January – Stuart Sutcliffe joins the Liverpool band Johnny and the Moondogs and suggests they change their name to the Beatles; after several variations this settles on The Beatles in August.
January 14 – Elvis Presley is promoted to Sergeant in the United States Army.
January 25 – The National Association of Broadcasters in the United States reacts to the payola scandal by threatening fines for any disc jockeys accepting money for playing particular records.
February 6 – Songwriter Jesse Belvin dies in an automobile accident in Los Angeles; he is co-author of “Earth Angel”, The Penguins’ classic from 1954.
February 23 – United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps formed.
March 5 – Elvis Presley returns home from serving in the U.S. Army in Germany, having stopped off on March 2 at Glasgow Prestwick Airport, his only time in the U.K.
March 29 – The 5th Eurovision Song Contest, held at the Royal Festival Hall, London, is won by France with the song “Tom Pillibi”, sung by Jacqueline Boyer.
Spring – “Skokiaan” by Bill Haley & His Comets becomes the band’s final single to make it onto the American sales charts (with the exception of a 1974 reissue of “Rock Around the Clock”).
April 1 – Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis Presley, Dean Martin and Mitch Miller film Sinatra’s Timex Special for ABC at Miami, Florida’s Fountainbleu Hotel.
April 2 – The National Association of Recording Merchandisers presents its first annual awards in Las Vegas, Nevada.
April 4 – RCA Victor Records announces that it will release all pop singles in mono and stereo simultaneously, the first record company to do so. Elvis Presley’s single “Stuck on You” is RCA’s first mono/stereo release.
April 17 – Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Cochran’s girlfriend Sharon Sheeley are injured in a car accident near Chippenham in England. Cochran dies in a hospital in Bath, Somerset, from severe brain injuries.
April 20 – Elvis Presley returns to Hollywood for the first time since coming home from Germany to film G.I. Blues.
May 2 – The Drifters’ Ben E. King leaves the group and signs a solo record contract with ATCO Records.
May 20–28 – The Beatles, as the Silver Beetles (uncredited), play their first ever tour, as a backing group for Johnny Gentle on a tour of Scotland. The lineup comprises John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Tommy Moore.
June 30 – Opening of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! in London’s West End.
July – The Shadows’ instrumental Apache is released in the U.K.
August 17 – The Beatles make their debut under this name in Hamburg, Germany, beginning a 48-night residency at the Indra club. The band at the time comprises John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stu Sutcliffe on bass and Pete Best on drums.
August 27 – Last radio broadcast of Louisiana Hayride.
October – Dion DiMucci splits from Dion and The Belmonts.
October 16 – A single concert at the Donaueschingen Festival premieres Penderecki’s Anaklasis and Messiaen’s Chronochromie.
November 13 – Sammy Davis, Jr. marries May Britt.
December – Édith Piaf’s recording of “Non, je ne regrette rien” is released in France.