Category Archives: 1950-1959
In 1958, Henry Mancini recorded a theme song for a new television series: Peter Gunn. The theme song, which is very simple, since it only knows one chord, would be a rock ‘n roll success. Read the rest of this entry
In 1959, the television series Rawhide started. The series, running for seven years, saw the rise of Clint Eastwood. Of course, the TV-series couldn’t do without a tune. The song was sung by Frankie Laine, and written by two composers who had dealt with western music earlier: Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington. They made a sort of cattleride of it, including whips. The song was later popular again because the Blues Brothers used it. It was a number 6 hit in the UK. Enjoy
Frankie Laine- Rawhide
In 1958, Peggy Lee covered a song by Little Willie John. Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell wrote the song in 1956 for Little Willie John. He made it to number 1 in the R&B charts. Two years later, Peggy Lee took the first and fourth verse and recorded them together with some other verses, which include Romeo & Juliet. She reached number 5 in the UK and number 8 in the US. Enjoy
Peggy Lee- Fever
In 1955, Robert Charles Guidry, better known as Bobby Charles, recorded the song Later Alligator. It was a blues song with a melody which came from the song Later For You Baby by Guitar Slim. Bill Haley & his Comets took the song, made it more of an uptempo song and recorded it in New York in 1955. The song was featured in their movie Rock Around The Clock in 1956, and therefore the song also reached number 6 in the US. The song would be the last big hit for Bill Haley. Enjoy
Bill Haley & His Comets- See You Later Alligator
In 1958, Connie Francis had hit the charts with Who’s Sorry Now, which became her breakthrough single. However, the follow-up single had flopped and she needed a good song to keep her success. In the search for this song, she heard nothing good. Then Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka came along, and they played some of their songs. She asked for something more lively, and then they played Stupid Cupid. She liked it, recorded it and it made her return to the charts, on number 14! The UK loved this song even more, bringing it to number 1. Enjoy
Connie Francis- Stupid Cupid
In 1958, the songwriter team Felice & Boudleaux Bryant wrote All I Have To Do Is Dream. The song was recorded by the Everly Brothers in the same year, and hit number 1 in all US Billboard charts at the same time. It would also be a number 1 hit in the UK. The b-side of the single, Claudette, was the first success in songwriting for Roy Orbison. Therefore, Roy quit Sun Records and went to Acuff-Rose Music, the label of the Everly Brothers. Enjoy
The Everly Brothers- All I Have To Do Is Dream
For the origins of this song, we have to go back to the song Hoochie Coochie Man, which was written by Willie Dixon and sung by Muddy Waters. The song got a reply by Bo Diddley, called I’m Your Man. Both the first and the second song got the melody line which was used in Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters. No need explaining that this song was a reply to the song by Diddley. The song was recorded in 1955, and reached number 5 in the R&B chart of the US. Enjoy
Muddy Waters- Mannish Boy
It wasn’t the first, but the second single Roy Orbison ever released. He did so in 1956, and reached the US chart with it on number 59. In this time, Roy Orbison still was with a band, the Teen Kings. They got the advice of Johnny Cash to join Sun Records. They did so, recorded Ooby Dooby, and then the band left Orbison. He went on as a solo-artist, having hits with Pretty Woman and You Got It. Enjoy
Roy Orbison- Ooby Dooby
In 1954, Elvis Presley recorded and released his first single ever: That’s All Right. The song was not written by him, because the original was made by Arthur Crudup, a blues singer. He already recorded it in 1946. Some parts of the text even date back to another song, which was made in 1926! The song was re-released in 1949, now on a new format: the 45 rpm single. This particular single was coloured bright orange, if you want to know. Elvis played the song in a break, speeded up the tempo and when the other musicians joined in, his first single was born. The song was played on a radio show, and again, and again… it never charted, though it sold 20000 copies. Enjoy
Elvis Presley- That’s All Right
In 1957, Paul Anka wrote a song about a girl he saw in church, although he hardly knew her. Others say the song was inspired by a classmate and friend of Paul Anka. However, he reached number 1 with the song in the UK and number 2 in the US, and he sold over nine million copies of the song. The song would be covered a lot of times, none reached the success Paul Anka had with it. Enjoy
