On This Day

Events in Music in 1959

Plane Crash

Jan 5 Buddy Holly releases his last record "It Doesn't Matter"; he was killed in a plane crash 29 days later

Music History

Jan 12 American record company Motown is founded by Berry Gordy Jr. as Tamla Records

  • Jan 17 "Say, Darling" closes at ANTA Theater NYC after 332 performances

Music History

Jan 20 Dmitri Shostakovich's Moscow-Tsjerjomoesjki premieres in Moscow

Music Premiere

Jan 30 Paul Hindemith's symphony "Pittsburgh" premieres

  • Feb 2 Buddy Holly's last performance at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa [1]
  • Feb 3 "The Day the Music Died" plane crash kills musicians Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, J. P. Richardson and pilot near Clear Lake, Iowa
  • Feb 5 "Redhead" opens at 46th St Theater NYC for 455 performances
  • Feb 7 "Whoop-Up" closes at Shubert Theater NYC after 56 performances

Music Concert

Feb 20 Jimi Hendrix (16), rock and roll guitarist, plays his first gig in the Temple De Hirsch synagogue basement, Seattle; fired from the band after the 1st set due to "wild" playing

  • Feb 28 "Goldilocks" closes at Lunt Fontanne Theater NYC after 161 performances
  • Mar 2 Ceremony to mark the start of construction of the Sydney Opera House at Bennelong Point, Sydney
  • Mar 7 "Bells Are Ringing" closes at Shubert Theater NYC after 925 performances
  • Mar 9 The Coasters' single "Charlie Brown" peaks at #2 on the Billboard Top 100
  • Mar 9 "Juno" opens at Winter Garden Theater NYC for 16 performances

Theater Premiere

Mar 11 Lorraine Hansberry's stage drama "A Raisin in the Sun", 1st Broadway play by a black woman, starring Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier, opens at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, NYC; later transfers to the Belasco Theatre; runs for 530 performances

  • Mar 11 4th Eurovision Song Contest: Teddy Scholten for Netherlands wins singing "Een beetje" in Cannes
  • Mar 15 Richard Rogers' "No Strings" opens on Broadway
  • Mar 19 George Weiss, Bo Goldman, and Glenn Paxton musical "First Impressions", adapted from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice", starring Polly Bergen; Farley Granger, and Hermione Gingold, opens at Alvin Theater, NYC; runs for 84 performances
  • Mar 21 "Juno" closes at Winter Garden Theater NYC after 16 performances
  • Apr 11 Yip Harburg, Fred Saidy, and Harold Arlen's musical "Jamaica", starring Lena Horne, closes at Imperial Theater, NYC, after 558 performances
  • Apr 16 "Party with Comden & Green" opens at John Golden NYC for 44 performances
  • Apr 23 "Destry Rides Again" opens at Imperial Theater NYC for 472 performances
  • Apr 24 Netherland Dance Theater opens (Rudi of Dantzig & Cut Flier)

Grammy Awards

May 4 First Grammy Awards: Perry Como & Ella Fitzgerald win

  • May 11 "Kookie, Kookie Lend Me Your Comb" by Byrnes & Connie Stevens hits #4

Music Premiere

May 11 Mary Rodgers & Marshall Barer's musical "Once Upon A Mattress", starring Carol Burnett and directed by George Abbott, opens at Phoenix Theatre, NYC; runs for 244 performances

Music History

May 12 "Nervous Set" opens at Henry Miller's Theater NYC for 23 performances

  • May 18 "Castin' My Spell" by The Johnny Otis Show hits #52
  • May 18 "Judy" by David Seville hits #86
  • May 18 "Russian Band Stand" by Spencer & Spencer hits #91
  • May 21 "Gypsy" opens at Broadway Theater NYC for 702 performances
  • May 23 "Party with Comden & Green" closes at John Golden NYC after 44 performances
  • May 28 Johnson & Bart's musical "Lock Up Your Daughters" premieres in London
  • May 30 George Weiss, Bo Goldman, and Glenn Paxton musical "First Impressions", adapted from Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice", starring Polly Bergen; Farley Granger, and Hermione Gingold, closes at Alvin Theater, NYC, after 84 performances
  • May 30 "Nervous Set" closes at Henry Miller's Theater NYC after 23 performances
  • Jun 22 "Along Came Jones" by The Coasters peaks at #9

Music History

Jun 22 "Class" the first hit by Chubby Checker peaks at #38 in the US

Theatrical Finale

Jun 27 "West Side Story" closes at Winter Garden Theater NYC after 734 performances

Music History

Jul 22 Benjamin Britten's "Missa Brevis" in D premieres

Music History

Jul 31 Cliff Richard and the Shadows have their 1st British No. 1 single with "Living' Doll" (biggest British single of 1959)

  • Aug 4 "Billy Barnes Revue" opens at John Golden Theater NYC for 87 performances

Music History

Sep 11 Composer and band leader Duke Ellington wins NAACP's Springarn Medal for his musical achievements

Film Release

Oct 7 "Pillow Talk" film directed by Michael Gordon and starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson is first released

  • Oct 8 "At the Drop of a Hat" opens at John Golden Theater NYC for 216 performances
  • Oct 10 "Happy Town" closes at 84th St Theater NYC after 5 performances
  • Oct 17 "Billy Barnes Revue" closes at John Golden Theater NYC after 87 performances
  • Oct 22 Bob Merrill's musical "Take Me Along" opens at Shubert Theater, NYC; runs for 448 performances
  • Oct 24 US premiere of Dmitri Shostakovich's 1st Cello concert
  • Nov 2 "Girls against the Boys" opens at Alvin Theater NYC for 16 performances
  • Nov 13 The Academy of St Martin in the Fields' first professional concert takes place in London
  • Nov 14 "Girls against the Boys" closes at Alvin Theater NYC after 16 performances

Music Premiere

Nov 16 "The Sound of Music" musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, opens at Lunt Fontanne Theater, NYC; runs for 1443 performances

Music History

Nov 21 Entertainer Jack Benny (violin) and US Vice-President Richard Nixon (piano) play their famed duet

  • Nov 23 "Fiorello!" opens at Broadhurst Theater NYC for 796 performances
  • Nov 25 "Once Upon a Mattress" opens at Alvin Theater NYC for 460 performances
  • Nov 29 2nd Grammy Awards: "Mack The Knife", Bobby Darin win
  • Dec 7 "Saratoga" opens at Winter Garden Theater NYC for 80 performances
  • Dec 14 The album "Time Out" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet is released, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard pop albums chart, and becomes the first jazz album to sell a million copies.

Music Recording

Dec 15 Everly Brothers record "Let It Be Me", an English translation of by Gilbert Bécaud's French song "Je t'appartiens"; reaches No. 7 on the charts