Perhaps the two most famous musical events of 1969 were concerts. At a Rolling Stones concert in Altamont, California, a fan was stabbed to death by Hells Angels, a biker gang that had been hired to provide security for the event. In retrospect, some commentators have concluded that the violence signaled the end of the "hippie" movement, which espoused an ethos of free love and peace. Even more famous than the Altamont concert is Woodstock, which consisted of dozens of the most famous performers in the world at the time, playing together in an atmosphere of peace with nature and love, with many thousands of concert goers; it is still one of the largest concerts in the history of the world.
The 1967 musical Hair generated the same-named 1968 album, whose cuts include "Aquarius" and "Let The Sunshine In", "Hair", "Good Morning Starshine", "Easy To Be Hard" (covered, chronologically and respectively, by The 5th Dimension at #1, The Cowsills at #2, Oliver at #3, Three Dog Night at #4, on the Hot 100 in 1969), and others, and a London Cast album released in April 1969.
The Isle of Wight festival saw the return of Bob Dylan to live music after his motorbike accident in 1966.
Soul Shakedown was the debut album by Bob Marley & The Wailers, who would go on to become one of the most popular groups around the world. The album achieved very little popularity outside of the group's native country, Jamaica, but began establishing themselves as superstars there. Musically, Soul Shakedown is more ska than reggae, the style of music the Wailers would eventually make world-famous; the pioneering style of the music helped move ska and rocksteady towards reggae.
David Bowie's "Space Oddity" became a huge hit in this year, being released at the time that American astronauts first landed on the moon. The song, the story of an astronaut named Major Tom who goes into space and is entranced by the beauty of seeing Earth from such a great distance and consequently lets himself float off into space, never again to return, was chosen by the BBC as the theme song for the television coverage of the moon landing. The remainder of the album, Man of Words/Man of Music, was too eccentric for mainstream acceptance, though it established a devoted fanbase for Bowie, who would go on to become one of the most popular musicians in the world.
King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King is a pioneering album in the development of progressive rock. The album drew upon influences like Procol Harum, The Moody Blues and The Nice to form an original sound melding rock and roll with classical influences in long, avant-garde pieces of music. Similar albums by The Moody Blues, Procol Harum and The Nice, as well as Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd were also released this year, expanding the range of prog rock and developing it into a full-fledged genre.
The Stooges' eponymous debut, The Stooges, was also released this year to little critical or popular acceptance. The album, however, went on to become one of the most important recordings in the early development of punk rock, as did Kick Out The Jams by Detroit protopunkers MC5.
Johnny Cash's At San Quentin included his only Top Ten pop hit, "A Boy Named Sue". The album was a sequel to last year's At Folsom Prison. Also in country music, Merle Haggard's Same Train, Different Time, a tribute to Jimmie Rodgers, was enormously popular and influenced the development of the Bakersfield sound into outlaw country within a few years.
Creedence Clearwater Revival cement their success from the previous year. Having had a single US #11 hit in 1968 with Suzie Q, they release not only their second, but also their third and fourth proper studio album in 1969 as well as drawing a total of four top 3 hits from these three albums. Starting with Bayou Country including the US #2 hit "Proud Mary" and continuing with Green River and finally Willy and the Poor Boys, which, during the year, transformed them from an up-and-coming underground act to bona fide rockstars. During 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival had #2 hits in the US with "Proud Mary", "Green River" and "Bad Moon Rising", and also have a #3 hit with "Down on the Corner"/"Fortunate Son".
Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso released enormously popular albums in Brazil, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, respectively. The pair's fusion of bossa nova, samba and other native Brazilian folk influences, melded with politically and socially aware lyrics, kickstarted what came to be known as Tropicalia. Both musicians moved to London after a period of imprisonment for anti-government activities in Brazil.
Family release their second album, Family Entertainment, in their native Britain. It is their first top ten album in the United Kingdom, hitting number six. "The Weaver's Answer", which opens the record, becomes their most popular song in their concert performances. By the end of the year, however, they lose and replace two members, and their first attempt to break through commercially in the United States backfires miserably.
Elvis Presley returns to live performances at the International Hotel in Las Vegas; 57 concerts. He breaks all attendance records in Vegas. He also enjoys a great success with his songs "In the Ghetto" and "Suspicious Minds".
- 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 timeslot 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 Savile Row, London. The performance, which was filmed for the Let It Be movie, is stopped early by police after neighbors complain about the noise.
- February – Eric Burdon & The Animals disband.
- February 3 – 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.
- 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.
- 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 12
- 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 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.
- April 22
- The first complete performance of The Who's rock opera Tommy during a performance in Dolton, Devon, UK
- 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.
- May 3
- 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. 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.
- June 2 – John Lennon and Yoko Ono host a "Bed-In" at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada. The couple records the song "Give Peace a Chance" live in their suite with Tommy Smothers, Timothy Leary, and several others.
- 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 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 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, Joan Baez, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Country Joe and the Fish, Ten Years After, and Sly & the Family Stone.
- 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.
- 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 #1 hit of 1969 (and of the 1960s). After a farewell concert in January 1970, Diana Ross leaves the Supremes for a solo career.
- 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" (his last no. 1 during his lifetime).
- 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.
- November 15 – 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 #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.
- December – The Jackson 5 release their debut album, Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5.
- December 6 – Altamont Free Concert
- Zubin Mehta marries Nancy Kovack.
- Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash perform together on The Johnny Cash Show.
- Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker & Steve Winwood form Blind Faith.
- Brian Eno's musical career begins as a member of Cornelius Cardew's Scratch Orchestra.
Read more about this topic: 1969 In Music
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