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The Ultimate Music Year

 Rosemary Clooney
THE 1950s

The decade where pop music changed forever with the birth of Rock 'n' Roll and the emergence of the teenager, but easy listening still ruled the charts.

Bill Haley

Bill Haley and his Comets release Rock Around The Clock, The jukebox makes it's first appearance in UK coffee bars,  Rosemary Clooney and Jimmy Young had two number ones a piece...but Dicky Valantine had three ...

Elvis Presley LP Cover

Elvis burst onto the scene and changed music forever, Gene Vincent had his first hit with Be Bop A Lula, Rock Around The Clock opens in UK cinemas and Teddy Boys discover seat slashing...

Lonnie Donegan

Lonnie Donegan brings Skiffle to a wider audience, Elvis gets his first #1 hit with All Shook Up, Guy Mitchell and Tommy Steele both get to #1 with Singing The Blues.

Cliff Richard

Cliff Richard get his first hit with Move It!, Elvis joins the US Army, 78s are replaced by 45s, South Pacific is the best-selling UK Rock 'n' Roll doesn't have it all it's own way...

Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly perishes in a plane crash, Cliff Richard tops the chart for the first time with Lionel Bart's "Living Doll" and Billy Fury bursts onto the British rock 'n' roll scene with three top thirty hits. 

Buddy Holly

Find out more about the music of the 1950s with the help of some of the Radio 2 shows. 

More  |  50s  |  60s  |  70s80s |  90s  |  00s

Have your say!

We'd like to know why you thought the 1950's was your decade of choice.  Were you an original teenager? Were you parents? Let us know.

Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

Read what others have said..

Bernie Morris - Teignmouth, Devon
It was the decade when music became more exciting for me - less ballards, more lively with the likes of Bill Halley, Lonnie Donegan, Elvis etc. Favourites were Lonnie Donegan, Buddy Holly, Duane Eddy. I think most artists of recent years have been influenced, to some degree, by these pioneering artists. The era seemed to lift the spirits from the drabness following the war and rationing. It surely was the prelude to the 60's.

ron fisher/hampshire
i was 13 in 1950 and during that decade i was treated to a mix of classical to pop through to jazz with programmes like family favourites where i was able to select the music i liked.unfortunately because the radio has split up into different musical tastes young people only hear one kind of music so all these votes for best this and that are tainted by this effect so you dont get a true picture. i feel so sorry for all those young people who miss out on not hearing the standards of the past and indeed the present. radio 2 is the most popular of the rest because there is a mix although reletively small[no classical] of music. i dont think my grandchildren have heard any classical music and of course bbc tv is just about dumming down. regards ron

Joan Hullock - Gateshead
1959 - I was 15 and rock'n'roll was changing the way music was going. We were leaving the ballads behind and getting into something much more exciting. I just feel that I was born at the right time as far as music is concerned. I think it was the biggest change there is ever likely to be.

Alan Lowe, Northwich Cheshire
As the 1950's saw the advent of Rock n' Roll and no music before or since has had such an impacton popular culture as it did it is difficult to believe that any other period will come close in your poll.

Simon Mannering, Austria.
I was born in 1940, and mainly listend to big band music throughout the 40s and early fifties. But it wasn't until 1955 when Rock Around the Clock hit the world cinema with Bill Haley that Music came alive. That was the big turning point in modern musical history, and nothing since as been able to top it.

Dick Savage. Bedfordshire.
The 50's is my decade of choice because the music was fun, alive. Rock n roll just perfect for the greatest dancing ever, jive! Music was made that had a melody, rythm, foot tapping stuff, that you could enjoy easily. Simple maybe, but effective, not too "deep",just plain .... fun! More artistes from the 50's era, Lonnie Donegan, Chuck Berry, Elvis etc etc, inspired later talent; than any other my opinion, :-)

Tim Davidge (SE England)
Not an original teenager, born in 1957!. Reasons for liking the 50s as follows (no particular order): Bill Haley, Elvis, Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly/Crickets, Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury, Cliff Richard, The Platters, the Moonglows, The Kalin Twins, The Everlys, Floyd Cramer, Lonnie Donegan, the Del-Vikings...

