1959 Rock Music Timeline

The Platters - Smoke Gets In Your Eyes 1959
Jan '59
Los Angeles vocal group The Platters continue their chart success,  topping the US & UK
The Day The Music Died 1959
Feb 3 '59
A late night plane crash following a Feb. 2nd performance at Clear Lake, Iowa kills Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. (more)
Ray Charles - What'd I Say - 1959
Feb '59
Ray Charles releases the single "What'd I Say" which goes to #1 R&B and becomes his first hit to crossover to the Pop Charts reaching #6 on the Hot 100.  (more)
Lloyd Price
Feb '59
Back from serving in the Korean War, New Orlean's Lloyd Price tops the US Pop and R&B charts with "Stagger Lee" #7 UK. He would hit #2 US, #9 UK in July with "Personality". (more)
Jackie Wilson - Lonely Teardrops 1959
Feb '59
"Lonely Teardrops" by Jackie Wilson tops the R&B charts for seven weeks and hits #7 US on the Pop Charts. (more)
The Coasters
Mar '59
Los Angeles, CA vocal group The Coasters are back on the Pop Charts at #2 US, #6 UK with the single "Charlie Brown". They continue their chart success in May and August with the Top Ten singles "Along Came Jones" and "Poison Ivy". (more)
Jul '59
The Flamingos
"I Only Have Eyes For You", by Chicago, IL vocal group The Flamingos, hits #11 on the Pop charts, #3 R&B and becomes one of Doo Wop's finest moments. (more)
The Drifters - Ben E. King
Aug '59
Atlantic artists The Drifters, with a new line up featuring Ben E. King hit #1 R&B and #2 Pop in the US with "There Goes My Baby". (more)
Payola 1959
Congressional hearings are held to investigate "payola" in the music industry. Pioneering rock DJ Alan Freed is fired as a result and his career never recovers. (more)
Bobby Darin
Sep '59
After previously scoring Top 10 hits with "Splish Splash" and "Dream Lover" Bobby Darin switches to a more adult style and hits #1 in the US and UK with his version of "Mack the Knife".
(more)
Tamla Motown
In Detroit, Michigan Berry Gordy Jr. founds Tamla Records, which he incorporates as Motown a year later. (more)
1959 rock music record store
Frankie Avalon
Dec '59
Frankie Avalon follows up on "Venus" #1 US, #16, with his second  UK #1 hit of the year  "Why".  Avalon ushers in the era of the Teen
Idol that will dominate the early sixties pop charts with stars like Fabian, Bobby Vee, Bobby Rydell, Brian Hyland, Paul Anka, Jimmy Clanton and Johnny Tillotson. (more)
Duane Eddy - Rebel Rouser
Jan '59
Phoenix, AZ guitar whiz Duane Eddy hits #6 US, #19 UK with the single "Rebel Rouser". The album produced by Lee Hazelwood makes the US Top Five. (more)
Frankie Ford
Gretna, LA native Frankie Ford scores a US Top 20 hit with his cover of Huey Piano Smith's song "Sea Cruise".  (more)
Isley Brothers - Shout 1959
Sep '59
Cincinnati, Ohio group The Isley Brothers make their first chart appearance with "Shout" at #47 US. The long running group would go on to chart in every decade into the 2000's. (more)
As the decade ends, Rock and Roll accounts for 43% of all records sold. This massive popularity is worldwide and impacts movies, television, fashion, attitudes and language. 
The Crests - 16 Candles
Jan '59
New York City doo wop group, The Crests, go to #2 with the song "16 Candles".
(more)
Fabian - Turn Me Loose
Dion and the Belmonts
Connie Francis - Lipstick on Your Collar - 1959
Apr '59
16 year old Philadelphia native Fabiano Anthony Forte, better known as Fabian, scores his second top ten hit with "Turn Me Loose" on Chancellor Records. (more)
May '59
" A Teenager In Love" the fifth single from Bronx, NY vocal group, Dion and the Belmonts, peaks at #5 US, #28 UK. (more)
Jun '59
Newark, NJ native Connie Francis scores her third top ten hit with "Lipstick On Your Collar" which peaks at #5 US, #3 UK.  (more)
Teen Beat instrumental hits 1959
Sep '59
Instrumentals make an impact with Sandy Nelson's "Teen Beat", Santo & Johnny's "Sleepwalk" and Johnny & The Hurricanes "Red River Rock" all enjoying chart success.
The Fleetwoods
Apr '59
Olympia, WA high school trio The Fleetwoods top the US charts with their a cappella single "Come Softly To Me" #6 UK. (more)
1959 Photo Gallery
1959 Jukebox Hits


