About Music of the Fifties

About Music of the Fifties… Things You Need To Know

Rock and Roll, Jazz and Doo Wop evolved from the Blues, which came from the African-American community in the decades after slavery with gospel, spirituals, work songs, and chants which, with the addition of some instruments, became Rhythm and Blues. It’s a much longer story than you can find on a web page, so check these books out.

Cleveland radio Dee-Jay Alan Freed was credited with inventing the phrase ‘Rock and Roll,’ but was unable to copyright the term. He was pushed out of the radio and TV industry over Payola – basically taking bribes to play some records over others. The 1978 film American Hot Wax was a fictionalized version of his life.

Frank Sinatra was not a big fan of rock and roll music at first. He called it “The most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear.” On a related note, Frank Sinatra has not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In the 1950s, many songs by black artists were performed and then out-played on the radio by white artists. One of the first songs to break that barrier was Only You, by the Platters (#5), beating out the Hilltoppers (#8). Conversely, Harry Belafonte’s Calypso album edged out Elvis’ Elvis Presley to be the first million-selling album, in 1956. Bing Crosby had his last hit in 1956, True Love, which he sang with Grace Kelly (#3).

Who was Bing Crosby? To start with, he’s the ‘old guy’ who sang Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth with David Bowie in 1977.
To get perspective on successful Mr. Crosby was, Elvis Presley wanted to be like Frank Sinatra, while Frank Sinatra WISHED he was Bing Crosby.
Bing had 36 #1 songs, and 317 in the top 40.
Elvis had 18 #1’s and 114 top 40 hits.
The Beatles had 20 #1’s and ‘only’ 52 top 40 hits.
Bing Crosby outscored both Elvis & The Beatles on the charts, combined!

The Day The Music Died: February 3, 1959
Outside of Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and pilot Roger Peterson died in a plane crash. “Three Stars” by Tommy Dee was a tribute song for the trio of rock stars, as was 1972’s America Pie by Don McLean.

The 25 Fifties’ Songs That You Need To Make Your Collection Complete

1. The ABC’s Of Love – Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers
2. Mack The Knife – Bobby Darin
3. Stood Up – Ricky Nelson
4. Book Of Love – Monotones
5. The Banana Boat Song (Day-O) – Harry Belafonte
6. That’ll Be The Day – Buddy Holly and the Crickets
7. The Great Pretender – Platters
8. Whispering Bells – The Dell Vikings
9. Tonite Tonite – The Mello-Kings
10. Little Girl Of Mine – Cleftones
11. Yakety Yak – The Coasters
12. Cry – Johnny Ray
13. Love Potion No. 9 – Clovers
14. Rocket 88 – Jackie Brenston
15. Woo-Hoo – Rock-A-Teens
16. Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home) – Impalas
17. Mr. Sandman – The Chordettes
18. Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley
19. I Wonder Why – Dion & the Belmonts
20. Bony Maronie – Larry Williams
21. Hey Good Lookin’ – Hank Williams
22. Why Do Fools Fall In Love – Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers
23. Red River Rock – Johnny and the Hurricanes
24. Work With Me Annie – Hank Ballard & The Midnighters
25. Sincerely – Moonglows

The Fifties’ Songs That Mom And Dad Hated

1. Wake Up Little Suzie – The Everly Brothers
2. Great Balls of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis
3. Tutti Fruitti – Little Richard
4. Rumble – Link Wray
5. Yakety Yak – Coasters
6. Love For Sale – Billie Holiday
7. Ragtime Cowboy Joe – The Chipmunks
8. Endless Sleep – Jody Reynolds
9. Standing On The Corner (Watching All The Girls Go By) – Four Lads
10. Tequila! – Champs

The 50s Songs That Everybody Hated

1. The Happy Organ – Dave “Baby” Cortez
2. Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom) – Perry Como
3. Beep Beep – The Playmates
4. Lonely Boy – Paul Anka
5. Banana Boat Song – Steve Lawrence
6. Teen-Age Crush – Tommy Sands
7. Kookie Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb) – Connie Stevens with Edd Byrnes
8. Dance With Me, Henry – Georgia Gibbs
9. Western Movies – The Olympics
10. Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat – Paul Evans

