The Year In Music: 1985!

Ah yes, that magical mystical, far-away year known as 1985. What do you remember most about that year in music? Not much? Well, then you've come to the right place. It just so happens we have room for one more person in the ol' Delorean so buckle up as we re-live the year in rock 1985 month-by-month.


On January 1st, MTV Networks debuts their new video channel, VH-1. Meant as a more adult-oriented version of MTV, the station focused largely on soft pop, R&B and pop-oriented country. Oddly enough, Don Imus is one of the station's first VJ's.  What was the first video played on the channel?  Marvin Gaye singing "The Star-Spangled Banner", of course!

After a lengthy absence, John Fogerty releases Centerfield, his first solo album in nine years. On the strength of singles “The Old Man Down The Road” and the title track, the album hits #1.

Phil Collins releases his third solo album, No Jacket Required. It continues Collins’ string of hit albums and singles, going #1 in seven countries, including the UK and USA. “One More Night” and “Sussudio” were both #1 singles in the US. “Don’t Lose My Number” and “Take Me Home” both went Top 10.

David Lee Roth releases his debut solo effort, Crazy From The Heat. The four-track EP peaks at #15 on the US charts, with “California Girls” (#3) and “Just A Gigolo” (#12) enjoying heavy MTV rotation and lengthy chart runs on the singles charts. Beach Boy Carl Wilson and ‘70s solo sensation Christopher Cross provide backup vocals on “California Girls”. He spends most of the rest of the year working on a movie that never actually reaches the filming stage.

George Harrison, who hadn't graced the concert stage in years, does just that with none other that Deep Purple in Sydney, Australia. He and DP run through a cover of "Lucille".


Whitney Houston releases her debut self-titled album, which reaches #1 on the Black and Pop charts, going on to sell over 13 million copies. Hit singles include “You Give Good Love” (#3), “Saving All My Love For You” (#1), “How Will I Know?” (#1), “Greatest Love Of All” (#1).

Mick Jagger releases his first solo album, She’s The Boss. The album reaches a peak position of #13 in the US on the strength of the singles “Just Another Night”(#12) and “Lucky In Love”(#38).

"The Breakfast Club" soundtrack is released. While comprised largely of music by producer Keith Forsey, it also contains the song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” (also written by Forsey), which becomes a #1 hit in the U.S. for Simple Minds.

With the departure of singer Peter Wolf in 1983 and a failed album, You’re Getting’ Even While I’m Getting’ Odd, in late ’84, the J. Geils Band call it a day.

Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page returns to action with the super-group The Firm, which includes ex-Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers, bassist Tony Franklin, and former Uriah Heep and future AC/DC drummer Chris Slade. Their self-titled debut album goes Gold, peaking at #15 in the US, with the single “Radioactive” doing big business at Rock and AOR radio formats, turning in a peak chart position of #28. During their maiden tour, Page and Rodgers catch considerable flack for refusing to play any songs by their former bands.

Tears For Fears release their second album, Songs From The Big Chair, and enjoy huge worldwide success on the strength of the hit singles “Shout”(#1), “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” (#1), and “Head Over Heels”(#3). The album hit #1 and went on to sell over 7 million copies in the US.

The Who release Who's Last, a live album that documents their supposed farewell 1982 tour, with Kenny Jones replacing the irreplaceable, but dead, Keith Moon.

Beach Boy Mike Love donates $5000 to Tipper Gore's PMRC, the group of Washington wives who are currently crusading for an industry-wide ratings system and the banning of music that is deemed too offensive.

Frank Zappa gets sued for $12 million in back royalties by members of his former backing band, the Mothers Of Invention. Did those albums even sell enough to earn $12 million?

Run-DMC release their second album, King Of Rock. While it would only reach a peak position of #52 on the US Top 200, it gained considerable critical acclaim and was largely responsible for rap’s acceptance into the mainstream.

A reformed Squeeze featuring Glen Tilbrook, Chris Difford and Jools Holland begins work on a new album in London.


