May 27, 2016

255 The Everly Brothers “Bye Bye Love” 1957

“The song had been written eight months before and had been turned down by thirty artists.” Phil Everly said, “We went in [the studio] to cut the single for the sixty-four dollar session fee—that’s what I wanted. A quick sixty-four dollars to buy some hamburgers” (The Everly Brothers: Walk Right Back).  

The Everly Brothers “Bye Bye Love”

254 Bo Diddley (1928-2008) “Who Do You Love” 1957

“Despite general public recognition of his contributions to rock and roll, and acknowledgments from high-profile players such as the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, Diddley's innovative sound and string of hits generated few financial rewards for the musician…Because he received inadequate compensation for his work, Diddley had to maintain an active touring schedule to support himself, despite health problems” (Contemporary Black Biography).  

Bo Diddley “Who Do You Love”

253 The Diamonds “The Stroll” 1957

Dave Somerville “could sing across four octaves, from a growling bass to that signature, soaring, explosive falsetto at the start of Little Darlin'…His natural pipes were a rich baritone, and with leading-man good looks, Mr. Somerville's career spanned seven decades as an actor, voiceover artist and songwriter” and “lead singer of the 1950s doo-wop group the Diamonds… the first white vocal group to have hits on both pop and rhythm and blues charts” (Ron Csillag, The Globe and Mail, 8/4/2015).

The Diamonds “The Stroll”

252 The Diamonds “Little Darlin’” 1957

“The song has appeared on more than 250 albums and experienced new life when it was part of the soundtrack to the 1973 film American Graffiti. Mr. Somerville was told by American soldiers that while fighting in Vietnam during the 1960s and 70s, they used the catchy lyrics as signals in the jungle” (Ron Csillag, The Globe and Mail, 8/4/2015). 

The Diamonds “Little Darlin’”

251 The Del Vikings “Whispering Bells” 1957

“The original quintet…began performing at the Pittsburgh Air Force Base camp hall in 1955 and won a base talent contest the next year… Air Force officials halted the group’s performance in uniform—the military only wanted the group to perform in uniform if they were doing official recruitment gigs. Wishing to avoid becoming an Air Force singing group, the members contented themselves with gigs in Pittsburgh, juggling their differing schedules until they finished their military service” (Contemporary Musicians).

The Del Vikings “Whispering Bells”

May 20, 2016

250 Danny & the Juniors “At the Hop” 1957

“Popular music often serves to insulate young people against the authority of the previous generation, and the commercial search for the Latest makes generation tension over music virtually automatic. But in rock’s heyday there was a special intensity on both sides. On one side, generational defiance:… ‘Rock and Roll is here to stay’ (Danny and the Juniors). On the other: Perry Como…, adult fear and loathing” (Todd Gitlin, qtd. in David Shumway, Rock Star, 2014).

Danny & the Juniors “At the Hop”

249 Sam Cooke (1931-1964) “You Send Me” 1957

When Clif White, Cooke’s longtime backup guitarist, first met Cooke, “he found that he was being draw in, first by the indisputable beauty of Sam’s voice, then by the way he was able, like so many great gospel singers, just to grab the changes out of the air. But it was the power of his personality that got Clif in the end” (Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke).

Sam Cooke “You Send Me”

248 Eddie Cochran (1938-1960) “Sittin’ in the Balcony” 1957

“Probably the most talented and yet underrated of all the early rockers was Eddie Cochran…He crammed a great deal into his short life and musical career, one which lasted only five years, and was certainly the most diverse, of all the rockers” (Julie Mundy, Don’t Forget Me: The Eddie Cochran Story, 2001).

Eddie Cochran “Sittin’ in the Balcony”

247 The Coasters “Young Blood” 1957

Partly derived from the Robins, “The four original members of the group all met in Los Angeles’ black ghetto, where most of them grew up” and “Singing in small clubs” (Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock & Soul). The B side of “Young Blood,” “Searchin’,” was an even bigger #1 R&B hit.

The Coasters “Young Blood”

The Coasters “Searchin’” 

246 Patsy Cline (1932-1963) “Walkin’ After Midnight” 1957

Dottie West said, “In the era of country music we came up through, women didn’t have the clout they have today…Patsy crossed over and had massive pop appeal when this was virtually unheard of…More than anyone, Patsy opened the door for us” (Mary Bufwack, Finding Her Voice, 2003).