Paul Anka- Diana
In 1959, Huey ‘Piano’ Smith (a R&B and jazz singer), wrote the song Sea Cruise. He also recorded it, but there was one problem: Smith was black. Ace Records, his record label, decided to keep the song, but to replace the lyrics which were sung by Smith by the vocals of a white man, Frankie Ford. After this, the song was released and reached the Top 20 in the US. Enjoy
Frankie Ford- Sea Cruise
Johnny & the Hurricanes started as the Orbits from Toledo. Their first hit would be Crossfire, which charted at number 23. After another big hit with the Red River Rock, they started to work on old tunes. These were easy to recognize by the public, and therefore potential hits with a new beat. One of these tunes was the reveille. The song which derived from this was the Reveille Rock, which charted at number 25 in the US. Enjoy
Johnny & the Hurricanes- Reveille Rock
This song originally was released in 1955 by Fats Domino, who scored a big hit with it. He sold millions of copies, and reached number 10 in the pop chart. Pat Boone re-recorded the song, and brought it to the white audience. After that, his version was forgotten about, since the version by Fats Domino also reached the white audience. However, I knew this version before the one of Fats, and still think this is also a great song. Enjoy
Pat Boone- Ain’t That A Shame
Little Richard was one of the first rock ‘n rollers, together with this man: Chuck Berry. In 1955, he made a song out of an old fiddle tune and told the story of a broken romance, together with a race between hot rods. These two would later be big themes in the rock ‘n roll. Berry brought this song, together with a blues song, to a producer. This man had little interest in the blues song, but liked this. His choice was right: the song would be number 5 in the US pop charts! Enjoy
Chuck Berry- Maybellene
Today we’re paying attention to one of the earliest covers in pop music. The original recording of this song was done by Big Maybelle, who made her version in 1955. This song was produced by Quincy Jones (who later produced most of the Michael Jackson records). Jerry Lee Lewis first played this song live, and decided to record it in 1957. He knew it would be a hit, though Sam Phillips (the founder of Sun Records) thought it to be too risky. It was a number 3 hit in the US pop chart. Enjoy
Jerry Lee Lewis- Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
In 1956, Otis Blackwell wrote a song together with Elvis Presley. Well, Elvis sort of leaned back and Blackwell wrote the song. Probably Elvis made some changes, but the deal was like this: if Elvis was given a part of the song writing credits, he would record it and a sale of more than a million records was guaranteed. And it did: in 1961 it had already sold more than six million records. The song was a number 1 hit in 1956, too. Enjoy
Elvis Presley- Don’t Be Cruel
This the breakthrough single of Little Richard, which he wrote with Dorothy LaBostrie in 1955! The song includes a drum rhythm which Little Richard sings, and together with the fast rhythm, this would be the model for rock ‘n roll. In a way, this was the basis for rock ‘n roll! It was born out of frustration during a recording session, and after a little adjustment, this was perfect for a record. And so pop music started! Enjoy
Little Richard- Tutti Frutti
This song originally was made by the Crickets, the band in which Buddy Holly was the singer. He later recorded it for his own album. The song title first was Cindy Lou, because the song would be for his niece. They changed the title when Jerry Allison (one of the Crickets members) had a breakup with his later wife. In 1957, the song hit number 3 in the US. Enjoy
Buddy Holly- Peggy Sue
Maybe this song was no big hit in the world at all, at least I had a lot of trouble finding any information on it. I now know it was from 1959. In the Netherlands, he had a hit with it, peaking at number 6 in 1960. Enjoy
Johnny Otis & Marci Lee- Telephone Baby
This song was a jazz standard for the movie of the musical Whopee! from 1930. Eddie Cantor sang this version. In 1958, Nina Simone recorded another version, which was featured on her debut album. In 1958, the song stuck to number 82 in the UK. This changed in 1987, when Chanel No. 5 used the song in a commercial. The song would be number 5 in the UK and even number 1 in the Netherlands! Enjoy
Nina Simone- My Baby Just Cares For Me
In 1959, Brenda Lee released the song Sweet Nothin’s. The song, written by Ronnie Self, peaked at number 4 in both the US and the UK. The song itself doesn’t have a special history, but it has been a favourite to sample. Kanye West used a sample, as well as Sigma in their hit Nobody To Love. Enjoy