Very Old School Summer Songs

1. Summertime Blues – Eddie Cochran, 1958
2. Take Me Out To The Ball Game – Billy Murray (or many others), 1908
3. We’re Gonna Rock Around The Clock – Bill Haley & His Comets, 1955
4. Summertime – Sam Cooke, 1957
5. Sleepwalk – Santo & Johnny, 1959
6. Sh-Boom – Crew Cuts, 1954
7. Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Presley, 1956
8. Little Darlin’ – The Diamonds, 1957
9. School Day – Chuck Berry, 1957
10. When Irish Eyes Are Smiling – Chauncey Olcott, 1913
11. Summertime – Billie Holiday, 1936
12. Harbor Lights – Sammy Kaye, Bing Crosby and various others, 1950
13. There Goes My Baby – The Drifters, 1959
14. Splish Splash Bobby Darin, 1958
15. Mona Lisa – Nat ‘King’ Cole, 1950
16. Teenager In Love – Dion and the Belmonts, 1959
17. Little Star – The Elegants, 1958
18. Love Letters In The Sand – Pat Boone, 1957
19. Yakety Yak – The Coasters, 1958
20. Stormy Weather – Leo Reisman or Ethel Waters, 1933

The Fifties’ Dancehall Music Hits

1. Rock Around The Clock – Bill Haley and His Comets
2. Rock and Roll is Here To Stay – Danny & the Juniors
3. Blueberry Hill – Fats Domino
4. At The Hop – Danny and the Juniors
5. Little Bitty Pretty One – Thurston Harris
6. Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins
7. All Shook Up – Elvis Presley
8. Little Darlin’ – The Diamonds
9. Come Go With Me – Dell-Vikings
10. Kansas City – Wilbert Harrison
11. Love Is Strange – Mickey and Sylvia
12. Be-Bop-A-Lula – Gene Vincent
13. Peggy Sue – Buddy Holly
14. School Day – Chuck Berry
15. What’d I Say – Ray Charles
16. The Stroll – The Diamonds
17. I’m Walkin’ – Fats Domino
18. Goody Goody – Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
19. Yakety Yak – The Coasters
20. Chantilly Lace – Big Bopper

The 50s Party Rock Hits

1. Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog – Elvis Presley
2. Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On – Jerry Lee Lewis
3. Maybellene – Chuck Berry
4. Long Tall Sally – Little Richard
5. Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry
6. Rock and Roll Music – Chuck Berry
7. Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins
8. Do You Want To Dance – Bobby Freeman
9. Book Of Love – Monotones
10. Rockin Robin – Bobby Day

The 1950s Must-Have Doo-Wop Songs

1. Earth Angel – Penguins
2. In The Still Of The Night – Five Satins
3. I Only Have Eyes For You – The Flamingos
4. At The Hop – Danny and the Juniors
5. Little Star – Elegants
6. Little Darlin’ – Diamonds
7. A Teenager In Love – Dion & the Belmonts
8. 16 Candles – The Crests
9. Come Go With Me – Del-Vikings
10. Gee – The Crows

The 50s Must-Have Slow Jams

1. Sea Of Love – Phil Phillips
2. Earth Angel – The Penguins
3. Chances Are – Johnny Mathis
4. Sleepwalk – Santo and Johnny
5. You Send Me – Sam Cooke
6. In The Still of The Night – Five Satins
7. It’s All in The Game – Tommy Edwards
8. Only You (And You Alone) – The Platters
9. Put Your Head On My Shoulder – Paul Anka
10. Come Softly To Me – the Fleetwoods
11. It’s Just a Matter of Time – Brook Benton
12. I Only Have Eyes For You – Flamingos
13. All the Way – Frank Sinatra
14. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing – Four Aces
15. April Love – Pat Boone

