January 4 – Guitarist Jimi Hendrix is jailed by Stockholm police, after trashing a hotel room during a drunken fist fight with bassist Noel Redding.
January 6 – The Gibson Guitar Corporation patents its Gibson Flying V electric guitar design.
January 13 – Johnny Cash performs his famous concert at Folsom State Prison in California.
January 20 – The Who and the Small Faces start with a tour of Australia and New Zealand.
February 1 – Universal Studios offers the Doors $500,000 to star in a feature film, which is never made.
February 4 – The Bee Gees make their American television debut on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
February 12 – Jimi Hendrix is given an honorary high school diploma from Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington. Hendrix is also given the key to the city.
February 16 – The Beatles, Mike Love, Mia Farrow, Donovan and others travel to India to visit Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at Rishikesh.
February 18 – David Gilmour joins Pink Floyd, replacing founder Syd Barrett, who had checked himself into a psychiatric hospital.
February 21 – McGraw-Hill, Inc., outbids eight other publishers and pays $150,000 for the U.S. rights to Hunter Davies’ authorized biography of the Beatles.
February 22 – Florence Ballard of the Supremes is released from her contract with Motown.
February 27 – Doo-wop Singer Frankie Lymon is found dead at his grandmother’s house in Harlem, New York, of a heroin overdose
March 1 – Johnny Cash and June Carter are married in Franklin, Kentucky, with Merle Kilgore as best man.
March 8 – Bill Graham opens the Fillmore East in an abandoned movie theater in New York City.
March 25 – The 58th and final new episode of The Monkees airs on NBC.
March 30 – The Yardbirds record their live album Live Yardbirds at the Anderson Theater.
April 5 – James Brown appears on national television, in an attempt to calm feelings of anger in the United States following the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Pink Floyd announced that Syd Barrett, who was replaced two months earlier amid deteriorating mental health, had officially left the group.
April 7 – Singer/pianist/songwriter Nina Simone’s performance at Westbury Music Fair is dedicated to the late Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. The song “Why? (the king of love is dead)” by Gene Taylor is performed for the first time. The show is partially released on the Emmy nominated album Nuff Said (1968).
April 29 – The rock musical Hair opens on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre.
May 4 – Mary Hopkin performs on the British TV show Opportunity Knocks. Hopkin catches the attention of model Twiggy, who recommends her to Paul McCartney. McCartney would soon sign Hopkin to Apple Records.
May 5 – Buffalo Springfield performs together for the last time in Long Beach, California.
Aretha Franklin records her live LP Aretha in Paris at the Olympia Theater.
Karlheinz Stockhausen begins composing his fifteen intuitive music works, Aus den sieben Tagen.
May 14 – At a press conference, John Lennon and Paul McCartney introduce the Beatles’ new business concept, Apple Corps, Ltd., an entertainment company that included a recording studio, a record label, and clothing store.
May 26 – Blues artist Little Willie John dies in prison after being convicted of manslaughter.
May 30 – The Beatles begin recording The White Album (officially titled, simply, The Beatles). Sessions would span over 4 months, ending on October 14.
David Ruffin is fired from The Temptations due to his ego and because he began inquiring into the Temptations’ financial records, demanding an accounting of the group’s money.
Martha Reeves & the Vandellas make their debut at the Copacabana in New York City, winning a rave review in The New York Times. The engagement was recorded but remains in the Motown vaults.
July – Release in Brazil of the album Tropicália: ou Panis et Circencis by Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and others, with arrangements by Rogério Duprat, inaugurates the Tropicália movement in music.
July 7 – The Yardbirds perform for the last time before disbanding.
July 9–14 – The International Eisteddfod takes place in Llangollen, North Wales
July 18 – Mina presents her Italian white soul hits “Se stasera sono qui” and “Colpo al cuore”. The performance is transmitted live without playback from the Auditorio A of the Radiotelevisione Italiana regional headquarters in Naples.
August 1 – Jeff Beck Group releases their album Truth. A seminal work of heavy metal, it incorporates blues and hard rock. It introduced the talents of Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood.
August 4 – Yes performs for the first time, at a summer camp.
August 5–10 – The Royal National Eisteddfod takes place in Barry, Wales.
August 21 – Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. At this evening’s performance of The Proms in London, the USSR Symphony Orchestra plays with Mstislav Rostropovich as soloist in Dvořák’s Cello Concerto.
August 23 – Simon & Garfunkel give a live concert at the Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, California. A recording is later released on CD in 1994 by Australian company Vigotone Records as Voices of Intelligent Dissent.
September 7 – Led Zeppelin performs for the first time, billed as The New Yardbirds (the Yardbirds had disbanded two months earlier, and guitarist Jimmy Page has subsequently formed this new group). Also this day, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premieres on NBC.
September 14 – Two sons of singer Roy Orbison, 10-year-old Roy DeWayne Orbison and 6-year-old Anthony King Orbison, die in a house fire in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Orbison’s youngest son, Wesley, is miraculously saved by Roy’s parents.
Song of Summer, Ken Russell’s noted TV documentary about Frederick Delius, is shown for the first time as part of the BBC’s Omnibus series.
PocketDiscs are released in several test markets in the United States.
September 19 – The Who begin recording Tommy, a rock opera that tells the story about a deaf, dumb and blind boy, including his experiences with life and the relationship with his family.
October 7 – Jose Feliciano at Tiger Stadium for 1968 World Series in Detroit sing a personal and controversial soul version of “Star-Spangled Banner”, this was the first time for the National Anthem in a different style.
October 8 – The soundtrack for the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet is released, containing popular “What Is a Youth” tune.
November 8 – John and Cynthia Lennon are divorced.
November 11 – Three days after their divorce, John Lennon costars with Yoko Ono in Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, which ends up being a flop.
November 17 – Diana Ross & the Supremes replace The Beatles’ hugely successful “Hey Jude” at number-one in the U.S. with “Love Child”; this would be the last of five turnovers at number-one between the two most successful music acts in America during the 1960s.
November 22 – The Beatles (also known as “The White Album”) by The Beatles is released. Also released is The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks.
November 26 – Cream plays their farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall. It will be the last time Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker play together until their 1993 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Jimi Hendrix’s manager Chas Chandler quits over differences with Hendrix during the recording of Electric Ladyland
Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company perform their last concert together before Janis goes solo.
Elvis Presley’s If I Can Dream airs on NBC and finished as not only the highest rated TV show for the week it was broadcast, but the highest rated Television Special of 1968.
A political confrontation at the Planten un Blomen Hall in Hamburg results in cancellation of the scheduled premiere of Hans Werner Henze’s oratorio Das Floß der Medusa, a score dedicated to Che Guevara.
TCB airs on NBC starring Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations, becoming the first variety special in America to feature an exclusively African American cast.
Shinjuku Music Festival is broadcast for the first time by Nippon Cultural Broadcasting.
December 11 – The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus was filmed. Acts included The Rolling Stones, The Who, Taj Mahal, Jethro Tull, The Dirty Mac, and Marianne Faithfull. This is the last appearance of Brian Jones as a member of The Rolling Stones.
December 20 – Peter Tork announces he is leaving The Monkees.
December 22 – The Animals reunite for one benefit concert at the Newcastle City Hall while Eric Burdon & The Animals are disbanding.
December 31 – Small Faces break up when Steve Marriott storms off the stage.