1955 Rock Music Timeline
Bo Diddley 1955
Rock Around The Clock 1955
Released in January, the movie Blackboard Jungle propels Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock" to #1 in both the US and UK in July. This is the first Rock & Roll record to top the Pop charts. (more)
Chicago singer / guitar player Bo Diddley's self titled single b/w "I'm a Man" hits #1 on the R&B charts. Diddley's unique rhythmic electric guitar and signature beat would be an ongoing influence in rock music. (more)
Feb '55
Fats Domino - Ain't That A Shame 1955
Aug '55
New Orleans piano man Fats Domino hits #1 on the R&B charts (his 13th Top Ten R&B hit), but also hits #10 US, #23 UK on the Pop Charts with the single "Ain't That a Shame". (more)
Chuck Berry - Maybelline 1955
St. Louis, MO singer / songwriter / guitarist Chuck Berry records his first single "Maybellene" on Chess Records. The song tops the R&B charts for 11 weeks and hits #5 Pop. Berry's ability to capture the teenage spirit in his lyrics, his unique guitar style and stage show become a huge influence. (more)
Elvis Presley signs with RCA 1955
After several regional hit singles fail to score nationally, Sam Phillips, owner of Sun Records, sells Elvis Presley's recording contract to RCA for $35,000. Phillips is in debt and is confident he has other hit artists ready to develop. (more)
Dec '55
New Orleans delivers again as Little Richard records "Tutti Frutti" at J&M Studios in the Big Easy. Richard's raw, full tilt vocals drive the song to #2 on the R&B charts, and by January 1956 it crosses to the Pop Charts peaking at #17. (more)
Little Richard - Tutti Frutti 1855
Sep '55
Carl Perkins - Blue Suede Shoes
Nov '55
Carl Perkin's "Blue Suede Shoes" is recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis and charts on the Country, R&B and Pop Charts. The single sells more than a million copies by April 1956 and is one of the first and biggest pure rockabilly hits. (more)
Johnny Cash Folsom Prison Blues 1955
Dec '55
Arkansas country and rockabilly artist Johnny Cash releases the song "Folsom Prison Blues" recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis. The song does not become a hit until a live version is released in 1968. (more)
Jun '55
Pat Boone
Aug '55
Pat Boone's whitewashed cover of Fats Domino's "Ain't That A Shame" goes to #1 on the Pop Charts. (more)
Rythym and Blues
US Juke Box operators say R&B selections are up 60% over 1954, reflecting a growing white audience for R&B.   
Sep '55
Jan '55
James Dean
Sep '55
James Dean is killed in a car accident a month berfore the release of Rebel Without A Cause, the hugely influential teen movie. (more)
The Platters
Los Angeles vocal group The Platters score with "Only You" which hits #1 on the R&B Charts and crosses over to #5 on the Pop Charts. (more)  
Oct '55
The Penguins - Earth Angel 1955
Feb '55
Los Angeles Doo-Wop group The Penguins are #1 on the R&B Charts with "Earth Angel". The song would also hit #8 on the Pop Charts when covered by the Crew Cuts. (more) 
The Cheers
The Cheers score a US Top Ten pop hit with the teen tragedy song "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots". (more) 
Oct '55
The Moonglows 1955
Feb '55
Cleveland doo wop group, The Moonglows, hit #1 R&B with "Sincerely" later taken to the top of the Pop charts by the McGuire Sisters. (more)
Apr '55
Los Angeles group, The Peaches, featuring Etta James have a #1 R&B hit with "The Wallflower (Roll With Me Henry)" an answer song to Hank Ballard's "Work With Me Annie". James would later sign to Chess Records and become a successful solo artist. (more)
Etta James
Johnny Ace
Jun '55
Memphis, TN native Johnny Ace has a posthumous #1 R&B, #17 Pop hit with "Pledging My Love". (more)
LaVerne Baker
Mar '55
Chicago, IL singer LaVerne Baker takes "Tweedlee Dee" to #4 R&B, #14 Pop. The cover by Georgia Gibbs goes to #1 Pop. (more)
Smiley Lewis
Oct '55
New Orleans musician Smiley Lewis goes to #2 R&B with "I Hear You Knockin". The song is also covered by Gale Storm and goes to #2 Pop. (more)
1955 in Rock & Roll History:

1955 brings Rock and Roll's first #1 single - Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock". Teenagers are quick to pick up on the new "rock" sound. Top 40 radio is still dominated by "parents music" and rock n' roll is considered a novelty for the kids. But a growing number of urban and southern white teenagers are tuning in to R&B radio stations and purchasing R&B records. US Juke Box operators say R&B selections are up 60% over 1954. Influential DJ Alan Freed moves from Cleveland to New York City. Bo Diddley debuts on national television on Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town. Elvis Presley is signed by RCA Records.

