July 7 – The Three Tenors give their first concert, at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome.
July 14 – Jean Michel Jarre’s concert Paris la Defense attracts 2.5 million spectators.
July 21 – Roger Waters and numerous guest stars stage a performance of Pink Floyd’s The Wall in Berlin, Germany to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall eight months earlier. Scorpions, Cyndi Lauper, Thomas Dolby, Sinéad O’Connor, The Band and Bryan Adams are among the performers.
August 5 – Madonna ends her controversial Blond Ambition Tour in Nice, France. The last date was aired live and broadcast on HBO in United States, and later released as Laser Disc only.
August 13 – Curtis Mayfield is paralyzed from the neck down in an accident at an outdoor concert in Flatbush, Brooklyn, after stage lighting equipment collapses on top of him.
August 19 – Leonard Bernstein conducts his final performance at Tanglewood; he suffers a coughing fit in the middle of one piece which almost brings the concert to a premature end.
August 22 – James MacMillan’s symphonic piece The Confession of Isobel Gowdie premieres at The Proms in London.
A judge rules that heavy metal band Judas Priest is not responsible for the actions of two Nevada youths who shot themselves, one fatally, after listening to the band’s music in December 1985.
Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor sparks controversy when she refuses to play a concert at the Garden State Arts Center in New Jersey unless the venue refrains from its tradition of playing a recording of the American national anthem before the performance. O’Connor is heavily criticized and her music is dropped from a number of radio stations as a result.
August 27 – Guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan is killed in a helicopter crash following a concert at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin. He was 35.
September 4 – Walter Yetnikoff steps down after fifteen years as President of CBS Records.
September 11 – After a decade of performing in the Francophone world, Céline Dion makes her formal English-language debut in the United States with the release of her album Unison.
September 26 – The poorly received Cop Rock premieres on US television; it was TV’s only musical police drama.
October 9 – Leonard Bernstein announces his retirement from the conducting podium; he dies five days later.
October 20 – A Florida jury acquits 2 Live Crew of the obscenity charges stemming from a June 10 performance of their act known for its sexually explicit lyrics.
October 22 – Pearl Jam, then named “Mookie Blaylock”, play their first show as a band at the Off Ramp club in Seattle, Washington.
October 27 – Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat” reaches number one. It was also the first song to simultaneously peak atop the Billboard Hot 100 and Mainstream Rock chart.
November 6 – Madonna releases her new single, “Justify My Love”. The accompanying music video is banned by MTV amid international controversy over its sexually explicit content.
November 21 – The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger finally marries longtime girlfriend Jerry Hall in a traditional Hindu ceremony on the island of Bali, although the wedding’s legal bindingness is questionable.
November 27 – Amid growing public skepticism towards the artistic integrity of dance-pop duo Milli Vanilli as well as creative differences with frontmen Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, music producer Frank Farian admits that Morvan and Pilatus had been lip-synching all of their songs, including hits such as “Girl You Know It’s True.” In actuality, the tracks were composed and recorded by an ensemble of much older artists. Milli Vanilli’s Grammy award for Best New Artist is voided in the ensuing fallout; accounts vary as to whether it was revoked or if Morvan and Pilatus returned it themselves.
December 1 – ABC airs a television special accompanying the Red Hot + Blue benefit album in which contemporary pop performers reinterpret the songs of Cole Porter. The special includes video clips portraying the societal effects of AIDS.
December 3 – Following the banning of her “Justify My Love” music video by MTV, singer Madonna appears on Nightline to defend the video.
December 15 – Rod Stewart marries model Rachel Hunter.
December 31 – The nineteenth annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special airs on ABC, with appearances by The Beach Boys, Bell Biv DeVoe, The Kentucky Headhunters, Nelson, The O’Jays and Sweet Sensation.
Also in 1990
Fall – For the first time, Amy Grant and Gary Chapman hold a night of music at their Franklin, Tennessee Riverstone Farm, for local teenagers. Performers included Rich Mullins, Rick Elias, Charlie Peacock, Wes King and Michael W. Smith. The event becomes known as “The Loft”.
Guitarists: Dan Nilsson & Micke Bargstörm, Bassist: Martin Persson & Drummer: Rille Even, all quit Opeth who were the original members of the band. David Isberg, the only remaining original member hires Guitarists: Mikael Åkerfeldt (who applied for a bassist position even when the band already had bassist causing friction but ended up as a guitarist) Andreas Dimeo, Bassist: Nick Döring & Drummer: Anders Nordin.
Studio Fredman is built.
Sons of Kyuss change their name to Kyuss and add new members, except for guitarist Josh Homme.
After a hiatus of 7 years, rock group Styx reform to record a new album and tour without long-time guitarist Tommy Shaw, who was committed to Damn Yankees at the time.
Tapes of the original William Walton score for the 1969 film Battle of Britain are rediscovered, having been lost since the score was abandoned in favour of one by Ron Goodwin.