On This Day, May 20 In Music History


On this day May 20 in 1954 Bill Haley & His Comets released ‘Rock Around the Clock’ as a single. The song became a chart-topper in the US, UK and West Germany and its widely considered to be THE song that brought rock and roll music into the mainstream worldwide.

1964 – American R&B singer Charles Rudolph Harrell better known by his stage name Rudy Lewis died at the age of 27 from a drug overdose. Best remembered as the lead vocalist of The Drifters with whom he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

1965 – Singer and songwriter Jackie Trent topped the UK Singles chart with ‘Where Are You Now (My Love)’ on this day May 20 in music history.

1967 – The BBC banned The Beatles‘ song ‘A Day In The Life’ because it contains the verse ‘I’d love to turn you on’, and according to the them the lyrics were a hidden message to promote the use of drugs among the youth.

1967 – Pop rock group The Young Rascals started a two-week stint at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 with ‘Groovin’ on this day May 20.

1972 – Rock band T. Rex dominated the music charts in the UK on this day as their compilation LP ‘Bolan Boogie’ hit No.1 on the Albums chart for the first of three consecutive weeks while ‘Metal Guru’ started a four-week stint at No.1 on the Singles chart.

1978 Paul McCartney and Wings topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart with ‘With A Little Luck’ on this day May 20. The song reached No.1 in Canada as well that year while in the UK it peaked at No.5.

1980 – A Clash concert in Hamburg, Germany ended after Joe Strummer hit an annoying fan in the head with his guitar. Joe was arrested but released soon after.

1981 – A two decades long partnership came to an end when Diana Ross left Motown Records and signed a record breaking $20 million deal with RCA Records on this day May 20 in music history.

1989 – The charity version of ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’ by The Christians, Holly Johnson, Paul McCartney, Gerry Marsden and Sock Aitken Waterman topped the UK Singles chart. The song raised money for those affected by the Hillsborough disaster.

1989 Paula Abdul scored her second No.1 single of the year in the US with ‘Forever Your Girl’ on this day May 20. She previously topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks in February with ‘Straight Up’.

1989 – Australian pop music singer Jason Donovan started a two-week run at No.1 on the UK Albums chart with his debut studio release ‘Ten Good Reasons’.

1991 – Paul McCartney became the first artist to release an unplugged performance as an album when he issued Unplugged (The Official Bootleg)’ in the UK on this day May 20.

1995 – With the double A-side single ‘Unchained Melody’ / ‘(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover’  pop duo Robson & Jerome started a seven-week stint at No.1 in the UK.

1997 – Alternative rock band Foo Fighters released their second studio album ‘The Colour and The Shape’ through Capitol Records on this day May 20 in music history.

2000 – 60-year-old Welsh singer Tom Jones went to number one in the United Kingdom with his 34th studio album ‘Reload’. It became his highest seller with over 1.5 million copies sold worldwide.

2000 – Australian electronic music duo Madison Avenue topped the UK Singles chart with ‘Don’t Call Me Baby’ on this day May 20.

2006 – Finnish heavy metal band Lordi made history on this day when they won the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’.

Lordi – Hard Rock Hallelujah

YouTube player

2006 – The number one album in the United States on this day May 20 was ‘10,000 Days’ by the rock band Tool. It also reached No.1 in nine other countries worldwide, including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

2006 – Rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers hit No.1 on the UK Albums chart with ‘Stadium Arcadium’ for the first of three consecutive weeks.

2012 – British singer, songwriter, and producer Robin Gibb died on this day May 20 in music history, aged 62 from kidney failure. Best remembered as one third of the sibling pop group the Bee Gees.

2013 – American keyboardist and vocalist Ray Manzarek died on this day at the age of 74. Best remembered as the co-founder of the blues rock band The Doors.

2017 – The number one single in the United States on this day May 20 was ‘I’m the One’ by Dj Khaled ft. Lil Wayne, Justin Bieber, Quavo and Chance the Rapper.

2021 – Singer and songwriter Rag’n’Bone Man scored his second consecutive number one album in the UK on this day with ‘Life by Misadventure’.


1932 – American jazz pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger Bob Florence was born in Los Angeles, California on this day May 20 in music history.

1942 – One half of the pop music duo Paul and PaulaJill Jackson was born on this day in McCartney, Texas. Best known for the 1963 chart-topping single ‘Hey Paula’.

1944 – English singer, pianist and harmonica player Joe Cocker was born on this day May 20 in Sheffield, England. Best known for his hit renditions of songs such as ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’, ‘Unchain My Heart’, and Up Where We Belong’ among others.

1946 – American singer and actress Cherilyn Sarkisian better known by her stage name Cher was born in El Centro, California. She rose to fame as one half of the husband-and-wife music duo Sonny & Cher before establishing herself as a successful solo artist.

1955 – Keyboardist, saxophonist and singer Steve George was born on this day May 20 in Phoenix, Arizona. Best known for his work with the rock band Mr. Mister.

1958 – Guitarist, singer, songwriter and actress Jane Wieldlin was born in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Best known as the co-founder of the new wave band The Go-Go’s.

1959 – Hawaiian singer, songwriter and ukulele player Israel Kamakawiwoʻole was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on this day May 20 in music history. Best known for his medley of ‘Over the Rainbow’ and ‘What a Wonderful World’.

1961 – Singer-songwriter and guitarist Nicholas Heyward was born on this day in Beckenham, England. He came to prominence as the co-founder and frontman of the new wave group Haircut One Hundred.

1963 – English guitarist, singer, and songwriter Brian Nash was born on this day May 20 in Liverpool. Best known as a member of the synth-pop band Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

1972 – American rapper Trevor George Smith better known professionally as Busta Rhymes was born in Brooklyn, New York.

1981 – Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Platten was born in New York City on this day May 20 in music history.

1981 – Singer, songwriter and actress Naturi Naughton was born on this day in East Orange, New Jersey. She rose to fame as one third of the R&B group 3LW.

<< May 19

May 21 >>