Culture Wikia

This is a list of notable events in music that took place in the year 1979.



  • January 1
    • Simon "Mac" Nette releases Disco Fling/Bop 'N Boogie not to be confused with Up Yer Kilt the name Disco Fling was released under in some countries.
    • Bill Graham closes San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom following a New Year's Eve performance by the Blues Brothers and the Grateful Dead.
    • During a New Year's Eve concert in Cleveland, Ohio, Bruce Springsteen is injured when a firecracker is thrown onstage from the audience.
  • January 4 – The Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany, known for its connections to the early days of the Beatles, reopened.
  • January 6 – ABC's American Bandstand featured the debut of the "Y.M.C.A. dance" using the hand gestures forming the letters YMCA during a broadcast with the Village People.
  • January 9 – The Music for UNICEF Concert in held in New York City at the United Nations, starring the Bee Gees. Highlights are aired the following evening on NBC.
  • January 13 – Singer Donny Hathaway dies after falling 15 stories from his hotel room in New York City. According to Hathaway's record company, Atlantic, the singer had been having some psychological problems.
  • January 15MCA Records purchases ABC Records for a reported $20 million.
  • February 2Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious is found dead from an overdose, a day after being released on bail from Rikers Island prison.
  • February 7
    • The Clash kicked off their first concert of their first American tour at the Berkeley Community Theatre outside San Francisco. Bo Diddley opened the show.
    • Stephen Stills becomes the first major rock artist to record digitally, laying down four songs at The Record Plant in Los Angeles.
  • February 10Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" hit No. 1 on the Billboard magazine charts, and stayed there for 4 weeks.
  • February 11 – 43 million viewers watch "Elvis!" on ABC, a made-for-TV movie starring Kurt Russell as Elvis.
  • February 15Minnie Riperton appears on the Grammys as a presenter with Stephen Bishop. The Bee Gees collect 4 Grammys for Saturday Night Fever.
  • February 23Dire Straits begin their first U.S. tour in Boston.
  • February 24
    • Friedrich Cerha's completion of Alban Berg's opera Lulu is premiered at the Opera Garnier in Paris.
    • Singer Johnnie Wilder, Jr. of Heatwave is paralyzed from the neck down in a car accident in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio.
  • February 26B.B. King becomes the first blues artist to tour the Soviet Union, kicking off a one-month tour there.


  • March 2–4 – Weather Report, The CBS Jazz All-Stars, the Trio of Doom, Fania All-Stars, Stephen Stills, Billy Swan, Bonnie Bramlett, Mike Finnegan, Kris Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge and Billy Joel, plus Cuban acts Irakere, Pacho Alonso, Elena Burke, Los Papines, Tata Güines and Orquesta Aragón play at the historic three-day Havana Jam festival at the Karl Marx Theater, in Havana, Cuba.
  • March 5MCA Records dissolves ABC Records.
  • March 10James Brown performs at the Grand Ole Opry.
  • March 15Elvis Costello gets into a heated argument with members of Stephen Stills' touring entourage at a Holiday Inn in Columbus, Ohio. After Costello makes disparaging remarks about America, he is punched by Bonnie Bramlett. Costello suffers a wave of negative press coverage after the incident is made public.
  • March 21The Pretenders sign a contract with Sire Records.
  • March 23Van Halen releases their second album, Van Halen II.
  • March 27Eric Clapton marries Patti Boyd, ex-wife of Clapton's friend George Harrison.
  • March 31 – The Eurovision Song Contest, the biggest music festival in the world, takes place for the first time in a country outside Europe – Israel. The show is broadcast live from Jerusalem to Europe and a few countries in Asia. The big winner of this night is Israel for the second time in a row. The winning song is "Hallelujah" sung by Gali Atari and the backing group Milk and Honey. A few months after winning the song had been translated into more than 82 languages, and broke a new record by entering the Guinness Book of Records as the most translated song in the world.
  • April 2Kate Bush begins her first, and to date, only tour. She becomes the first artist to use a wireless microphone, enabling her to sing and dance at the same time.
  • April 6Rod Stewart marries Alana Hamilton.
  • April 7 – 110,000 people attend the California Music Festival at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Performers include Aerosmith, The Boomtown Rats, Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent and Van Halen.
  • April 12Mickey Thomas replaces Marty Balin as the lead singer of Jefferson Starship.
  • April 13 – During a concert by Van Halen in Spokane, Washington, David Lee Roth collapses from exhaustion. A local doctor treats him for a stomach virus and advises him to "calm down".
  • April 22The New Barbarians and The Rolling Stones perform two concerts in Oshawa, Ontario to benefit the CNIB, as part of Keith Richards' 1978 sentence for heroin possession.
  • April 24The New Barbarians open their US tour at Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • April 27Ozzy Osbourne is fired as lead singer of Black Sabbath. He is replaced in May by Ronnie James Dio.


