- Richard Edson born (New Rochelle, NY) American actor, rock drummer. Member of Sonic Youth from 1981 to 1982.
- WC Handy, aged 80, marries his secretary Irma Louise Logan in New York
- Louis Jordan leaves Decca and signs for Aladdin Records
- Glen Goins born (Plainfield, NJ) American funk guitarist, singer. Member of Parliament / Funkadelic from 1975 to 1977. Died 1978
- Ross Friedman born (New York, NY) American rock guitarist, singer. Member of the Dictators from 1973 to 1979 and from 1991 and Manowar from 1980 to 1988.
- Eugene Chadbourne born (Mount Vernon, NY) American rock, jazz, bluegrass and avant-garde guitarist, banjo player, writer. Member of Shockabilly and solo artist.
- Elvis Presley records a second self-financed demo at Sun Studios in Memphis. Tracks cut are I’ll Never Stand in Your Way & It Wouldn’t Be the Same Without You
- Kamalakara Kameswara Rao’s musical film Chandraharam opens starring N.T. Rama Rao and Sriranjani. Music by Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao
- Muddy Waters records Hoochie Coochie Man at a session for Chess in Chicago. Muddy Waters (vo, g) Jimmy Rogers (g) Little Walter (hca) Willie Dixon (b) Elgin Evans (d)
- Fred Raymond (53) dies in Überlingen, Germany, of heart failure
- John Cage’s Music for Piano 2 premiered in New York
- Oscar Straus (83) dies in Bad Ischl, Austria
- Richard Blackford born (London) English composer.
- Grazyna Bacewicz’s Symphony no.4 premiered in Krakow
- Sonny Clark records five solo piano pieces at a private house in Oslo
- Tim Berne born (Syracuse, NY) American jazz saxophonist, composer, bandleader.
- Cheryl Bentyne born (Mount Vernon, WA) American jazz and pop singer. Member of Manhattan Transfer from 1978 and solo artist.
- George Jones makes his first recordings in Houston for Starday. Tracks cut include No Money In This Deal
- Igor Stravinsky’s Septet for clarinet, bassoon, horn, piano, violin, viola and cello premiered in Washington, DC
- Jan Sandström born (Vilhelmina, Västerbotten County, Sweden) Swedish composer,
- Dick Manitoba aka Richard Blum born (New York, NY) American rock singer, broadcaster. Member of the Dictators from 1975 to 1981 and from 1991 and the MC5 from 2005 to 2012.
- John Lee Hooker – Stuttering Blues / Pouring Down Rain (Deluxe)
- BB King – Everything I Do Is Wrong / Don’t You Want a Man Like Me (RPM)
- Professor Longhair – Tipitina / In The Night (Atlantic)
- Frank Sinatra – Young at Heart / Take a Chance (Capitol)
- Dave Brubeck – Jazz At Oberlin (Fantasy) Recorded live at Oberlin College in Ohio on 2 Mar 1953
- Frank Sinatra – Songs For Young Lovers (Capitol) Orchestra conducted by Nelson Riddle
- Chuck Dukowski aka Gary McDaniel born (Los Angeles, CA) American rock bassist, songwriter, co-founder of SST Records. Founder member of Black Flag, October Faction and SWA.
- Joe Turner records Shake Rattle & Roll at a session for Atlantic in New York
- Johnny Guitar Watson records a session for Federal in Los Angeles. Johnny Guitar Watson (g) Bill Gaither (sax) Mario Delagarde (b) Charlie Pendegraph (d). Tracks cut include Space Guitar which features a pioneering use of reverb and feedback
- Graeme Taylor born (London) English folk and rock guitarist, composer, arranger. Worked with Gryphon, the Albion Band and Home Service.
- The Drifters record a session for Atlantic in New York. Tracks cut include Honey Love; What’cha Gonna Do; The Bells of St Mary’s & White Christmas. Jimmy Oliver (g) Clyde McPhatter (lead tenor) Gerhart Thrasher (tenor) Andrew Thrasher (baritone) Bill Pinkney (bass)
- The Lyric Opera in Chicago founded by by Carol Fox, Nicolà Rescigno and Lawrence Kelly gives its first performance, Mozart’s Don Giovanni
- Alfredo de la Fé born (Havana) Cuban salsa violinist, composer, record producer, bandleader.
- Scott Kempner born (New York, NY) American rock guitarist. Member of the Dictators from 1973 to 1979, from 1991 to 2002 and from 2004 and the Del-Lords from 1982 to 1990.
- Lloyd Bacon’s musical comedy film The French Line opens starring Jane Russell. Music by Walter Scharf, Josef Myrow and Constantin Bakaleinkoff
- Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet Skaz o kammenom tsvetke [The Tale of the Stone Flower] premiered in Moscow
- Harry Partch’s 2 Settings from Lewis Carroll for voices and ensemble of original instruments premiered in Mill Valley, CA
- Emmerich Kálmán’s operetta Arizona Lady, lib. Alfred Grünwald and Gustav Beer, premiered posthumously in Bern
- Jacques Brel records the album Jacques Brel et ses Chansons for Philips in Paris, arranged by André Grassi
- Einar Englund’s orchestral suite Four Dance Impressions premiered in Helsinki
- John Travolta born (Englewood, NJ) American actor, singer, dancer.
- Michael Gira born (Los Angeles, CA) American rock singer, guitarist, songwriter. Member of Swans from 1982 to 1997 and from 2010 and Angels of Light from 1998 to 2009.
