1980 Rock Music Timeline
1980 in Rock & Roll History

The Sony Walkman goes on sale in the US - the biggest upgrade in music portability since the transistor radio in the 1960's. Elton John performs a free concert for 400,000 in New York City's Central Park. The first Monsters of Rock festival is held in Donnington UK, headlined by Rainbow, Scorpions, Judas Priest and April Wine. Led Zeppelin disbands following the death of drummer John Bonham. John Lennon is shot to death by a deranged fan in New York City.

Top 40 Singles of 1980
Worldwide:

  1   Pink Floyd - Another Brick in the Wall
  2   Barbra Streisand - A Woman in Love
  3   John Lennon
       (Just Like) Starting Over
  4   Lipps Inc - Funkytown
  5   Diana Ross - Upside Down
  6   Blondie - Call Me
  7   Queen - Another One Bites the Dust
  8   Queen
       Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  9   Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light            Orchestra - Xanadu
10   Irene Cara - Fame
11   Abba - The Winner Takes it All
12   Blondie - The Tide is High
13   The Pretenders - Brass In Pocket
14   Sugarhill Gang - Rapper's Delight
15   Stevie Wonder - Master Blaster
16   The Police
       Don't Stand So Close to Me
17   Abba - Super Trouper
18   Johnny Logan - What's Another Year
19   Goombay Dance Band
       Sun Of Jamaica
20   Kenny Rogers - Lady
21   Leo Sayer - More Than I Can Say
22   Paul McCartney - Coming Up
23   Gary Numan - Cars
24   Kenny Rogers - Coward of the County
25   Captain & Tennille
       Do That to Me One More Time
26   The Rolling Stones
       Emotional Rescue
27   David Bowie - Ashes to Ashes
28   Michael Jackson - Rock With You
29   Olivia Newton-John - Magic
30   The Detroit Spinners
        Working My Way Back to You
31   Christopher Cross - Sailing
32   George Benson - Give Me the Night
33   Elton John - Little Jeannie
34   Rocky Burnett
       Tired of Toein' The Line
35   Air Supply - All Out of Love
36   The Korgis
       Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime
37   Billy Joel - It's Still Rock 'n' Roll to Me
38   Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
39   Bruce Springsteen - Hungry Heart
40   Split Enz - I Got You

Top 50 Albums of 1980
Worldwide:

  1   AC/DC - Back In Black
  2   John Lennon - Double Fantasy
  3   Barbra Streisand -Guilty
  4   Bruce Springsteen - The River
  5   Billy Joel - Glass Houses
  6   The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta
  7   The Rolling Stones
       Emotional Rescue
  8   Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light           Orchestra - Xanadu
  9   Queen - The Game
10   Abba - Super Trouper
11   Dire Straits - Making Movies
12   David Bowie - Scary Monsters
13   Talking Heads - Remain In Light
14   Christopher Cross - Debut
15   Stevie Wonder - Hotter Than July
16   Bob Marley - Uprising
17   Kenny Rogers - Greatest Hits
18   Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band          Against The Wind
19   The Pretenders - Debut
20   Joy Division - Closer
21   Genesis - Duke
22   Diana Ross - Diana
23   The Clash - Sandinista
24   Elvis Costello - Get Happy!
25   The Blues Brothers - Debut
26   Paul McCartney - McCartney II
27   U2 - Boy
28   Steely Dan - Gaucho
29   Original Soundtrack - Fame
30   Rod Stewart - Foolish Behaviour
31   The Alan Parsons Project
       The Turn Of A Friendly Card
32   Supertramp - Paris
33   Jackson Browne - Hold Out
34   Madness - One Step Beyond
35   Blondie - Autoamerican
36   Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (Melt)
37   George Benson - Give Me The Night
38   Roxy Music - Flesh , Blood
39   Rush - Permanent Waves
40   Van Halen - Women & Children First
41   Paul Simon - One-Trick Pony
42   Kate Bush - Never For Ever
43   Adam & The Ants
       Kings Of The Wild Frontier
44   Donna Summer - The Wanderer
45   Ultravox - Vienna
46   Pete Townshend - Empty Glass
47   Boney M - The Magic Of Boney M.
48   Iron Maiden - Debut
49   Elton John - 21 At 33
50   Kiss - Unmasked


