Top Artists and Bands of the 50s


Elvis Presley was the one who made the musical explosion during the 50s  — sure, he was not the inventor of rock n’ roll, but he made it more mainstream and accessible. Other rock n’ roll pioneers such as Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis continued to bring fire and passion of the new sound to its mostly younger audience.

Many more genres were introduced including doo-wop and rockabilly while the parent-friendly sounds such as the big bands and pop and jazz standards continued to hold on during this decade.

The Skyliners

Formed: 1958, Pittsburgh, PA, United States

Members; Jimmy Beaumont (lead vocals), Wally Lester (tenor vocals), Jackie Taylor (bass vocals), Joe Versharen (baritone vocals), Janet Vogel (tenor vocals), Jack Gardner (lead vocals), Sammy Mauro (baritone vocals), Nick Pociask, Dick Muse, Mark Groom, Donna Groom

Also Known As: Jimmy Beaumont & The Skyliners

Genres: Doo-Wop

Big Joe Turner

Born: May 18, 1911, Kansas City, MO, United States

Died: November 24, 1985, Inglewood, CA, United States

Related Artists: Pete Johnson

Notes: Married to Lou Willie Turner

Also Known As: Joseph Vernon Turner [birth name], Big Vernon, Joe Turner

Genres: Rhythm & Blues, Rock & Roll, Blues, Jump-Blues, Jazz, Piano Blues

The Diamonds

Formed: December 1953, Toronto, ON, Canada

Members: Dave Somerville [David Troy] (lead vocals, 1953-61), Jim Malone (lead vocals, 1961-present), Ted Kowalski (tenor, 1953-58), Evan Fisher (tenor, 1958-present), Phil Levitt (baritone, 1953-57), Mike Douglas (baritone, 1957-present), Bill Reed (bass vocals, 1953-58), John Felten (bass vocals, 1958-82)

Related Artists: The Four Preps

Also Known As: The Four Diamonds, The “Original Diamonds”

Genres: Doo-Wop

The Clovers

Formed: 1946, Washington, DC, United States

Disbanded: 2002

Members: Harold Lucas (vocals), John “Buddy” Bailey (vocals, 1946-52, 1954-?), Billy Shelton (vocals, 1946-48), Thomas Woods (vocals, 1946-48), Matthew McQuarter (vocals, 1948-63), Harold Winley (vocals, 1948-65), Bill Harris (guitar, 1951-?), John Phillip (vocals, 1952), Charlie White (vocals, 1952-53), Billy Mitchell (vocals, 1953-62), James “Toy” Walton (vocals, 1961-63, ?-1975), Robert Russell (vocals, 1961-63, 1965-69), Roosevelt “Tippie” Hubbard (vocals, 1962-63, ?-1980), Nathaniel Bouknight (vocals, 1962-63), Peggy Winley Mills (vocals, 1962-63), Ann Winley (vocals, 1962-63), Jimmy Taylor (vocals, 1965-?), Al Fox (vocals), Bobby Adams (vocals, 1968-?), Johnny Taylor (vocals, 1968-?), Ray Loper (vocals, 1968-?), John Bowie (vocals, 1969-02), Johnnie Mason (vocals, 1975-?), Steve Charles (vocals, 1980-90), Chuck Battle (vocals, 1990-92), Richard Merritt (vocals, 1993-?), Preston Monroe (vocals, 1992-?), David Warren (vocals)

Related Artists: The Checkers

Also Known As: The Four Clovers, Tippie and the Clovermen, Tippie and the Clovers, Tippie and the Wisemen

Genres: Doo-Wop, Rhythm & Blues

Rick Nelson

Born: May 8, 1940, Teaneck, NJ, United States

Died: December 31, 1985, DeKalb, TX, United States

Member of: The Fleas, Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band, The Trophies

Related Artists: James Burton

Notes: Father of actress Tracy Nelson and pop singers Matthew & Gunnar Nelson; married to Kristin Harmon [1963-82]

Also Known As: Eric Hilliard Nelson [birth name], Ricky Nelson

Genres: Rock & Roll, Country Rock, Teen Pop, Country, Pop, Pop Rock

The Big Bopper

Born: October 24, 1930, Sabine Pass, TX, United States

Died: February 3, 1959, Clear Lake, IA, United States

Also Known As: Jiles Perry Richardson [birth name], Jape Richardson, J.P. Richardson

Genres: Rock & Roll, Pop

Elvis Presley – Check out our Profile of Elvis!

Born: Elvis Aaron Presley, January 8, 1935, Tupelo, Mississippi, U.S.

Died: August 16, 1977 (aged 42), Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.

Resting place: Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.

Education: L.C. Humes High School

Occupation: Singer, actor

Home town: Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.