- Bryan Gregory born (Detroit, MI) American rock guitarist. Member of the Cramps from 1976 to 1980. Died 2001
- The Art Blakey Quintet play Birdland, New York. The show is recorded and issued on two LPs – A Night At Birdland Vols. 1 & 2. Clifford Brown (tp) Lou Donaldson (as) Horace Silver (p) Curly Russell (b) Art Blakey (d)
- Ernő Dohnányi’s American Rhapsody for orchestra premiered in Athens, OH
- Olivier Messiaen’s piano work Cantéyodjayâ premiered in Paris
- Plastic Bertrand aka Roger Marie François Jouret born (Brussels) Belgian rock singer, songwriter, television presenter.
- John Doe aka John Duchac born (Decatur, IL) American rock singer, songwriter, bassist, guitarist, actor. Founder member of X and solo artist.
- Henri Tomasi’s opera L’Atlantide [Atlantis], lib. Tomasi, premiered in Mulhouse, France
- Neal Schon born (Tinker, OK) American rock guitarist, singer, keyboard player, songwriter. Member of Santana from 1971 to 1972 and Journey from 1973.
- Hilding Rosenberg’s opera Kaspers fettisdag [Punch's Shrove Tuesday] premiered in Stockholm, lib. A. Strindberg
- Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters – Such A Night / Lucille (Atlantic)
- Solitaires – Wonder Why / Blue Valentine (Old Town) R&B vocal group from Harlem, New York
- Muddy Waters – Hoochie Coochie Man / She’s So Pretty (Chess)
- Dizzy Gillespie – Horn Of Plenty (Blue Note)
- Lorraine Hunt Lieberson born (San Francisco) American mezzo-soprano singer. Died 2006
- Noel Gay (55) dies in London
- Benjamin Britten’s Am stram gram for choir and piano premiered in London
- Ernst Krenek’s Cello Concerto no.1 premiered in Los Angeles
- Sigmund Romberg, Leo Robin, Jerome Chodorov and Joseph Fields’s musical The Girl in Pink Tights opens on Broadway (115 performances)
- Igor Stravinsky’s Three Songs from William Shakespeare for mezzosoprano, flute, clarinet and viola premiered in Paris
- David Newman born (Los Angeles) American film composer, conductor. Brother of Thomas (b.1955) and son of Alfred (1901-70) Newman.
- Rob Wright born (Victoria, BC) Canadian rock singer, bassist, songwriter. Founder member of NoMeansNo and the Hanson Brothers. Brother of John Wright (b.1962).
- Frankie Newton (48) dies in New York of alcohol-related causes
- Jerome Moross and John Treville Latouches’s musical The Golden Apple opens on Broadway (125 performances)
- Arnold Schoenberg’s opera Moses und Aron, lib. Schoenberg, premiered in Hamburg (first two completed acts only in a concert performance)
- Henry Cowell’s Symphony no.9 premiered in Green Bay, WI
- Dusty Fletcher (53) dies in New York
- The Chords record their first session for Atlantic subsidiary Cat in New York. Jimmy Keyes, Carl Feaster, Buddy McRae (tenor) Claude Feaster (baritone) Ricky Edwards (bass). Tracks cut include Cross Over The Bridge; Sh-Boom; Hold Me, Never Let Me Go & Little Maiden
- Nancy Wilson born (San Francisco, CA) American rock singer, songwriter, guitarist, actress, record producer. Member of Heart from 1972. Sister of Ann Wilson (b.1950).
- Dušan Radić’s The Name List for soprano and piano premiered in Belgrade
- Walter Braunfels (71) dies in Cologne
- Jeffrey Morgan born (Spokane, WA) American jazz composer, saxophonist, trumpeter, violinist.
- Harry Lawrence Freeman (84) dies in New York of heart failure
- Hank Roberts born (Terre Haute, IN) American jazz cellist, singer, bandleader, session player. Worked with Tim Berne, Bill Frisell and others.
- Bronislau Kaper’s music for Charles Walters’s film Lili wins the best dramatic score Oscar at the 26th Academy Awards. Alfred Newman’s music for Walter Lang’s film Call Me Madam wins the award for best musical score. Frank Sinatra wins the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in From Here to Eternity
- Peggy Glanville-Hicks’s opera The Transposed Heads premiered in Louisville, KY. Lib. Glanville-Hicks
- The Charlie Parker Quintet record a session for Verve in New York. Charlie Parker (as) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Jerome Darr (g) Teddy Kotick (b) Roy Haynes (d).
- Ray Charles – It Should’ve Been Me / Sinner’s Prayer (Atlantic)
- Clovers – Lovey Dovey / Little Mama (Atlantic)
- Fats Domino – You Done Me Wrong / (Hey) Little School Girl (Imperial)
- John Lee Hooker – It’s My Own Fault / Women and Money (Chess)
- John Lee Hooker – Real Real Gone / My Baby Don’t Love Me (Deluxe)
- Albert King – Bad Luck Blues / Be On Your Merry Way (Parrot)
- Peggy Lee – Johnny Guitar / Autumn in Rome (Decca)
- Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson – Space Guitar / Half Pint-a Whiskey (Federal)
- Sonny Boy Williamson – Gettin’ Out of Town / She Brought Life Back to the Dead (Trumpet)
- Georges Brassens – 2ème série [Le vent] (Polydor France)
- Jacques Brel et ses Chansons (Philips France)
- Judy Garland – A Star Is Born (Columbia)
- Aaron Copland’s opera The Tender Land premiered in New York, lib. H. Everett
- Atlantic Records launches the Cat subsidiary
- Michel Camilo born (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) Dominican classical, jazz and latin pianist, composer.
