220 and a collection of personal letters belonging to the Rolling Stones, also for £220.
March 8–16 – Tbilisi Rock Festival (1980): the first state-sanctioned rock music festival in the Soviet Union.
March 14 – Record producer Quincy Jones receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
March 19 – Elvis Presley’s autopsy was subpoenaed during the trial of Dr. George Nichopoulous, who would later be found guilty of over-prescribing drugs to Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and other clients.
March 20 – Radio Caroline shuts down in the UK after radio ship Mi Amigo sinks in a storm.
April 1 – Brian Johnson is made the new lead singer of AC/DC replacing the late Bon Scott.
April 13 – The Broadway musical Grease closes its run of 3,388 performances, making it the longest running show on Broadway up until that time.
A member of the New Jersey State assembly introduces a resolution to make Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” the official state song.
Iron Maiden release their self-titled debut album.
April 17 – As the “official guests of State”, Bob Marley and the Wailers perform at Zimbabwe’s Independence festival. Marley calls the event the “greatest honor of my life.”
April 19 – Johnny Logan wins the 25th Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland, with the song “What’s Another Year”.
April 25 – Black Sabbath release Heaven and Hell, their first album to feature Ronnie James Dio on vocals.
April 30 – The Roger Daltrey film, McVicar, opens in London.
May 4 – America’s Top 10, the television version of radio’s American Top 40 and hosted by Casey Kasem, debuts this week in syndication.
May 18 – Ian Curtis, vocalist of pioneering post-punk group Joy Division, hangs himself in his Macclesfield home, just one day before Joy Division are scheduled to begin their first U.S. tour.
Rock and Roll pioneer Bill Haley performs for the last time during a tour of South Africa. After this tour, his health deteriorates and he dies in February 1981. July 1980 marks the 25th anniversary of Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” reaching No. 1 on the American singles charts.
The Sony Walkman goes on sale in the United States.
Kiss plays its first show with new drummer Eric Carr at the New York Palladium.
June 27 – John Lydon and Keith Levene of Public Image Ltd make an appearance on The Tomorrow Show with host Tom Snyder. In a famously uncomfortable interview, Lydon gives curt and vague responses to most of Snyder’s questions.