USA For Africa, a gathering of artists that includes Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie, Kenny Rogers, Steve Perry, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Kim Carnes, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder, among others, releases the “We are The World” single and self-titled album. Contributing to the album is a gathering of Canadian stars (including Geddy Lee, Anne Murray, Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams, Gordon Lightfoot, Mike Reno and Corey Hart, among others), that records the song "Tears Are Not Enough". A memorable moment from that session sees producer David Foster tell Neil Young he was flat, to which Young replies, "Hey man, that's my style."

Following local success that saw their self-released album Amore sell over 100,000 copies in '83-'84, the Hooters release their Columbia Records debut, Nervous Night. The album goes platinum via the Top 40 success of singles "And We Danced", "Day By Day", and "Where Do The Children Go?".  The band also opens the Philadelphia Live-Aid concert.

After smashing his hand and almost ruining his career the year prior, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers release their fifth album, Southern Accents. The album, which broke from tradition by featuring a host of collaborators and guest musicians (including Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson, Marilyn Martin and Marty Jourard of the Motels), was hailed as a bit of a stylistic departure for the band, especially the song “Don’t Come Around Here No More", which was co-written by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart. The song reached #13 on the US singles and received heavy MTV rotation. The album peaked at #7 in the US.

Released with no advance warning, Prince's Around The World In A Day is a daring follow-up to his multi-platinum Purple Rain album. While not as intentionally accessible as his past few efforts, the album, which went to #1, still managed to score two Top 10 hits in "Raspberry Beret" and "Pop Life".

Honda begins running a series of commercials advertising their new line of scooters that feature music acts Devo, Grace Jones, and Lou Reed.

With a jazz-oriented band led by Branford Marsalis backing him up, Sting debuts new material during three sold-out shows at NYC's Ritz.


After almost six months of turmoil in the Van Halen camp, David Lee Roth quits the band.

Although it would be months before he is contractually free from the band, Roger Waters quits Pink Floyd while in the midst of his first North American tour as a solo artist.


Still reeling from the death of drummer Razzle in December ’84 (for which Motley Crue’s Vince Neil would be convicted of vehicular manslaughter), Hanoi Rocks disband after lead singer Michael Monroe leaves the band to pursue a solo career.

Recorded during their tour for The Unforgettable Fire, U2 release the EP Wide Awake In America, featuring a live version of “Bad” that transcends the studio version. The EP reaches #37 on the US charts.

Norwegian rockers a-ha release their debut album, Hunting High And Low. The album goes #1 in Norway, Austria and Sweden, #2 in the UK, and peaks at #15 on the US charts. However, the video for their first single, “Take On Me” becomes a staple of MTV’s playlist and remains a legendary groundbreaking video for its crafty use of animation and live action. It was even parodied in an episode of Family Guy. The song reached #1 in the US and six other countries. Second single, “The Sun Always Shines On TV” would reach #20 in the US and be the last ever single to chart in the States despite the fact that the band continued to record and score hits elsewhere around the world.

After parting ways with singer Roger Hodgson, Supertramp return with Brother Where You Bound. The album reached #20 (the last Supertramp album to ever do so) and sole single "Cannonball" went to #28 on the US pop charts.

Eurythmics release their fifth album, Be Yourself Tonight, and begin to move away from the heavy synth sound for which they were known. Guests on this album include Heartbreakers Mike Campbell, Stan Lynch and Benmont Tench, as well as Elvis Costello and Stevie Wonder. The album reaches the Top 10 on the strength of hit singles “Would I Lie To You?” (#5), “There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)” (#22), and “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” (#18), a duet with Aretha Franklin.


R.E.M. release their third full-length album, Fables Of The Reconstruction, and continue their run of Top 40 albums despite the lack of mainstream radio airplay. However, “Driver 8” and “Can’t Get There From Here” were huge hits at college radio.

Hair Metal begins its assault on the mainstream as new albums by Motley Crue (Theatre Of Pain) and Ratt (Invasion Of Your Privacy) both rocket into the Top 10 for extended stays. The Crue also score big hits at radio with “Home Sweet Home” and their cover of Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ In The Boys Room”, which rose to #16 on the singles charts.

Sting releases his debut solo album, the jazz-inflected The Dream Of The Blue Turtles. Proving that, with looks and charisma, one can sell anything, Sting lands no less than four singles in the US Top 20, “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” (#3), “Russians” (#8), “Fortress Around Your Heart” (#12), and “Love Is The Seventh Wave” (#17). The album itself would peak at #2, selling over three million copies in the US.