- Arturo Toscanini conducts his final concert with the NBC Orchestra at the Carnegie Hall, New York
- Peter Case born (Buffalo, NY) American rock singer, songwriter, guitarist. Worked with the Nerves, the Plimsouls and solo.
- Claude Delvincourt (66) dies in a car crash in Orbetello, Italy
- Ernst Krenek’s Fantasy for cello and piano premiered in Lucerne
- (& 19 April) Frank Sinatra records the album Swing Easy for Capitol accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Nelson Riddle
- Herbert Fields, Dorothy Fields and Arthur Schwartz’s musical By the Beautiful Sea opens on Broadway (270 performances)
- Charles Ives’s A Symphony: New England Holidays premiered in Minneapolis (complete work)
- Bill Haley and His Comets record Rock Around the Clock & Thirteen Women for Decca in New York. Bill Haley (vo, g) Marshall Lytle (b) Joey Ambrose (ts) Billy Williamson (steel g) Johnny Grande (p) plus session players Billy Gussak (d) Danny Cedrone (g)
- Jimmy Destri born (New York, NY) American rock keyboard player, songwriter. Member of Blondie from 1975 to 1982 and from 1997 to 2003.
- Lil Green (34) dies in Chicago of pneumonia
- Arthur Fickenscher (83) dies in San Francisco
- Texas Alexander (53) dies in Houston, TX of syphilis
- Captain Sensible aka Ray Burns born (London) English rock singer, bassist. Founder member of the Damned and solo artist.
- Hilding Rosenberg’s Cello Concerto no.2 premiered on Swedish radio, Stockholm
- Jean Renoir’s musical film French Cancan opens starring Jean Gabin and María Félix. Music by Georges Van Parys
- Michael Daugherty born (Cedar Rapids, IO) American composer, pianist, teacher.
- Dong-Suk Kang born (Seoul) Korean violinist, teacher.
- Morton Feldman’s Intersection 3 for piano premiered in New York
- Elmore James – Make My Dreams Come True / Hand in Hand (Flair)
- Midnighters – Work With Me Annie / Until I Die (Federal). Vocal group formed as the Royals in Detroit in 1951, led by Hank Ballard from 1953
- Hank Snow – I Don’t Hurt Anymore / My Arabian Baby (RCA Victor)
- Spaniels – Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight / You Don’t Move Me (Vee-Jay). Vocal group formed in Gary, IN in 1952
- Joe Turner – Shake, Rattle & Roll / You Know I Love You (Atlantic)
- Chet Baker and Strings (Columbia)
- The Duke Plays Ellington (Capitol)
- Ray Parker, Jr. born (Detroit, MI) American R&B and soul singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer. Founder member of Raydio and solo artist.
- Arthur Johnston (56) dies in Corona del Mar, CA
- William Alwyn’s String Quartet no.1 premiered in London
- Alan Freed’s Moondog Coronation Ball at the Armory, Newark, NJ attracts more than 10,000 people. Acts include the Clovers, Buddy and Ella Johnson, Arnett Cobb and Muddy Waters
- Angela Bofill born (New York) American R&B and jazz singer, songwriter.
- Barbara Jungr born (Rochdale, Lancashire) English jazz singer, harmonica player.
- Carroll Gibbons (51) dies in London
- Judith Weir born (Cambridge) Anglo-Scottish composer.
- Geirr Tveitt’s Piano Concerto no.5 premiered in Paris
- Richard Adler, Jerry Ross, George Abbott & Richard Bissell’s musical The Pajama Game opens on Broadway (1063 performances)
- Clemens Krauss (61) dies in Mexico City whilst on a concert tour
- Wreckless Eric aka Eric Goulden (Newhaven, Sussex) English rock singer, songwriter.
- Reinhold Heil born (Schlüchtern, Germany) German film composer, pianist. Worked with Nina Hagen from 1977 to 1979.
- Pauline Oliveros’ Prelude and Fugue for string quartet premiered in San Francisco
- Phil Rudd (Melbourne) Australian rock drummer. Member of AC/DC from 1975 to 1983 and from 1994.
- Charles Ives (79) dies in New York following a stroke
- Marc Ribot born (Newark, NJ) American jazz and rock guitarist, composer, session player. Worked with the Lounge Lizards, John Zorn, Tom Waits and many others.
- Darius Milhaud’s Kentuckiana op.287 for orchestra & Ouverture méditerranéenne op.330 premiered in Louisville, KY
- Dizzy Gillespie And His Orchestra record five tracks for the Afro album for Norgran in New York. Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Nottingham, Ernie Royal (tp) Leon Comegys, J.J. Johnson, George Mathews (tb) George Dorsey, Hilton Jefferson (as) Hank Mobley, Lucky Thompson (ts) Danny Bank (bars) Wade Legge (p) Lou Hackney, Roberto Rodriguez (b) Charlie Persip (d) Candido Camero, Mongo Santamaria (cga) Jose Mangual (bgo) Ubaldo Nieto (tim) Chico O’Farrill (arr)
- Hilding Rosenberg’s String Quartet no.6 premiered in Stockholm
- Youri Egorov born (Kazan, Russia) Russian concert pianist. Died 1988
- Andrew Poppy born (Chatham, Kent) English composer, pianist, record producer, arranger, teacher.
- Henry Cowell’s Symphony no.11 premiered in Louisville, KY
- Marco Tutino born (Milan) Italian composer, music administrator.
- Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Odisséia de uma raça premiered in Haifa, Israel
- Anders Hillborg born (Stockholm) Swedish composer, teacher.
- The Chris Barber Jazz Band is formed – the Ken Colyer group minus Ken Colyer
- Johnny Ace – Please Forgive Me / You’ve Been Gone So Long (Duke)
- Bill Haley & His Comets – Rock Around The Clock / Thirteen Women (Decca)
- John Lee Hooker – I Wonder Little Darling / Jump Me (One More Time) (Modern)
- Howlin’ Wolf – No Place to Go / Rockin’ Daddy (Chess)
- Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters – Honey Love / Warm Your Heart (Atlantic)
- Frank Sinatra – Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me / I Could Have Told You (Capitol)
- Frank Sinatra – Three Coins in the Fountain / Rain (Falling From the Skies) (Capitol)
- Muddy Waters – I Just Want To Make Love To You / Oh Yeh (Chess)
- Sonny Boy Williamson – Goin’ in Your Direction / Red Hot Kisses (Trumpet)
- Chet Baker Sings (Pacific Jazz)
- Lee Konitz Plays With The Gerry Mulligan Quartet (Pacific Jazz)
- Darius Milhaud’s opera David premiered in Jerusalem, lib. A. Lunel (concert performance)
- Harry Partch’s opera Oedipus premiered in Oakland, CA, lib. Partch and J. Churchill (second version)
- Dizzy Gillespie And His Latin American Rhythm record three tracks for the Afro album for Norgran in New York. Dizzy Gillespie (tp) Gilbert Valdez (fl) Rene Hernandez (p) Robert Rodriguez (b) Candido Camero, Jose Mangual, Ralph Miranda, Umbaldo Nieto (per)
- Mikey Dread aka Michael Campbell born (Port Antonio, Jamaica) Jamaican record producer, reggae disc jockey. Died 2008
- Peter Erskine born (Somers Point, NJ) American jazz drummer, composer, bandleader, session player. Worked with John Abercrombie, Weather Report and many others.
- Alexander Bălănescu born (Bucharest) Romanian violinist, composer, bandleader. Founder of the Balanescu Quartet and worked with the Michael Nyman Band.
- Greg Ginn born (Los Angeles, CA) American rock guitarist, songwriter, record producer, co-founder of SST Records. Founder member of Black Flag and solo artist.
- Dušan Radić’s Sinfonietta for orchestra premiered in Belgrade
- Noël Coward’s musical After the Ball opens in London (188 performances)
- Jesper Lundgaard born (Hillerød, Denmark) Dansih jazz bassist, composer, bandleader, record producer. Worked with Thad Jones, Horace Parlan and his own groups.
- E. Ray Goetz dies in Greenwich, CT on his 68th birthday
- Nikolai Obukhov (62) dies in Paris five years after being invalided following a severe beating by a group of muggers
- Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Tuba Concerto in F minor premiered in London
- Adelina de Lara makes her final concert appearance in London
- Richard Thorpe’s musical film The Student Prince opens starring Ann Blyth and Edmund Purdom with the voice of Mario Lanza. Music by Sigmund Romberg
- Sergey Kuryokhin born (St Petersburg) Russian jazz pianist, composer, actor, music director, writer. Died 1996
- Danny Cedrone (33) dies in New York after breaking his neck falling down a flight of stairs
- Lennox Berkeley’s opera A Dinner Engagement premiered in Aldeburgh, Suffolk
- The first issue of Record Mirror magazine is issued in Britain. It ceases publication in 1991
- Henry Cowell’s Singing Band for concert band premiered in New York
- Michael Anthony (Sobolewski) born (Chicago, IL) American rock bassist, keyboard player, singer, songwriter. Member of Van Halen from 1974 to 2006 and Chickenfoot from 2006.
- Darius Milhaud’s Couronne de gloire op.211 [Crown of glory] for voice and chamber orchestra premiered in Brussels
- Chords – Sh’Boom / Cross Over The Bridge (Cat)
- Fats Domino – Baby Please / Where Did You Stay (Imperial)
- Eagles – Tryin’ to Get to You / Please Please (Mercury) R&B vocal group from Washington, DC
- Lightnin’ Hopkins – Lightnin’s Special / Life I Used to Live (Herald)
- Midnighters – Sexy Ways / Don’t Say Your Last Goodbye (Federal)
- Robins – Riot In Cell Block #9 / Wrap It Up (Spark)
- Jimmy Rogers – Chicago Bound / Sloppy Drunk (Chess)
- Dave Brubeck – Jazz Goes To College (Columbia) Recorded live in Cincinatti, OH, Oberlin, OH & Ann Arbor, MI during May 1954
- Juliette Greco – St. Germain-des-Pres (Columbia). US compilation of material originally issued in France in 1952-3
- Horace Silver Trio Volume 2 (Blue Note)
- The Consummate Artistry of Ben Webster (Norgran)
- Lester Young With The Oscar Peterson Trio (Norgran) Originally issued as two 10” records
- Alan Rawsthorne’s String Quartet No. 2 premiered in Cheltenham
- Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black cut That’s All Right at the end of their first recording session at Sun Studios, Memphis. Others tracks cut include Harbor Lights & I Love You Because
- Erik Chisholm’s opera trilogy Murder in 3 Keys premiered in New York. Lib. Chisholm
- Dewey Phillips of Memphis radio station WHBQ becomes the first to play Elvis Presley’s That’s All Right on the radio after Sam Phillips gives him an acetate of the track
- Neil Tennant born (North Shields) English pop singer, songwriter, producer, writer. Founder member of the Pet Shop Boys.