Brenda Lee- Sweet Nothin’s
Today another number 1 hit in the US pop and R&B charts, but this is an instrumental track with the word Tequila said three times in the whole song! The song was recorded in 1958 and had a sense of Latin music, since it was based on a Cuban mambo beat! Gene Autrey had signed Dave Burgess on his label in 1957, but Dave had not produced any hits till the end of 1957. At a recording session, Train to Nowhere (written by Dave) was recorded, as well as Tequila. This would be the b-side. Train to Nowhere was no success, Tequila became a success when a DJ flipped the single. Enjoy
The Champs- Tequila
It’s Elvis Monday again! It’s written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and was released in 1957, when the movie Jailhouse Rock was released. In the US, it would be a number 1 hit. The people he refers to are both fictional and real: Shifty Henry was a musician (but not a criminal one), the Purple Gang a mob and Sad Sack a nickname for a loser. The song later inspired the Spider Murphy Gang to choose its name. Enjoy
Elvis Presley- Jailhouse Rock
Again a number 1 hit in the US charts, and this one is an old murderballad! The story of Tom Dooley was based on the murder of Laura Foster in 1866. Her lover and fiancé, Tom Dula, was convicted for this murder. He had to hang for this murder, as is sung in the song. Thomas C. Land, a poet, wrote a poem about it and that’s how it ended up in the folk scene. Here, several recordings were made, but none were more successful than the version of the Kingston Trio. Enjoy
The Kingston Trio- Tom Dooley
Another number 1 hit in the R&B charts and normal charts today! The song was written in 1958 for the Coasters by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and it was just one of the many hits the Coasters had in the fifties. The song described the life teenagers had when living with their parents (do this, do that, and don’t complain). Enjoy
The Coasters- Yakety Yak
Rockin’ Robin was a big hit in 1958. Leon René wrote the song, using his pseudonym Jimmie Thomas. The song was recorded by Bobby Day, who took the song to number 2 in the US normal chart and number 1 in the R&B chart. In Australia, the song made it to number 9. As a matter of fact, Bobby Day only had this hit, and never returned to the charts… The cover version, made by Michael Jackson, also did well in the charts: it reached number 2 in the US. However, today we enjoy the original
Bobby Day- Rockin’ Robin
Jackie Wilson originally was a member of the Dominoes. He left the band and went solo. In 1957, he recorded his first solo-song, written by Berry Gordy and the cousin of Jackie Wilson. The title was stolen from Louis Jordan, who had a song called Reet, Petite and Gone. The song made it to number 6 in the UK and number 62 in the US. The money was used by Berry Gordy, who fund Motown with it… Three years after Jackie Wilson died, the song became a hit again because of a clay-animation. It now even made number 1 in the UK! Enjoy
Jackie Wilson- Reet Petite
Buck Ram once composed a song called Only You (And You Alone). The song was then recorded by Williams and the Platters in 1954, but had no success. When the Platters recorded the song again in 1955, it was a big hit. This was due to Tony Williams, whose voice broke during recordings and a funny effect in this Only You. When the car of the Platters broke down, he did Ohhhnly You. This, and Ram playing the piano, brought a number 1 hit in the R&B chart and a number 5 in the normal American chart. Enjoy
The Platters- Only You
The song I’m Walking was written by Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew. Fats recorded it in 1957, and made it to number 4 in the US pop chart and even to number 1 in the R&B chart. Later, the song would be used in the movie The Blues Brothers, and in some commercials (as the picture tells us). Enjoy
Fats Domino- I’m Walking
In this Fifties February, we can’t ignore Elvis Presley. Therefore, Monday is Elvis Monday! The song was released in 1956 and became a number 1 hit in the US. The writers have different versions of how the song was written. One, Mae Boren Axton, says an article about a suicide of a man had a big impact. This man only left a note with “I walk a lonely street”. She then gave the idea of putting up a Heartbreak Hotel at the end of every street, the inspiration for the title. Tommy Durden says the song was already finished when this article was printed. However, Elvis recorded it and had a hit with it. Enjoy
Elvis Presley- Heartbreak Hotel
