||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (November 2009)
This is a list of notable events in music that took place in the year 1977.
- January 1 – The Clash headline the gala opening of the London music club, The Roxy.
- January 11 – Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards is fined £750 for possession of cocaine which was found in his wrecked car on May 19, 1976. Richards was charged an additional £250 for court costs and found "not guilty" of possession of LSD.
- January 20 – Jimmy Buffett's Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes is released, featuring the biggest single of his career, "Margaritaville", which helps establish Buffett as a popular artist, and earns him much of the rabid fanbase ("Parrotheads") for which he eventually became known.
- January 22 – Maria Kliegel makes her London debut at the Wigmore Hall, with a programme of Bach, Kodály, and Franck.
- January 26
- Patti Smith falls off the stage while opening for Bob Seger in Tampa, Florida. Smith is rushed to the hospital for 22 stitches to close head lacerations. While recovering, Smith writes her fifth book of poetry, Babel.
- Fleetwood Mac's original lead guitarist, Peter Green, is committed to a mental hospital in England after firing a pistol at a delivery boy bringing him a royalties check.
- January 27 – After releasing only one single for the band, EMI terminates its contract with the Sex Pistols.
- February 4
- American Bandstand celebrates its 25th anniversary on television with a special hosted by Dick Clark. An "all-star band" made up of Chuck Berry, Seals & Crofts, Gregg Allman, Junior Walker, Johnny Rivers, the Pointer Sisters, Charlie Daniels, Doc Severinsen, Les McCann, Donald Byrd, Chuck Mangione and three members of Booker T and the MGs perform "Roll Over Beethoven."
- Fleetwood Mac's widely-anticipated Rumours is released; it goes on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time.
- February 14 – The B-52's give their first public performance at a party in Athens, Georgia
- February 15 – Sid Vicious replaces Glen Matlock as the bassist of the Sex Pistols.
- February 27 – Royal Canadian Mounted Police raid Keith Richards' Toronto hotel suite while he is sleeping and seize 22 grams of heroin, 5 grams of cocaine and narcotics paraphernalia. Richards is arrested and charged with possession of heroin with intent to traffic, and possession of cocaine. He is released on $25,000 bail.
- March 1 – Sara Lowndes Dylan files for divorce from her husband of 11 years, Bob Dylan.
- March 4 – The Rolling Stones play the first of two shows at the El Mocambo in Toronto, their first club appearance since 1964.
- March 10 – A&M Records signs the Sex Pistols in a ceremony in front of Buckingham Palace. The contract is terminated on March 16 as a result of the band vandalizing property and verbally abusing employees during a visit to the record company's office.
- April 21 – Jesse Winchester performs a concert in Burlington, Vermont, his first on American soil in ten years. Winchester fled to Canada in January 1967 to avoid military service in Vietnam, but recently became free to return under the Presidential pardon given to all draft evaders.
- April 22 – Pink Floyd open the North American leg of their "Animals" tour in Miami, Florida.
- April 24 – Several artists, including Joan Baez and Santana, perform at a free concert for 653 inmates of California's Soledad Prison.
- April 26 – New York's disco Studio 54 opens.
- May 2 – Elton John performs the first of six consecutive nights at London's Rainbow Theatre, his first concert in eight months. John keeps a low profile in 1977, not releasing any new music for the first year since his recording career began eight years previously.
- May 7 – Having been postponed from April 2 because of a BBC technicians' strike, the 22nd Eurovision Song Contest finally goes ahead in London's Wembley Conference Centre. France wins with Marie Myriam and the song "L'Oiseau et l'Enfant".
- May 11 – The Stranglers and support band London start a 10 week national UK tour.
- May 12 –
- Instruments made by all five members of the 17th- and 18th-century Guarneri family of violin makers are auctioned at Sotheby's, with the top price of £105,000 paid for an instrument made in 1738 by Giuseppe Guarnieri del Gesù.
- Virgin Records announces that they have signed the Sex Pistols. The group has already been kicked off their two previous labels in the past four months.
- May 14 – $24,000 worth of cash and valuables are stolen from Lynyrd Skynyrd in Savannah, Georgia.