- Louis Armstrong records the album Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy for Columbia in Chicago. Louis Armstrong (tp, vo) Barney Bigard (cl) Trummy Young (tb) Billy Kyle (p) Arvell Shaw (b) Velma Middleton (vo) Barrett Deems (d)
- Elvis Presley signs a contract with Sun Records
- Stanley Bate’s Symphony No. 3 Op. 29 premiered in Cheltenham
- Andrzej Panufnik defects from Poland to Britain
- Lucien Muratore (75) dies in Paris
- (& 18 July) The first Newport Jazz Festival takes place at the Newport Casino Clubhouse, Newport, RI. Acts appearing include Stan Kenton, Eddie Condon, Billie Holiday, the Modern Jazz Qaurtet, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Errol Garner, George Shearing and Ella Fitzgerald
- Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black play their first show as a trio at the Bon Air club, Memphis
- Tobias Picker born (New York, NY) American composer.
- Ricky Skaggs born (Cordell, KY) American country and bluegrass singer, mandolin player, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, record producer.
- The Chordettes record Mr Sandman for Cadence in New York. Janet ertel, Carol Bushman, Lynn Evans & Margie Needham
- Cecilie Ore born (Oslo) Norwegian composer.
- Jean Roger-Ducasse (81) dies in Taillan-Médoc, France
- Elvis Presley’s first single That’s All Right / Blue Moon Of Kentucky is released on Sun Records
- Larry Levan born (Brooklyn, NY) American disc jockey. Died 1992
- Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black perform together in publc for the first time at the opening of a new drugstore in Memphis
- Hannes Bauer born (Halle, Germany) German jazz and improv trombonist. Brother of Conny Bauer (b.1943).
- Al Di Meola born (Jersey City, NJ) American jazz guitarist, composer, record producer. Worked with Return to Forever, Stanley Clarke, John McLaughlin and others and solo.
- Stanley Donen’s musical film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers opens starring Howard Keel and Jane Powell. Music by Gene de Paul and Saul Chaplin
- Anne Gilchrist (90) dies in London
- George Antheil’s opera The Brothers premiered in Denver, lib. Antheil
- Ernest Bloch’s String Quartet no.4 premiered in Lenox, MA
- Faye Adams – Hurts Me To My Heart / Ain’t Gonna Tell (Herald)
- Clovers – Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash / I’ve Got My Eyes On You (Atlantic)
- James Cotton – Cotton Crop Blues / Hold Me in Your Arms (Sun)
- Bill Haley & The Comets – Shake, Rattle and Roll / A.B.C. Boogie (Decca)
- Howlin’ Wolf – Evil Is Goin’ On / Baby How Long (Chess)
- Elmore James – Sho’ Nuff I Do / 1839 Blues (Flair)
- Elvis Presley – That’s Alright / Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Sun)
- Count Basie Dance Session (Clef)
- Progressive Piano aka The Modernity of Kenny Drew (Norgran)
- Michael Tippett’s Four Inventions for two recorders premiered in London
- The Clifford Brown – Max Roach Quintet make their first recordings for Emarcy in Los Angeles. Clifford Brown (tp) Harold Land (ts) Richie Powell (p) George Morrow (b) Max Roach (d)
- Johnny Cash marries Vivian Liberto in San Antonio, TX
- Pete Thomas born (Sheffield) English rock drummer, session player. Worked with Elvis Costello and many others.
- Eliot Fisk born (Philadelphia) American classical guitarist.
- Joe Jackson born (Burton on Trent) English rock and jazz singer, songwriter, pianist, multi-instrumentalist.
- Pat Metheny born (Moor’s Summit, MO) American jazz guitarist, composer, bandleader
- Frederick Keel (83) dies in London
- Malcolm Arnold’s Concerto for Harmonica and Orchestra premiered in London
- Dinah Washington records the album Dinah Jams for EmArcy live in Los Angeles. Dinah Washington (vo) Clifford Brown, Maynard Ferguson, Clark Terry (tp) Herb Geller (as) Harold Land (ts) Richie Powell, Junior Mance (p) George Morrow, Keter Betts (b) Max Roach (d).
- Eric Johnson born (Austin, TX) American rock guitarist, singer, pianist, songwriter, record producer.
- Billy Murray (77) dies in Jones Beach, NY following a heart attack
- Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke I-IV no.2 premiered in Darmstadt
- Gary Kulesha born (Toronto) Canadian composer, conductor, pianist, teacher.
- Elvis Costello aka Declan McManus born (London) English rock singer, songwriter, guitarist.
- Luigi Nono’s La victoire de Guernica [the victory at Guernica] for choir and orchestra premiered in Darmstadt
- Heitor Villa-Lobos’s ballet Ruda premiered in Paris
- Ray Charles – Don’t You Know / Losing Hand (Atlantic)
- John Lee Hooker – I’m Mad / Everybody’s Blues (Speciality)
- Midnighters – Annie Had A Baby / She’s The One (Federal)
- June Christy – Something Cool (Capitol) 10″ album. Reissued in August 1955 as a 12″ album with four extra tracks and rerecorded in 1960 for stereo release.
- Al Haig Trio (Esoteric)
- Peggy Lee – Songs in an Intimate Style (Decca)
- Thelonious Monk – Monk (Prestige)
- Frank Sinatra – Swing Easy (Capitol) Orchestra conducted by Nelson Riddle
- Alan Freed’s Moondog Jubilee of Stars Under the Stars concert takes place in Brooklyn, NY with appearances by the Clovers, Fats Domino, the Orioles and Muddy Waters
- Sergio Rendine born (Naples) Italian composer.