Boston's 'til tuesday release their debut album, Voices Carry, which spawns the Top 10 hit single of the same name. The band had formed only one year prior, won a local battle of the bands, and secured their deal with Epic Records. Even then, singer/songwriter Aimee Mann's songs were all-too-autobiographical. Mann admits that "No More Crying", for example, was about her brief fling with then-married Ministry singer Alain Jourgensen.


The Live-Aid concerts are held July 13 at Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, PA. Notable acts performing at the concert include U2, Queen, The Who, Dire Straits, Simple Minds, Judas Priest, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and a reunited Led Zeppelin. When he is told of the band selected to open the Philly show, Bob Geldof exclaims, “Who the @#$% are the Hooters?”

Speaking of Queen...singer Freddie Mercury releases his first solo album, Mr. Bad Guy, this month. While the album goes to #6 in the UK, it fizzles at a lowly #159 on the US charts. A few of the tracks would be re-worked by the surviving members of Queen for the posthumous album Made In Heaven.

Huey Lewis & The News rocket to #1 with "The Power of Love", which is featured prominently in the hit Michael J. Fox film "Back To The Future". It is the band's first US #1 single.

The small Caribbean country of St. Vincent issues a series of Michael Jackson stamps.

The stamps had initially been intended for the British Virgin Islands, but the only living people permitted by law to be pictured on their stamps are members of the Brit royalty.

Talking Heads release their sixth album, Little Creatures. The album cover was painted by artist Howard Finster, who had created cover art previously for R.E.M. among others. Despite the moderate showing of singles "And She Was" and "Road To Nowhere", the album reached #20 on the US charts.

The Go-Go’s officially disband after Belinda Carlisle and Charlotte Caffey inform Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock of their intention to start their own project, which turns out to be Carlisle’s first solo album. IRS Records, the band's ablr, found about the breakup by stumbling upon mention of the item in The Los Angeles Times.


Madonna marries Sean Penn. Their union ends in divorce in September 1989.


Embracing technology in an attempt to break from the hippie past, the members of Jefferson Starship rechristen themselves as "Starship" and release Knee Deep In The Hoopla, which was produced by Peter Wolf (not the J. Geils singer). The result is a Top 10 album and two #1 US pop singles, "We Built This City" (which was written by Bernie Taupin and Wolf, among others) and "Sara". The former would later be voted "worst song of all time" by Blender magazine.

With new guitarist Bruce Kulick, KISS release their new album, Asylum, which reaches #20. Sole single "Tears Are Falling" peaks at #51, but garnered heavy MTV rotation. Oddly, the album shares two connection to the punk band The Plasmatics as that band's bassist, Jean Beauvoir plays bass on "Uh! All Night" while Plasmatics manager Rod Swenson and the band's guitarist Wes Beech co-write "Love's A Deadly Weapon" with Simmons and Stanley.

UK songstress Kate Bush releases Hounds Of Love and enjoys her largest US success with the single "Running Up That Hill (Deal With God)". Both album and single hit #30 in the US. "Cloudbusting" and "Hounds Of Love" reach the Top 20 in the UK, where the album goes #1.

Comedian Eddie Murphy releases his first album of music, entitled How Could It Be, and scores a #2 single with the Rick James-written and produced "Party All The Time". The album also features two songs written by Stevie Wonder.


After the relatively disappointing second album Beauty Stab, ABC returns in full kitsch mode with their third effort, How To Be A Zillionaire. Having parted ways with original member David Palmer, the band hires the bald, bespectacled and, to put it mildly, diminutive David Yarritu (who does not play a note on the album or in-concert) and female singer Eden based solely upon their unconventional appearance. The album makes a stark return to the Top 30 in the US, as do smash singles "Be Near Me" (#9) and "How To Be A Millionaire" (#20).

Australian sextet release their second US effort, Listen Like Thieves, which becomes their Stateside breakthrough. The album reaches #11 thanks to the Top 5 success and heavy MTV airplay of the single "What You Need".

Two years after the departure of singer Ray Sawyer, Dr Hook call it quits upon completion of their Dr. Hook "One-And-Only Farewell Tour".