Top 60 Singles of 1955

1   Bill Haley & his Comets
       Rock Around the Clock
  2   Tennessee Ernie Ford - Sixteen Tons
  3   The Platters
       Only You (And You Alone)
  4   Perez Prado
       Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White
  5   Four Aces
       Love is a Many Splendoured Thing
  6   Al Hibbler - Unchained Melody
  7   Four Aces - Mister Sandman
  8   Frank Sinatra - Learnin' the Blues
  9   Frank Sinatra - Love & Marriage
10   Chuck Berry - Maybellene
11   Mitch Miller - Yellow Rose of Texas
12   Little Richard - Tutti Frutti
13   Slim Whitman - Rose Marie
14   Les Baxter & his Orchestra
       Unchained Melody
15   Four Aces - Stranger in Paradise
16   Dreamweavers - It's Almost Tomorrow
17   Fats Domino - Ain't That a Shame
18   Billy Vaughn - Melody of Love
19   Nat King Cole - A Blossom Fell
20   Teresa Brewer - Let Me Go Lover
21   Julie London - Cry Me a River
22   Ruby Murray - Softly Softly
23   Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy
24   Four Aces - Melody of Love
25   Frankie Laine - Cool Water
26   Eddie Calvert
       Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White
27   Nat King Cole
       Darling Je Vous Aime Beaucoup
28   Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley
29   Roger Williams - Autumn Leaves
30   Johnny Desmond
       Yellow Rose of Texas
31   Perry Como - Tina Marie
32   Tennessee Ernie Ford
       Ballad of Davy Crockett
33   Eddie and Tania Constantine          L'Homme et L'Enfant
34   Bill Hayes - Ballad of Davy Crockett
35   Jacqueline Francois
       Les Lavandieres du Portugal
36   Pat Boone - Ain't That a Shame
37   Bill Haley & his Comets
       Mambo Rock
38   McGuire Sisters - Sincerely
39   Georgia Gibbs - Tweedle Dee
40   Al Hibbler - He
41   Frankie Laine - A Woman in Love
42   Tennessee Ernie Ford
       Give Me Your Word
43   Jimmy Young - Unchained Melody
44   Alma Cogan - Dreamboat
45   Jimmy Young
      The Man From Laramie
46   Fess Parker - Ballad of Davy Crockett
47   Dean Martin
       Naughty Lady of Shady Lane
48   The Crew-Cuts - Earth Angel
49   Gale Storm - I Hear You Knockin'
50   Boyd Bennett & his Rockets               Seventeen
51   Caterina Valente - Ganz Paris traumt          von der Liebe (I Love Paris)
52   Peter Alexander & Caterina Valente        Eventuell
53   Cyril Stapleton Orchestra
       Blue Star (The Medic Theme)
54   Dickie Valentine - Christmas Alphabet
55   Lonnie Donegan - Rock Island Line
56   Johnny Ace - Pledging My Love
57   Bill Haley & his Comets
       Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie
58   The Fontane Sisters - Seventeen
59   Elvis Presley - Mystery Train
60   Peter Alexander
       Der Mond halt Seine Wacht

All chart information above 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.
All images used on this website are the copyright of the respective copyright holder
and are used on this site for educational or promotional purposes only.
All text copyright 2010-2015 Rock Music Timeline.
UK musician Lonnie Donegan covers the Lead Belly song "Rock Island Line" and takes it to #1 UK, #8 US (in April 1956) igniting the skiffle craze in the UK. (more)
Dec '55
Search Rock Music Timeline
Ray Charles - I Got A Woman 1954
May '55
Greenville, FL singer/piano player Ray Charles records "I Got A Woman" for Atlantic Records. It reaches #1 on the R&B charts and is often considered the first soul song. (more)