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1969 in music

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



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 number3, Three Dog Night at number 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.

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]

Major events

Bands formed

Bands disbanded

Albums released


Day Album Artist Notes
5 Bayou Country Creedence Clearwater Revival -
12 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin -
13 Yellow Submarine The Beatles Soundtrack
17 Ball Iron Butterfly -
22 Neil Young Neil Young re-released January 1969
30 Moby Grape '69 Moby Grape -
- Crimson & Clover Tommy James and the Shondells -
Donovan's Greatest Hits Donovan Compilation
English Rose Fleetwood Mac Compilation
First Edition '69 The First Edition -
The Holy Land Johnny Cash -
Till The Vogues -
What We Did on Our Holidays Fairport Convention -


Day Album Artist Notes
5 Goodbye Cream -
10 20/20 The Beach Boys -
15 Instant Replay The Monkees -
16 It's Our Thing The Isley Brothers -
17 Cloud Nine The Temptations -
22 Stonedhenge Ten Years After -
- Bless Its Pointed Little Head Jefferson Airplane Live
The Gilded Palace of Sin The Flying Burrito Brothers -
O.K. Ken? Chicken Shack -
Kick Out the Jams MC5 Live
Mutantes Os Mutantes -
Near the Beginning Vanilla Fudge -
Sound of Sexy Soul The Delfonics -


Day Album Artist Notes
5 Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde The Byrds -
7 From Genesis to Revelation Genesis -
14 Tons of Sobs Free -
24 Mothermania The Mothers of Invention Compilation
29 Happy Trails Quicksilver Messenger Service -
Yer' Album James Gang -
31 Dusty in Memphis Dusty Springfield -
- At Your Birthday Party Steppenwolf -
Blue Matter Savoy Brown -
Family Entertainment Family -
Just to Satisfy You Waylon Jennings -
My Way Frank Sinatra -
New! Improved! Blue Cheer -
Odessa Bee Gees -
Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud James Brown -
Scott 3 Scott Walker -
Spooky Two Spooky Tooth -
The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground -
Wheatfield Soul The Guess Who -


Day Album Artist Notes
1 Taste Taste -
7 Nazz Nazz Nazz -
Songs from a Room Leonard Cohen -
8 Three Week Hero P.J. Proby -
9 Nashville Skyline Bob Dylan -
15 Green Is Blues Al Green -
21 Uncle Meat The Mothers of Invention Soundtrack
23 With a Little Help from My Friends Joe Cocker -
25 On the Threshold of a Dream The Moody Blues -
28 The Chicago Transit Authority Chicago -
30 M.P.G. Marvin Gaye -
- Hair Various Artists London Cast
Our Mother the Mountain Townes Van Zandt -
Ramblin' Gamblin' Man The Bob Seger System -


Day Album Artist Notes
1 Clouds Joni Mitchell -
3 Stand! Sly & the Family Stone -
9 Beginnings Ambrose Slade -
Electronic Sound George Harrison -
Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions John Lennon and Yoko Ono -
12 After the Rain Muddy Waters -
14 Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere Neil Young and Crazy Horse -
16 Rehearsals for Retirement Phil Ochs -
Unicorn Tyrannosaurus Rex -
19 Pickin' Up the Pieces Poco -
More Today Than Yesterday Spiral Starecase -
23 Surround Yourself with Cilla Cilla Black -
Tommy The Who -
26 Let the Sunshine In Diana Ross & the Supremes -
29 Crosby, Stills & Nash Crosby, Stills & Nash -
- California Bloodlines John Stewart -
David's Album Joan Baez -
Gettin' Down to It James Brown -
Last Exit Traffic -
The Meters The Meters -
Motor-Cycle Lotti Golden -
This Is Tom Jones Tom Jones -
The Young Mods' Forgotten Story The Impressions -


Day Album Artist Notes
4 At San Quentin Johnny Cash Live
6 Empty Sky Elton John -
11 Suitable for Framing Three Dog Night -
13 More Pink Floyd Soundtrack
16 Brave New World Steve Miller Band -
Trout Mask Replica Captain Beefheart -
20 3614 Jackson Highway Cher -
Aoxomoxoa The Grateful Dead -
Chastity Cher Soundtrack
21 Deep Purple Deep Purple US; third album
- Beck-Ola The Jeff Beck Group -
Best of Bee Gees Bee Gees Compilation
An Electric Storm White Noise -
From Elvis in Memphis Elvis Presley -
Johnny Winter Johnny Winter -
Love Man Otis Redding -
Pongo en tus manos abiertas Victor Jara -
Pretties for You Alice Cooper -
A Salty Dog Procol Harum -