The 50s Big Money Songs
And/Or One Hit Wonders

1. Donna/ La Bamba – Richie Valens
2. Sea of Love – Phil Phillips
3. Blue Suede Shoes – Carl Perkins
4. Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home) – Impalas
5. Trickle, Trickle – the Videos
6. Silhouettes – The Rays
7. To Know Him, Is To Love Him – The Teddy Bears
8. Mr. Lee – Bobbettes
9. Sea Cruise – Frankie Ford
10. Woo-Hoo – Rock-A-Teens

The Late Fifties’ Biggest # 1 Hits
According To Billboard

1. Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog – Elvis Presley (1956) – 11 weeks
2. Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White – Perez Prado (1955) – 10 weeks
3. Sincerely – The McGuire Sisters (1955) – 10 weeks
4. Singing The Blues – Guy Mitchell (1956) – 10 weeks
5. Mack The Knife – Bobby Darin (1959) – 9 weeks
6. All Shook Up – Elvis Presley (1957) – 9 weeks
7. Rock Around The Clock – Bill Haley and His Comets (1955) – 8 weeks
8. The Wayward Wind – Gogi Grant (1956) – 8 weeks
9. Sixteen Tons – “Tennessee” Ernie Ford (1955) – 8 weeks
10. Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Presley (1956) – 8 weeks

The Early Fifties’ Biggest # 1 Hits
According To Billboard

1. The Tennesse Waltz – Patti Page (1950) -13 Weeks
2. Goodnight Irene – Gordon Jenkins and the Weavers (1950) – 13 Weeks
3. You Belong To Me – Jo Stafford (1952) – 12 Weeks
4. Vaya Con Dios – Les Paul and Mary Ford (1953) – 11 weeks
5. Third Man Theme – Anton Karas (1950) – 11 weeks
6. Third Man Theme – Guy Lombardo (1950) – 11 weeks
7. Cry – Johnny Ray (1951) – 11 weeks
8. Because of You – Tony Bennett (1951) – 10 weeks
9. Wheel of Fortune – Kay Starr (1952) – 10 weeks
10. Song From ‘Moulin Rouge’ Where Is Your Heart – Percy Faith (1953) – 10 weeks

The 50s Most Naughty Pop Songs

1. Sixty Minute Man – The Dominoes
2. It Ain’t The Meat – The Swallows
3. (When We Are Dancing) I Get Ideas – Louis Armstrong
4. Baby Let’s Play House – Elvis Presley
5. Big Ten-Inch Record – Moose Jackson
6. Get Hot Or Go Home – John Kerby
7. I Got A Rocket In My Pocket – Jimmy Lloyd
8. (I Love To Play Your Piano) Let Me Bang Your Box – The Toppers With Orchestra
9. Whistle Bait – Lorrie And Larry Collins
10. A Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On – Jerry Lee Lewis

The Top 1950s Songs About Atomic War,
Death, Heaven, UFOs, Aliens, Murder
& End Of The World

1. 13 Women – Bill Haley and His Comets
2. Purple People Eater – Sheb Wolley
3. Stagger Lee – Lloyd Price
4. A Wonderful Time Up There – Pat Boone
5. The Blob – The Five Blobs
6. The Flying Saucer – Buchanan & Goodman
7. El Paso – Marty Robbins
8. Endless Sleep – Jody Reynolds
9. Little Blue Man – Betty Johnson
10. Car Crash – The Cadets

The 50s Best (?) Novelty & Comedy Songs & Recordings

1. Purple People Eater – Sheb Wolley
2. Banana Boat (Day-O) – Stan Freberg
3. Alvin’s Harmonica – The Chipmunks
4. Stranded In The Jungle – The Cadets (or The Jayhawks)
5. The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane – The Ames Brothers
6. The Flying Saucer – Buchanan & Goodman
7. The Thing – Phil Harris
8. What It Was, Was Football – Andy Griffith
9. Uh! Oh! – The Nutty Squirrels
10. Nuttin For Christmas – cracked the top 40 by Art Mooney & Barry Gordon, Joe Ward, Ricky Zahnd, The Fontane Sisters and Stan Freberg in 1955.