1959 in Rock & Roll History

A plane crash in Iowa kills three of rock music's biggest stars, Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. Tamla Records, which eventually becomes Motown, is founded in Detroit by Berry Gordy. Congress investigates payola in the music industry and DJ Alan Freed is vilified. Instrumental hits make an impact on the charts. Teen idols grab the spotlight. As the decade ends Rock and Roll accounts for 43 percent of all records sold.

Top 60 Singles of 1959
Worldwide:

  1   Rocco Granata - Marina
  2   Bobby Darin - Mack the Knife
  3   The Platters -
       Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
  4   Frankie Avalon - Venus
  5   Elvis Presley - A Fool Such As I
  6   Cliff Richard - Living Doll
  7   Johnny Horton -
       Battle of New Orleans
  8   Paul Anka - Lonely Boy
  9   Neil Sedaka - Oh Carol
10   Bobby Darin - Dream Lover
11   The Browns - The Three Bells
12   Chris Barber's Jazz Band -
            Petite Fleur (Little Flower)
13   Johnny & The Hurricanes -
       Red River Rock
14   Lloyd Price - (You've Got) Personality
15   Lloyd Price - Stagger Lee
16   Ray Charles - What'd I Say
17   Craig Douglas - Only Sixteen
18   Paul Anka -
       Put Your Head On My Shoulder
19   Wilbert Harrison - Kansas City
20   Elvis Presley - A Big Hunk O' Love
21   Ritchie Valens - Donna
22   The Flamingos -
       I Only Have Eyes For You
23   Elvis Presley -
       I Need Your Love Tonight
24   Ivo Robic - Morgen
25   Guy Mitchell - Heartaches By the                       Number
26   The Fleetwoods - Mr Blue
27   The Coasters - Charlie Brown
28   The Drifters - There Goes My Baby
29   Emile Ford & The Checkmates             What Do You Want to Make Those                  Eyes At Me For?
30   Connie Francis - My Happiness
31   Frankie Avalon - Why?
32   Freddy Quinn - Unter fremden                           Sternen
33   Conway Twitty - Mona Lisa
34   Freddy Quinn - Die Gitarre Und Das                  Meer
35   Marty Robbins - El Paso
36   Buddy Holly - It Doesn't Matter                          Anymore
37   Santo & Johnny - Sleep Walk
38   The Everly Brothers - ('til) I Kissed                    You
39   Sam Cooke - Only Sixteen
40   Dion & The Belmonts - A Teenager in              Love
41   The Fleetwoods - Come Softly to Me
42   Cliff Richard - Travellin' Light
43   Phil Phillips - Sea of Love
44   Marino Barreto jr - Arrivederci
45   Bill Ramsey - Souvenirs
46   Little Richard - Baby Face
47   Russ Conway - Roulette
48   Paul Anka - It's Time to Cry
49   Johnnie Ray - I'll Never Fall in Love                 Again
50   Connie Francis - Lipstick On Your                    Collar
51   Freddy Cannon - Way Down Yonder                in New Orleans
52   Joe Damiano - Forever
53   Fabian - Tiger
54   Stonewall Jackson - Waterloo
55   The Isley Brothers - Shout
56   Frank Sinatra - High Hopes
57   Sidney Bechet - Petite Fleur (Little                  Flower)
58   Domenico Modugno -
           Ciao Ciao Bambina
59   Brook Benton - It's Just a Matter of                   Time
60   Ricky Nelson - Never Be Anyone Else              But You


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.



"What is  soul? It's like electricity - we don't really know what it is, but it's a force that can light a room."   - Ray Charles
charts with "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes". In April they do it again with the single "Twilight Time". (more)
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