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History Timeline of
Rock and Roll

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An Online History of

Rock and Roll

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Rock and Roll


The 1950's


  • Spring and Fall 1954

    "Shake, Rattle and Roll" written by Jesse Stone and recorded by both Big Joe Turner and Bill Haley & His Comets breaks into the US top hits!


  • July 1955

    " Rock Around the Clock " by Bob Halley and the Comets becomes a top hit in the USA! Number #1 for two months straight!

  • Summer 1955
    The film "Rock N' Roll Revue" starring Nat King Cole and Joe Turner opened up in theaters.

  • September 1955

    Chuck Berry's song "Mabellene" busted through the charts to #4 on the top twenty.

  • Fall 1955

    Buddy Holly signs his first big record contract with Decca. And Elvis Presley joins up with RCA.


  • February 1956

    Kay Star sings "Rock and Roll Waltz" to the top of the charts becoming the number one song.

  • March 1956

    Elvis moves into the charts with his "Heartbreak Hotel" debuting at #14 with Carl Perkin's "Blue Suede Shoes" above him at #13.

  • April 1956

    Elvis is #1 with "Heartbreak Hotel".
    Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" reaches into the charts at #13.

  • May 1956

    Fats Domino zooms into #13 with "I'm in Love Again."

  • Summer 1956

    Rock riots in the United Kingdom with the showing of the film "Rock Around the Clock."

  • September 1956

    Elvis Presley's most famous song "Hound Dog/Don't be Cruel" grabs the number #1 chart position in the US.

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  • January / Winter 1957

    Fats Domino has three top 20 hits with "I'm Walkin," "Blue Monday" and "Blueberry Hill."

  • February 1957

    Elvis is number #1 again with "Too Much."

  • April 1957

    The song "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On" makes Jerry Lee Lewis a #3 record.

  • May 1957

    "All Shook Up" by Elvis Presley rockets to number #1.

  • Spring and Summer 1957

    Little Richard hits the top 20 in the United States and the UK with "The Girl Can't Help It," "Long Tall Sally," "Jenny Jenny/Miss Ann," and "Lucille."

  • Summer 1957

    The classic TV show "American Bandstand" premieres this summer.

  • August 1957

    Buddy Holly and the Cricket's first big hit is "That'll Be the Day" debuts at #19 on the charts reaching all the way to #3 in September.  (Fun Fact -- The rumor in the 1960s was that the Beatles were inspired by Buddy Holly's music and named themselves accordingly.
    ie. Crickets --> Beatles)

  • Fall 1957

    Little Richard gets religion and leaves his Rock and Roll singing career behind.

  • November 1957

    Elvis repeats as #1 in the US with "Jailhouse Rock" and Buddy Holly and the Crickets are #1 in the UK with "That'll Be the Day."


  • January 1958
    Rock and roll dominates the
    US music charts!

    • #1 record is "At the Hop" by Danny and the Juniors.
    • #2 song by Ricky Nelson is "Stood Up/Waitin in School."
    • Jerry Lee Lewis is at #3 with his famous "Great Balls of Fire."
    • Buddy Holly and the Crickets follow at #5 with "Peggy Sue."
    • Elvis is at #6 with "Jailhoue Rock."

  • February 1958

    "Don't/I Beg You" by Elvis is #1 in February and March.

  • March 1958

    "Sweet Little Sixteen" by Chuch Berry at #2.

    Little Richard still rockin' with "Good Golly Miss Molly" at #9 in the UK and #18 in the US.

  • Summer 1958

    Elvis' winning streak of hits continues with "Hard Headed Woman" topping out at #1.

    Fun pop songs -- The Coaster's classic "Yakety Yak" at #2 and Sheb Wooley's hit "Purple People Eater" at #3.

    Alan Freed's rock and roll shows tour the country but run into problems with alleged "Rock Riots" at his shows. Rock and roll receives a "bad boy" image!

  • Fall 1958

    The 50s and 60s folk movement is ushered in with the Kingston Trio reaching the top 20 with "Tom Dooley" at #3.


  • January 1959

    "Chantilly Lace" by The Big Bopper reaches #19 on the UK music charts.

    Jerry Lee Lewis scandal hits the newspapers as he tours the UK.

  • February 3, 1959

    Tradegy strikes Rock and Roll -- Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr. of Beaumont, Texas - Thanks to one of of our visitors for that tip!), and Richie Valens (La Bamba and Donna) die in a plane crash during a snow storm. Is this "The Day the Music Died" in Don McLean's famous song from the 1970s?

  • February 1959

    Richie Valen's song "Donna" reached #2 on the US music charts the same month he died.

  • May 1959

    "A Fool Such as I" by Elvis Presley is a UK #1 hit. While Buddy Holly and the Cricket's song "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" follows at #2.

  • Trivia & Tidbits --
    Remember that all during the 1950s -- Rock and Roll, R&B, country, pop music and ballads all vied for top position on the charts every month. R&B, country, pop and ballad singers like The Platters, Doris Day, The Coasters, Perry Como, Teresa Brewer, Les Baxter, Conway Twitty, Frankie Lymon, Jimmie Rogers, Sam Cooke, Everly Brothers, Marty Robbins, Pat Boone, Frank Sinatra and Patti Page all competed with Rock and Roll for top chart honors as best selling records.



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