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The Fab ’50s Music!

The ground-breaking music of the 1950's inspired the songs we listen to today.

Elvis and car

The ground-breaking music of the 1950s inspired the songs we listen to today. Virtually all music from the fifties featured influences from pop, rock, country, and rhythm & blues.

Rock ‘n’ Roll and rockabilly developed and spread in the 50s. Carl Perkins, who wrote “Blue Suede Shoes”, created and performed music that fused country and rhythm & blues with rock influences. It came to be called Rockabilly. Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Gene Vincent were also popular Rockabilly stars.   

Rhythm & Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll popularized “black” music. Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records and Sun Studio, decided to gear “black music” to white audiences. He launched Elvis Presley’s career in 1954. Known as the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” Elvis popularized rock music. However, the original African American artists who created the genre, like Little Richard, Chuck Berry, The Coasters, Chubby Checker, Fats Domino, and others, weren’t given the chance to record their music and were pushed out of the rock scene.

At the same time, pop and country held onto traditional popular standards and a wealth of covers topping the charts. Some popular pop artists in the 50s were Patti Page, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, and Nat King Cole. Various 50s pop artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and Doris Day sung old well-known songs but put their own individual spin on them, inspired by jazz, swing, and big band music.

The two prominent singer-songwriters who defined 50s country were Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. Cash was country with rockabilly influences. Whereas Hank Williams popularized the Honky Tonk style, embodying ragtime piano music blended with country and rockabilly harmonies. Additionally, he contributed to the creation of Outlaw Country–songs about spirituality and rowdy times.

Rhythm and Blues fused jazz, doo-wop, blues, and gospel. It also drove the creation of Rock ‘n’ Roll, soul, Motown, and funk music. Some of the greatest Rhythm and Blues artists of the decade were Frankie Lymon and the teenagers, Sam Cooke, The Drifters, The Platters, Ray Charles and Lloyd Price. Many Rhythm and Blues musicians pioneered rock music but were shoved into the category of Rhythm and Blues by music producers wanting to capitalize on the new genre with white rock n rollers. A lot of Caucasian artists, like the Chordettes and the Crew-Cuts covered the original material but gave it a more mainstream sound.

So, as you can the 1950s had a huge impact on the music industry and the genres we listen to nowadays. In closing, musically speaking, that decade rocked our world. Here are the top three most popular songs of the 50s:

  • That’s Amore by Dean Martin
  • Come Fly With Me by Frank Sinatra
  • Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley

Even though I was too young to know much about 50s music, I came to love it later in my life. I don’t “Risky Business” to it on the couch in my underwear (LOL), but the music is liberally sprinkled to most of my playlists.

What decade owns your musical heart?

Perilously yours,

Pauline

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