Featuring the Top 50 Summer Hits of 1969
January 4 – Guitarist Jimi Hendrix is accused of arrogance by British television producers after playing an impromptu version of “Sunshine of Your Love” past his allotted time slot on the BBC1 show Happening for Lulu.
January 12 – Led Zeppelin’s eponymous debut album released.
January 18 – Pete Best wins his defamation lawsuit against The Beatles. Best had originally sought $8 million, but ended up being awarded much less.
January 30 – The Beatles perform for the last time in public, on the roof of the Apple building at 3 Abbey Road, London. The performance, which was filmed for the Let It Be movie, is stopped early by police after neighbors complain about the noise.
Eric Burdon & The Animals disband.
John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr hire Allen Klein as The Beatles’ new business manager, against the wishes of Paul McCartney.
February 4 – Paul McCartney hires the law firm of Eastman & Eastman, Linda Eastman’s father’s law firm, as general legal counsel for Apple Records.
February 15 – Vickie Jones is arrested for impersonating Aretha Franklin in a concert performance. Jones’ impersonation was so convincing that nobody in the audience asked for a refund.
February 17 – Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan record together in Nashville, Tennessee. Only one song, “Girl from the North Country”, would be released from these sessions.
February 18 – Lulu and Bee Gee Maurice Gibb are married in the UK.
February 24 – Johnny Cash performs “A Boy Named Sue” at California’s San Quentin State Prison
March 1 – During a performance at Miami’s Dinner Key Auditorium, Jim Morrison of the Doors is arrested for allegedly exposing himself during the show. Morrison is officially charged with lewd and lascivious behavior, indecent behavior, open profanity and public drunkenness.
March 7 – The Who release “Pinball Wizard” as a single with a B-Side of “Dogs (Part Two).”
The 11th Grammy Awards are presented.
Paul McCartney marries Linda Eastman in London.
George Harrison and his wife Pattie are arrested in the UK on charges of hashish possession.
March 15 – Judy Garland marries Mickey Deans in London.
March 20 – John Lennon marries Yoko Ono in Gibraltar.
March 25-31 – John Lennon and Yoko Ono host a “Bed-In” for peace in their room at the Amsterdam Hilton, turning their honeymoon into an antiwar event. Lennon also learns from a morning newspaper that publisher Dick James has sold his shares of Northern Songs to Lew Grade’s Associated Television (ATV).
March 26 – Lotti Golden records her debut LP Motor-Cycle (Atlantic SD 8223) at Atlantic Studios in New York City, featured in Newsweek (July 1969).
March 29 – At the 14th annual Eurovision Song Contest held at the Teatro Real, Madrid, Spain, the final result is a four-way tie for first place between Spain (“Vivo cantando” – Salomé); United Kingdom (“Boom Bang-a-Bang” – Lulu); Netherlands (“De Troubadour” – Lenny Kuhr) and France (“Un jour, un enfant” – Frida Boccara). As there was no tie-break rule in force up to this time, the four entries involved, who each scored 18 points, are declared ex-aequo winners.
April 1 – The Beach Boys file a lawsuit against their record label, Capitol Records, for $2,041,446.64 in unpaid royalties and producer’s fees for Brian Wilson. Capitol retaliates by deleting most of its Beach Boys catalog, severely limiting the band’s income.
April 8 – Opening for Ten Years After at the Fillmore East in New York City, Family perform their first U.S. concert, and the show is an unmitigated disaster. Vocalist Roger Chapman, on his 27th birthday, throws a microphone stand into the audience, unintentionally in the direction of Fillmore East impresario Bill Graham.
April 20 – The L.A. Free Festival in Venice, California ends early following a riot of audience members, 117 of which were arrested.
The first complete performance of The Who’s rock opera Tommy during a performance in Dolton, Devon, UK
A Garland for Dr. K., a celebratory collection in honour of the 80th birthday of Alfred Kalmus, consisting of eleven compositions by David Bedford, Harrison Birtwistle, Richard Rodney Bennett, Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Cristóbal Halffter, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Henri Pousseur, Bernard Rands, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Hugh Wood is performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in the Southbank Centre, London, on a programme that also featured the word premieres of Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies and Linoi II by Birtwistle.
John Lennon officially changes his name from John Winston Lennon to John Winston Ono-Lennon.
April 24 – The Beatles make a $5.1 million counter offer to the Northern Songs stockholders in an attempt to keep Associated TV from controlling the band’s music.
April 28 – Chicago releases its debut album, The Chicago Transit Authority.
Sly & the Family Stone release their breakthrough album, Stand!, which became one of the top-selling albums of the decade and made the band one of the most popular acts in rock and soul music.
Jimi Hendrix is arrested by Canadian Mounties at Toronto’s International Airport for possession of narcotics (heroin). Hendrix is released on $10,000 bail.
May 6 – In London, representatives of Warner Brothers-Seven Arts discuss the purchase of fifteen percent of The Beatles’ Northern Songs.
May 10 – The Turtles perform at the White House. Singer Mark Volman falls off the stage five times.
May 16 – HPSCHD, an event conceived by John Cage and Lejaren Hiller as a highly immersive multimedia experience, received its premiere performance before an audience of 6000 at the Assembly Hall of the Urbana Campus, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.
May 23 – The Who release their rock opera Tommy.
June 2 – John Lennon and Yoko Ono host a “Bed-In” at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The couple records the song “Give Peace a Chance” live in their suite with Tommy Smothers, Timothy Leary, and several others.
