1985 in Rock & Roll History:

MTV launches a sister station, VH1, with a more classic rock sound targeted at an older age group. The first Rock In Rio concert is held and draws an audience of 1.5 million fans. 40 artists gather to record "We Are The World" for African famine relief. The Live Aid concert for famine relief is held simultaneously in London and Philadelphia and broadcast live worldwide. The first annual Farm Aid benefit concert is held to benefit American Farmers. The Parents Music Resource Center holds hearings in Washington DC on music / lyric censorship.

Top 40 Singles of 1985

  1   USA For Africa - We Are the World
  2   A-Ha - Take On Me
  3   Foreigner
       I Want to Know What Love Is
  4   Band Aid
       Do They Know It's Christmas?
  5   Tears For Fears - Shout
  6   Lionel Richie - Say You, Say Me
  7   Dire Straits - Money For Nothing
  8   Tears For Fears
       Everybody Wants to Rule the World
  9   Madonna - Crazy For You
10   Madonna - Into the Groove
11   Paul Hardcastle - 19
12   Duran Duran - A View to a Kill
13   Murray Head - One Night in Bangkok
14   Simple Minds
       Don't You (Forget About Me)
15   Huey Lewis & The News
       The Power of Love
16   Tina Turner
        We Don't Need Another Hero
17   Jefferson Starship - We Built This City
18   Elton John - Nikita
19   Don Henley - The Boys of Summer
20   David Bowie & Mick Jagger              Dancing in the Street
21   Jennifer Rush - The Power of Love
22   Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA
23   Dead Or Alive
       You Spin me 'round (Like a Record)
24   Whitney Houston
       Saving All My Love For You
25   Baltimora - Tarzan Boy
26   Kool & The Gang - Cherish
27   Mr Mister - Broken Wings
28   Stevie Wonder - Part-Time Lover
29   Madonna - Material Girl
30   Wham! - I'm Your Man
31   Phil Collins - One More Night
32   Paul Young
       Every Time You Go Away
33   Philip Bailey & Phil Collins              Easy Lover
34   Simple Minds - Alive & Kicking
35   Bryan Adams - Heaven
36   Opus - Live Is Life
37   John Parr - St Elmo's Fire
38   Sandra
       (I'll Never Be) Maria Magdalena
39   Fergal Sharkey - A Good Heart
40   Wham! - Everything She Wants

Top 50 Albums of 1985

  1   Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms
  2   Phil Collins - No Jacket Required
  3   Tears For Fears
       Songs From The Big Chair
  4   Bryan Adams - Reckless
  5   Sting - The Dream Of The Blue Turtles
  6   Foreigner - Agent Provocateur
  7   Sade - Promise
  8   The Eurythmics - Be Yourself Tonight
  9   Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love
10   Prince - Around The World In A Day
11   The Cure - The Head On The Door
12   John Fogerty - Centerfield
13   ZZ Top - Afterburner
14   Simple Minds - Once Upon A Time
15   A-Ha - Hunting High & Low
16   USA For Africa - We Are The World
17   Heart - Heart
18   Talking Heads - Little Creatures
19   John Cougar Mellencamp
20   Tom Waits - Rain Dogs
21   Bryan Ferry - Boys & Girls
22   Soundtrack - Beverly Hills Cop
23   Marillion - Misplaced Childhood
24   Simply Red - Picture Book
25   The Smiths - Meat Is Murder
26   Stevie Wonder - In Square Circle
27   Billy Joel - Greatest Hits, Vol.I & ll
28   Paul Young
       The Secret Of Association
29   Mick Jagger - She's The Boss
30   The Pogues
       Rum, Sodomy & The Lash
31   Howard Jones - Dream Into Action
32   Iron Maiden - Live After Death
34   Jesus & Mary Chain - Psychocandy
34   INXS - Listen Like Thieves
35   The Scorpions - World Wide Live
36   Jennifer Rush - Movin'
37   Billy Idol - Vital Idol
38   Elton John - Ice On Fire
39   Style Council - Our Favourite Shop
40   The Alan Parsons Project
       Vulture Culture
41   REM - Fables Of The Reconstruction
42   Jennifer Rush - Jennifer Rush
43   Power Station - The Power Station
44   Original Soundtrack - Miami Vice
45   The Cars - The Cars' Greatest Hits
46   The Waterboys - This Is The Sea
47   The Replacements - Tim
48   Scritti Politti - Cupid & Psyche '85
49   Suzanne Vega - Suzanne Vega
50   Yello - Stella

