June 24, 2016

275 Little Richard (1932- ) “The Girl Can’t Help It” 1957

“When asked whether his music at that time came from a frustration that he needed to express or a joy he needed to let out, he answers, ‘It was a pain and then it was overwhelming joy. It was both of those that I wanted to express.’ The joy, he explains, came from God. As for the pain, ‘My mother had 12 kids. My daddy got killed when he was 40 years old, and my best friend killed my father. So my mother had to have help. It was a lot of pain, but a lot of love’” (Neil Strauss, Rolling Stone, 2013). 

Little Richard “The Girl Can’t Help It”

274 Jerry Lee Lewis (1935- ) “Great Balls of Fire” 1957

During the recording session of the song, Lewis and producer Sam Phillips argued over religion. The argument was “unresolved, Jerry Lee adamantly insisting that since he isn’t pure, he’s a sinner playing the Devil’s music, Sam Phillips insisting, equally adamantly, that the Bible should be interpreted intelligently and not taken literally” (Jerry Lee Lewis Rocks). 

Jerry Lee Lewis “Great Balls of Fire”

273 Jerry Lee Lewis (1935- ) “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On” 1957

Lewis “enrolled in the Bible Institute of Waxahatchie…At a student gathering Jerry’s natural tendency to play everything with a boogie-woogie beat got the best of him. The faculty did not appreciate his rocking version of ‘My God Is Real,’ and he was suspended for two weeks. He never returned” (Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On). Listed on the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.

Jerry Lee Lewis “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On”

272 Buddy Knox (1933-1999) and the Rhythm Orchids “Party Doll” and “I’m Stickin’ With You” 1957

Jimmy Bowen (1937- ), from Dumas, Texas, cofounded the Rhythm Orchids with Buddy Knox. They recorded “Party Doll” and “I’m Stickin’ With You” in “Norman Petty’s Clovis studio…a session memorable for Petty’s use of a cardboard box instead of a drum kit (the better to deal with the infernal noise of an actual kit)” (Rick Koster, Texas Music, 1998). 

“Knox remains much less well-known than Vincent, Holly, Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran and other rockabilly performers of the '50s.” However, “‘All through Europe, they're completely dedicated,’ Knox said. ‘Australia's similar to that too. We have sell-out crowds everywhere, and we're talking 3,500-seaters. They just hang on to rockabilly and don't give it up--thank God, because that's what keeps us in business’” (Buddy Seigal, Los Angeles Times, 8/17/1996). 

Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids “Party Doll”

Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids “I’m Stickin’ With You”

271 B.B. King (1925-2015) “Sweet Little Angel” 1957

“his true revolutionary importance was as an electric guitarist,” combining elements of jazz and bottleneck delta blues. “This, together with King’s penchant for playing off the beat, gave his solos the pattern of speech, and the personification of his beautiful black, gold plated, pearl inlaid Gibson as ‘Lucille’ seemed highly appropriate” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music). A live version of the song was recorded on the 1965 album Live at the Regal, which is listed on the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.
B.B. King “Sweet Little Angel”

June 17, 2016

270 Bill Justis (1927-1982) “Raunchy” 1957

“the first song that George Harrison learned to play.” Justis grew up in Memphis playing jazz and dance band music before joining Sam Phillips’ Sun Records in 1957 as musical director. Phillips like a tune called ‘Backwoods’, composed by Justis and guitarist Sid Manker, but renamed it ‘Raunchy’. It was issued as a single and Justis’ own honking saxophone solo made it a million-seller” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music). 

Bill Justis “Raunchy”

269 Etta James (1938-2012) and the Peaches “The Wallflower (Dance with Me Henry)” 1955

The song was originally titled “Roll With Me Henry. James’s sweet-but-rough voice promised much more than just a dance. Whatever it was really about, some radio stations refused to play it because of the sexual connotation, and it was soon renamed ‘The Wallflower,’ alluding to Henry’s apparent reluctance to dance” (Buzzy Jackson, A Bad Woman Feeling Good). 

Etta James “The Wallflower”

268 The Crickets with Buddy Holly (1936-1959) “Not Fade Away” 1957

“Buddy became a fan of the Everlys and managed somehow to contact Don. He was aware that Don was deriving some of his arrangements from Bo Diddley…and offered to write a song called ‘Not Fade Away’ for the Everlys, utilizing Bo Diddley’s distinctive jungle beat. Beautiful singers but not the shrewdest judges of material, Don and Phil Everly turned down ‘Not Fade Away’” (Amburn, Buddy Holly). 

The Crickets with Buddy Holly “Not Fade Away”

267 Buddy Holly (1936-1959) “Peggy Sue” 1957

Originally titled “Cindy Lou” after Holly’s infant niece, Holly was convinced to rename the song after Jerry Allison’s former girlfriend. “Buddy’s downstroke strumming technique would become a rock legend” (Amburn, Buddy Holly).