- May 27 – Tom Waits and a friend are arrested outside a Los Angeles coffee shop for causing a public disturbance. Waits sues the police for false arrest and imprisonment and eventually wins a $7,500 award in 1982.
- May 28 – Bruce Springsteen and Mike Appel reach an out-of-court settlement, ending the year-long legal battle that has blocked Springsteen's ability to record new music.
- May 31 – The musical Beatlemania is premièred at the Winter Garden Theatre.
- June – The Nikikai Opera Foundation is founded.
- June 7 – The Sex Pistols attempt to interrupt Silver Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II by performing "God Save the Queen" from a boat on the River Thames. Police force the boat to dock and several arrests are made following a scuffle.
- June 12
- June 15 – The Snape Maltings Training Orchestra makes its London debut at St John's, Smith Square.
- June 20 – Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart drives his Porsche over the edge of a canyon, suffering multiple broken bones but surviving as a tree breaks his fall.
- June 22 – Kiss are elected "most popular band in America" by a Gallup poll.
- June 25 – The Young Musicians' Symphony Orchestra of London, conducted by James Blair, gives the belated premiere of William Walton's 1962 composition Prelude for Orchestra.
- July 6 – During a Pink Floyd concert before a crowd of 80,000 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Bassist Roger Waters having become increasingly irritated by a fan until he exerts his frustration by spitting on him. The incident becomes the catalyst for the group's next album, The Wall.
- July 9 – Donna Summer's hit record "I Feel Love" is released in the UK. It was massively influential in pop music as it was the first hit record ever to have an entirely synthesised backing track and helped propel the use of synthesisers in music greatly, especially in the 1980s.
- July 13 – after a massive blackout hits New York City, NRBQ manages to play an all-acoustic set at the Bottom Line with flashlights taped to their microphone stands.
- July 22 – The first night of The Proms are broadcast by BBC Radio 3 for the first time in quadraphonic sound.
- July 26 – Led Zeppelin cancels the last seven dates of their American tour after lead singer Robert Plant learns that his six-year old son Karac has died of a respiratory virus. The show two days before in Oakland proves to be the band's last ever in the United States.
- August 16 – Elvis Presley is found dead at his home Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.
- August 17 – Florists Transworld Delivery (FTD) reported that in one day the number of orders for flowers to be delivered to Graceland for the funeral of Elvis Presley had surpassed the number for any other event in the company's history.
- August 20 – The Voyager 2 unmanned probe is launched by NASA, followed by Voyager 1 the following month. Both spacecraft carry a golden record containing sounds and images representing life and culture on Earth, including the first movements of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, Guan Pinghu's Liu Shui, played on the guqin, and Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode".
- September – Alice Cooper enters rehab for four months due to his alcoholism, after ten years of drinking a pack of beer a day.
- September 1 – World première at the Royal Albert Hall in London of the expanded version of Luciano Berio's Coro.
- September 3 – nearly 110,000 fans pack Englishtown Raceway in Old Bridge, New Jersey for an eleven hour concert by Grateful Dead, Marshall Tucker Band and New Riders of the Purple Sage.
- September 15 – the third (and final) annual Rock Music Awards air on NBC. Fleetwood Mac dominates, winning five awards.
- September 16 – T.Rex frontman Marc Bolan is killed in an automobile accident.
- September 29 – Billy Joel's The Stranger is released. "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)", "Just the Way You Are" and "Only the Good Die Young" all become hits, and the album also features the beloved medley "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant".
- October 3 – Elvis in Concert, a TV concert special filmed during Elvis Presley's final tour, is aired on CBS.
- October 5 – The bicentennial season of La Scala opens in Milan with a production of Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlo.
- October 9 – Aerosmith cancels several tour dates after Joe Perry and Steven Tyler are injured by an M-80 explosive thrown onstage at the Philadelphia Spectrum, burning Tyler's left cornea and cutting Perry's left hand.
- October 20 – A plane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd crashes in Mississippi, killing songwriter & vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and background vocalist Cassie Gaines.
- October 31 – The original version of Karlheinz Stockhausen's Jahreslauf is premièred at the National Theatre of Japan in Chiyoda, Tokyo, by the Imperial Gagaku Ensemble.