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.
MTV launches a new channel VH 1 (Video Hits 1) to play music videos targeted at an older demographic. (more)
Jan '85
Jan '85
John Fogerty, former leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival, hits #1 US with his solo album Centerfield and the US Top Ten single "The Old Man Down The Road". (more)
Feb '85
Clive Davis discovery, Whitney Houston, releases her debut album and goes to #1 US, #2 UK led by the #1 US and UK single "Saving All My Love For You". (more) 
Jan '85
40 top music stars assemble in Los Angeles A&M Studios to record "We Are The World" to raise money for African famine relief. The song goes to #1 in the US and UK. (more) 
Jan '85
Feb '85
Don Henley of the Eagles goes to #5 US, #12 UK with his solo single "The Boys of Summer". (more)
UK duo Tears For Fears score a #1 hit in the US (#4 UK) with the song "Shout" from their second album. (more)
Feb '85
Transatlantic group Foreigner top the charts in the US and UK with the single "I Want To Know What Love Is". (more)
Feb '85
The John Hughes movie, The Breakfast Club, is released and the soundtrack single "Don't You Forget About Me" hits #1 US, #7 UK for Scottish rock band Simple Minds. (more)
Mar '85
UK synthpop artist Howard Jones scores two Top Five singles in the US including "No One Is To Blame". His album goes to #10 US, #2 UK. (more)
Mar '85
Tom Petty scores a #13 US, #50 UK hit with "Don't Come Around Here No More" co-written with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics. (more)
Mar '85
John and Andy Taylor of Duran Duran team up with vocalist Robert Palmer and Chic drummer Tony Thompson to record as Power Station. The resulting album goes #6 US, #12 UK. (more)
Liverpool band Dead or Alive score a #1 UK, #11 US hit with the dance song "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)". (more)
Mar '85
Mar '85
Detroit siblings DeBarge score two US Top Ten hits off their fourth album for Motown - Rythym of the Night. (more)
Apr '85
Minneapolis singer songwriter Prince releases another #1 album with Around The World In A Day. With a more psychedelic sound, the album yields two US Top Ten hits. (more) 
Apr '85
Dialing back the synths and cranking up the rock, brings The Eurythmics back to the Top Ten with the single "Would I Lie To You?" #5 US, #17 UK. (more)
Apr '85
Philadelphia band The Hooters release their major label debut and break into the US Top 20
with the single  "And We Danced". The band receives heavy MTV rotation and later opens the Live Aid concert. (more) 
May '85
Dire Straits release their fifth album Brothers In Arms, which goes #1 in the US and UK. It is the first time a CD outsells it's vinyl counterpart. The single "Money For Nothing" goes #1 US, #4 UK. (more) 
May '85
Norwegian trio A-Ha release their debut album, Hunting High And Low. The single "Take On Me" would go to #1 US, #2 UK in October. (more)
May '85
After being fired from Metallica, guitarist Dave Mustaine forms Megadeth in Los Angeles. In May they release their debut album on Combat Records. (more)
Jun '85
Sting, former lead singer of The Police, releases his solo debut which goes to #2 US, featuring the single "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free". (more)
Jun '85
Boston New Wave band Til Tuesday release their debut album, Voices Carry, and have a US Top Ten single with the title track. (more)
Jun '85
Soul veteran Aretha Franklin has her first million selling album with Who's Zoomin' Who. The album yields two US Top Ten singles the title track and "Freeway of Love". (more)
Jun '85
Wham! have their third US #1 hit from the album Make It Big, with the single "Everything She Wants" #2 UK. (more)
Jul '85
UK band Katrina and the Waves break into the US and UK Top Ten with "Walking on Sunshine" from their debut album. (more)
Jul '85
Vancouver, Canada band Heart release their ninth album and their only album to hit #1 US, #19 UK. They also score a US #1 single with "These Dreams" in Mar '86. (more)
Jul '85
The Live Aid Concerts occur simultaneously in London and Philadelphia to raise money for African famine relief. The event
is televised live and attracts 400 million viewers worldwide. (more)
Jul '85
American band Talking Heads release their sixth album, Little Creatures, which goes to #10 UK, #20 US, led by the single "And She Was". (more)
Jul '85
UK singer Paul Young scores a #1 US, #4 UK hit with a cover of Hall & Oates "Everytime You Go Away". (more)
Aug '85
John Mellencamp's eighth album, Scarecrow, is released. The album goes to #2 US and generates three US Top Ten singles. (more)
Aug '85
UK band The Pogues release their second album Rum, Sodomy, & The Lash. Their Irish folk mixed with punk sound takes the album to #13 UK. (more)
Sep '85
Starship release the album Knee Deep In The Hoopla and generate two  US #1 singles "We Built This City" and "Sara". (more) 
Sep '85
Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp organize the first annual Farm Aid benefit concert in Champaign, IL. (more)
Oct '85
UK band Love & Rockets, comprised of former Bauhaus members, releases their debut album 7th Dream of Teenage Heaven. (more)
Sep '85
Michael Jackson outbids Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono for ATV Music and the music publishing rights to 200 Beatles songs. (more) 
Sep '85
UK band The Waterboys release their third album This Is The Sea and break into the UK top thirty with the single
"The Whole Of The Moon". (more)
Sep '85
Kate Bush has her second UK #1 album with The Hounds of Love, but has little impact in the US. (more)
Oct '85
Australian band INXS have their first US Top Five single with "What You Need" off their album Listen Like Thieves #11 US, #48 UK. (more)
Oct '85
UK band The Cult score a Top Five UK single "She Sells Sanctuary" off their second album Love.  (more)
Oct '85
Scottish band Simple Minds follow up on their Breakfast Club success with a #3 US, #7 UK single "Alive and Kicking" from their seventh album. (more)
Oct '85
UK folkies, The Dream Academy, enjoy a #7 US, #15 UK  single "Life In A Northern Town" from their debut album. (more) 
Oct '85
Mike Rutherfod of Genesis, has two US Top Ten hits, "Silent Running" and "All I Need Is A Miracle" from his debut solo project Mike & The Mechanics. (more)
Oct '85
Former Clash guitarist, Mick Jones, releases the debut from his new band Big Audio Dynamite. (more)
Nov '85
Jamestown, NY band 10,000 Maniacs release their debut album The Wishing Chair. (more)
Nov '85
Queens, NY rapper LL Cool J releases his debut album, Radio, which eventually goes platinum. (more) 
Nov '85
Scottish alternative band The Jesus and Mary Chain release their debut album Psychocandy. (more)
Aug '85
Miami Sound Machine's second album Primitive Love generates three US Top Ten hits "Bad Boy", "Conga" and "Words Get In The Way". (more)
May '85
Spin debuts as an alternative to rock magazine Rolling Stone in the US. (more)
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