January 15 – Motown Records signs The Supremes.
January 20 – Francis Poulenc’s Gloria receives its premiėre in Boston, USA.
February 12 – The Miracles’ “Shop Around” becomes Motown’s first million-selling single.
February 13 – Frank Sinatra forms his own record label, Reprise Records, which will later release recordings by The Beach Boys, Ella Fitzgerald, The Kinks and Jimi Hendrix.
February 14 – The Platters file a lawsuit against Mercury Records for breach of contract after the record company refuses to accept recordings on which Tony Williams does not sing lead. The group’s lawsuit contends that their contract does not require Williams to sing lead.
March 21 – The Beatles perform at the Cavern Club in Liverpool for the first time.
March 25 – Elvis Presley performs a benefit show at the Block Arena in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The show raises $62,000 for the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial fund.
April 17 – Dalida and Charles Aznavour receive Radio Monte Carlo Oscar Awards for Best Song.
April 23 – Judy Garland’s concert at Carnegie Hall.
April 29 – Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti makes his operatic debut as Rodolfo in La Bohème at the Teatro Municipale (Reggio Emilia).
May 1 – The Pulitzer Prize for Music is awarded to Walter Piston for his Symphony No. 7.
June 14 – Patsy Cline is hospitalized as a result of a head-on car collision. While she is in hospital, the song “I Fall to Pieces” becomes a big Country/Pop crossover hit for her.
June 25 – The Bill Evans Trio completes a two-week stay at The Village Vanguard in New York. It is the last time this trio will play before virtuoso bassist Scott LaFaro’s death 10 days later. The five sets they play on the 25th are recorded, resulting in two albums, Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby.
July 1 – French composer Olivier Messiaen marries pianist Yvonne Loriod privately in Paris.
July 17 – Billboard magazine first publishes an “Easy Listening” chart, listing songs that the magazine determines are not rock & roll records. The first #1 song on this chart is “The Boll Weevil Song” by Brook Benton. This chart will be renamed a number of times, becoming the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.
October – John Cage’s book Silence: Lectures and Writings is published in the United States.
October 17 – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, later of The Rolling Stones, first meet at Dartford railway station in Kent, England.
December 8 – The Beach Boys release their debut 45rpm single: Surfin’/Luau on the small California label Candix Records.
December 9 – The Beatles play their first gig in the south of England, at Aldershot. Due to an advertising failure, only 18 people turn up. In the early hours of the following morning they play an impromptu set at a London club.
William Alwyn sets up home with fellow-composer Doreen Carwithen, his former pupil, at Blythburgh in England.
The Leeds International Pianoforte Competition is founded in the north of England by Marion, Countess of Harewood and Fanny Waterman.
Bob Seger’s musical career begins.
Indian tabla player Keshav Sathe and sitar player Bhaskar Chandavarkar perform with Larry Adler.
The Country Music Association (CMA) creates the Country Music Hall of Fame and inducts, Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose and Hank Williams as the first three members.
The score of Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 is discovered by musicologist Oldřich Pulkert in the Prague National Museum.