Left to Right: '50's rock n' roll pioneers The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis.
1950's Rock Music stars: Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis
Rock Music in the Fifties:

In the early 1950's the American Pop Charts are dominated by the remnants of the big band era including vocalists such as Doris Day, Frankie Lane, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney and Nat King Cole, along with band leaders Mitch Miller, Percy Faith and others. The Rhythm & Blues Charts feature African-American artists playing to a predominately African-
1950's Top 100 Best Selling Singles  Worldwide:

  1   Bill Haley & his Comets - Rock Around the Clock - 1955
  2   Elvis Presley - Jailhouse Rock - 1957
  3   Jo Stafford - You Belong to Me - 1952
  4   Doris Day
       Que sera sera (Whatever will be will be) - 1956
  5   Rocco Granata - Marina - 1959
  6   The Kingston Trio - Tom Dooley - 1958
  7   Anton Karas - Third Man Theme - 1950
  8   Bobby Darin - Mack the Knife - 1959
  9   Al Martino - Here in My Heart - 1952
10   Nat King Cole - Mona Lisa - 1950
11   Teresa Brewer
       (Put Another Nickel In) Music! Music! Music! - 1950
12   Patti Page - Tennessee Waltz - 1950
13   Les Paul & Mary Ford
       Vaya Con Dios (may God Be With You) - 1953
14   Fats Domino - Blueberry Hill - 1956
15   Jerry Lee Lewis - Great Balls of Fire - 1957
16   The Chordettes - Mister Sandman - 1954
17   Nat King Cole - Too Young - 1951
18   Vera Lynn - Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart - 1952
19   Doris Day - Secret Love - 1954
20   Elvis Presley - Hound Dog - 1956
21   Tennessee Ernie Ford - Sixteen Tons - 1955
22   Nat King Cole - Unforgettable - 1951
23   The Crew-Cuts
       Sh-Boom (Life Could Be a Dream) - 1954
24   The Platters - Only You (And You Alone) - 1955
25   Paul Anka - Diana - 1957
26   Tony Bennett - Stranger in Paradise - 1953
27   The Platters - Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - 1959
28   Elvis Presley - Heartbreak Hotel - 1956
29   Johnnie Ray - Cry - 1951
30   Perez Prado
       Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White - 1955
31   Perry Como
       Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes - 1953
32   Harry Belafonte - Banana Boat Song - 1957
33   Elvis Presley - Don't Be Cruel - 1956
34   Domenico Modugno - Volare - 1958
35   Elvis Presley - All Shook Up - 1957
36   Kitty Kallen - Little Things Mean a Lot - 1954
37   Pat Boone - Love Letters in the Sand - 1957
38   Dean Martin - Memories Are Made of This - 1956
39   The Kalin Twins - When - 1958
40   Frankie Avalon - Venus - 1959
41   The Platters - The Great Pretender - 1956
42   Doris Day - Bewitched (bothered & bewildered) - 1950
43   Phil Harris - The Thing - 1950
44   Four Aces - Love is a Many Splendoured Thing - 1955
45   Rosemary Clooney - Hey There - 1954
46   The Diamonds - Little Darlin' - 1957
47   Patti Page
       How Much is That Doggy in the Window? - 1953
48   Eddie Fisher - I'm Walking Behind You - 1953
49   Guy Mitchell - Singing The Blues - 1956
50   Elvis Presley
       (Now & then There's) A Fool Such As I - 1959
51   The Everly Brothers - Bird Dog - 1958
52   Dean Martin - That's Amore - 1953
53   Perez Prado - Patricia - 1958
54   Don Cornell - Hold My Hand - 1954
55   Les Paul & Mary Ford - How High the Moon - 1951
56   The Crickets - That'll Be the Day - 1957
57   Rosemary Clooney - Mambo Italiano - 1954
58   Percy Faith
       The Song From Moulin Rouge (Where Is Your Heart)
59   Frankie Laine - I Believe - 1953
60   Gordon Jenkins & The Weavers - Goodnight, Irene - 1950
61   Les Paul & Mary Ford - Mockin' Bird Hill - 1951
62   Champs - Tequila - 1958
63   Chuck Berry - Johnny B Goode - 1958
64   Jimmy Boyd - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - 1952
65   Percy Faith - Delicado - 1952
66   Johnnie Ray - Just Walkin' in the Rain - 1956
67   Four Aces - Three Coins in the Fountain - 1954
68   Al Hibbler - Unchained Melody - 1955
69   Perry Como - Wanted - 1954
70   The Everly Brothers - All I Have to Do is Dream - 1958
71   Tony Bennett - Because of You - 1951
72   Conway Twitty - It's Only Make Believe - 1958
73   Eddie Fisher - I Need You Now - 1954
74   Eddie Fisher - Oh My Papa (O Mein Papa) - 1954
75   Kay Starr - Wheel of Fortune - 1952
76   The Platters - My Prayer - 1956
77   Mario Lanza - Be My Love - 1951
78   Debbie Reynolds - Tammy - 1957
79   Cliff Richard - Living Doll - 1959
80   Tony Bennett - Rags to Riches - 1953
81   Johnny Horton - Battle of New Orleans - 1959
82   Paul Anka - Lonely Boy - 1959
83   Rosemary Clooney - Half As Much - 1952
84   The Andrews Sisters - I Can Dream, Can't I? - 1950
85   Perry Como - If (They Made Me a King) - 1951
86   Elvis Presley - Love Me Tender - 1956
87   Billy Eckstine - My Foolish Heart - 1950
88   Little Richard - Long Tall Sally - 1956
89   Jerry Lee Lewis - Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On - 1957
90   Billy Vaughn - Sail Along Silvery Moon - 1958
91   The Everly Brothers - Bye Bye Love - 1957
92   Neil Sedaka - Oh Carol - 1959
93   Nat King Cole - Pretend - 1953
94   Four Aces - Mister Sandman - 1955
95   Tony Bennett - Cold, Cold Heart - 1951
96   Tommy Edwards - It's All in the Game - 1958
97   Rosemary Clooney - This Ole House - 1954
98   Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
       Why Do Fools Fall in Love? - 1956
99   Elvis Presley - (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear - 1957
100 Mel Blanc - I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat - 1951