  • May 2The Who play their first concert following the death of drummer Keith Moon. The band performs with new drummer Kenney Jones at London's Rainbow Theatre.
  • May 8Iron Maiden, Samson, and Angel Witch share a bill at the Music Machine in Camden, London. Critic Geoff Barton coins the term "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" in a review of the show for Sounds magazine.
  • May 12Disco occupied eight of the top ten spots of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, for two weeks. The charts were led by Peaches and Herb's R&B ballad single "Reunited".
  • May 19 – Three of the four ex-Beatles perform on the same stage, as Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr jam with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Mick Jagger and others at a wedding reception for Clapton at his Surrey home.
  • May 21Elton John plays the first of eight concerts in the Soviet Union.
  • June 1Alternative Tentacles record label established by Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra, and Joy Division release their album Unknown Pleasures.
  • June 8Marianne Faithfull marries Ben Brierly of The Vibrators.
  • June 9 – The Bee Gees tied The Beatles with a record six consecutive number-one singles in the U.S. with "Love You Inside Out".
  • June 28Bill Haley made his final studio recordings at Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
  • July 1 – The Sony Walkman goes on sale in Japan.
  • July 7 – The Bee Gees play to a sold-out crowd at Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium as part of their Spirits Having Flown tour.
  • July 10Chuck Berry is sentenced to four months in prison for tax evasion by a Los Angeles judge.
  • July 12 – "Disco Demolition Night", an anti-disco promotional event for a Chicago rock station involving exploding disco records with a bomb, causes a near-riot between games during a baseball major league doubleheader, forcing the cancellation of the second game.
  • July 21 – Disco dominated the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with the first six spots (beginning with Donna Summer's "Bad Girls), and seven of the chart's top ten songs ending that week.
  • July 28Aerosmith and Ted Nugent headline the World Series of Rock at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Also on the bill are Journey, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC and the Scorpions. Following the concert, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry quits the group after an argument with bandmates.
  • July 31 – 250,000 turn out in Central Park for a free concert by James Taylor in a campaign to restore Sheep Meadow.
  • August 18Nick Lowe and Carlene Carter are married at Carter's Los Angeles home.
  • August 25 – "My Sharona" by The Knack hits #1 on the Billboard charts. This is the first time in over a year that a song hits #1 that is not either a disco song or a ballad, signalling the potential resurgence of rock.


Also in 1979[]

  • The Welsh Philharmonia becomes the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera.
  • Michael Schenker leaves Scorpions during their tour in France and was replaced by Matthias Jabs.
  • Stevie Wonder uses digital audio recording technology in recording his album Journey through the Secret Life of Plants.
  • Ry Cooder releases the first pop/rock record made entirely using digital recording technology, "Bop Til You Drop".
  • EMI's first digital recording – at Abbey Road Studios – of a non-classical music track is released – UK jazz-funk duo Morrissey–Mullen covered the Rose Royce hit Love Don't Live Here Anymore. Released as a limited edition vinyl EP.
  • Disco reigned supreme in 1979, with several number-one hits from The Bee Gees and Donna Summer. Several artists who were not regarded as disco acts, scored major successes by releasing disco singles, including new wave band Blondie with their first US number-one single "Heart of Glass", Rod Stewart with "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" and rock band Electric Light Orchestra go disco this year with their UK No. 1 LP Discovery.
  • Elton John reunites with lyricist Bernie Taupin after a three-year break. The duos recent songs are recorded in August 1979, to be released a year later on "21 at 33".
  • December, Iron Maiden is signed by EMI. They hire Dennis Stratton as a second guitarist.

Bands formed[]

See Musical groups established in 1979

Bands disbanded[]

See Musical groups disestablished in 1979

Albums released[]

Biggest hit singles[]

The following songs achieved the highest chart positions in the charts of 1979.