- Ivo Watts-Russell born (Northants) English founder of 4AD Records, music director, art and photography publisher.Worked with This Mortal Coil and the Hope Blister.
- Alan Freed makes his first broadcast on WINS in New York
- Vincente Minnelli’s film Brigadoon opens, starring Gene Kelly, Van Johnson & Cyd Charisse. Music by Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe & Conrad Salinger
- Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Hodie for choir and orchestra premiered in Worcester
- Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) for violin, strings, harp and percussion premiered in Venice
- Michael Smith born (Kingston, Jamaica) Jamaican dub poet. Died 1983
- Benjamin Britten’s opera The Turn of the Screw premiered in Venice, lib. M. Piper
- Virgil Thomson’s Concerto for flute, strings, harp and percussion premiered in Venice
- (& 16 Sep) Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra record the album Dizzy And Strings for Norgran in New York. Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Nottingham, Ernie Royal (tp) Leon Comegys, J.J. Johnson, George Mathews (tb) George Dorsey, Hilton Jefferson (as) Hank Mobley, Lucky Thompson (ts) Danny Bank (bars) Wade Legge (p) Lou Hackney (b) Charlie Persip (d) Buster Harding (arr)
- Colin Newman born (Salisbury) English rock singer, guitarist, songwriter, founder of Swim record label. Founder member of Wire and Githead and solo artist.
- Woody Guthrie voluntarily checks into Brooklyn State Hospital suffering from Huntington’s disease
- Joël-François Durand born (Orléans, France) French composer, teacher.
- Washington Phillips (74) dies in Teague, TX
- Luigi Nono’s Der rote Mantel [The Red Coat] for orchestra premiered in Berlin
- Igor Stravinsky’s In memoriam Dylan Thomas for tenor, string quartet and 4 trombones premiered in Paris
- Ernst Krenek’s Twenty Miniatures for piano premiered in St. Gallen
- Lennox Berkeley’s opera Nelson premiered in London. Lib. Alan Pryce-Jones
- Benjamin Britten’s symphonic suite Gloriana premiered in Birmingham
- The Mahalia Jackson Show begins on CBS radio, but is cancelled after 20 shows because of the lack of sponsorship
- The first episode of Tonight Starring Steve Allen goes on the air on NBC TV
- George Cukor’s film A Star Is Born opens, starring Judy Garland & James Mason. Music by Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin
- Patrice Rushen born (Los Angeles) American R&B singer, pianist, songwriter, record producer, session player.
- Basia Trzetrzelewska born (Jaworzno, Poland) Polish jazz and pop singer, songwriter, record producer.
- The Tennessee Three (Johnny Cash, Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant) play their first show in Memphis
- The Diablos feat. Nolan Strong – The Wind / Baby, Be Mine (Fortune) R&B vocal group from Detroit
- Erroll Garner Trio – Misty / Exactly Like You (Mercury)
- Lightnin’ Hopkins – Sick Feelin’ Blues / Moving On Out Boogie (Herald)
- Little Walter – You Better Watch Yourself / Blue Light (Checker)
- Elvis Presley – Good Rockin’ Tonight / I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine (Sun)
- Tommy Ridgley – Jam Up / Wish I Had Never (Atlantic)
- Frank Sinatra – It Worries Me / When I Stop Loving You (Capitol)
- Chris Connor Sings Lullabys of Birdland (Bethlehem)
- Tin Angel Presents Odetta and Larry (Fantasy) Larry Mohr and Odetta Holmes. Later reissued as Tin Angel after the San Francisco nightclub where it was recorded in 1953
- Gian Francesco Malipiero’s operas Donna Urraca & Mascherate premiered in Bergamo. Libs. Malipiero
- Elvis Presley makes his only appearance on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville
- Hilding Rosenberg’s cantata Lyrisk svit [lyric suite] premiered in Gothenburg, lib. H. Martinson
- Stevie Ray Vaughan born (Dallas, TX) American rock and blues guitarist, singer, songwriter. Founder member of Double Trouble and solo artist. Died 1990
- Einojuhani Rautavaara’s A Requiem in Our Time for brass ensemble premiered in Cincinnati
- Hakon Børresen (78) dies in Copenhagen
- Carl Vine born (Perth, Western Australia) Australian composer.
- James Fearnley born (Worsley) English folk and rock accordionist, guitarist. Founder member of the Pogues.
- The Lester Young Quintet record the album It Don’t Mean A Thing for Norgran in New York. Jesse Drakes (tp) Lester Young (ts) Gildo Mahones (p) John Ore (b) Connie Kay (d)
- Ernst Krenek’s Symphony Pallas Athene premiered on Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk radio in Hamburg
- Igor Stravinsky’s Podblyudnïye [Saucers] (Four Russian Peasant Songs) revised for voices and horns premiered in Los Angeles
- John Sherba born (Milwaukee, WN) American violinist. Member of the Kronos Quartet.
