Events in Music in 1981

  • Jan 4 "Peter Pan" closes at Lunt-Fontanne Theater NYC after 578 performances
  • Jan 8 "Pirates of Penzance" opens at Uris Theater NYC for 772 performances
  • Jan 11 "Tintypes" closes at John Golden Theater NYC after 93 performances
  • Jan 18 Punk singer Wendy O. Williams arrested in Milwaukee for on-stage obscenity (later cleared)
  • Jan 21 "Shakespeare's Cabaret" opens at Bijou Theater New York City for 54 performances
  • Jan 28 "5 O'Clock Girl" opens at Helen Hayes Theater NYC for 12 performances

Music awardsMusic Awards

Jan 30 8th American Music Awards: Barbra Streisand & Kenny Rogers win

Singer-songwriter & Actress Barbra Streisand
Singer-songwriter & Actress
Barbra Streisand
Country Singer Kenny Rogers
Country Singer
Kenny Rogers
  • Jan 31 "The Tide Is High" by Blondie hits #1

Music releaseMusic Premiere

Feb 1 Duke Ellington's musical "Sophisticated Ladies," premieres in NYC

Jazz Musician and Composer Duke Ellington
Jazz Musician and Composer
Duke Ellington
  • Feb 5 "Piaf" opens at Plymouth Theater NYC for 165 performances

Hall of fameHall of Fame

Feb 5 Joni Mitchell inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Feb 6 Beatles Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr & George Harrison record a tribute to John Lennon

Musician and Beatle Paul McCartney
Musician and Beatle
Paul McCartney
Beatles Drummer Ringo Starr
Beatles Drummer
Ringo Starr
Singer-Songwriter George Harrison
Singer-Songwriter
George Harrison
  • Feb 8 "5 O'Clock Girl" closes at Helen Hayes Theater NYC after 12 performances
  • Feb 8 "Brigadoon" closes at Majestic Theater NYC after 133 performances

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Feb 19 George Harrison is ordered to pay ABKCO Music $587,000 for "subconscious plagiarism" of his song "My Sweet Lord" with Ronnie Mack's song "He's So Fine"

Singer-Songwriter George Harrison
Singer-Songwriter
George Harrison

Music awardsMusic Awards

Feb 25 23rd Grammy Awards: Sailing, Christopher Cross, Billy Joel wins

Pianist, songwriter, and composer Billy Joel
Pianist, songwriter, and composer
Billy Joel
  • Feb 27 Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder record "Ebony & Ivory"
  • Mar 1 Duke Ellington's musical "Sophisticated Ladies" opens at Lunt-Fontanne, NYC for 767 performances
  • Mar 5 Michael Stewart's musical "Bring Back Birdie" opens at Martin Beck Theater, NYC for 4 performances
  • Mar 5 Ice Dance Championship at Hartford won by Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean (GRB)
  • Mar 7 Michael Stewart's musical "Bring Back Birdie" closes at Martin Beck Theater, NYC, after 4 performances
  • Mar 8 "Shakespeare's Cabaret" closes at Bijou Theater NYC after 54 performances
  • Mar 12 Stephen Sondheim's musical "Marry Me a Little," premieres in NYC
  • Mar 29 Peter Stone's musical "Woman of the Year" opens at Palace Theater NYC for 770 performances
  • Apr 4 26th Eurovision Song Contest: Bucks Fizz for United Kingdom wins singing "Making Your Mind Up" in Dublin

Music releaseAlbum Release

Apr 7 "Street Songs" 5th studio album by Rick James is released (Billboard Album of the Year 1981)

Musician Rick James
Musician
Rick James
  • Apr 16 "Copperfield" opens at ANTA Theater NYC for 13 performances
  • Apr 19 William Finn's musical "March of Falsettos" premieres in NYC
  • Apr 20 Rocker Papa John Phillips arrested for drug possession
  • Apr 26 "Copperfield" closes at ANTA Theater NYC after 13 performances
  • Apr 30 "Can-Can" opens at Minskoff Theater NYC for 5 performances
  • Apr 30 16th Academy of Country Music Awards: Barbara Mandrell and George Jones win
  • May 3 "Can-Can" closes at Minskoff Theater NYC after 5 performances
  • May 6 "Inacent Black" opens at Biltmore Theater NYC for 14 performances