Top 50 Music Artists of the 1950's
Based on Worldwide Sales of Singles and Albums
Teens dance to jukebox early 1950's
traditional African-American audience for R&B and gains a wide audience of both white and black teenagers. Freed eventually names this cross-current of musical styles and influences - electric blues, boogie, jazz, gospel, R&B vocal groups and country - "Rock and Roll".

The solid body electric guitar becomes commercially available in the early fifties and is quickly adapted by R&B artists, as well as Pop artists. The 78 RPM record is replaced by the LP (long playing) vinyl album and the 45 RPM single is introduced.

In 1953, Bill Haley and His Comets are the first to hit the pop charts with a true rock and roll song, taking their single "Crazy Man Crazy" to #12. Black R&B artists such as Doo Wop group the Orioles achieve crossover success on the Pop Charts in 1953 with their R&B hit "Crying In The Chapel".
Independent record labels such as Sun (Memphis), Ace (Jackson, MS), Vee-Jay (Gary, IN), Chess (Chicago), Specialty Records (Los Angeles) and many other labels are quick to pick up on the opportunity and begin to release Rock and Roll records from newly signed artists.

In 1955 rock and roll has it's first nationwide #1 hit when Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock" tops the Pop Charts. Although considered a novelty or fad by most, rock proves it's staying power. In 1955 black R&B artists Little Richard and Chuck Berry score significant Pop hits. Scouts from RCA records, looking to sign their own rock and roll performer, buy out the contract of Memphis singer Elvis Presley from regional label Sun Records.
More cross-over hits from black R&B artists such as Fats Domino and The Platters climb the pop charts. White artists such as Pat Boone, The Crewcuts and Georgia Gibbs find success covering R&B songs and turning them into hits on the pop charts.
First rock and roll hit song Bill Haley "Crazy Man Crazy" 1953
Elvis Presley on TV 1955
Hot 100 at one time. By 1957 rock and roll artists appear regularly on the popular music charts and by 1959 rock and roll records account for 43% of all records sold.

