1969 in Music
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1969 in Music

John Lennon rehearses "Give Peace a Chance", 1969.

List of notable events in music that took place in the year 1969.

Specific locations

Specific genres



1969 was the last year in which the United States government gave greater financial support, through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) "Music Program" to opera than it did to other classical music, and the first year in which it gave any support at all to jazz and folk music.[1]

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 was the Woodstock festival, 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. One of those who performed was Ravi Shankar, his presence reflecting a growing interest in Indian and other Eastern music; Shankar later said that the 1960s "got India wrong".[2]

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 number 1, The Cowsills at number 2, Oliver at number 3, Three Dog Night at number 4, on the Billboard 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.

US and UK pop music remained popular worldwide, with few European acts making the charts outside their home countries; exceptions included Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg, Shocking Blue, Georges Moustaki and Christian Anders.[3]

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 a sound melding rock and roll with classical influences in long 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 number 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 number 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 number 2 hits in the US with "Proud Mary", "Green River" and "Bad Moon Rising", and also have a number 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 released their second album, Family Entertainment, in their native Britain. It is their first top 10 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 returned to live performances at the International Hotel in Las Vegas; breaking all attendance records in his 57-concert run. He also enjoyed great success with his songs "In the Ghetto" and "Suspicious Minds".

The Wendy Carlos album Switched-On Bach was one of the first classical albums to sell 500,000 copies, and helped bring classical music into the popular sphere, as did Mason Williams' "Classical Gas", played on classical guitar, in addition to being accompanied by one of the first successful music videos.[4] The composition won three Grammy Awards: Best Instrumental Composition, Best Contemporary-Pop Performance, Instrumental, and Best Instrumental Arrangement.[5] In the meantime, German trumpeter Manfred Schoof's free jazz album, European Echoes, a recording of his half-hour free improvisation broadcast on German radio in June 1969, featured international musicians and is regarded as a seminal album in the genre.[6]Alexander von Schlippenbach's The Living Music, recorded a couple of months earlier, is also now regarded as a pioneering work.[7]

Chutney music was also first recorded in 1969, in Trinidad and Tobago by Sundar Popo.

New York City Ballet celebrates their 25th anniversary with performances at the David H. Koch Theater Lincoln Center.

Major events

Bands formed

Bands disbanded

Albums released













Release date unknown

Biggest hit singles

The following songs achieved the highest chart positions in the charts of 1969.