- November 25 – 10 Years of Rolling Stone, a television special commemorating the tenth anniversary of Rolling Stone magazine, airs on CBS. Guests include Bette Midler, Art Garfunkel, Billy Preston, Melissa Manchester, and Keith Moon.
- November 30 – Bing Crosby's final Christmas special, Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas, airs on CBS. The special was taped in September, one month before Crosby's death at age 74. The most memorable scene consists of the surreal sight of Crosby being joined by David Bowie for the duet "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy".
- December 14 – Saturday Night Fever appears in theaters, igniting a new popularity for disco music and pushing it to the forefront of American pop culture. The accompanying soundtrack to the film is an enormous hit that establishes the Bee Gees (who had composed most of the tracks) as the most popular artists in the world, and the best-selling artist since the Beatles.
- December 17 – Elvis Costello makes his American television début on Saturday Night Live, but is banned after substituting the scheduled performance of "Less than Zero" with "Radio, Radio" instead.
- December 31 – The sixth annual New Year's Rockin' Eve special airs on ABC, with performances by Ohio Players, Crystal Gayle, Kenny Rogers, KC and the Sunshine Band, and Andy Gibb.
Also in 1977
Release Date Unknown
Biggest hit singles
The following songs achieved the highest chart positions in the charts of 1977.
||US BB 1 – Mar 1977, Canada 1 – Mar 1977, France 1 – Jun 1977, Grammy in 1977, Switzerland 2 – Jul 1977, OzNet 3, Norway 5 – May 1977, Europe 5 of the 1970s, US BB 6 of 1977, Germany 6 – Jun 1977, TheQ 6, POP 6 of 1977, UK 8 – Apr 1977, Netherlands 8 – May 1977, Austria 13 – Sep 1977, Belgium 18 of all time, RYM 18 of 1977, Scrobulate 28 of rock, US CashBox 35 of 1977, Poland 38 of all time, Acclaimed 43, Virgin 44, RIAA 46, Rolling Stone 49, 68 in 2FM list, WXPN 73, Party 87 of 2007, Italy 88 of 1977, Germany 317 of the 1970s
||I Feel Love
||UK 1 – Jul 1977, Netherlands 1 – Aug 1977, France 1 – Sep 1977, Austria 1 – Aug 1977, Australia 1 for 1 weeks May 1978, Switzerland 2 – Aug 1977, Germany 3 – Aug 1977, Sweden (alt) 5 – Jul 1977, Italy 5 of 1977, US BB 6 – Sep 1977, RYM 7 of 1977, Norway 8 – Nov 1977, Canada 9 – Oct 1977, Australia 17 of 1977, Scrobulate 32 of disco, US CashBox 57 of 1977, Acclaimed 181, Germany 271 of the 1970s, Rolling Stone 411
||Mull of Kintyre
||UK 1 – Nov 1977, Netherlands 1 – Dec 1977, Austria 1 – Feb 1978, Switzerland 1 – Jan 1978, Germany 1 – Jan 1978, Éire 1 – Dec 1977, Australia 1 for 11 weeks Jul 1978, Norway 2 – Dec 1977, Australia 2 of 1978, South Africa 5 of 1978, Sweden (alt) 14 – Dec 1977, Germany 21 of the 1970s, RYM 28 of 1977, Europe 76 of the 1970s, Italy 97 of 1978
|| / /
||Netherlands 1 – May 1977, Sweden (alt) 1 – May 1977, France 1 – Jun 1977, Austria 1 – Jun 1977, Switzerland 1 – May 1977, Norway 1 – Jun 1977, Germany 1 – May 1977, UK 2 – Jun 1977, Italy 16 of 1977, Australia 24 of 1977, Global 33 (5 M sold) – 1978, Germany 55 of the 1970s, Scrobulate 80 of disco, RYM 101 of 1977
||Yes Sir, I Can Boogie
||UK 1 – Sep 1977, Netherlands 1 – Jun 1977, Sweden (alt) 1 – Jul 1977, Switzerland 1 – Jun 1977, Norway 1 – Aug 1977, Germany 1 – Jun 1977, Éire 1 – Nov 1977, France 2 – Jun 1977, Austria 2 – Aug 1977, Germany 31 of the 1970s, Italy 81 of 1978, RYM 123 of 1977
Chronological table of US and UK number one hit singles
Other significant singles and major hits
Published popular music
- "After the Lovin'" w. Richie Adams m. Alan Bernstein
- "Annie" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse from the musical Annie
- "Brazzle Dazzle Day" w.m. Al Kasha & Joel Hirschhorn, from the film Pete's Dragon
- "But the World Goes 'Round" w. Fred Ebb m. John Kander. Introduced by Liza Minnelli in the film New York City
- "Child In A Universe" w.m. Laura Nyro