The end of the decade is marked by tragedy as a February 1959 plane crash takes the lives of rock and roll stars Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.

Fifties Genres / Key Artists:
In April 1956 Elvis Presley tops the Pop Charts with his first RCA single release "Heartbreak Hotel". By the end of the year he would be the first artist ever to have nine singles in the
Rhythm & Blues: Fats Domino, Little Richard, Professor Longhair, Johnny Otis, Hank Ballard, Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner,  The Clovers, The Platters, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Lloyd Price, The Dominoes, Bill Black, Johnny Ace, BB King, The Drifters

Pre-Rock / Pop: Doris Day, Mitch Miller, Percy Faith, Nat King Cole, Frankie Laine, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Eddie Fisher, The Four Aces, Patti Page, Rosemary Clooney, Jo Stafford, Kay Starr, Dean Martin, Pat Boone



Folk Revival: Pete Seeger, The Weavers, The Kingston Trio, Guy Mitchell, Odetta, Harry Belafonte, The Brothers Four, Chad Mitchell Trio




Doo Wop: The Orioles, The Charms, The Clovers, The Penguins, The Crows, The Five Satins, The Moonglows, The Del-Vikings, The Diamonds, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers



Rock & Roll / Rockabilly: Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley & His Comets, Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Burnette & The Rock n' Roll Trio, Wanda Jackson, Ritchie Valens, Johnny Cash
 
Pre-Rock Pop Music Doris Day
Rythym and Blues, Fats Domino album
Folk revival, the Kingston Trio
Doo Wop group The Orioles
Teen Idol Ricky Nelson album
Rockabilly, Rock n' Roll, Elvis Presley debut album
Teen Idols: Ricky Nelson, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Paul Anka, Dion, Annette Funicello
26: Sonny Rollins
27: Art Blakey
28: Johnnie Ray
29: Duke Ellington
30: Sarah Vaughan
31: Mitch Miller
32: Hank Williams
33: Mantovani
34: Bing Crosby
35: Rosemary Clooney
36: Mario Lanza
37: The Everly Brothers
38: Guy Mitchell
39: Charles Mingus
40: Chet Baker
41: Paul Anka
42: Les Paul & Mary Ford
43: Buddy Holly
44: Jo Stafford
45: Jackie Gleason
46: Ray Charles
47: Ricky Nelson
48: Tennessee Ernie Ford
49: Claudio Villa
50: Kay Starr
Jazz - Miles Davis
Jazz: Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Charles Mingus
The lists above are based on worldwide sales. The worldwide sales information is from Tsort and uses a formula based on splitting the world into four regions based on sales, the USA (about 35%), other English speaking countries (about 20%), the rest of Europe (about 25%) and the rest of the world (about 20%).  We feel this is the best methodology available to show the global impact of a song or album. More detailed chart info is available on the Tsort website. Actual US & UK charts are linked at the bottom of each year timeline on this site.
  1: Elvis Presley
  2: Frank Sinatra
  3: Nat King Cole
  4: Miles Davis
  5: Perry Como
  6: Harry Belafonte
  7: Bill Haley & his Comets
  8: Johnny Mathis
  9: Thelonious Monk
10: Frankie Laine
11: Doris Day
12: Pat Boone
13: Fats Domino
14: Eddie Fisher
15: Ella Fitzgerald
16: Patti Page
17: Louis Armstrong
18: The Platters
19: Dean Martin
20: Dave Brubeck
21: Tony Bennett
22: The Kingston Trio
23: Four Aces
24: Little Richard
25: Chuck Berry
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American audience in urban centers and the south. Cleveland, Ohio radio Disc Jockey Alan Freed is an exception with his "Moondog Show" where he spins up-tempo rhythm & blues hits, but aims his show beyond the
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