- Francis Poulenc’s Parisiana for voice and piano & Rosemonde for voice and piano premiered in Amsterdam
- Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Violin Sonata in A minor premiered on BBC Radio
- Michael Curtiz’s musical film White Christmas opens starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. Music by Irving Berlin
- Elvis Presley makes his live radio debut on the Louisiana Hayride
- Joan Sutherland marries conductor Richard Bonynge in Sydney
- John Cage’s 34’46.776” & 31’ 57.9865” for prepared piano premiered in Donaueschingen
- Morton Feldman’s Intersection for Magnetic Tape premiered in Donaueschingen
- Erich Korngold’s Symphony in F sharp major premiered on Austrian radio
- Rolf Liebermann’s Concerto for Jazz Band premiered in Donaueschingen
- Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Studie I & II no.3 for electronic sound generators premiered in Cologne
- Henri Pousseur’s electronic pieces Seismogramme I & II premiered in Cologne
- Amadou Bagayoko born (Bamako, Mali) Malian singer, guitarist, songwriter. Blind from aged 16. Worked with Mariam Doumbia as Amadou and Mariam.
- David Worrall born (Newcastle, NSW) Australian composer, sound artist, teacher.
- Franco Alfano (79) dies in San Remo, Italy
- Otto Preminger’s musical film Carmen Jones opens starring Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge and Pearl Bailey. Music by Georges Bizet
- The Dizzy Gillespie – Roy Eldridge Sextet record the album Roy and Diz for Clef in New York. Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie (tp, vo) Oscar Peterson (p) Herb Ellis (g) Ray Brown (b) Louis Bellson (d)
- Fender introduces the Stratocaster electric guitar
- Johnny Ace – Never Let Me Go / Burley Cutie (Duke)
- Charms – Hearts Of Stone / Who Knows (DeLuxe) Vocal group formed in 1952 in Cincinatti, led by Otis Williams
- Chordettes – Mr Sandman / I Don’t Wanna See you Cryin’ (Cadence). Female vocal group formed in 1946 in Sheboygan, WN
- Elmore James – Dark and Dreary / Rock My Baby Right (Flair)
- BB King – You Upset Me Baby / Whole Lotta’ Love (RPM)
- Jimmy Reed – You Don’t Have To Go / Boogie In The Dark (Vee-Jay)
- Robins – Framed / Loop De Loop Mambo (Spark)
- Muddy Waters – I’m Ready / I Don’t Know Why (Chess)
- Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy (Columbia)
- Dave Brubeck – Jazz At College Of The Pacific (Fantasy) Recorded live at the College of the Pacific in Stockton, CA on 14 Dec 1953
- Miles Davis – Blue Haze (Prestige)
- Maria Callas makes her American debut in the title role of Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma at the Lyric Opera of Chicago
- Adam Ant aka Stuart Goddard born (London) English pop singer, songwriter. Founder member of Adam & the Ants and solo artist.
- Jean Périer (85) dies in Paris
- Chris Difford born (London) English pop singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer. Founder member of Squeeze and solo artist.
- S. N. Behrman, Joshua Logan & Harold Rome’s musical Fanny opens on Broadway (888 performances)
- Richard Thorpe’s musical comedy film Athena opens starring Jane Powell, Edmund Purdom, Debbie Reynolds and Vic Damone. Music by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane
- Oran Page (46) dies in New York following a heart attack
- Michael Tippett’s Divertimento on Sellinger’s Round for chamber orchestra premiered in Zürich
- Dimitri Shostakovitch’s Festive Overture premiered in Moscow
- Darius Milhaud’s Suite cisalpine op.332 for cello and orchestra premiered in Paris
- (& 9 Nov) The Stan Getz Quintet plays two shows at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Bob Brookmeyer (vtb) Stan Getz (ts) John Williams (p) Bill Anthony (b) Art Mardigan (d). Tracks cut appear on the album Stan Getz At the Shrine
- Dimitri Shostakovitch’s Concertino op.94 for two pianos premiered in Moscow
- Ján Cikker’s opera Juro Jánosik premiered in Bratislava. Lib. Štefan Hoza and Milan Šolc
- J. Rosamond Johnson (81) dies in New York of heart failure
- Yanni aka Yiannis Hryssomallis born (Kalamata, Greece) Greek keyboard player, film composer, record producer.
- Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Menelaus on the Beach at Pharos for voice and piano premiered in New York
- Tony Thompson born (Antigua) American R&B, funk and rock drummer, session player. Founder member of Chic. Died 2003
- Charley Jordan (64) dies in St Louis, MO of pneumonia
- Donald Runnicles born (Edinburgh) Scottish conductor.
- David Diamond’s Ahavah for narrator and orchestra premiered in Washington, DC
- Edmund Rubbra’s Symphony No.6 premiered in London
- John Parr born (Worksop, Notts) English rock, singer, songwriter, guitarist.
- Sammy Davis Jr. loses his left eye in a car accident in San Bernardino, CA
- Frank Marino born (Montreal) Canadian rock guitarist, songwriter. Member of Mahogany Rush from 1970 to 1980 and from 1998 and solo artist.
- Karol Rathaus (59) dies in New York
- Bruce Hornsby born (Williamsburg, VA) American rock, pop, folk and country singer, songwriter, pianist.
- Mahalia Jackson records her debut album The World’s Greatest Gospel Singer for Columbia in New York. Mahalia Jackson (vo) Mildred Falls (p) Ralph Jones (org) Jack Lasberg (g) Frank Carroll (b) Bunny Shawker (d)
- Bob Neal is appointed manager of Elvis Presley
- Boris Hambourg (69) dies in Toronto
- Sergei Prokofiev’s opera Ognennïy angel [The Fiery Angel] premiered in Paris, lib. Prokofiev
- Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Heart’s Music for chorus premiered in London
- Witold Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra premiered in Warsaw
- Dink Johnson (62) dies in Portland, OR
- Darius Milhaud’s Sonatine for oboe and piano op.337 premiered in New York
- Wilhelm Furtwängler (68) dies in Baden-Baden, Germany of pneumonia
- Nat King Cole plays the first of a run of six nights at the Apollo Theater, Harlem, NY
- Artie Shaw retires aged 44
- Drifters – White Christmas / The Bells of St. Mary’s (Atlantic)
- Moonglows – Sincerely / Tempting (Chess) R&B vocal group formed in 1951 in Cleveland, OH
- Penguins – Earth Angel / Hey Senorita (DooTone) R&B vocal group formed in 1953 in Los Angeles
- Harry Belafonte – Mark Twain and Other Folk Favorites (RCA Victor)
- Dave Brubeck at Storyville: 1954 (Columbia)
- Doris Day & Frank Sinatra – Young at Heart (Columbia) Film soundtrack. Only the Doris Day songs were especially recorded for the album.