- "Come In From The Rain" w.m. Melissa Manchester & Carole Bayer Sager
- "Easy Street" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse from the musical Annie
- "The Greatest Love of All" w. Linda Creed m. Michael Masser
- "Happy Endings" w. Fred Ebb m. John Kander. Introduced by Liza Minnelli, Larry Kert and chorus in the film New York, New York
- "Here You Come Again" w.m. Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil
- "I Don't Need Anything But You" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse from the musical Annie
- "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse from the musical Annie
- "It's Not Easy" w.m. Al Kasha & Joel Hirschhorn, from the film Pete's Dragon
- "It's the Hard-Knock Life" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse from the musical Annie
- "Just the Way You Are" w.m. Billy Joel
- "Little Girls" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse from the musical Annie
- "The Love Boat theme song" w.m. Norman Gimbel & Paul Williams
- "Love Is in the Air" w.m. George Young & Harry Vanda
- "Maybe" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse from the musical Annie
- "Maybe I'm Amazed" w.m. Paul McCartney
- "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" w.m. Billy Joel
- "N.Y.C." w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse from the musical Annie
- "A New Deal For Christmas" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse from the musical Annie
- "New York, New York" w.m. Fred Ebb & John Kander. Introduced by Liza Minnelli in the film New York City
- "Nobody Does It Better" w. Carole Bayer Sager m. Marvin Hamlisch
- "She's Always a Woman" w.m. Billy Joel
- "Someone's Waiting for You" w. Carol Connors & Ayn Robbins m. Sammy Fain from the film The Rescuers
- "Something Was Missing" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse from the musical Annie
- "Star Wars-Main Theme" m. John Williams from the Star Wars films
- "Stayin' Alive" w.m. Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb & Robin Gibb
- "Thank You for the Music" w.m. Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus
- "There Goes the Ball Game" w. Fred Ebb m. John Kander. Introduced by Liza Minnelli in the film New York, New York
- "Tomorrow" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse, from the musical Annie
- "We'd Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse from the musical Annie
- "You Won't Be an Orphan for Long" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse from the musical Annie
- "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile" w. Martin Charnin m. Charles Strouse, from the musical Annie
Perhaps most important is the beginning of what has become known as the punk rock explosion. 1977 was the year of formation of The Avengers, Bad Brains, Black Flag, Crass, Discharge, Fear, The Flesh Eaters, The Germs, The Misfits, 999, The Pagans, Plasmatics, VOM, The Weirdos, and X.
1977 also saw the release of several pivotal albums in the development of punk music. Widely-acknowledged as masterpieces and among the earliest first full-length purely punk albums, The Clash by The Clash, The Damned's Damned, Damned, Damned, the Dead Boys' Young, Loud and Snotty, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers' L.A.M.F., The Jam's In the City, the Ramones' Rocket to Russia, Richard Hell and the Voidoids' Blank Generation, the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, Television's Marquee Moon, and Wire's Pink Flag are usually considered their respective masterpieces, and kick-started punk music as the musical genre it eventually became. The year also saw the release of debut albums by bands often associated with, if not defined as, punk, thought to be the beginnings of "New Wave" such as Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True, Suicide's Suicide, and Talking Heads' Talking Heads: 77. It also saw the release of Iggy Pop's Lust for Life, his second record as a solo artist.
