Music – 1950s

Cliff Richard

Love him or hate him, Cliff Richard figured large in my early years. He always seemed to be providing the soundtrack to my summer holidays (no pun intended). My holidays in Skegness each year were played out to songs like Congratulations, Tin Soldier, Don’t Talk To Him, Goodbye Sam, Hello Samantha and Lucky Lips . Cliff Richard and The Shadows were the first group(…)

Clovers, The

The Clovers hailed from Washington DC and signed with Atlantic Records in 1951. Under the guidance of producer Ahmet Ertegun they had a series of hits in the black R&B market during the 1950s, including One Mint Julep, Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash and Lovey Dovey. Success in the white charts eluded them until they left Atlantic in(…)

Clyde McPhatter

Clyde Lensley McPhatter was born on 15 November 1933 in the tobacco town of Durham, North Carolina. He was one of ten children for George and Eva McPhatter. His father preached at Mt Calvary Baptist Church and his mother played the organ. Clyde began singing in the choir at the age of five and was(…)

Coasters, The

Carl Gardner, Leon Hughes, Billy Guy and Bobby Nunn got together in 1955 as The Coasters (originally The Robins) and hit the US charts with their second release, Down In Mexico in 1956. A string of classic and usually highly amusing hits followed for the group, and for songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who wrote their songs,(…)

Connie Francis

Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero was born in 1938 in Newark, New Jersey to Italian parents and began her career in music as a child accordion player who could sing. At the age of 11 she won a spot on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts TV show, on which she appeared for four years. She gradually became more recognised for(…)

Crests, The

Crew Cuts, The

The song Sh-Boom was originally recorded early in 1954 by The Chords. But it was the version by Canadian group The Crew Cuts (released later the same year) which attracted the attention of the record-buying public. The recording has often been viewed as the first notable move away from the middle-of-the-road sound to something resembling rock ‘n’(…)

Dale Hawkins

As the most prolific white rocker on Checker Records, Dale Hawkins blazed a trail of blues-drenched Rock & Roll that was positively apocalyptic in its scope of originality and influence. First and foremost was his Suzie-Q (1956) with its funky cowbell-infused rhythm offset by a swampy, hypnotic guitar lick that exploded into not one but two violently(…)

Danny & The Juniors

Danny and The Juniors (originally The Juvenairs) all attended John Bartram High School in Philadelphia and formed in 1955, practicing their harmonies in a car initially, before graduating to street corners when they became more confident. In 1957 the group began to target record producer John Madara, making it a ritual to sing under his(…)

David Whitfield

This British crooner was one of the biggest home-produced names in the early and mid-1950s, The singer (who hailed from Hull) had hits including Mama, Cara Mia, Everywhere, Santo Natale and My September Love.

Dean Martin

Dean Martin was born Dino Paul Crocetti in Steubenville, Ohio in 1917.  By the age of 15 he had dropped out of high school and was boxing under the name Kid Crochet. He then worked as a croupier in an illegal casino  while singing with local bands under the name Dino Martini (after the then-famous(…)

Dells, The

The Dells have been around so long they make The Rolling Stones look like young whippersnappers. Starting out in Chicago as a Doo Wop group called The El Rays, they signed to Checker in 1953. In 1954 they moved to Vee-Jay Records where they recorded their first hit, Oh What A Night. They then moved into the slick supper(…)

Dickie Pride

Richard Charles Kneller was born in Thornton Heath, Surrey. After leaving school he tried a wide variety of jobs including stonemason’s assistant, spraypainter, electric plater, and lorry driver’s mate. In his spare time he appeared in clubs and pubs around the Croydon area with his own group. It was while singing in a pub that(…)

Digby ‘Dig’ Richards

Australian singer Digby George Richards was born in Dunedoo in New South Wales on 12 September 1941. Digby (or ‘Dig’ as he was better known) began his singing career at Narooma primary school, continuing through his terms at Moruya High School before moving to Sydney in the late 50s. Forming a band (The R’Jays) with(…)

Dinah Washington

Born Ruth Lee Jones in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Dinah Washington grew up in Chicago, where she sang and played piano in church. After she joined the big-band of Lionel Hampton in 1943, her bruising, insouciant delivery drew immediate attention. She signed with Mercury Records in 1947, beginning a 15-year association marked by Washington’s ease with a(…)

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