Buddy Holly (1936-1959) “Peggy Sue”

266 Buddy Holly (1936-1959) “Everyday” 1957

Vi Petty, a professional pianist and wife of Holly’s producer, recommended using a celesta, “which happened to be in the studio that day…Allison began to slap his hands on his knees in time with Holly’s playing. ‘Hey,’ said Buddy, ‘that sounds pretty good’” (Goldrosen and Beecher, Remembering Buddy).

Buddy Holly “Everyday”

June 10, 2016

265 The Crickets with Buddy Holly (1936-1959) “That’ll Be the Day” 1957

“The day after seeing the film [John Wayne’s The Searchers, 1956], Buddy and Jerry [Allison] constructed a song around the phrase, a song which embodied the toughness, cynicism and bluster that Wayne had put into the line. It was the first time they had ever written a song together” (Goldrosen and Beecher, Remembering Buddy). Listed on the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. 

The Crickets with Buddy Holly “That’ll Be the Day”

264 The Crickets with Buddy Holly (1936-1959) “Rock Around with Ollie Vee” 1957

The song was first recorded in Nashville in 1956, written by Holly’s friend, Sonny Curtis (1937- ), “a multitalented musician from Meadow, Texas.” Curtis “found Buddy to be aggressive and reckless… ‘He was a drinker—loud, a smart aleck, headstrong’” (Ellis Amburn, Buddy Holly). 

The Crickets with Buddy Holly “Rock Around with Ollie Vee”

263 Bobby Helms (1933-1997) “Jingle Bell Rock” 1957

“he closed out the year with “Jingle Bell Rock,” one of the all-time top selling Christmas songs. He appeared in Billboard's chart of the 100 top-selling records with “Jingle Bell Rock” every year from 1957 to 1962, excepting 1959. In 1957 Helms was named male vocalist of the year by Cashbox and most promising new vocalist by Billboard, which also gave him its Disc Jockey Award” (American National Biography). 

Bobby Helms “Jingle Bell Rock”

262 Bobby Helms (1933-1997) “My Special Angel” 1957

“Bobby Helms was one of the most popular singing stars of the late 1950s. His full voice and straightforward way of singing (sometimes compared to Webb Pierce's) enabled him to become one of the first performers to transcend music barriers, selling tremendous numbers of recordings in both the pop and country markets. With his lack of affectation, downhome style, and boyish appearance…His huge fan following was not limited to the United States; he was also very popular in Europe, especially in West Germany” (American National Biography). 

Bobby Helms  “My Special Angel”

261 Dale Hawkins (1936-2010) “Susy-Q” 1957

“Born into a musical family where his father Delmar, and later, his younger brother Jerry were both musicians…Dale Hawkins was one of the earliest exponents of rockabilly, and this underrated singer-guitarist was discovered in 1955 by Shreveport record distributor Stan Lewis…Hawkins’ biggest hit was the excellent Howlin’ Wolf-influenced Suzie-Q’” (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music).

Dale Hawkins “Susy-Q”

June 3, 2016

260 Thurston Harris (1931-1990) “Little Bitty Pretty One” 1957

“he made his recording debut in 1953 as a member of the Lamplighters. The group released over a dozen, now highly sought-after, singles, but to no success.” Harris made a solo hit with “Little Bitty Pretty One,” but “was unable to sustain a consistent recording career,” struggling with personal problems and drug addiction (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music). 

Thurston Harris “Little Bitty Pretty One”

259 The Five Satins “To the Aisle” 1957

Founder Fred Parris’s first group, the Scarletts, were dispersed to other army bases. His new recruits were renamed the Five Satins. “After spending much of the 1960s on the sidelines of pop, Parris reformed the group in 1969 as the only original member. They hit the oldies circuit with great success, and continue to be a draw on revival tours” (Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians). 

The Five Satins “To the Aisle”

258 The 5 Royales “Think” 1957

“On December 26, 1973, Lowman Pauling–then working as a janitor at a Brooklyn synagogue–passed away. Before he died, he’d no doubt heard James Brown’s resurrection of ‘Think’ on the radio. One wonders if, after all the years on the road, all the songs and all the shows, the words to one of Pauling’s songs might have passed through the “5” Royales guitarist’s thoughts: Think about the sacrifices that I made for you / Think of all the times that I spent with you / Think of all the good things that I done for you” (rockhall.com/inductees/the-5-royales/bio/). 

The 5 Royales “Think”

257 The 5 Royales “Dedicated to the One I Love” 1957

“’Dedicated to the One I love,’ despite getting a lot of attention, never made it to the charts until the Shirelles version in 1959. Besides being a great song, it has two other notable factors--Lowman Pauling was playing one of the first Gibson Les Paul guitars, and the recording prominently features an electric bass--hardly a common instrument in 1957” (Ed Ward, Fresh Air NPR, 8/18/2014). 

The 5 Royales “Dedicated to the One I Love”

256 The Everly Brothers “Wake Up Little Susie” 1957

“Dick Clark said, ‘when you realise that musical giants no less the stature of the Beach Boys and the Beatles openly point to Don and Phil as early influences on their style and career, you get some measure of their far-flung impact’” (The Everly Brothers: Walk Right Back).  

The Everly Brothers “Wake Up Little Susie”