January 8 – Shindig! is broadcast for the last time on ABC, with musical guests the Kinks and the Who, 2 days earlier, the birthday of Elvis Presley is celebrated in the final Thursday episode of the series.
January 14 – Young singer David Jones changes his last name to Bowie to avoid being confused with Davy Jones of the Monkees.
January 17 – Simon & Garfunkel release the album Sounds of Silence.
February 2 – The first edition of Go-Set magazine is published in Melbourne, Australia. Founded by former Monash University students Phillip Frazer and Tony Schauble, the new weekly is the first independent periodical in Australia devoted entirely to popular music and youth culture. The inaugural 24-page issue has a cover feature on Tom Jones, stories on The Groop, singer Pat Carroll and DJ Ken Sparkes and a feature on mod fashion by designer Prue Acton.
February 6 – The Animals appear a fifth time on The Ed Sullivan Show to perform their iconic Vietnam-anthem hit “We Gotta Get Out of this Place”.
February 17 – Brian Wilson starts recording “Good Vibrations” with The Wrecking Crew, continuing for several months and marking a beginning to the famed Smile sessions.
February 19 – Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin perform at the Fillmore.
February 25 – The Yardbirds release the single “Shapes of Things”/”Mister, You’re a Better Man Than I”, heralding the dawn of the psychedelic era in British rock. “Shapes” would peak at No. 3 in the U.K. and No. 10 in Canada and the U.S., where it remained on the charts throughout the spring of 1966, making its final Hot 100 appearance mid-June.
March 4 – The Beatles’ John Lennon is quoted in the London newspaper, The Evening Standard as saying that the band was now more popular than Jesus. In August, following publication of this remark in Datebook, there are Beatles protests and record burnings in the Southern US’s Bible Belt.
March 5 – The 11th Eurovision Song Contest is staged in the Villa Louvigny, Luxembourg. Udo Jürgens, having represented Austria in the last two contests (sixth in 1964; fourth in 1965), finally scores a first for the country, with “Merci Chérie”, which he co-wrote.
March 6 – In the UK, 5,000 fans of the Beatles sign a petition urging British Prime minister Harold Wilson to reopen Liverpool’s Cavern Club.
March 14 – The Byrds release the psychedelic single “Eight Miles High” in the U.S. It is banned in several states due to allegations that the lyrics advocated drug use, yet reaches No.14 on the Billboard 100 charts.
April – Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass set a world record by placing five albums simultaneously on Billboard’s Pop Album Chart, with four of them the Top 10. Their music outsells The Beatles by a margin of two-to-one – over 13 million recordings. They win 4 Grammys this year.
April 11 – First public performance in the Metropolitan Opera House, of Giacomo Puccini’s La fanciulla del West, though the official opening of the new opera house would not take place until September 16.
April 12 – In Los Angeles, California, Jan Berry, of Jan and Dean, crashes his Corvette into a truck that is parked on Whittier Boulevard. Berry slips into a two-month-long coma and suffers total physical paralysis for over a year as well as extensive brain damage.
April 23 – For the first time since its January 18, 1964, issue, the Billboard Hot 100 chart fails to have an artist from the UK with a Top 10 single, ending a streak of 117 consecutive weeks.
May 1 – The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the Who perform at the NME’s poll winners’ show in London. The show is videotaped for later broadcast but The Beatles’ and The Stones’ segments are omitted because of union conflicts.
May 6 – The first issue of Džuboks, the first Yugoslav magazine dedicated to rock music and the first rock magazine in a socialist country, is released.
May 13 – The Rolling Stones release “Paint It, Black”, which becomes the first number one hit single in the US and UK to feature a sitar (played by Brian Jones).
May 17 – Bob Dylan and the Hawks (later The Band) perform at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, England. Dylan is booed by the audience because of his decision to tour with an electric band, the boos culminating in the famous “Judas” shout.
May 30 – Them, fronted by Van Morrison, begin a three-week stint as the headliner act at the Whisky a Go Go. On the last night June 18, they were joined on stage by that week’s opening act The Doors. Van and Jim Morrison sang “Gloria” together.
June 6 – In Gallatin, Tennessee, 25-year-old Claudette Frady-Orbison, while motorcycycle riding with her husband Roy Orbison, is killed when her motorcycle was struck by a pickup truck.