Spouse(s): Priscilla Beaulieu (m. 1967; div. 1973)

Children: Lisa Marie Presley

Frank Sinatra

Born: Francis Albert Sinatra, December 12, 1915, Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S.[1]

Died: May 14, 1998 (aged 82), Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Cause of death: Heart attack

Resting place: Desert Memorial Park, Cathedral City, California, U.S.

Occupation: Singer, actor, director, producer

Years active: 1935–1995[2]

Political party: Democratic (1944–1970s), Republican (1970s–1998)

Spouse(s): Nancy Barbato (m. 1939–51), Ava Gardner (m. 1951–57), Mia Farrow (m. 1966–68), Barbara Marx (m. 1976–98)

Children: Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Tina Sinatra

Parents: Anthony Martin Sinatra, Natalina Garaventa

Awards: List of awards and nominations received by Frank Sinatra

Musical career

Genres: Traditional pop, easy listening, jazz, swing, big band, vocal, vocal jazz

Instruments: Vocals

Labels: Columbia, Capitol, Reprise, Warner Bros

Associated acts: Rat Pack, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Nancy Sinatra, Judy Garland, Dinah Shore, Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Dean Martin, Count Basie, Sammy Davis, Jr., Duke Ellington


Nat King Cole

Birth name: Nathaniel Adams Coles

Also known as: Nat Cole

Born: March 17, 1919, Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.

Died: February 15, 1965 (aged 45), Santa Monica, California, U.S.

Genres: Vocal jazz, swing, traditional pop

Occupation(s): Vocalist, pianist

Instruments: Piano, vocals, organ

Years active: 1935–1965

Labels: Capitol

Associated acts: Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin

Miles Davis

Birth name: Miles Dewey Davis III

Born: May 26, 1926, Alton, Illinois, U.S.

Died: September 28, 1991 (aged 65), Santa Monica, California, U.S.

Genres: Jazz

Occupation(s): Musician (bandleader, composer, trumpeter)

Instruments: Trumpet, flugelhorn, piano, organ, synthesizer

Years active: 1944–1975, 1980–1991

Labels: Capitol Jazz/EMI, Columbia/CBS, Warner Bros., Dial Records, Birdland

Associated acts: Billy Eckstine, Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan, Gil Evans, Miles Davis Quintet


Perry Como

Birth name: Pierino Ronald Como

Born: May 18, 1912, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Died: May 12, 2001 (aged 88), Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida, U.S.

Genres: Easy listening, adult contemporary, pop, big band, jazz, Latin, swing, country, religious music

Instruments: Vocalist

Years active: 1933–1998

Labels: Decca, RCA Victor

Associated acts: Freddy Carlone Orchestra, Ted Weems Orchestra

Bill Haley and His Comets

Formed: 1952

Disbanded: 1981 (when Haley passed away)

Origin: Chester, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Members: Bill Haley, Rudy Pompilli, Billy Williamson, Al Rex, Bill Haley, Johnny Grande, Ralph Jones, and Franny Beecher

Also Known As: The Down Homers, Bill Haley and the 4 Aces of Western Swing, Bill Haley and the Saddlemen, The Kingsmen, The Lifeguards, B.H. Sees Combo

Fats Domino

Birth name: Antoine Dominique Domino Jr.

Born: February 26, 1928, New Orleans, Louisiana

Died: October 24, 2017, Harvey, Louisiana

Genres: Rock and roll, boogie-woogie, New Orleans rhythm and blues

Instruments: Vocals, Piano

Occupation: Singer, songwriter, pianist

Years active: 1942–2017

Labels: Imperial, London, Renown, ABC, Mercury, Broadmoor, Reprise, Sonet, Warner Bros., Toot Toot

Notes: Married to Rosemary Hall and was blessed with 8 children

Also Known as: Fats, The Fat Man

Chuck Berry

Birth name: Charles Edward Anderson Berry

Born: October 18, 1926, St. Louis, Missouri

Died: March 18, 2017, St. Charles County, Missouri

Resting Place: Bellerive Gardens Cemetery, St. Louis

Genres: Rock and roll, rhythm and blues

Instruments: Vocals, Guitar

Occupation: Singer, songwriter, musician

Years active: 1953-2016

Labels: Chess, Mercury, Atco, Dualtone

Notes: Married to Themetta Suggs and was blessed with 4 children

Etta Jones

Born: November 25, 1928, Aiken, South Carolina, U.S.

Died: October 16, 2001 (aged 72), Mount Vernon, New York, U.S

Genres: Jazz, pop, R&B

Instruments: Vocals

Occupation: Singer, songwriter

Years active: 1943-2001

Labels: Prestige, Muse, HighNote


Indeed, the 1950s were pivotal in the formation of the modern music, specifically in rock and roll. The above-mentioned artists or bands have indeed played a vital role in its development. We hope that through this article, we were able to share vital information about these top artists and bands during the 1950s.


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