1988 in Rock & Roll History:

Atlantic Records holds a 40th Anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden with many past and present label artists including a reunited Led Zeppelin. Acid house music takes off in the UK. Motown Records is sold to MCA. Depeche Mode play to 60,000 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. Two fans are crushed to death during the Guns n' Roses set at the Monsters of Rock Festival in Castle Donnington, UK. Rock and Roll pioneer Roy Orbison dies. CD's outsell vinyl albums for the first time, but cassette tapes remain as the top selling medium for music.

Top 40 Singles of 1988
Worldwide:

  1   Bobby McFerrin
       Don't Worry Be Happy
  2   Phil Collins - A Groovy Kind of Love
  3   Guns n' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine
  4   U2 - Desire
  5   Tiffany - I Think We're Alone Now
  6   Billy Ocean - Get Outta My Dreams             Get Into My Car
  7   Belinda Carlisle
       Heaven is a Place On Earth
  8   INXS - Need You Tonight
  9   The Beach Boys - Kokomo
10   Kylie Minogue -I Should Be So Lucky
11   The Pet Shop Boys
       Always On My Mind
12   Kylie Minogue - The Loco-Motion
13   George Michael - One More Try
14   Enya - Orinoco Flow
15   Phil Collins - Two Hearts
16   Tracy Chapman - Fast Car
17   Milli Vanilli - Girl, You Know It's True
18   Rick Astley - Together Forever
19   Steve Winwood - Roll With It
20   Yazz & The Plastic Population         The Only Way is Up
21   Midnight Oil - Beds Are Burning
22   Michael Jackson
       The Way You Make Me Feel
23   The Pet Shop Boys - Heart
24   Whitney Houston
       One Moment in Time
25   Taylor Dayne - Tell it to My Heart
26   Cheap Trick - The Flame
27   Fairground Attraction - Perfect
28   The Escape Club - Wild Wild West
29   Salt-N-Pepa - Push It
30   Robin Beck - First Time
31   Michael Jackson - Dirty Diana
32   The Pet Shop Boys -Domino Dancing
33   Will To Power
       Baby, I Love Your Way
34   Michael Jackson - Man in the Mirror
35   Tiffany - Could've Been
36   Guns n' Roses
       Welcome to the Jungle
37   Womack & Womack - Teardrops
38   Terence Trent D'Arby
       Sign Your Name
39   Poison - Every Rose Has It's Thorn
40   Rick Astley
       She Wants to Dance With Me

Top 50 Albums of 1988
Worldwide:

  1   Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman
  2   U2 - Rattle & Hum
  3   INXS - Kick
  4   Bon Jovi - New Jersey
  5   Traveling Wilbury
       The Traveling Wilburys Volume I
  6   Prince - Lovesexy
  7   Rick Astley
       Whenever You Need Somebody
  8   Metallica - ...and Justice For All
  9   Sade - Stronger Than Pride
10   Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of            Millions To Hold Us Back
11   Dire Straits - Money For Nothing
12   Midnight Oil - Diesel & Dust
13   Steve Winwood - Roll With It
14   REM - Green
15   Tanita Tikaram - Ancient Heart
16   The Pixies - Surfer Rosa
17   Iron Maiden
       Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
18   Enya - Watermark
19   Tiffany - Tiffany
20   Guns n' Roses - G N' R The Lies, The          Sex, The Drugs, The Violence, The             Shocking Truth
21   Soundtrack - More Dirty Dancing
22   Van Halen - OU 812
23   Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
24   Morrissey - Viva Hate
25   Kylie Minogue - Kylie
26   Pink Floyd
       Delicate Sound Of Thunder
27   The Pet Shop Boys - Introspective
28   Anita Baker
       Giving You The Best That I Got
29   Belinda Carlisle - Heaven On Earth
30   The Waterboys - Fisherman's Blues
31   AC/DC - Blow Up Your Video
32   Poison - Open Up & Say...Aah!
33   Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime
34   Jane's Addiction
       Nothing's Shocking
35   The Scorpions - Savage Amusement
36   Johnny Hates Jazz
       Turn Back The Clock
37   Bruce Hornsby & The Range             Scenes From The Southside
38   Debbie Gibson - Out Of The Blue
39   A-Ha - Stay On These Roads
40   Talking Heads - Naked
41   The Pogues
       If I Should Fall From Grace With God
42   Bobby McFerrin - Simple Pleasure
43   Soundtrack - Good Morning Vietnam
44   Europe - Out Of This World
45   Gipsy Kings - Gipsy Kings
46   Cinderella - Long Cold Winter
47   Bros - Push
48   Fleetwood Mac - Greatest Hits
49   Erasure - The Innocents
50   Rod Stewart - Out Of Order