Barbara - Guildford
I was 13 in 1959 and remember being allowed to go to the "Girls and Boys Exhibition" at Olympia, where I saw Cliff singing Living Doll. I still love the eclectic mix of musical styles from the 50s. My Encyclopedia of 1950s hits certainly sends me down "memory lane"! Looking at 1959 - Elvis, The Everlys, Ricky Nelson, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Marty Wilde, Tommy Steele, Lonnie Donegan, Chris Barber, Bobby Darin, Duane Eddy, The Fleetwoods, Emile Ford, Johnny and the Hurricanes, Freddy Cannon, Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka, Anthony Newley, Sandy Nelson, even dear Russ Conway (loved by my Mum and Aunts!)- the list is endless. How about "Poison Ivy" by The Coasters and "Here Comes Summer" by Jerry Keller? I used to go to DeVito's coffee shop in Orpington High Street and play all these, and more, on the juke box. The "Beatles years" were wonderful of course but I think 1959 wins.

Kenneth Armitage, Kesgrave, Suffolk, England
This is frustrating because I prefer the period 1956 to 1966. I grew up in Lancashire and was at Grammar school in Manchester when 'Rock and Roll' came along. In the very late 1950's/early 1960's I was involved in running a Church Youth Club in Walkden, Lancashire and we were allowed to choose our own records each week. This period was fantastic because it had such a cross-section of musical genre and includes the likes of Elvis, Little Richard, The Big Bopper, Cliff Richard, Buddy Holly, Lonnie Donnegan and his skiffle, the Everly Brothers, the Righteous Brothers and many more who brought rhythm and rock tegether, plus there was still some big band sound. A wonderful period of 'musicfest'!

leslie jenkins st louis USA
My older brother{used to hang out at the Ace cafe on his motorbyke] was an original teenager and as a lad [I'm originally from London] I was exposed to this new R'n;R by him .We both fell in love with the passion and rebelion and have loved it ever since.Yes I like all kinds of music but R'n'R was the original music form that changed the world.

john ryan glemsford suffolk
I was 20 in 1950 and with the kind of music that was being played (easy listening) with the ballads and songs from the shows. It was great, I wish I could live through them again

ade - Gosport Hants UK
Although the 60's gave us a tremendous period of music..the fires were lit in the 50's...the Hit Parade which was normally swamped with ballads and mums and dad's music suddenly erupted with Rock 'n came alive...and what followed from the mid Fifties onwards cemented a style of popular music which was far reaching in appeal and has always remained teenager's music....great period for music...also following WW2 our generation had something as a foundation stone to build our hopes..long live all the music from that period...! So in 1958 when Cliff Richard and The Shadows came along I was 15..what timing! We had our own Elvis! But Ilove all that music from the mid Fifties...the Rock 'n' Roll years..we had transistor radios..the cinema...feeding our desires..and the world was a happier place to live in..!

Lisa marie, kent
I was born in 79, but was brought up on Elvis, I have liked artists til this point, but they all come and go and never leave such a long lasting musical mark as the pivitol point Elvis did in the 50's. The songs are classics and It sounds such a amazingly exciting time. As a dancer I love its rhythm & mood. I'm also a fan of the gritty sixties sounds, that lead on from them.

John McPartlan Leeds
My best year was somewhere on the turn of 1970. The Beatles et al had been great but had gone. We now saw America and in time world music as worth listening to. If pushed I would say 1971.

alice ayr
yes i am one of the original teenagers who did rock&roll dancing to rock&roll music and can still get on down with the best of them!!!

Dave Hurd Newcastle-Under-Lyme
I was born in 1972 but I’ve chosen 1957 simply because Elvis hit the charts and I’m far from the biggest Elvis fan in the world. In the words of the greatest singer song writer ever “before Elvis there was nothing”.

Louise, London
I love 50s music, particularly singers like Doris Day. It always reminds me of watching Saturday afternoon films as a child with my Mum.

martin hurst, stradishall
1956 Elvis Heartbreak Hotel. Need i say more!

Angus Baxter - Cornwall
Black music in the form of Blues and Rythmn and Blues completely changed the face of Pop music injecting a new dynamism that nothing has paralelled since. And Yes! I am an original teenager but nonetheless it's what people will say in 100 years time. Black music changed the world (and was changed by the world)

Vertez Sylvain Belgium
There are only 2 kinds of music Rock & Roll


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