- John Adams
- Samuel Adler
- Aeolus, God of the Winds, for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano
- Concerto for Flute and Orchestra
- A Falling of Saints, for tenor, bass, chorus, and orchestra
- It is to God I shall Sing, for chorus and organ
- Kalevi Aho
- Quintet, for 5 bassoons
- Quintet, for flute, oboe, violin, viola, and cello
- Necil Kazım Akses
- Concerto for Orchestra
- Concerto for Viola and Orchestra
- Franghiz Ali-Zadeh – Zu den Kindertotenlieder (In Memoriam Gustav Mahler), for clarinet, violin, and percussion
- Birgitte Alsted – Strygekvartet i CD, for string quartet
- Javier Álvarez – Canciones de la Venta, for soprano, violin, viola, and baroque guitar
- William Alwyn
- Invocations (song cycle), for mezzo-soprano and piano
- A Leave-Taking (song cycle), for tenor and piano
- Charles Amirkhanian – Dutiful Ducks, for tape with optional live voices
- Gilbert Amy
- Strophe, for soprano and orchestra (revised version)
- Trois études, for flute
- Beth Anderson – Joan, for tape
- Laurie Anderson
- Audio Talk, performance art
- On Dit, performance art
- Some Songs, performance art
- Stereo Decoy, performance art
- That's Not the Way I Heard It, performance art
- Ruth Anderson – Sound Portraits I–II, text pieces
- Hendrik Andriessen – Ricercare, version for wind orchestra
- Jurriaan Andriessen
- Psalmen-trilogie, for baritone, chorus, and orchestra
- Symphony no. 7, The Awakening Dream, for keyboard and electronics
- Symphony no. 8, La celebrazione
- Louis Andriessen – Hoketus, for two groups of 6 players each
- Denis ApIvor
- Chant Eolien, for oboe and piano, op. 65
- Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, op. 64
- Violet Archer – Plainsongs, for mezzo-soprano and piano
- Malcolm Arnold
- Sonata, for flute and piano, op. 121
- Variations on a Theme of Ruth Gipps, for orchestra, op. 122
- Larry Austin – Quadrants: Event/Complex no. 11, for double bass and tape
- Luciano Berio
- Harrison Birtwistle – Silbury Air
- Rob du Bois
- Skarabee, for orchestra
- Zodiak, for one or more instruments or instrumental groups
- John Buller – Proença for mezzo-soprano, electric guitar, and large orchestra
- Enrique Crespo – American Suite No. 1
- George Crumb – Star-Child (1977, revised 1979) for soprano, antiphonal children's voices, male speaking choir, bell ringers, and large orchestra
- Peter Maxwell Davies
- A Mirror of Whitening Light, for chamber orchestra
- Our Father Which in Heaven Art, for flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, cello
- Runes from a Holy Island, for flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, cello
- Westerlings, for SATB choir
- Franco Donatoni
- Algo, for guitar
- Ali, for viola
- Diario ’76, for four trumpets and four trombones
- Portrait, for harpsichord and orchestra
- Spiri, for flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, celesta, vibraphone, 2 violins, viola, and cello
- Toy, for 2 violins, viola, and harpsichord
- Brian Ferneyhough – Time and Motion Study I, for bass clarinet
- Lorenzo Ferrero
- Adagio cantabile
- Romanza seconda
- Frans Geysen –