June 12-25 – First Annual Rock & Roll Revival fifth estate Performers include among others MC5, Johnny Winter, Chuck Berry, Dr. John, Sun Ra, David Peel, The Stooges, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
June 13 – Mick Taylor joins the Rolling Stones.
June 29 – Bass player Noel Redding announces to the media that he has quit the Jimi Hendrix Experience, having effectively done so during the recording of Electric Ladyland.
July 1 – Cornelius Cardew’s Scratch Orchestra holds its first meeting. Brian Eno begins his musical career as a member.
July 3 – Brian Jones is found dead in the swimming pool at his home in Sussex, England, almost a month after leaving The Rolling Stones.
July 5 – The Rolling Stones proceed with a free concert in Hyde Park, London, as a tribute to Brian Jones; it is also the band’s first concert with guitarist Mick Taylor. Estimates of the audience range from 250,000 to 400,000.
July 7 – Blind Faith play a free show In Hyde Park
July 31 – Elvis Presley returns to live performances in Las Vegas. The engagement ends on August 28.
August 9 – Members of would-be folk singer Charles Manson’s “family” murder film star Sharon Tate and others, in Tate’s home.
August 15-17 – The Woodstock Music and Art Festival is held at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York, near Woodstock, New York. Performers include Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, The Band, Joan Baez, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Country Joe and the Fish, Ten Years After, and Sly & the Family Stone.
August 21-24 – The Jazz Bilzen Festival is held in Bilzen, Belgium. Performers include Deep Purple, Shocking Blue, The Moody Blues, Soft Machine, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, The Move and Blossom Toes.
August 30-31 – The Isle of Wight Festival is held in Wootton Bridge. Performers include among others The Band, Blodwyn Pig, Edgar Broughton Band, Joe Cocker, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Bob Dylan, Family, The Who, Free, Mighty Baby, The Moody Blues, The Nice, The Pretty Things, Third Ear Band.
September 11 – Janis Joplin releases I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! her first solo album since leaving the group, Big Brother and the Holding Company.
September 13 – John Lennon and Plastic Ono Band perform at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival 12-hour music festival, backed by Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann and Alan White. Other performers on the bill include Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and up-and-comers Chicago. It is Lennon’s first-ever public rock performance without one or more of The Beatles since meeting Paul McCartney in 1957. He decides before returning to the UK to leave The Beatles permanently. During the show, a chicken is somehow in a feather pillow that Alice Cooper normally uses as a stage routine during his band’s performance. Cooper, thinking that all birds fly, throws the chicken into the audience and fans tear the chicken and throw it back on stage. The event would be known as “The Chicken Incident” and Cooper develops his reputation as a shock-rocker.
September 24 – Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform the Concerto for Group and Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in London, in the first elaborate collaboration between a rock band and an orchestra.
October 14 – The final single by Diana Ross & The Supremes, “Someday We’ll Be Together”, is released. The single becomes the final number 1 hit of 1969 (and of the 1960s). After a farewell concert in January 1970, Diana Ross leaves the Supremes for a solo career.
October 18 – Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band Live at the Fillmore East, NY.
October 22 – Led Zeppelin’s second album is released with the song “Whole Lotta Love”.
November – Simon & Garfunkel give live concert at Iowa State University, where they record the track “Bye, Bye Love” for their upcoming album Bridge Over Troubled Water.
November 1 – After seven years off the top of the charts, Elvis Presley hits No. 1 on the Billboard chart with “Suspicious Minds”.
November 7 – The Rolling Stones open their US tour in Fort Collins, Colorado.
November 8 – Simon & Garfunkel, on tour for the first time with a band, give live concert in Carbondale, Illinois, presumably at Southern Illinois University. The concert is not released until 1999 as part of a recording compiled by Head Records, called Village Vanguard.
November 11 – Simon & Garfunkel give live concert at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The recording is later released in the 1990s as Back to College on Yellow Dog Records and A Time of Innocence on Bell Bottom Records.
500,000 people march in Washington, D.C. for peace, which becomes the largest anti-war rally in U.S. history. In attendance: Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, John Denver, Mitch Miller, touring cast of Hair
Musik für die Beethovenhalle in Bonn, a multi-auditorium retrospective concert of the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, with the world premiere of his Fresco presented in four different foyer spaces continuously over a span of four-and-a-half hours.
November 29 – Billboard magazine changes its policy of charting the A and B sides of 45 singles on its pop chart. The former policy charted the two sides separately, but the new policy considers both sides as one chart entry. The Beatles are the first beneficiary of the new policy as their current 45 single featuring “Come Together” on one side, and “Something” on the other, accrue enough combined points to make the single a #1 pop hit. Similarly, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” and “Down On The Corner” accrue enough combined points to reach number 3 three weeks later.
November 30 – Simon & Garfunkel air TV special Songs of America, ostensibly an hour-long show that is anti-war and anti-poverty featuring live footage from their 1969 tour.
The Jackson 5 release their debut album, Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5.
Altamont Free Concert
Zubin Mehta marries Nancy Kovack.
Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash perform together on The Johnny Cash Show.
Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Steve Winwood form Blind Faith.
December 13 – The final episode of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour airs on NBC as the series gets cancelled a week later during a telecast of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer (which moved to CBS in 1972 for this reason). The television network ended up losing ratings until Grant Tinker became CEO in 1981.