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.
George Harrison has his third (and last) #1 US single "Got My Mind Set On You" (#2 UK) with a cover of James Ray's 1962 song written by Rudy Clark. (more)
Jan '88
Jan '88
Another band from L.A.'s Sunset Strip glam metal scene, LA Guns, release their debut album which peaks at #50 US. (more)
Feb '88
Feb '88
Former Led Zeppelin singer, Robert Plant, releases his fourth solo album, Now and Zen. The album includes two tracks with guitar from Jimmy Page. (more)
Coventry, UK band The Primitives score a top five UK single with "Crash" off their debut album. (more) 
Just six months after the breakup of The Smiths, Morrissey releases his solo debut, Viva Hate, which goes to #1 UK, #48 US. (more)  
Mar '88
Mar '88
Michael Jackson goes to #1 US again (#21 UK) with the single "Man In The Mirror" from the album Bad - #1 US & UK. (more)
Mar '88
Boston, MA band The Pixies sign with UK label 4AD and release their influential debut album Surfer Rosa produced by Steve Albini. (more) 
Mar '88
King's X from Springfield, MO release their debut album on Megaforce Records. (more)
Apr '88
The Sugarcubes, an alternative rock band from Iceland, release their debut album and go Top Twenty in the UK. Lead singer Bjork would go on to a successful solo career. (more)
Redlands, CA alternative band Camper Van Beethoven release their debut album, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart. (more)
Apr '88
May '88
Leavenworth, KS native, Melissa Etheridge, releases her debut album on Island Records  and peaks at #22 US. (more)
May '88
Van Halen release their eighth album, OU812 which goes to #1 US, #16 UK led by US #5 single "When It's Love". (more)
May '88
Vivid is the debut album from NYC funk, metal band Living Colour. The album reaches #6 US and lead single "Cult of Personaltiy" goes to #13 US. (more)
May '88
Prince releases his tenth album Lovesexy, which despite the questionable cover, goes to #1 UK, #11 US led by the Top Ten single "Alphabet St." (more)
Jun '88
UK artist Steve Winwood rolls out another #1 US, #4 UK album along with the #1 US single "Roll With It". (more)
May '88
Public Enemy goes to #8 UK, 42 US with their second album, It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. (more) 
Jun '88
Bobby Brown's new jack swing style brings him four US Top Ten hits including #1 US, #6 UK single "My Perogative" and a #1 US, #3 UK album on his second solo effort after leaving New Edition. (more)
Jul '88
Bomb The Bass is UK based DJ/Producer Tim Simenon, who uses samples to mix a big time hit single with "Beat Dis" which goes to #2 UK and tops the US dance charts. (more)
Jul '88
Australian child actress, Kylie Minogue switches to pop music and scores a #2 UK, #3 US hit with her cover of  Little Eva's 1962 hit "The Loco-motion". (more)
Jul '88
Rockford, IL band Cheap Trick reverse their declining fortunes with the ballad "The Flame" which becomes their first #1 single in the US. (more)
Aug '88
Aug '88
NWA (Niggaz Wit Attitude) popularize gangsta rap with their second album, Straight Outta Compton, which goes to #37 US, #35 UK. (more)
Combining celtic folk with rock, Dublin, Ireland band Hothouse Flowers release their debut album, People, which goes to #2 UK. (more)
Aug '88
NYC band Winger release their debut album which peaks at #21 in the US. (more)
Aug '88
Glenn Danzig, founder of the Misfits, releases the debut album of his new band Danzig. (more)
Aug '88
Los Angeles band Jane's Addiction sign with Warner Bros. and release their major label debut "Nothing's Shocking" #103 US. (more)
Aug '88
Two fans are trampled to death at the Castle Donnington, UK festival Monsters of Rock during the Guns 'n Roses set. (more)
Aug '88
Aug '88
Clevland, OH native Tracy Chapman is discovered street performing in Boston and signed to Elektra Records. Her debut album goes to #1 US and UK driven by the Top Ten single "Fast Car" #4 UK, #6 US. (more)