All chart information above is from Tsort and uses a formula based on splitting the world into four regions based on sales, the USA (about 35%), other English speaking countries (about 20%), the rest of Europe (about 25%) and the rest of the world (about 20%).  We feel this is the best methodology available to show the global impact of a song or album. More detailed chart info is available on the Tsort website. Actual US & UK charts are linked at the bottom of each year timeline on this site.
Jan '80
The Clash release the double album London Calling, which goes top ten in the UK and top thirty US. Rolling Stone would later rank it as the best album of the eighties.  (more)
Jan '80
Rush have their first top five album with Permanent Waves featuring a new, more radio friendly sound. (more)
Jan '80
Soft rocker Christopher Cross scores a #1 single in the US with "Sailing" and later wins the best album Grammy for 1980.
(more)
Jan '80
The Pretenders debut album goes #1 UK and top ten US led by the top twenty single "Brass in Pocket". (more)
Jan '80
The Rolling Stones release Emotional Rescue which goes to #1 in the US and UK. (more)
Feb '80
UK rock band Queen have a #1 single with "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". They hit #1 again in Oct. with "Another One Bites the Dust".  (more)
Feb '80
Punk pioneers The Ramones make an album with Phil Spector and are featured in the successful low budget movie Rock and Roll High School.   (more)
Feb '80
Northern Ireland punk band, Stiff Little Fingers, have a UK hit with their second album Nobody's Heroes.
(more)
Feb '80
Bon Scott, lead singer for Australian rock band AC/DC, is found dead in London of acute alcohol poisoning.
(more)
Feb '80
Elvis Costello and the Attractions release Get Happy which goes to #11 on the US album charts.  (more)
Feb '80
Bob Seger releases the album Against The Wind which goes to #1 US.
(more)
Mar '80
The Jam have a #1 UK single with "Down In The Tube Station at Midnight" and hit #1 again in Aug. with "Start".
(more)
Mar '80
Billy Joel scores a US #1 album with Glass Houses and a #1 single with "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me".  (more)
Mar '80
UK progressive rock band Genesis have their first #1 album in the UK (#11 US) with Duke.  (more)
Apr '80
"Call Me" by Blondie goes to #1 after being featured in the movie American Gigolo.
(more)
Apr '80
Pete Townshend of The Who has a top five solo album with Empty Glass and a top ten single with "Let My Love Open The Door".   (more)
UK metal band Iron Maiden release their debut album which goes to #4 in the UK.  (more)
Apr '80
Apr '80
New Jersey band The Feelies release their debut album on Stiff Records.   (more)
May '80
Ian Curtis, lead singer of UK band Joy Division, commits suicide May 18th on the eve of the bands first US tour.   (more)
May '80
Former Supreme, Diana Ross has a #1 single with "Upside Down" and a #2 album.   (more)
May '80
Former Genesis lead singer, Peter Gabriel, has a #1 solo album in the UK (#22 US).
(more)
Jun '80
Minneapolis, MN studio band Lipps Inc. score a #1 hit with "Funkytown".
(more)
Jul '80
Hall and Oates single "Kiss on My List" goes to #1 and gives them a top ten album.
(more)
Jul '80
Ohio new wave band Devo has a #14 single in the US with "Whip It".  The self funded video would later receive heavy MTV airplay. (more) 
Jul '80
Pat Benatar has a top ten single with "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and the album Crimes of Passion goes to #2 in the US.   (more)
Aug '80
Just five months after the death of lead singer Bon Scott, AC/DC are back with new lead singer Brian Johnson and their biggest selling album to date, #1 UK, #4 US.  (more)
Sep '80
Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham dies on Sep. 25th and the group calls it quits.
(more)
Sep '80
Ozzy Osbourne, former Black Sabbath lead singer, releases his debut solo album.  (more)
Sep '80
San Francisco hardcore punk band The Dead Kennedys release their debut album.
(more)
Oct '80
Paul Simon writes and stars in the movie One Trick Pony and has a #6 single with "Late In The Evening" from the soundtrack.
(more)  (video)
Oct '80
Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds team up to form Rockpile and score a top 30 album in the US.  (more)
Oct '80
The Police score two top ten hits and a top five album with their third album Zenyatta Mondatta.  (more)
Oct '80
Talking Heads break into the top 20 with their 4th album Remain In LIght featuring the single "Once In A Lifetime".  (more)
Oct '80
Bruce Springsteen releases the double album The River, which goes to #1 and features the #5 single "Hungry Heart".  (more)
Oct '80
Irish band U2 release their debut album Boy and tour Europe and the US. The single "I Will Follow" is a college radio hit.  (more)
Oct '80
Adam and the Ants second album, Kings of the Wild Frontier, yields three top ten singles in the UK featuing dual drummers and introduces the Burundi beat to rock music.   (more)
Nov '80
Kenny Rogers goes to #1 with the single "Lady" written by Lionel Richie.  (more)
Nov '80
Nov '80
Swedish pop band ABBA's album Super Trouper goes to #1 UK (#17 US) led by two #1 singles.   (more) 
Motorhead's fourth album Ace of Spades is released and goes Top Five in the UK.  (more)
Dec '80
Former Spencer Davis Group and Traffic member, Steve Winwood, has a top ten solo album Arc of the Diver.
(more)
John Lennon is shot to death outside his New York apartment. His comeback album Double Fantasy was released in Nov. and the single "Just Like Starting Over" hit #1.  (more)
Dec '80
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