# Artist Title Year Country Chart entries
1 Blondie Heart of Glass 1979 United States UK 1 – Jan 1979, US BB 1 – Mar 1979, Canada 1 – Mar 1979, Austria 1 – Mar 1979, Switzerland 1 – Feb 1979, Germany 1 – Feb 1979, Australia 1 for 5 weeks Jan 1980, Sweden (alt) 3 – Mar 1979, France 3 – Feb 1979, Australia 3 of 1979, Netherlands 5 – Feb 1979, Norway 5 – Mar 1979, RYM 8 of 1979, US CashBox 11 of 1979, US BB 1 of 1979, POP 13 of 1979, South Africa 15 of 1979, Italy 29 of 1979, Virgin 29, OzNet 30, Scrobulate 46 of 80s, Germany 54 of the 1970s, RIAA 217, Acclaimed 241, Rolling Stone 255
2 Gloria Gaynor I Will Survive 1979 United States UK 1 – Feb 1979, US BB 1 – Jan 1979, US BB 1 of 1979, Canada 1 – Mar 1979, Éire 1 – Mar 1979, POP 2 of 1979, Sweden (alt) 3 – Apr 1979, Netherlands 4 – Mar 1979, Norway 4 – May 1979, Switzerland 7 – Apr 1979, Scrobulate 8 of disco, Germany 9 – Mar 1979, US CashBox 10 of 1979, France 10 – Mar 1979, South Africa 16 of 1979, Austria 17 – May 1979, Party 24 of 1999, Australia 25 of 1979, Italy 38 of 1979, Europe 66 of the 1970s, RYM 67 of 1978, RIAA 89, OzNet 155, Acclaimed 416, Rolling Stone 489
3 M Pop Muzik 1979 United Kingdom US BB 1 – Aug 1979, Sweden (alt) 1 – Jun 1979, Switzerland 1 – Jun 1979, Germany 1 – May 1979, Australia 1 for 3 weeks May 1980, UK 2 – Apr 1979, Austria 2 – Jul 1979, Netherlands 3 – May 1979, France 3 – Nov 1979, Norway 5 – Jun 1979, South Africa 5 of 1979, Canada 8 – Sep 1979, Australia 10 of 1979, US CashBox 15 of 1979, Italy 18 of 1979, US BB 40 of 1979, POP 40 of 1979, RYM 50 of 1979, Germany 59 of the 1970s, OzNet 888, Acclaimed 1691
4 Donna Summer Hot Stuff 1979 United States US BB 1 – Apr 1979, Switzerland 1 – May 1979, Australia 1 for 1 weeks May 1980, Canada 2 – Apr 1979, Sweden (alt) 2 – May 1979, Norway 2 – Jun 1979, France 3 – May 1979, Austria 3 – Jun 1979, US BB 4 of 1979, Scrobulate 5 of disco, Germany 6 – May 1979, POP 6 of 1979, UK 11 – May 1979, US CashBox 14 of 1979, Netherlands 14 – May 1979, Australia 17 of 1979, Italy 24 of 1979, RYM 88 of 1979, Rolling Stone 103, OzNet 124, Party 210 of 1999, Germany 246 of the 1970s, Acclaimed 717
5 Patrick Hernandez Born to Be Alive 1979 France Sweden (alt) 1 – Jul 1979 (20 weeks), France (SNEP) 1 – Feb 1979 (5 months), France 1 – Mar 1979 (5 weeks), Austria 1 – Apr 1979 (6 weeks), Norway 1 – Jul 1979 (17 weeks), Belgium 1 – Jan 1979 (18 weeks), Germany 1 – Mar 1979 (6 months), Canada RPM 1 for 2 weeks – Aug 1979, New Zealand 1 for 2 weeks – Oct 1979, RIANZ 1 – Sep 1979 (14 weeks), Australia 1 for 5 weeks – Oct 1979, France 1 for 15 weeks – Mar 1979, Germany 1 for 5 weeks – May 1979, France (InfoDisc) 4 of the 1970s (peak 1, 30 weeks, 1,412k sales estimated, 1979), US Gold (certified by RIAA in Nov 1979), Germany Gold (certified by BMieV in 1979), Netherlands 5 – Feb 1979 (18 weeks), Switzerland 5 – Feb 1979 (13 weeks), Australia 5 of 1979, Springbok 6 – Aug 1979 (11 weeks), Italy 7 of 1979, UK 10 – Jun 1979 (14 weeks), POP 11 of 1979, Canada 12 – Jul 1979 (6 weeks), US BB 15 of 1979, US Billboard 16 – Jun 1979 (19 weeks), Record World 19 – 1979, Germany 20 of the 1970s (peak 1 25 weeks), Brazil 32 of 1979, Scrobulate 68 of disco, US Radio 108 of 1979 (peak 16 5 weeks), RYM 200 of 1979, UK Silver (certified by BPI in Sep 1979), Global 7 (10 M sold) – 1979