Day Album Artist Notes
8 Hallelujah Canned Heat -
10 Happy Sad Tim Buckley -
21 The Soft Parade The Doors -
25 Yes Yes -
29 Preflyte The Byrds Compilation
30 In a Silent Way Miles Davis -
Truly Fine Citizen Moby Grape -
- 2525 (Exordium and Terminus) Zager and Evans -
Early Steppenwolf Steppenwolf Live 1967
Here We Are Again Country Joe and the Fish -
More of Old Golden Throat Johnny Cash Compilation
Mountain Leslie West -
Unhalfbricking Fairport Convention -
Wasa Wasa Edgar Broughton Band -
What About Today? Barbra Streisand -


Day Album Artist Notes
1 Stand Up Jethro Tull -
Tadpoles Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band Released on June 9 in US
3 Green River Creedence Clearwater Revival -
5 The Stooges The Stooges -
11 Barabajagal Donovan -
14 The Brothers: Isley The Isley Brothers -
29 My Cherie Amour Stevie Wonder -
Songs for a Tailor Jack Bruce -
- Ahead Rings Out Blodwyn Pig -
As Safe as Yesterday Is Humble Pie -
Blind Faith Blind Faith -
Fathers and Sons Muddy Waters -
Give It Away The Chi-Lites -
Harry Harry Nilsson -
It's a Mother James Brown -
The Popcorn James Brown -
Santana Santana -
Ssssh Ten Years After -


Day Album Artist Notes
1 Five Leaves Left Nick Drake -
12 Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) The Rolling Stones Compilation
16 Easy Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell -
19 Then Play On Fleetwood Mac -
22 The Band The Band -
23 Hot Buttered Soul Isaac Hayes -
Puzzle People The Temptations -
Together Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations Duets
24 New York Tendaberry Laura Nyro -
26 Abbey Road The Beatles -
- Canned Wheat The Guess Who -
I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! Janis Joplin solo debut
Love Chronicles Al Stewart -
Nice The Nice -
Noah The Bob Seger System -
Rock & Roll Vanilla Fudge -
Supersnazz The Flamin' Groovies -
Townes Van Zandt Townes Van Zandt -


Day Album Artist Notes
1 Juicy Lucy Juicy Lucy -
The Monkees Present The Monkees -
6 Get Together with Andy Williams Andy Williams -
9 Ticket to Ride Carpenters previously titled as Offering.
10 Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) The Kinks -
Hot Rats Frank Zappa -
In the Court of the Crimson King King Crimson -
13 Give Me Your Love for Christmas Johnny Mathis Christmas
14 Elvis in Person at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada Elvis Presley Live
16 Captured Live at the Forum Three Dog Night Live
20 Wedding Album John Lennon and Yoko Ono -
22 Led Zeppelin II Led Zeppelin -
25 Ummagumma Pink Floyd Double LP; live + studio
27 Second Winter Johnny Winter -
- Basket of Light Pentangle -
Clear Spirit -
Free Free -
Tom Jones Live in Las Vegas Tom Jones Live


Day Album Artist Notes
1 A Way of Life The Family Dogg -
2 Willy and the Poor Boys Creedence Clearwater Revival -
3 Cream of the Crop Diana Ross & the Supremes -
4 The Allman Brothers Band The Allman Brothers Band -
David Bowie David Bowie re-titled Space Oddity
10 Ballad of Easy Rider The Byrds -
Live/Dead Grateful Dead Live
21 To Our Children's Children's Children The Moody Blues -
24 Blue Afternoon Tim Buckley -
- Eight Miles High Golden Earring -
100 Ton Chicken Chicken Shack -
Hollies Sing Hollies The Hollies -
Keynsham Bonzo Dog Band
Joe Cocker! Joe Cocker -
Joy of a Toy Kevin Ayers -
Manfred Mann Chapter Three Manfred Mann Chapter Three -
Monster Steppenwolf -
Mott the Hoople Mott the Hoople -
The Rod Stewart Album Rod Stewart US; released Feb. 13, 1970, in UK as An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down
Rock Salt & Nails Steve Young -
Scott 4 Scott Walker -
Town and Country Humble Pie -
Valentyne Suite Colosseum -
Volunteers Jefferson Airplane -
Your Saving Grace Steve Miller Band -


Day Album Artist Notes
5 Let It Bleed The Rolling Stones -
18 Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 The Jackson 5 -
29 Grand Funk Grand Funk Railroad -
Okie from Muskogee Merle Haggard and the Strangers -
- The Best of Top of the Pops '69 Top of the Poppers Compilation
Blue Cheer Blue Cheer -
Concerto for Group and Orchestra Deep Purple & the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Live
Liege & Lief Fairport Convention -
Out Here Love -

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 23x15px 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 23x15px 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 23x15px 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 23x15px 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 23x15px 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




Grammy Awards

Eurovision Song Contest

Leeds International Piano Competition

Further reading


External links