- Muziek voor toetsenbord, for piano
- Omtrent sib, for three oboes
- Orgelstuk, for organ
- Pentakel, for oboe
- Stadssteeg, for 6 oboes, 4 trumpets, 2 trombones
- Alberto Ginastera
- Barabbas, opera (unfinished)
- Concerto No. 1 for Cello and Orchestra, op. 36 (revised version)
- Glosses sobre temes de Pau Casals, for orchestra, op. 48
- Alexander Goehr – Romanza on the Notes of Psalm IV, op. 38c
- Bengt Hambraeus – Antiphonie: Cathedral Music for Organ
- Alan Hovhaness
- Ananda, piano sonata, op. 303
- Celestial Canticle, for coloratura soprano and piano, op. 305
- Dawn on a Mountain Lake, for double bass and piano, op. 393
- Fred the Cat, piano sonata, op. 301
- Glory Sings the Setting Sun, cantata for coloratura soprano, clarinet, and piano, op. 292
- How I Love Thy Law, cantata for high soprano, clarinet, piano, op. 298
- Mount Belknap, piano sonata, op. 299, no. 1 (revised version)
- Mount Ossipee, piano sonata, op. 299, no. 2 (revised version)
- Mount Shasta, piano sonata, op. 299, no. 3 (revised version)
- A Presentiment, for coloratura soprano and piano, op. 304
- Suite, for flute and guitar, op. 300 (1977)
- Sonata, for oboe and bassoon, op. 302
- Sonata, for 2 clarinets, op. 297
- Sonata No. 1, for harpsichord, Op. 306
- Sonatina ("Meditation on Mt. Monadnock"), for piano, op. 288
- The Spirit's Map, for voice and piano, op. 391
- Srpouhi, duet for violin and piano, op. 398
- Symphony No. 31, for strings, op. 294
- Symphony No. 32 ("The Broken Wings"), op. 296
- Symphony No. 33 ("Francis Bacon"), op. 307
- Symphony No. 34, for bass trombone and strings, op. 310
- Maki Ishii
- Black Intention, for recorder
- Voices—Violet, for gidayū ensemble, shō, and percussion
- David C. Johnson – Ars Subtilior Electrica, electronic music
- Mauricio Kagel
- An Tasten, étude for piano
- MM51, film score
- Présentation für zwei
- Quatre degrés (Schlagzeugtrio für Holzinstrumente)
- Variété (Concert-Spectacle für Artisten und Musiker)
- Jonathan Kramer
- Renascence, for clarinet and tape (revised version)
- Studies on Six Notes, for harpsichord
- György Kurtág
- Hommage à Mihály András (Twelve Microludes for String Quartet), op. 13
- [untitled pieces], op. 15, for guitar (unpublished, withdrawn)
- Helmut Lachenmann – Salut für Caudwell, music for two guitarists
- André Laporte
- Icarus' Flight, for piano and twelve instruments
- Mario Lavista
- Pieza para caja de música, for music box
- Los inocentes, incidental music
- Luca Lombardi
- Tui-Gesänge, for soprano, flute, clarinet, piano, violin, and cello
- Variazioni su ‘Avanti popolo alla riscossa’, for piano
- Variazioni, for orchestra
- John McGuire – Pulse Music II, for four pianos and small orchestra
- Tomás Marco
- Herbania, for harpsichord
- Hoquetus, for 1, 2, or 3 clarinets, live and/or recorded
- Sicigia, for cello
- Sonata de Vesperia, for piano
- Tormer, for harpsichord, violin, viola, and cello
- Bo Nilsson – Madonna, for mezzo-soprano and instrumental ensemble
- Per Nørgård
- Cantica, for cello and piano
- Den afbrudte sang (Orfeus og Euridike), for chorus, percussion, harp, and other instruments ad lib.
