January 3 – Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The other inductees this year consist of The Coasters, Eddie Cochran, Bo Diddley, Marvin Gaye, Bill Haley, Clyde McPhatter, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Smokey Robinson and Jackie Wilson.
January 5 – Elton John, after several months of voice problems, undergoes throat surgery in an Australian hospital. The outcome would hinder his voice permanently and he would soon start singing in a deep register.
January 16 – Beastie Boys become the first act to be censored by American Bandstand.
January 24 – Steve “Silk” Hurley‘s innovative “Jack Your Body” becomes the first house music record to top the UK singles chart.
February 6 – Sonny Bono announces his candidacy for mayor of Palm Springs, California.
February 14 – Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” reaches #1 in the USA. It would be 1987’s biggest hit song worldwide. Los Angeles radio station KMET signs off after nineteen years on the air. The station had been a pioneer of underground progressive rock programming.
February 15 – Video Hits premieres on Australian television.
February 26 – The first five Beatles albums, Please Please Me, With the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles for Sale and Help! are released on Compact disc. Capitol Records decides to release the original UK mixes of the Beatles albums, which means that the first four CDs are released in mono. This marks the first time that many of these mono mixes are available in the US.
March 9 – U2 releases The Joshua Tree, an album that launches them into superstar status in the music world. The album would sell over 14 million copies worldwide in 1987 alone and would win the Grammy for “Album of the Year” (at the 1988 ceremony). U2 have two #1 hit songs from this album on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts. Carole King is inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City. The career that would end in an infamous appearance at The Brit awards and the burning of a million pounds began in Britain, as The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu release their debut single, “All You Need Is Love”.
March 13 – Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In the US, Bryan Adams’ “Heat of the Night” becomes the first single to be commercially released on cassette. Cassette singles become known as cassingles.
March 27 – Inspired by The Beatles’ 1969 rooftop concert, U2 shoots a music video for the song “Where the Streets Have No Name” on a rooftop in Los Angeles.
April 7 – Alice Cooper almost dies on stage when one of the props, the Gallows, malfunctions.
April 23 – Carole King sues the owner of her record company, Lou Adler, claiming that she is owed more than $400,000 in royalties. King also asks for rights to her old recordings.
May 9 – Ireland’s Johnny Logan wins the Eurovision Song Contest, held in Brussels, Belgium, with the song “Hold Me Now”, making him the first artist to win the contest twice. The song tops the charts in Ireland, and peaks at No. 2 in the UK.
June 14 – Madonna starts her Who’s That Girl Tour in Osaka, Japan.
June 27 – Whitney Houston’s second album Whitney becomes the first album by a female artist to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200.
July 4 – The first joint rock concert between the United States and the Soviet Union is held in Moscow to promote peace. The Doobie Brothers, James Taylor, Santana and Bonnie Raitt share the bill with Soviet rock group Autograph.
July 21 – American rock group Guns N’ Roses release Appetite for Destruction which, after initial slow sales will become the best selling debut album of all time with more than 18 million copies sold in the US alone to date
August 1 – Dave Stewart of Eurythmics and Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama are married in Normandy, France. MTV Europe is launched. The first video played is “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits.
August 3 – Def Leppard releases Hysteria, the longest rock album ever released as a single LP or cassette.
August 27 – The Jello Biafra criminal trial is dismissed after ending in a hung jury in Los Angeles court. Biafra and his manager had been charged with distributing harmful material to minors due to a poster included in the Dead Kennedys’ Frankenchrist album of a painting depicting rows of sexual organs.
August 31 – Michael Jackson releases Bad, the first studio album after Thriller, the best-selling album of all time. The album would produce five number one singles in the USA, a record which has not been broken.
September 3 – Fugazi plays their first live show (as a three-piece; Guy Picciotto had not joined the band yet) at the Wilson Center in Washington DC.
September 6 – Madonna ends her Who’s That Girl Tour in Florence, Italy.
September 7 – Pink Floyd release A Momentary Lapse of Reason, their first album after the departure of and legal battle with bassist, Roger Waters. The subsequent tour grossed around $135 million worldwide, a sum that was only equaled by the earnings of Michael Jackson and U2 combined.
September 11 – Reggae musician Peter Tosh is murdered during a robbery in his home.
September 12 – Michael Jackson starts the Bad World Tour, supporting his Bad album.
September 25 – Matthew Garrison Chapman is born, the first child of Amy Grant and Gary Chapman. Lead Me On, Amy’s 1988 album, is said to have been dedicated to Matt. CBS launches an American version of the long-running UK television show Top of the Pops. It lasts one year.
October 4 – electronic data gathering completely replaces the old sales diary technique in compiling the UK singles and albums chart. The publication day of new charts is moved from Tuesday to Sunday.
October 8 – Chuck Berry receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
October 19 – Mötley Crüe release the song “You’re All I Need” as a single. Its lyrics cause MTV to refuse to play its video. Radio stations never play the song either.
October 30 – George Michael releases his first solo studio album, Faith, which would win the Grammy Award for album of the year and sell 11 million copies in USA alone.
October 31 -The Zorros headline on the Halloween for the last ever show at the Crystal Ballroom, Melbourne’s premier Punk/ New Wave Venue. The Crystal Ballroom has seen almost ten years of intense musical evolution. The venue has chandeliers, stained glass windows, paisley wallpaper and a tiled foyer.
November 13 – Sonny and Cher reunite for a performance on Late Night with David Letterman.
November 18 – CBS Records is sold to the Sony Corporation in a deal worth about $2 billion. Company was renamed Sony Music Entainment in 1991.
November 24 – ABC airs Rolling Stone Magazine’s 20 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll television special, chronicling the music and the people of the past twenty years to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Rolling Stone magazine. The special includes new interviews as well as vintage performance footage of many rock legends such as Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Sex Pistols, Bruce Springsteen and many more.
December 16 – John Mellencamp performs two free shows in the small town of Chillicothe, Ohio after one-fifth of the population signed a petition asking him to play.
December 23 – Nikki Sixx of the rock band Mötley Crüe suffers a heroin overdose, but is revived shortly thereafter.
December 31 – The sixteenth annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special airs on ABC, with appearances by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Los Lobos, Barry Manilow, Restless Heart and The Temptations.
Also in 1987
Kylie Minogue’s recording career begins, when her cover version of the Little Eva hit The Loco-Motion spends seven weeks at number one in her native Australia and leads to a contract with UK-based record producers Stock Aitken Waterman.
Lynyrd Skynyrd reform and now have Ronnie Van Zant’s little brother Johnny Van Zant as lead singer.
The Smiths disband after guitarist and songwriter Johnny Marr leaves the band.
Andreas Kisser replaces Jairo Guedes in Sepultura.
Prince cancels the The Black Album just before its release. It eventually becomes officially available in 1994.