Welcome to February, Fifties February! This song originates from 1956, when Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps recorded the song! This song is credited to Gene Vincent and his manager, Bill Davis. Apparently, Gene Vincent wrote the song in a hospital. He wrote the tune, and the lyrics were written by Donald Graves. Bill Davis bought the lyrics for a low amount of money (sources vary) and credited himself. The song made it to number 16 in the UK and number 7 in the US! Enjoy
Gene Vincent- Be-Bop-A-Lula
An golden oldie today! Alfred Hitchcock made the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much, starring James Stewart and Doris Day, in 1956. Of course he needed a title song, which was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. The song would be sung by Doris Day, and it would be number 2 in the US and even number 1 in the UK! Normie Rowe would later chart with a cover of this song on number 1 in Australia. Enjoy
Doris Day- Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be)
In 1958, the song Oh! Carol was written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. It was the last chance for Neil Sedaka to show he could make a hit, since his first two singles had not charted. Neil bought the three top singles of the week, listened to them over and over again, found out the structure was the same and made a single with this concept. The song was inspired by the affair Neil had on the high school, with Carole King. She released a reaction in 1958 too, but this song would not be a hit. The song by Neil Sedaka charted number 9 in the US and even number 1 in Italy! Enjoy
Neil Sedaka- Oh! Carol
A golden oldie today! All the way from the fifties, written by Eddie Cochran and his manager, Jerry Capehart. In 1958 it was released as a B-side, but this time they got it wrong: the B-side would be the hit! In the US it peaked at number 8 and in the UK it reached number 18. Then the song started its way through history in many cover versions, including a version of the Beach Boys and the Who. Today we’ve got the original! Enjoy
Eddie Cochran- Summertime Blues
A golden oldie today! And when I say old, I mean really old. The original of this song dates from 1955! It was written for a musical, Damn Yankees. In the same year, Sarah Vaughan, a jazz singer, took the song and recorded it. She did it with success, or that’s how I see it: just listen to the start of the song! A few horns blowing, and then the sound of Sarah Vaughan! Superb and beautiful. Enjoy
Sarah Vaughan- Whatever Lola Wants
I’m shocked. Today, just a few moments ago, when I started up a newssite to find inspiration for a limerick, I saw Phil Everly died. He was part of the Everly Brothers, and I think they were one of the groups who gave music a destination. Between all the rock ‘n roll and doowop music, they created a whole new sound, which inspired one of the biggest bands in the world, the Beatles. They changed music, and still their music is inspiring.
They were the origins of some groups and people. In the summer, I gave a presentation about the U.S.A., and someone thought they were Simon & Garfunkel, who covered one of their songs. Their sound is great, harmonic, and maybe they are bigger than the Beatles, although they are to most people unknown.
RIP Phil Everly (74)
The Everly Brothers- Bye Bye Love (their first hit)
Yes, I know. Yesterday a song which was song of the day before, and today again. But this time I want to focus a bit more on the cover by Los Lobos.
In 1987 a movie with the same name, La Bamba, appeared in the cinemas. Los Lobos made a song for the soundtrack, and this was a cover of Ritchie Valens’ song.
However, Ritchie Valens wasn’t the first artist to sing the song. Although he wasn’t the first to sing it, he was the first to put it on a record. Originally, it was a folk song, so only sung by the ‘normal’ people.
Number 7: Ritchie Valens- La Bamba
More summer, sunny rock ‘n roll on its way. What a record!
Later this record was covered by Los Lobos, but I prefer this record, since it’s the original.
Really rock ‘n roll, it sounds summer, it’s Ritchie Valens with La Bamba!
Later he died in the big plane crash, which was later known as “the day the music died”. This phrase of course comes from American Pie by Don McLean, who saw the people in the plane as the basement for the music.
Mmm… summer is coming now! And some inspiration for a new list, too…
Maybe tomorrow more about that.
Ah! I like this record, although I don’t own it…
That’s because of two things: Firstly the song of the day, which sounds sunny, and you get the feeling that summer is coming. Furthermore, the record is quite impressive, with the melody. I think it’s very good.
Secondly, but that is my own strange thing… I like VW-busses, although I have problems getting in them (I’m round the 1.95 metres…)
All in all, more surf music: Enjoy Johnny & The Hurricanes with Red River Rock!