# Artist Title Year Country Chart Entries
1 The Beatles "Get Back" 1969 United Kingdom UK 1 - Apr 1969, US BB 1 - May 1969, Canada 1 - Apr 1969, Netherlands 1 - Apr 1969, Switzerland 1 - Apr 1969, Norway 1 - May 1969, Germany 1 - May 1969, Éire 1 - May 1969, Australia 1 for 5 weeks Sep 1969, Australia Goset 1 - May 1969, RYM 6 of 1969, US CashBox 14 of 1969, US BB 21 of 1969, DDD 24 of 1969, Global 33 (5 M sold) - 1969, POP 33 of 1969, Europe 38 of the 1960s, Italy 46 of 1969, Virgin 64, Scrobulate 91 of British, OzNet 115, Germany 217 of the 1960s, WXPN 566, Acclaimed 1367
2 The Rolling Stones "Honky Tonk Women" 1969 United Kingdom UK 1 - Jul 1969, US BB 1 - Jul 1969, Switzerland 1 - Jul 1969, Éire 1 - Aug 1969, Australia 1 for 5 weeks Jan 1970, Australia Goset 1 - Aug 1969, US CashBox 2 of 1969, Canada 2 - Aug 1969, Norway 2 - Aug 1969, Germany 3 - Aug 1969, Netherlands 4 - Jul 1969, Australia 4 of 1969, RYM 4 of 1969, DDD 4 of 1969, US BB 8 of 1969, POP 8 of 1969, TheQ 27, Europe 50 of the 1960s, Italy 92 of 1969, Acclaimed 97, Rolling Stone 116, WXPN 189, Germany 209 of the 1960s
3 Zager & Evans "In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)" 1969 United States UK 1 - Aug 1969, US BB 1 - Jun 1969, Canada 1 - Jul 1969, Netherlands 1 - Aug 1969, France 1 - Mar 1970, Switzerland 1 - Aug 1969, Norway 1 - Aug 1969, Germany 1 - Aug 1969, Éire 1 - Sep 1969, Australia 1 for 1 weeks Jan 1970, Australia Goset 2 - Aug 1969, US CashBox 11 of 1969, Australia 19 of 1969, US BB 39 of 1969, RYM 60 of 1969, POP 75 of 1969, Europe 77 of the 1960s, Germany 109 of the 1960s
4 The Archies "Sugar Sugar" 1969 United States UK 1 - Oct 1969, US BB 1 - Aug 1969, US CashBox 1 of 1969, Canada 1 - Jul 1969, Norway 1 - Nov 1969, Germany 1 - Jan 1970, Éire 1 - Nov 1969, Switzerland 2 - Oct 1969, Netherlands 4 - Sep 1969, Australia Goset 5 - Aug 1969, France 8 - Feb 1970, South Africa 8 of 1969, US BB 10 of 1969, POP 10 of 1969, TOTP 26, Global 33 (5 M sold) - 1969, RYM 40 of 1969, Italy 70 of 1970, DDD 77 of 1969, Germany 157 of the 1960s, Acclaimed 1996
5 Elvis Presley "Suspicious Minds" 1969 United States US BB 1 - Sep 1969, Canada 1 - Sep 1969, Australia 1 for 3 weeks Jun 1970, Australia Goset 1 - Nov 1969, South Africa 1 of 1969, UK 2 - Nov 1969, Netherlands 6 - Oct 1969, France 6 - Mar 1970, Germany 8 - Jan 1970, Norway 10 - Feb 1970, Australia 16 of 1969, RYM 19 of 1969, Scrobulate 19 of oldies, Europe 22 of the 1960s, DDD 23 of 1969, POP 26 of 1969, Global 33 (5 M sold) - 1969, US BB 40 of 1969, Poland 40 - Aug 1999, US CashBox 43 of 1969, Acclaimed 60, Rolling Stone 91, WXPN 121, OzNet 156

Some top hit singles

Published popular music

Classical music



Musical theater

Musical films


  • Nik Cohn - Pop - From The Beginning (later editions as Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom)




Grammy Awards

Eurovision Song Contest

Leeds International Piano Competition

Further reading

  • 1969: The Year Everything Changed by Rob Kirkpatrick. Skyhorse Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-1-60239-366-0.


  1. ^ Donna M. Binkiewicz, Federalizing the Muse: United States Arts Policy and the National Endowment for the Arts 1965-1980 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004), p255
  2. ^ O'Mahony, John (June 8, 2008). "Ravi Shankar bids Europe adieu". The Taipei Times. UK. Retrieved 2009.
  3. ^ World Charts. Accessed 19 November 2014
  4. ^ Mason Williams, The Classical Gas Years. Accessed 19 November 2014
  5. ^ The story of Classical Gas
  6. ^ Allmusic.com Review by Stewart Mason. Accessed 19 November 2014
  7. ^ The History of Jazz Music: Alexander Von Schlippenbach. Accessed 19 November 2014
  8. ^ British Pathe, "Judy Garland Wedding To Mickey Deans 1969". Accessed 10 May 2041
  9. ^ Current Biography Yearbook. H. W. Wilson Co. 1988. p. 99.
  10. ^ MacDonald, Ian (1997). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (1st rev. ed.). London: Pimlico (Random House). p. 322. ISBN 978-0-7126-6697-8.
  11. ^ David Dabydeen; John Gilmore; Cecily Jones (2008). The Oxford Companion to Black British History. Pennsylvania State University (Oxford University Press). p. 463. ISBN 978-0-199-2389-41.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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