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.
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
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
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”
Formed: 1946, Washington, DC, United States
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
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
Born: Francis Albert Sinatra, December 12, 1915, Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S.
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
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
Genres: Traditional pop, easy listening, jazz, swing, big band, vocal, vocal jazz
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
Associated acts: Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin
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.
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
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
Years active: 1933–1998
Labels: Decca, RCA Victor
Associated acts: Freddy Carlone Orchestra, Ted Weems Orchestra
Bill Haley and His Comets
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
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
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
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
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.