Coming quickly on the heels of their success with the single "Don't You (Forget About Me)" and their appearance at Live-Aid, Simple Minds release Once Upon A Time and continue to build upon the momentum with the hit singles "Alive And Kicking"(#3), "Sanctify Yourself"(#14), and "All The Things She Said"(#28). The album would go on to sell over three million copies in the US. It remains the only album by the band to reach the Top 10 in America.

The Cult, formerly Southern Death Cult and then just Death Cult, release their first US album, Love and score two heavy college radio/dance club hits with the singles "She Sells Sanctuary" and "Rain". Having parted ways with their original drummer, they recruit Big Country drummer Mark Brzezicki to play on the album.

ZZ Top releases Afterburner, their ninth album and an obvious sequel to the hugely popular Eliminator record of '83. While lacking the strong material of that record, the synth-heavy production remains capable of taking the material farther than it truly deserves to go. Notable track are "Sleeping Bag"(#8), "Stages"(#22) and "Velcro Fly" (#35). The album rockets to #4, selling over four million copies.

Dream Academy release their self-titled debut and score a worldwide hit with the ethereal "Life In A Northern Town", which went #20 in the US. The album was produced by Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour and band leader Nick Laird-Clowes.

Minneapolis' Replacements release their first major label album, Tim. produced by former Ramone Tommy Erdelyi, the album crackles with the same frantic energy as previous efforts, but with more of a focus on songs and tight arrangements. The critics, of course, love it and almost every mainstream rock publication adds it to their list of the year's best albums.

B-52's guitarist Ricky Wilson dies on Oct 12. Although it is initially reported that he succumbed to cancer, it is later confirmed that his death was AIDS-related.


A reconstituted Clash, featuring only Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon from the original line-up, releases Cut The Crap. Longtime fans view the new line-up as sacrilege and critics pan the album, which dies on the vine after only reaching #88 on the US charts. The band undertakes a small-scale tour, but breaks up upon its completion. Strummer himself would later publicly disown the album.

After the sub-par showing of their 1984 album, Shout (which leads to their departure from Warner Brothers), Devo call it a day.

Twisted Sister release their fourth album, Come Out And Play, which comes on the heels of their mega-platinum album, Stay Hungry. First single is an outrageously over-the-top version of '60s girl-group hit "Leader Of The Pack. It failed to chart and doomed the album to a chart peak of #53.

With their original line-up again intact, Aerosmith release their first album under a new deal with Geffen Records. The album, Done With Mirrors, was intended as a huge comeback for the band, but the quality of the material and distractions caused by the personal problems of some members prevented it from hitting the mark. Instead, it stalled at #70 while the first single, "Let The Music Do The Talking" (which Joe Perry had recorded on his first solo effort), managed a #48 showing on the pop singles chart.

Mr. Mister release their second album, Welcome To The Real World, and see two singles, "Broken Wings" and "Kyrie" soar to #1. Third single "Is It Love" would reach #8, pushing the album to #1 with sales well past the two million mark in the States. They would release only one more album before splitting up, with drummer Pat Mastelotto going on to play drums for The Rembrandts and King Crimson. Singer Richard Page would not resurface again until 1994 as a member of 3rd Matinee with Pat Leonard and again in 2006, with the release of his first solo album, Shelter Me.

British trio The Outfield release their debut album, Play Deep. Ignored in their homeland, the band enjoys huge success in the States, where their arena-rock sound is en vogue. First single "Say It Isn't So" garners rock radio aiprlay, but follow-up single "Your Love" cruises into the Top 10, pushing the album to the #9 spot. A third single, the beautiful "Everytime You Cry", stalls at #66.


Minutemen guitarist D. Boon is killed in a car accident, shocking fans and bringing a sudden end to the band. The band's final album, 3-Way Tie (For Last) is released only week's later and features the band doing covers by a diverse collection of bands such as Meat Puppets, the Urinals, Blue Oyster Cult, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Fine Young Cannibals release their debut album, which includes UK hit singles "Johnny Come Home" and "Suspicious Minds". The album did manage a #49 US chart showing due in large part to the success of the band's material on the dance club scene.

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