Chronological table of US and UK number-one hit singles[]

Singles released[]

  1. Four Strong Winds Neil Young

Published popular music[]

  • "Don't Cry Out Loud" w. Carole Bayer Sager m. Peter Allen
  • "The Facts of Life" w.m. Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring, and Al Burton, from the TV series of the same name
  • "I'd Rather Leave While I'm In Love" w.m. Carole Bayer Sager & Peter Allen
  • "Knots Landing theme" m. Jerrold Immel
  • "The Rainbow Connection" w.m. Kenny Ascher & Paul Williams, from the film The Muppet Movie
  • "Sultans of Swing" w.m. Mark Knopfler



  • January 5Charles Mingus, jazz musician, 56
  • January 13
    • Donny Hathaway, singer, 33
    • Marjorie Lawrence, operatic soprano, 71
  • February 2Sid Vicious, punk rocker, 21
  • March 4Mike Patto, rock singer, 36 (cancer)
  • March 5Alan Crofoot, operatic tenor and host of Mr Piper, 49 (suicide)[1]
  • March 13Harrison Keller, US violinist and music teacher, 90[2]
  • March 22Walter Legge, record producer, 72
  • March 23Antonio Brosa, violinist, 84
  • April 3Ernst Glaser, Norwegian violinist, conductor and music teacher, 75
  • April 10Nino Rota, composer, 67
  • April 16Maria Caniglia, operatic soprano, 73
  • April 29Julia Perry, composer and conductor, 55
  • May 1Bronislav Gimpel, violinist, 68
  • May 9Zoltán Kelemen, operatic bass-baritone, 53
  • May 11Lester Flatt, bluegrass musician, 64
  • May 21Blue Mitchell, trumpeter, 49
  • June 5Jack Haley, actor, singer (Wizard of Oz) 80
  • June 21Angus MacLise, American drummer and songwriter (Velvet Underground and Theatre of Eternal Music), 41 (hypoglycemia and pulmonary tuberculosis)[3]
  • June 29Lowell George, singer, songwriter and guitarist, founder of Little Feat, 34 (heart attack)
  • July 3Louis Durey, composer, 91
  • July 6Van McCoy, singer, 35 (heart attack)
  • July 12Minnie Riperton, singer, 31 (breast cancer)
  • July 14Pedro Flores, composer, 85
  • July 16Alfred Deller, countertenor, 67
  • August 19Dorsey Burnette, Rockabilly singer, 46 (heart attack)
  • August 25Stan Kenton, bandleader, 67
  • September 2Jacques Février, pianist, 79
  • September 6Guy Bolton, English librettist, 94
  • September 22Richard Nibley, violinist, 66
  • September 27
    • Gracie Fields, actress and singer, 81
    • Jimmy McCulloch, guitarist (Wings), 28
  • October 1Roy Harris, composer, 81
  • October 13Rebecca Helferich Clarke, viola player and composer, 93
  • October 22Nadia Boulanger, French composer, conductor, and music teacher, 92
  • October 27Germaine Lubin, operatic soprano, 89
  • November 11Dimitri Tiomkin, film composer and conductor, 85
  • November 13Freda Betti, French mezzo-soprano opera singer, 55
  • November 17John Glascock, rock bassist, 28
  • November 30Joyce Grenfell, actress and singer-songwriter, 69
  • December 21Nansi Richards, harpist, 91
  • December 30Richard Rodgers, composer and songwriter, 77

Awards ceremonies[]

See also[]


  1. "Alcohol, medication may have led to tenor's suicide". The Calgary Herald. March 7, 1979. p. B18. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  2. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Seventh Edition, Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky, Schirmer Books, New York, 1984, page 1178
  3. allmusic "Angus MacLise"