Saturday, December 7, 2013

The '50's

Joel Whitburn's brand new book saluting the Billboard Charts of the '50's is out ... and it's another winner!!!

For the first time ever, Joel is treating us to the entire decade of '50's music.  (Previous editions, dating back now over 40 years, have centered around the dawn of The Rock Era, primarily acknowledged as the event of "Rock Around The Clock" reaching #1 on the Billboard Chart.)  But THIS time around, Joel is running pristine copies of those charts dating all the way back to the Best Sellers List published on January 7, 1950 ... right on through the premier of the very first Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart released on August 4, 1958. (Billboard also ran a Top 100 Chart during this era ... from November 12, 1955 - July 28, 1958 ... but Joel tells us that it was Billboard's "Best Sellers" Chart that provided the definitive ranking of the most popular music in America at the time.  Regardless, you'll find those Top 100 Charts in a special section of the book, too.  Billboard also ran Airplay and Juke Box charts during this era ... the data collected from ALL of these sources ... along with the Best Sellers In Stores information ... is what begat The Hot 100 Chart in 1958.) 

The '50's started out without much fanfare ... the sounds coming out of your radio really didn't sound much different than they did in the late '40's ... and many of the same artists were still scoring hit after hit after hit.  As such, #1 Records by artists like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Patti Page, Nat "King" Cole, Johnnie Ray, Rosemary Clooney, Eddie Fisher, The Andrews Sisters, The Ames Brothers and Teresa Brewer were the norm ... and many of these artists carried over that success well into the decade. 

For the first time, you can watch the charts evolve ... and then change forever when that "new-fangled fad" that was "never gonna last" ... rock and roll ... hit the charts in the mid-'50's. 

Previously, the song was almost as important as the singer.  As such, multiple versions of the same song recorded by as many as half a dozen different artists, charted simultaneously.  That would all change mid-decade when teenagers became the principle buyers of music ... because we made our OWN stars since this was OUR music.  I have maintained for the past thirty years that popular music did more to mend race-relations than ANY politician or government program EVER has ... we liked what we heard and we were buying it, regardless if it was rock, R&B or country.  In fact, it was that very hybrid of all these styles that bred rock and roll in the first place! 

"Rock Around The Clock" may have kicked it off, but soon we had a whole new set of artists setting the pace for what radio was playing.  Elvis Presley hit the charts 17 times in 1956 alone!  And soon, R&B Music (then still referred to by many as the politically-incorrect term "race music") started to cross over and take hold.  Thanks to disc jockeys like Alan Freed, white kids were "dirty dancing" to the hottest black artists of the day, preferring the original spirit of these recordings over the watered-down, washboard versions that were being covered why "acceptable" white artists like Pat Boone, Gale Storm and The Crew Cuts. 

Meanwhile, artists like Elvis and Chuck Berry and Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis and even The Everly Brothers were soon crossing over to the other charts, scoring not only pop hits, but R&B and country hits as well.  

Mainstream artists were still making their mark ... Kay Starr had a #1 Hit with "The Rock And Roll Waltz", the first time a record with the phrase "rock and roll" in it hit the top of the charts ... but a record that had little if ANYTHING to do with rock and roll ... or the new sounds it was creating.  Meanwhile, it was the primitive, sexual tone of rock and roll that was spurring on the youth of the day, getting us to move and groove in ways never previously dreamed acceptable ... and still shocking to most of those around us.  (It may not have been the free-spirited, free-lovin' '60's yet ... but Little Richard was right when he said that the kids of the '50's "sure love to ball" ... the sexual revolution had begun!!! 

Watch it all evolve in Joel's new book, available NOW through the Record Research Website ...  
Click here: Billboard Best Sellers & Hot 100 Charts: 1950s | Joel Whitburn's Record Research   

And be sure to check back tomorrow for your chance to win a free copy of this hot, new book! 

That's right ... Joel Whitburn has put together another amazing trivia challenge EXCLUSIVELY for our Forgotten Hits Readers ... 50 Questions About The '50's ... and they'll premier on the website tomorrow ... so don't miss it!!!