1956 Rock Music Timeline
The Platters - Only You number one song
Jan '56
"The Great Pretender" is the follow up to "Only You" by The Platters  and becomes the second Rock and Roll song to top the Pop Charts.
(more)
Elvis Presley - Heartbreak Hotel 1956
Jan '56
On Jan. 27th RCA releases Heartbreak Hotel, the first Elvis single to go to #1. His national TV debut is Jan. 28th on The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show. (more)
Carl Perkins 1956
On his way to NY to appear on the Ed Sullivan show, Carl Perkins is seriously injured in a car accident, spending several months in the hospital.
(more)
Mar '56
Alan Freed
Alan Freed's Rock and Roll Dance Party is the first regularly broadcast nationwide rock and roll show on the  radio. (more)
Apr '56
Elvis sings Hound Dog on TV 1956
Jun '56
Elvis debuts "Hound Dog" on the Milton Berle TV show and creates a national stir with his suggestive hip movements.
(more)

Roy Orbison Ooby Dooby
Roy Orbison records his debut single "Ooby Dooby" at Sun Studios.
(more)

James Brown
Feb '56
Cincinnati label Federal Records releases "Please, Please, Please" a #5 hit on the R&B charts for James Brown.  (more)
Wanda Jackson
Capitol Records signs up- and-coming rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson and releases "I Gotta Know" which goes to #15 on the Country Charts.
(more)
Jul '56
Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps have a #7 pop hit with "Be Bop A Lula" which goes on to sell 2 million copies.
(more)

Gene Vincent - Be Bop A Lula 1956
Johnny Burnette and the Rock 'n Roll Trio 1956
Sep '56
The Girl Can't Help It
Screaming Jay Hawkins
Screaming Jay Hawkins has a hit with "I Put A Spell On You" which goes on to sell a million copies. (more)
After winning Ted Mack's Amateur Hour, Memphis band Johnny Burnette & The Rock and Roll Trio are signed to Coral Records. Their version of "Train Kept a Rollin" may be the first use of feedback on a rock record. (more)

The movie "The Girl Can't Help It" features bombshell Jayne Mansfield along with great rock performances by Little Richard, Fats Domino, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent
(more)

Elvis Presley 1956
Dec '56
1956 goes down in history as "the year of Elvis". As he breaks chart records with nine singles in the Hot 100 chart at once. This record would stand until the Beatles break it in 1964.   (more)
Movie: Rock Around the Clock 1956
Bill Haley, The Platters and Alan Freed appear in the low budget movie "Rock Around the Clock". The movie is a financial success and is a model for future "teen" movies. (more)
Dick Clark and American Bandstand 1956
Jul '56
On Philadelphia's afternoon music show, American Bandstand, host Bob Horn is replaced by Dick Clark after Horn is fired following a drunk driving arrest. (more)
Million Dollar Quartet 1956
Dec. 4, '56
Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis enjoy an impromptu jam session at Sun Studios  - the Memphis newspaper dubs it "The Million Dollar Quartet".  (more)
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers 1956
The Teenagers, featuring 13 year old lead singer Frankie Lymon, have a smash hit with "Why Do Fools Fall In Love"
(more)
Feb '56
Dec '56
Little Willie John
Aug '56
Little Willie John hits #1 on the R&B charts, #24 Pop with "Fever". In 1958 Peggy Lee's  cover version would hit #8. (more)
Janis Martin
RCA signs 15 year old Janis Martin and releases the rockabilly single "Will You Willyum", which does well on both the country and pop charts. (more)  
Jul '56
1956 Rock & Roll History

1956 is the year Elvis Presley and rock and roll take over the popular music charts. Elvis is #1 on the US charts for 25 weeks in 1956 and has a record nine singles in the top 100. R&B artists continue to crossover to the pop charts and rockabilly explodes out of the south. Carl Perkins hit "Blue Suede Shoes" is the first country song ever on the R&B charts. The blurring of lines between the pop charts and the R&B charts continues with a record five songs appearing on both charts.


Top 60 Singles of 1956
Worldwide:

  1   Doris Day - Que sera sera
       (Whatever will be will be)
  2   Fats Domino - Blueberry Hill
  3   Elvis Presley - Hound Dog
  4   Elvis Presley - Heartbreak Hotel
  5   Elvis Presley - Don't Be Cruel
  6   Dean Martin
       Memories Are Made of This
  7   The Platters - The Great Pretender
  8   Guy Mitchell - Singing The Blues
  9   Johnnie Ray - Just Walkin' in the         Rain
10   The Platters - My Prayer
11   Elvis Presley - Love Me Tender
12   Little Richard - Long Tall Sally
13   Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers        Why Do Fools Fall in Love?
14   Carl Perkins - Blue Suede Shoes
15   Kay Starr - Rock 'n' Roll Waltz
16   Perry Como - Hot Diggity
       (Dog Ziggity Boom)
17   Bing Crosby & Grace Kelly
       True Love
18   Vic Damone - On the Street Where               You Live
19   Freddy Quinn - Heimweh
20   Gene Vincent - Be Bop a Lula
21   Jim Lowe - Green Door
22   Louis Armstrong - Mack the Knife
23   Johnny Cash - I Walk the Line
24   Pat Boone - I'll Be Home
25   Bill Haley & his Comets
       See You Later Alligator
26   Bill Doggett - Honky Tonk
27   Anne Shelton - Lay Down Your Arms
28   Gogi Grant - Wayward Wind
29   Eddie Fisher - Cindy, Oh Cindy
30   Ronnie Hilton - No Other Love
31   Les Baxter & his Orchestra
       Poor People of Paris
32   Morris Stoloff
       Moonglow & Theme From Picnic
33   Gilbert Becaud - La Corrida
34   Chuck Berry - Roll Over Beethoven
35   Sonny James - Young Love
36   Lys Assia - Refrain
37   Little Richard - Rip it Up
38   Lucienne Delyle
       Amour, Castagnettes et Tango
39   Nelson Riddle - Lisbon Antigua
40   Pat Boone - I Almost Lost My Mind
41   The Five Satins
       In the Still of the Night
42   Pat Boone - Friendly Persuasion
43   Tony Martin - Walk Hand in Hand
44   Elvis Presley - I Want You, I Need                 You, I Love You
45   Joe 'Fingers' Carr
        Portuguese Washerwoman
46   Dean Martin
       Innamorata (Sweetheart)
47   Nat King Cole
       Too Young to Go Steady
48   Lou Busch - Zambezi
49   Bill Haley & his Comets - Rip it Up
50   Winifred Atwell - Poor People of Paris
51   Lonnie Donegan - Lost John
52   Bill Haley & his Comets - R-O-C-K
53   Freddy Quinn - Rosalie
54   Peter Alexander
       Ich weib, was dir fehlt
55   Teresa Brewer - A Tear Fell
56   James Brown
       Please, Please, Please
57   Perry Como - More
58   Frankie Laine - Sixteen Tons
59   Elvis Presley - Blue Suede Shoes
60   David Whitfield - My September Love

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.


"The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I'm doin' now, man, for more years than I know. I got it from them."

- Elvis Presley
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