- Freedom, for tenor and guitar
- Kredsløb, for SATB choir
- Mating Dance, for flute (+ alto flute) and guitar
- Recall, for accordion and orchestra (revised version)
- Towards Freedom?, for orchestra
- Twilight, for orchestra
- Arvo Pärt – Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten
- Henri Pousseur
- Ballade berlinoise, for piano
- Liège à Paris, electronic music
- Aulis Sallinen
- Simppeli Simme ja Hamppari, for mixed choir
- Symphony No. 1
- Dieter Schnebel
- Canon (‘Diapason’)
- Handwerke-Blaswerke I (Arianna), for 1 wind instrument, 1 string instrument, and 1 percussionist
- Orchestra, for orchestra
- Quintet in B♭ major, for piano and strings
- Rhythmen, for 2 guitars, organ, and percussion
- Kurt Schwertsik
- Concerto for Violin No. 1, op. 31
- Wiener Chronik 1848, ballet op. 28
- Gerald Shapiro
- Dance Suite, for piano
- For Nancy, wordless vocalise, for soprano and piano
- Questions, for SATB choir
- You are Your Own Energy Source, electroacoustic dance score
- Makoto Shinohara – Liberation, for orchestra
- Roger Smalley – Seven Modulator Pieces, for 4 flutes
- Karlheinz Stockhausen
- Tōru Takemitsu
- A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden
- Gitā no tame no jūni no uta, for guitar
- Hanare goze Orin, film score
- Ohan, incidental music for television
- Quatrain II, for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano
- Sabita honoo, film score
- Saigō Takamori den, incidental music for television
- Toono monogatari wo yuku: Yanagida Kunio no fūkei, incidental music for television
- Water-ways for clarinet, violin, cello, piano, two harps, and two vibraphones
- Michael Tippett – Symphony No. 4
- Alexander Vustin – In Memory of Boris Klyuzner
- Isang Yun – Concerto for Flute and Small Orchestra
- William Alwyn - Miss Julie, opera in 2 acts, after Strindberg
- Luciano Berio – Opera (revised version, 28 May, Teatro Comunale Florence)
- Peter Maxwell Davies – The Martyrdom of St Magnus (18 June, Kirkwall, St Magnus Cathedral)
- Julian Livingston – Twist of Treason
- Thea Musgrave – Mary, Queen of Scots
- Donald Sosin – Esther
- Karlheinz Stockhausen – Atmen gibt das Leben (22 May 1977, Nice)
- Michael Tippett – The Ice Break (7 July, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden)
- January 3 - Michelle Stephenson, British singer (Spice Girls)
- January 18 – Richard Archer, British singer (Hard-Fi)
- January 20 – Melody, Belgian singer
- January 25
- January 28 - Joey Fatone, American singer (*NSYNC)
- February 2
- February 3 – Daddy Yankee, Puerto Rican musician
- February 4 – Gavin DeGraw, American musician
- February 8 – Dave "Phoenix" Farrell (Linkin Park)
- February 11 – Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park, Fort Minor)
- February 15 – Brooks Wackerman (Bad Religion)
- February 18 – Sean Watkins, American guitarist and songwriter
- February 20 – Amal Hijazi, Lebanese singer and model
- March 2 – Chris Martin, British singer (Coldplay)
- March 3 – Ronan Keating, Irish singer (Boyzone)
- March 4 – Jason Marsalis, American jazz musician
- March 6 – Bubba Sparxxx, rapper
- March 7 – Paul Cattermole, British singer (S Club 7)
- March 10
- March 11 – Jason Greeley, Canadian singer
- March 15 – Joseph Hahn (Linkin Park)
- March 16 – Ben Kenney, American rock bassist (Incubus)
- March 18 – Devin Lima, LFO
- April 9 – Gerard Way, vocalist (My Chemical Romance)
- April 17 – Frederik Magle, Danish composer, concert organist, and pianist
- April 23 – John Cena, American professional wrestler, actor and singer
- May 1 – Dan Regan (Reel Big Fish)
- May 8 – Joe Bonamassa, American musician
- May 12 - Wu Fei, Chinese musician and composer
- May 17
- May 31
- June 3 – Yuri Ruley (MxPx)
- June 5 – Nourhanne, Lebanese singer
- June 8 – Kanye West, African-American rapper and record producer
- June 10 – Adam Darski, Polish musician (aka Nergal, Holocausto)
- June 12 – Kenny Wayne Shepherd, guitarist
- June 23 – Jason Mraz, American singer-songwriter
- June 28
- June 29 – DEALZ, American rapper
- July 1 – Tom Frager, French-born singer and surfer
- July 12 – Airin Older, American musician