June 18 – At a drunken gig at Queen’s College in Oxford, U.K., bassist/producer Paul Samwell-Smith quits The Yardbirds and star session guitarist Jimmy Page agrees to take over on bass.
July 2 – The Beatles become the first musical group to perform at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo. The performance ignites protests from local citizens who felt that it was inappropriate for a rock and roll band to play at Budokan.
July 29 – Bob Dylan is involved in a motorcycle accident.
July 31 – The “supergroup” Cream, a trio featuring Eric Clapton (guitar), Ginger Baker (drums) and Jack Bruce (bass guitar, lead vocals) performs its first official concert at the Windsor (UK) Jazz & Blues Festival.
August 1 – “Midsummer Serenades: A Mozart Festival” is held – the first Mostly Mozart Festival.
August 5 – The Beatles release their album Revolver, expanding the year’s psychedelic sound.
August 11 – John Lennon holds a press conference in Chicago, Illinois, to apologize for his remarks the previous March. “I suppose if I had said television was more popular than Jesus, I would have gotten away with it. I’m sorry I opened my mouth. I’m not anti-God, anti-Christ, or anti-religion. I was not knocking it. I was not saying we are greater or better.”
August 17 – The Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra becomes the first major overseas orchestra to perform at The Proms.
August 25 – Yardbirds lead guitarist Jeff Beck takes ill in San Francisco and Jimmy Page, who had been playing bass, takes over on lead guitar for the band’s concert at the Carousel Ballroom.
August 29 – The Beatles perform their last official concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. Also that day, NBC airs the last episode of Hullabaloo, with Elvis Presley performing Aud Lang Slyne, the episode previously aired in April of 1966.
September 12 – The first episode of The Monkees is broadcast on NBC Television.
September 16 – Eric Burdon records a solo album after leaving The Animals and appears on the show “Ready, Steady, Go”, singing “Help Me Girl”, a UK #14 solo hit. Also on the show are Otis Redding and Chris Farlowe.
September 23 – The Yardbirds debut their twin lead guitar lineup, featuring Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, opening for the Rolling Stones 1966 U.K. tour. Also on the bill are Ike & Tina Turner, Peter Jay and the New Jaywalkers and Long John Baldry.
September 24 – Jimi Hendrix arrives in London to record with producer/manager Chas Chandler.
October 8 – WOR-FM in New York City becomes the first FM rock music station, under the leadership of DJ Murray The K.
October 22 – With their album The Supremes A’ Go-Go, The Supremes become the first all-female group to reach number one on the US Billboard 200.
November 9 – John Lennon meets Yoko Ono when he attends a preview of her art exhibition at the Indica Gallery in London.
November 15 – Japanese band The Tigers make their first television appearance, changing their name from “The Funnys” for the occasion.
November 30 – The Yardbirds officially announce that Jeff Beck has left the band, leaving Jimmy Page as sole guitarist in the group, within which Page would plant the seeds of Led Zeppelin.
December 6 – A Smile vocal overdub session by The Beach Boys for the song “Cabin Essence” becomes the scene of a climactic argument between member Mike Love and third-party lyricist Van Dyke Parks, causing him to gradually distance away from the project.
December 9 – The Who release their second album A Quick One with a nine-minute “mini-opera” A Quick One While He’s Away.
December 16 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience releases their first single in the UK, “Hey Joe”.
December 17 – David Oppenheim films Brian Wilson at his home performing his composition “Surf’s Up”. The footage will later be used for CBS’s Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution to be aired the next April.
December 23-30 – The UFO Club opens in London, featuring psychedelic bands Pink Floyd and Soft Machine; and the films of Andy Warhol and Kenneth Anger.
1966 dates unknown
Dalida receives, for a second time, the Music Hall Bravos.
Charley Pride is signed by RCA.
The Centre d’Etudes de Mathématique et Automatique Musicales (Centre for Automatic and Mathematical Music) is founded in Paris by Iannis Xenakis.
Modern Assyrian music takes off when Albert Rouel Tamras releases his first records in Baghdad in 1966 on the Bashirphone label.
Conductor Herbert Kegel marries soprano Celestina Casapietra.
Pungmul music is recognized as an Important Intangible Cultural Property of Korea, under the title nongak sipicha (농악십이차, “twelve movements of farmers’ music”).