While big band and swing were popular in the 1940s, vocal driven popular music became dominant in the early 1950s. People often tend to forget that this was right after World War II, at the dawn of the Cold War. The world back then was a very different place, and it was rapidly evolving. It was a time of change, and of rebellion.
First artists that kicked off the revolution were Little Richard with his songs Tutti Frutti and Long Tall Sally, Chuck Berry with Maybellene, as well as Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Big Joe Turner, Gene Vincent, and many others. Their rock ’n’ roll hits were the first ones to enter the pop charts. Chuck Berry made the use of electric guitars popular, an instrument co-developed by artist Les Paul somewhat earlier.
On March 25, 1955 the motion picture The Blackboard Jungle was released, which used Bill Haley’s (We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock over its opening credits. So that date more or less marks the official birth of rock ’n’ roll, and in this manual we also use 1955 as the year the Golden Age Of Popular Music started. Around the same time Elvis Presley, one of the first mega-stars, started his career, and rock ’n’ roll quickly became an international success.
But it was not the only popular trend at the time, as teen idols such as Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka, Bobby Rydell, Connie Francis, and Fabian Forte also remained very popular and topped the charts with less intense pop music. Other important names of the 1950s include Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Pat Boone, Johnny Cash, and The Everly Brothers.
As mentioned before, it was usually still not common for artists to write their own songs in the 1950s, something that should change a lot in the 1960s.