- July 14 – Gordon Cree, composer
- July 15 – Ray Toro (My Chemical Romance)
- July 18 – Tony Fagenson (Eve 6)
- July 28 – Coby Dick (Papa Roach)
- July 29 – Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley)
- July 30 – Ian Watkins, vocalist (Lostprophets)
- August 2 – Dave Farrel, American musician
- August 10 – Aaron Kamin (The Calling)
- August 12 – Park Yong-ha, South Korean actor and singer (d. 2010)
- August 16 – Tamer Hosny, Egyptian singer/actor
- August 17
- August 30 – Jens Ludwig, German guitarist
- August 31 – Craig Nicholls (The Vines)
- September 1 – Chris Cain, American rock bassist (We Are Scientists)
- September 2 – Elitsa Todorova, Bulgarian singer-songwriter
- September 4
- September 6 – Kiyoshi Hikawa, Japanese enka singer
- September 11
- September 13 – Fiona Apple, American singer-songwriter
- September 15 – Angela Aki, Japanese singer-songwriter
- September 19 – Ioana Maria Lupascu, Romanian pianist
- September 20 – Namie Amuro, Japanese singer
- September 23 – Susan Tamim, Lebanese singer and actress (murdered) (d. 2008)
- October 1 – Owen Biddle, rock bass guitarist (The Roots)
- October 2 – Jeremiah Rangel (Mest)
- October 12 - Young Jeezy, American rapper
- October 13 – Justin Peroff (Broken Social Scene)
- October 16
- October 17 – Nicole Cabell, American operatic soprano
- October 25 – Yehonathan Gatro, Israeli singer and actor
- November 1 – Alistair Griffin, British singer and songwriter
- November 4 - Kavana, British singer
- November 13
- November 14 – Obie Trice, African-American rapper
- November 15 – Logan Whitehurst, American one man band
- November 19 – Justin Young, drummer (Treehouse Union, Neves, freelance)
- November 20 – Daniel Svensson, Swedish drummer
- November 30 – Steve Aoki, electro house DJ
- December 1 – Brad Delson (Linkin Park)
- December 7 – Dominic Howard, drummer (Muse)
- January 1 – Michael Mann, violinist, son of Thomas Mann, 57 (suicide)
- January 2 – Errol Garner, jazz pianist, 53 (heart attack)
- January 16 - Tom Archia, jazz saxophonist, 57
- January 23 – Dick Burnett, folk songwriter, 94
- February 8 – Eivind Groven, microtonal composer and music theorist, 75
- February 10 – Grace Williams, composer, 70
- February 12 – Ernst Mehlich, German-Brazilian conductor and composer, 89
- February 23 - Margaret Daum, operatic soprano, 70
- February 26 – Bukka White, blues guitarist and singer, 67
- February 28 – Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, comic actor and singer, 71
- March 10 – E. Power Biggs, organist, 70
- May 6 - Joseph Hislop, operatic and concert tenor, 93
- May 22 – Hampton Hawes, jazz pianist, 48 (brain haemorrhage)
- May 30 – Paul Desmond, jazz saxophonist, 52 (lung cancer)
- June 5 – Sleepy John Estes, blues guitarist and singer, 78
- June 13 – Matthew Garber, former child star of Mary Poppins, 21 (pancreatitis)
- July 2 - Gert Potgieter, South African operatic tenor and actor, 47 (car accident)
- July 26 – Gena Branscombe, composer and conductor, 95
- August 16 – Elvis Presley, singer, 42 (heart attack)
- August 19 – Groucho Marx, comedian, actor, singer and performer, 86
- September 1 - Ethel Waters, American blues, jazz and gospel singer, 80
- September 5 – George Barnes, swing jazz guitarist, 56
- September 13 – Leopold Stokowski, conductor, 95
- September 16
- September 30 – Mary Ford, guitarist and vocalist, 53 (diabetes-related)
- October 13 – Shirley Brickley, the Orlons, 32 (shot)
- October 14 – Bing Crosby, singer and actor, 74
- October 20 – Ronnie Van Zant, 29, Steve Gaines, 28, and Cassie Gaines, 29, members of Lynyrd Skynyrd (plane crash)
- November 5 – Guy Lombardo, violinist and bandleader, 75
- November 14 – Richard Addinsell, Warsaw Concerto composer, 73
- December 5 – Rahsaan Roland Kirk, jazz saxophonist, flutist, composer, 42 (stroke)
- December 24 - Salvatore Papaccio, Canzone Napoletana tenor, 87
- December 25 – Charlie Chaplin, actor and composer, 88
- December 28 – Sam Brown, jazz guitarist, 38
- December 30 – St. Louis Jimmy Oden, blues singer, 74
- date unknown – Jimmy Cooper, hammered dulcimer player, 70