January 3 – Former Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett releases his first solo album The Madcap Laughs.
January 4 – The Who drummer Keith Moon fatally runs over his chauffer with his Bentley trying to escape a mob outside a pub. The death is later ruled an accident.
January 7 – Max Yasgur, owner of the New York farm where the 1969 Woodstock Festival was held, is sued for $35,000 in property damages by neighboring farmers.
January 14 – Diana Ross and the Supremes perform for the last time together at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas.
January 16 – John Lennon’s London art gallery exhibit of lithographs, Bag One, is shut down by Scotland Yard for displaying “erotic lithographs”
January 24 – James Shep Sheppard, of The Heartbeats and Shep and the Limelites, is found murdered in his car on the Long Island Expressway
January 26 – Simon & Garfunkel release their final album together, Bridge Over Troubled Water. The title track and album stay #1 on the Billboard charts for six weeks and go on to win a record six Grammys at the 13th Grammy Awards, including “Record of the Year”, “Song of the Year”, and “Album of the Year.” In Britain it tops the album chart at regular intervals over the next two years, and becomes the best-selling album in Britain during the 1970s.
January 27 – Miles Davis makes the final recordings for his experimental album Circle in the Round, featuring sitar and tabla.
January 28 – The newly formed Band of Gypsies breaks up when guitarist Jimi Hendrix walks out after playing just two songs, telling the audience “I’m sorry we just can’t get it together”.
February 11 – The film The Magic Christian, starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, is premiered in New York City. The film’s soundtrack album, including Badfinger’s “Come and Get It” (written and produced by Paul McCartney), is released on Apple Records.
February 13 – Black Sabbath release their self titled debut album in England.
February 14 – The Who records Live At Leeds in Yorkshire, England. The Grateful Dead plays an equally historic concert on the same date at the Fillmore East, New York City.
February 17 – Joni Mitchell announces that she is retiring from live performances, following her show at London’s Royal Albert Hall. She would be back performing concerts within a year.
February 23 – Ringo Starr appears on the television show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
February 27 – Jefferson Airplane is fined $1,000 for using profanity during a concert in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
February 28 – Led Zeppelin perform in Copenhagen under the pseudonym The Nobs, to avoid a threatened lawsuit by Count Eva von Zeppelin, descendant of airship designer Ferdinand von Zeppelin.
March 4 – Janis Joplin is fined $200 for using obscene language during a concert performance in Tampa, Florida.
March 6 – Cult leader and suspected murderer Charles Manson releases an album titled Lie: The Love and Terror Cult to help finance his defense.
March 15 – West German pavilion at Expo ’70 in Osaka features 5½ hours’ daily live performances of the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen (to September 13).
March 19 – David Bowie marries model Angela Barnett.
March 21 – In Amsterdam, Dana wins the 15th annual Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland with the song “All Kinds of Everything”. She is elected to the European Parliament some 29 years later.
March 25 – José José gives a masterful performance of the song “El Triste” at the “Latin Song Festival II”, predecessor of the OTI Festival.
March 26 – Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary) pleads guilty to “taking immoral liberties” with a 14 year old girl in Washington, D.C., on August 31, 1969
April 2 – The London Magistrate’s Court hears arguments on John Lennon’s indecency summons for his exhibition of erotic lithographs during his art exhibit on January 16.
April 3 – Minneapolis nightclub the Depot opens, eventually renamed to First Avenue.
April 10 – Paul McCartney publicly announces the break-up of The Beatles.
April 14 – Michael Nesmith announces he has left The Monkees
April 17 – Johnny Cash performs at the White House at the invitation of President Richard M. Nixon.
April 20 – Paul McCartney’s first solo album, McCartney, is released.
April 24 – Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane is invited to a tea party at the White House by Tricia Nixon, daughter of U.S. President Richard Nixon. Slick arrives at the party with Abbie Hoffman, who is on trial for conspiring to riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The pair planned to spike Nixon’s tea cup with a heavy dose of LSD. Slick is recognized (although Hoffman is not) and told to leave because she is on the FBI list.
May 4 – Charles Wuorinen, 32, becomes the youngest composer ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
May 8 – The Beatles’ last LP, Let It Be, is released.
May 16 – Randy Bachman leaves The Guess Who to start up Bachman–Turner Overdrive.
May 20 – The Beatles’ film Let It Be premières in London and Liverpool. None of the four band members are in attendance at either screening.
May 23 – 24 – Grateful Dead make their first British appearance at Hollywood Festival, Newcastle-under-Lyme, on a bill also featuring Black Sabbath, Free, and Jose Feliciano. Everyone is completely upstaged by the previously unknown Mungo Jerry, whose debut single “In the Summertime” becomes the best-selling hit of the year.
June 13 – “The Long and Winding Road” becomes the Beatles’ last U.S. Number 1 song, though it is never released as a single in Britain. The Stooges play at the Cincinnati Pop Festival.
July 4 – The music countdown show American Top 40 debuts.
July 17 – The Guess Who perform at the White House for President Nixon and his guest The Prince of Wales. At Pat Nixon’s request, they do not play their breakthrough hit “American Woman” due to the song’s supposed anti-American lyrics.
July 26 – Guitarist Jimi Hendrix plays at his hometown of Seattle at Sicks Stadium where, under the influence of drugs, he starts verbally abusing members of the audience.
August 3 – Janis Joplin makes her final TV appearance, on the Dick Cavett Show.
August 26 – August 30 – The Isle of Wight Festival 1970 takes place on East Afton Farm off the coast of England. Some 600,000 people attend the largest rock festival of all time. Artists include Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Doors, Chicago, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, Joan Baez, Ten Years After, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Jethro Tull.
August 30 – The Rolling Stones open their European tour in Malmö, Sweden.
September 6 – During his final European tour, guitarist Jimi Hendrix is greeted by booing and jeering by German fans as a result of his late appearance on stage and incoherent stage performance. Bassist Billy Cox quits the tour and returns to the United States.
September 17 – Jimi Hendrix makes his last appearance, with Eric Burdon & War jamming at Ronnie Scotts Club in London. Hendrix, aged 27, dies the following day from a barbiturate overdose at his London hotel.
October 4 – Janis Joplin is found dead in her bedroom. She died from a heroin overdose, at the age of 27.
October 10 – Newly-independent Fiji adopts God Bless Fiji as its national anthem.
October 30 – Jim Morrison of The Doors, found guilty of indecent exposure and profanity because of his behavior during a March 1, 1969 concert, is sentenced to eight months of hard labor and a $500 fine.
November 23 – The Electric Factory concert venue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’ closes its doors.
December 8 – John Lennon conducts a lengthy and intensely candid interview with Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone magazine. He discusses his new solo album and the influence of primal therapy on its creation, as well as his personal traumas dating back to childhood. He also makes many revelations about his time in The Beatles, including his account of the group’s breakup. Dalida, still unable to cut a UK record deal, leaves Barclay Records for Orlando Records. Derek Bailey and Evan Parker found Incus Records, specialising in releasing free improvised music and said to be the first independent artist-owned record label. Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew is widely considered the first successful full-fledged fusion of rock and roll and jazz, as well as being one Davis’s best-known albums.