Music releaseMusic Premiere

May 11 Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Cats" (based on T. S. Eliot) premieres in London

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber
Composer
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Poet, Author and Nobel Laureate T. S. Eliot
Poet, Author and Nobel Laureate
T. S. Eliot
  • May 12 "Lena Horne: Lady, Music" opens at Nederlander NYC for 333 performances
  • May 15 George Harrison releases "All Those Years Ago" in UK

Music release#1 in the Charts

May 16 "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes hits #1 for next 9 weeks

Actress Bette Davis
Actress
Bette Davis
  • May 17 "Inacent Black" closes at Biltmore Theater NYC after 14 performances

Event of interestEvent of Interest

May 21 Reggae musician Bob Marley receives a Jamaican state funeral

Reggae Musician Bob Marley
Reggae Musician
Bob Marley
  • Jun 5 George Harrison releases "Somewhere in England"
  • Jun 8 15th Music City News Country Awards: Mandrell Sisters
  • Jun 20 Guitarist Gerry Cott quits Boomtown Rats

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Jun 21 Don Fagan & Walter Becker quit Steely Dan

Musician and Producer Walter Becker
Musician and Producer
Walter Becker
  • Jun 23 "This Was Burlesque" opens at Princess Theater NYC for 28 performances
  • Jun 28 "Piaf" closes at Plymouth Theater NYC after 165 performances
  • Jul 17 "This is Burlesque" closes at Princess Theater NYC after 28 performances

Music releaseMusic Single

Aug 1 "Endless Love" single released by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie (Billboard Song of the Year 1981, Billboard Greatest Song Duet of All-Time)

  • Aug 18 "My Fair Lady" opens at Uris Theater NYC for 119 performances

MurderMurder of Interest

Aug 24 Mark David Chapman is sentenced to 20 yrs to life for John Lennon's murder

Musician and Beatle John Lennon
Musician and Beatle
John Lennon
  • Sep 6 Musical "They're Playing Our Song" closes at Imperial NYC after 1082 performances
  • Sep 25 Rolling Stones begin their 6th US tour (JFK Stadium, Philadelphia)
  • Sep 27 "Day in Hollywood, A Night.." closes at John Golden NY after 588 performances

Music releaseMusic Single

Sep 28 “Physical” single released by Olivia Newton-John (Billboard Song of the Year 1982)

Singer and actress Olivia Newton-John
Singer and actress
Olivia Newton-John
  • Oct 11 Unknown rocker Prince opens for Rolling Stones at LA Coliseum
  • Oct 12 "Marlowe" opens at Rialto Theater NYC for 48 performances
  • Oct 12 15th Country Music Association Award: Barbara Mandrell & George Jones wins
  • Nov 10 "Oh, Brother!" opens at ANTA Theater NYC for 3 performances
  • Nov 11 "Oh, Brother!" closes at ANTA Theater NYC after 3 performances
  • Nov 15 "Camelot" opens at Winter Garden Theater NYC for 48 performances
  • Nov 16 "Merrily We Roll Along" opens at Alvin Theater NYC for 16 performances
  • Nov 17 "1st" opens at Martin Beck Theater NYC for 37 performances
  • Nov 21 Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" single goes #1 & stays for 10 weeks
  • Nov 22 "Marlowe" closes at Rialto Theater NYC after 48 performances
  • Nov 28 "Merrily We Roll Along" closes at Alvin Theater NYC after 16 performances
  • Nov 29 "My Fair Lady" closes at Uris Theater NYC after 119 performances
  • Dec 12 "1st" closes at Martin Beck Theater NYC after 37 performances
  • Dec 20 Harry Krieger and Tom Eyen's musical "Dreamgirls" opens at Imperial Theater NYC for 1522 performances

Music releaseMusic Single

Dec 30 "That Girl" single released by Stevie Wonder (Billboard Song of the Year 1982)

Singer-Songwriter Stevie Wonder
Singer-Songwriter
Stevie Wonder