January 1 – The newest music video channel, VH-1, begins broadcasting on American cable. It is aimed at an older demographic than its sister station, MTV. The first video played is Marvin Gaye‘s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner“.
January 11 – One of the biggest music festivals in the world begins in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Rock in Rio, had a public of 1.5 million people at all, including artists like Iron Maiden, Nina Hagen, The B52’s, Go Go’s, Queen, Rod Stewart, James Taylor, AC/DC, and many more. National artists such as Gilberto Gil, Elba Ramalho, Barão Vermelho and Paralamas do Sucesso also perform.
Willie Dixon sues Led Zeppelin over the song “Whole Lotta Love”, on the grounds that it contains too many similarities to his own song “You Need Love”. The lawsuit is settled out of court.
January 28 – Various artists, under the group name USA For Africa, including Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Steve Perry, Kenny Loggins, Willie Nelson, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Huey Lewis, Tina Turner, Sheila E., Harry Belafonte, Lindsey Buckingham, Kim Carnes, Dionne Warwick, Waylon Jennings, Bob Geldof and Stevie Wonder, record the song “We Are the World”.
February 22 – The “One Night with Blue Note” concert, celebrating the relaunch of Blue Note Records and featuring over 30 jazz greats, is held at The Town Hall in New York. Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, McCoy Tyner and Grover Washington, Jr. are just a few of the performers.
March 27 – The South African Broadcasting Corporation bans Stevie Wonder’s music in response to Wonder dedicating the Oscar he had won the night before to Nelson Mandela.
March 28 – A wax likeness of Michael Jackson is unveiled at Madame Tussaud’s in London, UK.
April 1 – After months of squabbling, David Lee Roth leaves Van Halen to begin a solo career.
April 7 – Wham! becomes the first Western pop group to perform in China when they play a concert in Beijing’s Workers Stadium during an historic 10-day visit.
April 10 – Madonna begins her very first tour, The Virgin Tour (named after her Like a Virgin album) in Seattle, Washington, USA.
May – Russian singer Valery Leontiev starts his 10-date tour “Alone with all” and it become an instant hit. Queues for tickets blocked the traffic on a few central streets of Leningrad.
May 4 – With “La det swinge” by Bobbysocks!, Norway scores its first win at the Eurovision Song Contest, in Gothenburg, Sweden.
June 11 – Madonna ends The Virgin Tour at Madison Square Garden in New York, USA.
July 13 – The Live Aid concert takes place in Wembley Stadium, London, UK and Philadelphia, USA. The headlining acts at the latter venue included a Led Zeppelin reunion, the first since their 1980 disbandment.
August 16 – On her 27th birthday, Madonna marries actor Sean Penn. (They divorce on September 14, 1989.)
September 6 – Michael Jackson purchases the publishing rights for most of the Beatles’ music for $47 million, much to the dismay of Paul McCartney, whom he is bidding against.
September 19 – The Parents Music Resource Center‘s (P.M.R.C.) United States Senate hearing on rock censorship begin in Washington, D.C. Heavy metal singer Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, rock star Frank Zappa and country singer John Denver testify against the P.M.R.C.
September 22 – The Farm Aid concert is held in Champaign, Illinois, USA.
September 22 – Massimo Bogianckino, general manager of the Paris Opera and former head of both the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and La Scala, is elected mayor of Florence.
November 16 – John Farnham, formerly a teen idol in Australia (as Johnny Farnham), revives his recording career when his hit, “You’re the Voice” goes to the top of the charts at #1 for seven weeks and his album Whispering Jack goes to the top of the Albums charts at #1 for a record-breaking 25 weeks.
December 5 – The first fully digital reggae single, Wayne Smith’s “(Under Me) Sleng Teng”, is recorded at Prince Jammy’s studio; it is the beginning of ragga style reggae.
December 23 – Two young fans of Judas Priest in Sparks, Nevada shoot themselves, one fatally, after listening to the band’s records. A lawsuit is brought against the group in 1986 claiming that they were compelled by backwards subliminal messages hidden in their music.
December 31 – The fourteenth annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special is aired on ABC television, with appearances by Four Tops, The Judds, Barry Manilow, The Motels, Tears for Fears and The Temptations.
Also in 1985
Several hundreds of thousands of US dollars in publishing royalties are released to the surviving members, and families of the deceased members, of the British music group, Badfinger. Two band members, Pete Ham and Tom Evans, previously committed suicide due to financial problems. Metal Edge magazine is launched. (Source: Wikipedia)