January – Interscope Records pays a radio station in Portland, Oregon, USA, $5000 to play the Limp Bizkit single “Counterfeit” fifty times. The business move is widely criticized in the media as “payola”, but the controversy serves to further increase publicity for the band.
January 28 – “Weird Al” Yankovic gets LASIK surgery to cure his myopia. At the same time, he grows out his hair and shaves off his moustache, radically changing his signature look.
January 31 – The Presidents of the United States of America play a farewell show in their hometown of Seattle. They would reunite in 2000.
February – Carnatic vocalist M. S. Subbulakshmi becomes the first musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.
February 5 – Former Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford publicly reveals his homosexuality for the first time in an interview with MTV.
February 15 – Sir Edward Elgar’s unfinished third symphony, completed by Anthony Payne is performed for the first time at the Royal Festival Hall, London, UK.
February 19 The Stray Cats reunite for a benefit show for the Carl Perkins Foundation at House of Blues in Los Angeles, USA.
February 22 – In Los Angeles, California, Stevie Wonder is honored as the 1999 MusiCares Person of the Year.
February 23 – “Frozen”, the first single from Madonna’s eighth studio album, Ray of Light, is released. The single is a worldwide hit, peaking at #2 on US Billboard Hot 100 and becoming her first single to enter the charts at #1 in the UK.
February 24 Elton John is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom at Buckingham Palace, London, UK. He was mistakenly introduced as “Sir John Elton”, but was renamed “Sir Elton John”.
February 28 – Haitian group RAM survive an assassination attempt while performing at a carnival, after a disagreement with the newly elected mayor of Port-au-Prince.
March 3 – Madonna releases her seventh studio album Ray of Light. The album eventually sells over 16 million copies worldwide and gains Madonna four Grammy Awards.
March 10 – The South Korean-made MPMan, the first mass-produced digital audio player, is launched at the CeBIT trade fair in Hanover, Germany.
March 13 – The Smashing Pumpkins file a US$1 million lawsuit against UK-based Sound And Media Ltd, alleging that the company has released a book and CD about the band without proper clearance.
March 17 – Van Halen III is released. It is the first Van Halen album to feature Gary Cherone on vocals.
March 26 – Chuck Negron files a lawsuit against his fellow Three Dog Night band mates alleging that they broke a 1990 settlement agreement and interfered with his career.
April 3 – Dave Navarro is fired by The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
April 6 – Organizers announce that Lollapalooza will not be staged in 1998 due to the inability to sign a major headlining act. The festival would return in 2003.
April 7 – George Michael is arrested in a public restroom in Beverly Hills, California, USA for lewd conduct. He is subsequently sentenced to community service, and later describes it as a “subconsciously deliberate act”.
April 14 – The first VH1 Divas Live concert is broadcast on VH1, starring Aretha Franklin, Gloria Estefan, Céline Dion, Shania Twain and Mariah Carey.
April 17-19 – The second Terrastock festival takes place in San Francisco, USA.
April 29 – Steven Tyler breaks his knee at a concert in Anchorage, Alaska, USA, delaying Aerosmith’s Nine Lives Tour and necessitating camera angle adjustments for the filming of the video for “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”.
May – The third European Festival of Youth Choirs is held in Basel, Switzerland.
May 8 – A British court rules in favor of The Beatles and John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, stopping the release of another Live at the Star Club recording. All copies of the recording and the original tape are awarded to the Beatles, as well as damages and legal costs.
May 9 – The 43rd Eurovision Song Contest, held in Birmingham, United Kingdom, is won by Israel’s transsexual performer Dana International with the song “Diva” See:
May 31 – Geri Halliwell goes into hiding as her public relations representative, Julian Torton, confirms that she has left the Spice Girls permanently.
June 1 – Scott Weiland’s public problems with drugs continue when he is arrested in New York after buying heroin.
July 3 – Westlife is formally created and signed to the record label BMG.
July 5 – Teen singer Billie Piper starts her career by becoming the youngest British solo artist to debut at #1 on the UK singles charts with “Because We Want To”.
August 18 – Korn’s third studio album, Follow the Leader, enters Billboard 200 at number 1, with 268,000 copies sold in its first week. It goes on to be certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA and sell over 14 million copies worldwide, thus launching nu metal into the mainstream.
August 24 – Pearl Jam’s “Do the Evolution” video premieres on MTV’s 120 Minutes; it is the group’s first music video in six years.
August 25 – Lauryn Hill releases her breakthrough debut album The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. The album goes on to be certified 7x Platinum by the RIAA and sell over 19 million copies worldwide.
August 29 – The Bee Gees open their One Night Only tour in Dublin, Ireland
September 14 – Total Request Live is broadcast for the first time on MTV.
September 16 – Lou Reed performs for President of the Czech Republic Václav Havel at the White House.
October 5 – MuchMoreMusic is launched in Canada.
October 8 – The Recording Industry Association of America files in court against Diamond Multimedia in an attempt to block the release of the new Rio PMP300, arguing that the MP3 digital audio player is a music piracy device. The RIAA’s application is denied on October 26, clearing the way for the PMP300 to become the first commercially successful MP3 player.
October 23 – Britney Spears’ debut single, “…Baby One More Time”, is released. It would become the top-selling single of 1999, selling over nine million units worldwide.
October 27 – The Copyright Term Extension Act is signed into law, giving the entertainment industry 20 more years of exclusive rights to all works created since 1923.
December – Young violinists Nicola Benedetti and Alina Ibragimova play Bach’s double violin concerto under the baton of Yehudi Menuhin at the opening ceremony of the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at UNESCO in Paris.
December 5 – Billboard changes its policy for its Hot 100 chart to allow airplay-only singles or album cuts to be accounted in the chart.