Patsy Cline “Walkin’ After Midnight”

May 12, 2016

245 The Chantels “Maybe” 1957

“The Chantels launched their singing careers in 1956 on New York City's Broadway, where they were discovered by Richard Barrett, lead singer of The Valentines. All five of The Chantels attended St. Anthony of Padua's Elementary School in the Bronx and were members of St. Anthony's Church choir. Their unique sound was rooted in the institution's liturgical music” (Renee White, New York Amsterdam News, 1/11/2001).

The Chantels “Maybe”

244 Pat Boone (1934- ) “Love Letters in the Sand” 1957

Boone’s first hits were tamer versions of black R&B standards such as Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame.” “Even today it is a controversial question whether Boone’s cover records helped to open the door to the black originators or shut them out of the white marketplace. By 1957…Boone had given up rock and switched to ballads” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music).

Pat Boone “Love Letters in the Sand”

243 Pat Boone (1934- ) “April Love” 1957

Boone “sold more records during the late 50s than any other artist except Elvis Presley…A bona fide ‘teen idol’, Boone was, however, a personality quite unlike Presley. Where Elvis represented the outcast or rebel, Boone was a clean-cut conformist” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music).

Pat Boone “April Love”

242 The Bobbettes “Mr. Lee” 1957

“The first all-female R&B group to have a major pop hit… ‘Mr. Lee’ was a song the girls had written in honour of their fifth-grade teacher, although the lyrics were not as kind in their original version” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music).

The Bobbettes “Mr. Lee”

241 Richard Berry (1935-1997) “Louie Louie” 1957

Part of the L.A. R&B scene, Berry didn’t think the song was hit material and was at first unaware of its 60’s popularity. “By 1959 ‘Louie Louie’ wasn’t even a has-been item, it was a dead song…a relic for ten-cent bargain bins and prepacks of a dozen 45s you’ve never heard of” (Dave Marsh, Louie Louie).

Richard Berry “Louie Louie”

May 6, 2016

240 Chuck Berry (1926-2017) “School Days” 1957

“Then there was Chuck Berry, inventing rock ‘n’ roll, dropping the coin right into the slot, singing of lonely schooldays. Playing for kids, newly liberated, with a weekly allowance and the key to the car” (Collis, Chuck Berry The Biography). 

Chuck Berry “School Days”

239 Chuck Berry (1926-2017) “Rock & Roll Music” 1957

“George Thorogood paid Chuck Berry the ultimate professional compliment when he suggested that Chuck had written all the important rock songs. ‘Why should I write songs when Chuck Berry already wrote them all’” (DeWitt, Chuck Berry Rock ‘N’ Roll Music).

Chuck Berry “Rock & Roll Music”

238 Paul Anka (1941- ) “Diana” 1957

“Paul is a fantastic businessman, amazingly sharp. When a door closes, don't stand there like a dummy -- find another door! So off he went to Italy, France, Germany, Japan, where they had not been told that everything had changed. He recorded songs in the local tongues. While … songwriters were starving through the British Invasion, he was selling millions of records, having a grand time on the Riviera (Jerry Weintraub, Vanity Fair, 2013).

Paul Anka (1941- ) “Diana”

237 Sonny West (1937- ) “Sweet Rockin’ Baby” 1956

Joe “Sonny” West wrote and performed rockabilly in west Texas and New Mexico; his “Rave On” and “All My Love” became hits for Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Like many young musicians, he received far less of the credit and royalties than he deserved. “…many knowledgeable aficionados believe ‘Rock-Ola Ruby’/’Sweet Rockin’ Baby’ is the best double sided rockabilly disc of all time” (“Sonny West,”  

Sonny West “Sweet Rockin’ Baby”

Sonny West “Rock-Ola Ruby”

236 The Weavers “This Land is Your Land” 1956

“The Weavers were blacklisted; invitations to perform and record dried up, their recordings were removed from stores, and the group disbanded…Then, in 1955, the Weavers' manager, Harold Leventhal, arranged a concert at Carnegie Hall. The show sold out, perceived by many ticket buyers not just as a musical event but as an act of defiance against the overzealousness of anti-Communists” (Bruce Weber, “Ronnie Gilbert,” New York Times, 6/8/15).

The Weavers “This Land is Your Land”