Metallica release their fourth album, And Justice For All, which goes to #4 UK, #6 US establishing the band as a major arena act. (more)
Sep '88
Sep '88
So.Cal. punk rockers Bad Religion release their third album, Suffer, which becomes the best selling album for their label Epitaph Records. (more)
Ice-T's second album, Power, gets major MTV exposure  with the single "I'm Your Pusher". The album peaks at #36 US. (more)
Sep '88
NWA's Eazy-E releases a solo album, Eazy Duz It, which charts at #41 US and goes on to sell over two million copies. (more)
Sep '88
Irish singer Enya has an international hit with her second album Watermark. The single "Orinoco Flow" goes to #1 UK, #25 US. (more)
Sep '88
Breaking into the US Top Ten with his sixth album, Any Love, Bronx, NY native Luther Vandross also scores his fourth R&B #1 single with the title track. (more)
Sep '88
Detroit, MI duo Was (Not Was) break into the Top Ten in both the US and UK with the single "Walk The Dinosaur" from their third album. (more)
Oct '88
Sep '88
NYC vocalist, Bobby McFerrin, has the first ever a cappella #1 US hit with "Don't  Worry, Be Happy" based on the expression from Indian sage Meher Baba. (more)
American rock band Bon Jovi Top the US and UK album charts with their fourth album New Jersey, featuring the #1 US, #17 UK single "Bad Medicine". (more)
Oct '88
Ozzy Osbourne releases his fifth solo album, No Rest For The Wicked, which peaks at #13 US, #26 UK. (more)
Oct '88
New York alternative band Sonic Youth release the double album Daydream Nation, which cracks the UK Top 100 at #99. Sales are tepid, but the critics love it.  (more)
Irish rock band U2 release the album and video Rattle and Hum which tops the US and UK charts. Parts of the album are recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis, TN. (more) 
Oct '88
Oct '88
The Traveling Wilbury's, a supergroup including Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne, release their debut album which goes to #3 US, #16 UK. (more) 
Oct '88
Seattle, WA grunge band Soundgarden release their debut album Ultramega OK on SST Records. (more)
Nov '88
London, UK band The Escape Club go to #1 US with their single "Wild, Wild West" from their second album. (more)
American rock band
Guns 'n Roses release their second album, Lies, which climbs to #2 US, #22 UK. (more)
Nov '88
Dec '88
Nov '88
The Beach Boys top the US charts for the first time since 1966 with the single "Kokomo". (more)
American band Chicago go to #1 US with the single "Look Away" from their 19th album. (more)
Dec '88
Rock and roll pioneer, Roy Orbison, in the midst of a career comeback, dies of a heart attack at his home in Tennessee. (more)
Toronto's Cowboy Junkies perfect their alt-country sound on their second album, The Trinity Sessions. (more)
Dec '88
Acid House music, which began in Chicago, moves beyond the clubs and onto the UK singles chart with the song "Stakker Humanoid" by Humanoid reaching #17 UK. (more)
Dec '88
Dec '88
Toledo, OH native Anita Baker has a #1 US, #9 UK album with her third release - Giving You The Best That I Got. (more)
Dec '88
American glam-metal band Poison finish the year with a #1 US, #13 UK single with their ballad "Every Rose Has It's Thorn". (more)
1988 is the first year where CD's outsell vinyl albums, although the cassette tape is the largest selling medium. (more)
Australian band The Church release their fifth album, Starfish, and score a US Top 40 hit with "Under The Milky Way". (more)
Feb '88
Apr '88
Minneapolis, MN band Soul Asylum leave indie label TwinTone and release their major label debut, Hang Time, on A&M. (more)
Aug '88
Harlem, NY hip hop duo Rob Base & DJ E-Z score a US Top 40 hit with the single "It Takes Two". (more)
Paul McCartney goes back to his roots with an album of 50's covers initially released exclusively in the Soviet Union. (more) 
Oct '88
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1988 Rock Music Timeline
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