January 14 – Paul McCartney releases Снова в СССР (Back in the USSR) exclusively in the USSR. Bootleg copies sell for as much as US$1,000 in the United States.
January 23 – James Brown is sentenced in Georgia, USA, to six years in jail in connection with a police chase through two different states.
January 25 – Madonna files for divorce from Sean Penn after three-and-a-half years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences.
January 27 – Michael Jackson ends the Bad World Tour in Los Angeles, USA.
Roy Orbison joins Elvis Presley as the only singers to ever simultaneously have two top 5 albums on the Billboard charts.
Tiny Tim launches an unsuccessful campaign to be elected mayor of New York City, USA.
February 17 – Whitesnake’s David Coverdale marries Tawny Kitaen.
March 21 – Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” music video, taped in late December 1988, attracts criticism for its use of Catholic Church iconography and for the use of cross burning imagery, but also garners praise for its interpretation of discrimination, rape, and faith. Pepsi drops Madonna as a spokesperson out of fear the video will cause religious groups to boycott the company.
April 9 – The Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman announces that he will marry 19-year-old Mandy Smith, his girlfriend for six years.
April 12 – Michael Jackson is named “King of Pop” after receiving the Soul Train Heritage Awards.
April 28 – Jon Bon Jovi marries his high school sweetheart Dorothea Hurley at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
May 1 – California, USA jewelry store employees called the police reporting a suspicious person hanging around their store. The person turns out to be Michael Jackson shopping in disguise.
July 9 – All four original members of The Monkees reunite in Los Angeles, USA, for a concert performance at the Universal Amphitheatre. The following day the quartet attend an induction ceremony at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where they receive a star.
July 23 – Former Beatle Ringo Starr forms his own band named Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.
July 29 – The Bee Gees perform in the U.S. for the first time in 10 years as part of their One for All world tour.
August 3 – Sergio Franchi collapses before scheduled concert; dies 9 months later of brain cancer.
August 11-12 – The Moscow Music Peace Festival is held in the Soviet Union. The event is put together by Doc McGhee and the Make-A-Wish Foundation and headline acts include Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, Cinderella, and the Scorpions.
August 31 – The Rolling Stones open their Steel Wheels North American tour in Philadelphia, USA.
The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, designed by I. M. Pei, opens in Dallas, Texas, USA.
Madonna gives a risqué performance at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards. Clad in baggy black sweatpants and a black bustier, she shocks the audience by simulating masturbation. The version of the song used in the show would later serve as the opening number of 1990’s “Blond Ambition World Tour”.
September 14 – Madonna is granted a divorce from Sean Penn.
October 15 – Media Rings Corporation, the Japanese music, video game, and software publishing company, is founded in Akasaka.
December 23 – Ice Cube leaves N.W.A after financial problems and several conflicts with their manager Jerry Heller and the group’s founder Eazy-E. By this time, Cube has been recording his solo debut album, which will be released next year.
Also in 1989
Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith leaves the band and is replaced by ex-Gillan guitarist Janick Gers who had most recently worked with Bruce Dickinson on his solo project.
Ars Musica, an annual contemporary music international festival, founded