January 1 – Townes Van Zandt dies
January 7 – The Spice Girls release their debut single, “Wannabe” in the U.S. and premiere the music video eighteen days later.
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 4 – The Offspring release Ixnay on the Hombre, their fourth studio album.
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.
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”.
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.
The Notorious B.I.G. is shot dead while sitting in the passenger seat of a car after a post Soul Train Awards party in Los Angeles, CA.
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 19–20 – 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.
January 1 – Townes Van Zandt dies