- Dizzy Gillespie – Afro (Norgran)
- Fred Rose (56) dies in Nashville following a heart attack
- Einojuhani Rautavaara’s String Quartet No. 1 premiered in Helsinki
- Edgard Varèse’s Déserts for wind, percussion, piano and tape premiered in Paris. It is the first stereo broadcast on French Radio
- Samuel Barber’s cantata Prayers of Kierkegaard premiered in New York
- William Walton’s opera Troilus and Cressida premiered in London, lib. C. Hassall
- Ildebrando Pizzetti’s opera La figlia di Iorio [The daughter of Iorio], lib. Pizzetti, premiered in Naples
- Beat Furrer born (Schaffhausen, Switzerland) Austro-Swiss composer, conductor, teacher.
- Chris Stamey born (Chapel Hill, NC) American rock singer, songwriter, guitarist. Founder member of the dBs and solo artist.
- Stanley Donen’s musical biopic of Sigmund Romberg Deep in My Heart opens starring José Ferrer. Music by Sigmund Romberg
- The Charlie Parker Quintet record a session for Verve in New York. Charlie Parker (as) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Billy Bauer (g) Teddy Kotick (b) Art Taylor (d). This is Parker’s final studio date
- Jermaine Jackson born (Gary, IN) American pop and soul singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer. Member of the Jackson Five and solo artist. Brother of Rebbie (b.1950) Jackie (b.1951) Tito (b.1953) La Toya (b.1956) Marlon (b.1957) Michael (1958-2009) Randy (b.1961) and Janet (b.1966) Jackson
- Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson born (Reykjavik) Icelandic rock guitarist, engineer, inventor, mathematician, lecturer. Founder member of Þeyr, KUKL and solo artist.
- Carlos Chávez’s Symphony no.3 premiered in Caracas, Venezuela
- Sergei Protopopov (61) dies in Moscow
- Papa Celestin (70) dies in New Orleans
- Lee Morse (57) dies suddenly in Rochester, NY
- Walter Lang’s musical film There’s No Business Like Show Business opens starring Ethel Merman, Donald O’Connor, Mitzi Gaynor and Marilyn Monroe. Music by Irving Berlin
- (& 18 Dec) Sarah Vaughan records her eponymous album for EmArcy in New York. Sarah Vaughan (vo) Clifford Brown (tp) Herbie Mann (fl) Paul Quinichette (ts) Jimmy Jones (p) Joe Benjamin (b) Roy Haynes (d)
- Uli Jon Roth born (Düsseldorf) German rock guitarist, singer, composer. Worked with Scorpions, Electric Sun and solo. Brother of Zeno Roth (b.1956).
- Henry Cowell’s Changing Woman for piano, drums and harmonium premiered in San Francisco
- Johnny Ace (25) dies of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound during the intermission of a show in Houston
- Robin Campbell born (Birmingham) English reggae guitarist, singer, songwriter. Member of UB40 from 1978. Brother of Ali Campbell (b.1959) and Duncan Campbell (b.1958) and son of Ian Campbell (1933-2012).
- Annie Lennox born (Aberdeen) Scottish pop singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. Founder member of the Tourists and Eurythmics and solo artist.
- Rosario Scalero (84) dies in Ivrea, Italy
- Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera The Saint of Bleecker Street premiered in New York, lib. Menotti
- Harold Arlen and Truman Capote’s musical House of Flowers opens on Broadway (165 performances)
- Johnny Ace – Pledging My Love / Anymore (Duke)
- Lavern Baker – Tweedlee Dee / Tomorrow Night (Atlantic)
- Ray Charles – I’ve Got A Woman / Come Back (Atlantic)
- Lightnin’ Hopkins – Early Mornin’ Boogie / Nothin’ but the Blues (Herald)
- Webb Pierce – In the Jailhouse Now / I’m Gonna Fall Out of Love With You (Decca)
- Clifford Brown and Max Roach (EmArcy)
- Interpretations By The Stan Getz Quintet (Norgran)
- Susan Reed Sings Old Airs From Ireland, Scotland and England (Elektra)
- David Cunningham born (Coleraine) Irish rock and avant-garde musician, sound artist. Founder member of the Flying Lizards and solo artist.
- Malcolm Owen born (London) English rock singer, songwriter. Founder member of the Ruts. Died 1980
- Montana Taylor (c. 51) dies in Indianapolis
- Earth Angel (Jesse Belvin, Curtis Williams, Gaynel Hodge); I Left My Heart In San Francisco (Douglas Cross, George Cory); Mister Sandman (Pat Ballard); Misty (Johnny Burke, Errol Garner); Only You (and You Alone) (Buck Ram, Ande Rand); Shake, Rattle And Roll (Charles Calhoun aka Jesse Stone); Three Coins In The Fountain (Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne)