Music – 1950s

Fats Domino

Fats Domino

He was born Antoine Domino in New Orleans in February 1928, and since his first professional appearance at the age of 14 at the celebrated Hideaway Club in New Orleans in 1942, the work of Fats Domino has been characterised and dominated by his pounding piano style and his unique vocal technique, derived from the(…)

Fireballs, The

They were acclaimed as pioneers of the surf sound alongside Dick Dale, Link Wray and The Ventures, but The Fireballs (from Raton, New Mexico) – who enjoyed a US chart-topper with Sugar Shack in 1963 – had no idea what the term actually meant. Nevertheless, their signature melodic instrumentals Torquay and Bulldog, anchored by George Tomsco’s guitar – replete with(…)

Five Satins, The


Five Willows, The

This group first recorded as The Five Willows (after originally starting out as The Dovers in 1950). Original members were Richie Davies, twin brothers Ralph and Joe Martin, John Steele and Bobby Robinson – who all came from Harlem. Lead vocalist Bobby Robinson left the group to set up his own record labels in 1952 and(…)

Flamingos, The

Cousins Jacob ‘Jake’ Carey and Ezekial ‘Zeke’ Carey formed this doo-wop group in Chicago, Illinois, after meeting Paul Wilson and Johnny Carter at a black Messianic Jewish synagogue. Earl Lewis soon joined them, and after a series of name changes, (The Swallows, El Flamingos, The Five Flamingos), wound up being known as The Flamingos. Sollie(…)

Fleetwoods, The

When childhood friends Barbara Ellis and Gretchen Christopher joined forces with Gary Troxel in Washington, the group Two Girls and A Guy was born. After performing Come Softly To Me at school events,  they were persuaded to record it. After they changed their name to The Fleetwoods, the track became their debut release on the newly-formed Dolphin label,(…)

Four Aces, The

Four Freshmen, The

Formed in 1948, the close-knit harmonies of The Four Freshmen were a hugely popular draw over the next decade and a half. Founder member Bob Flanigan’s high tenor was a defining characteristic on hits like Mood Indigo and Day by Day, with the group’s lush spread of jazz, pop and barbershop styles proving a key influence on (among(…)

Four Palms, The

This vocal group met while in the Marine Corps and stationed at Camp Pendleton, Twentynine Palms, California (in the heart of the Mojave Desert). After winning the Worldwide All-Navy Talent Contest in May 1957, the group appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and recorded their classic single, Jeanie, Joanie, Shirley, Toni (1958) – which changes hands for over £600(…)

Four Preps, The

The Four Preps met at Hollywood High School. Their first chart single was Dreamy Eyes, just prior to Christmas of 1956. Besides 26 Miles (Santa Catalina) in 1958, they cut a track called More Money For You And Me, a medley of parodies of other groups and their songs: The single– recorded “live” – was a Top 20 success, and(…)

Frank Sinatra

The Voice. The Sultan of Swoon. The Chairman of the Board. Old Blue Eyes. The Greatest Singer of the Popular Song. The provider, according to Gore Vidal, of the background music that was playing when half of North America’s population was conceived. A notorious bachelor and a family man. A lover and a fighter. Francis(…)

Frankie Avalon

Nicknamed ‘The Young Sinatra‘ and ‘Golden Boy’ in his hey-day, Frankie Avalon was born Frankie Avallone of Italian stock, in Philadelphia on 18 September 1940. He was a child prodigy, winning his first talent contest at the age of six, singing Give Me Five Minutes More. He also learnt to play piano and by the age of(…)

Frankie Laine

Frankie Laine was born to Sicilian immigrant parents in Chicago’s Little Italy on 30 March, 1913. Ever since his recording of That’s My Desire burst onto the scene like a musical firework in 1947, praise has poured in from all corners, from young and old alike, for this gifted and versatile artist for top nightclub engagements, both in(…)

Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers

One day in 1955 Richard ‘Ritchie’ Barrett heard The Premiers, a young multi-racial vocal group from the Bronx, singing on the stairs of a tenement on Manhattan’s 165th Street near his New York home. He liked what he heard, became their manager, re-named the group Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers and took them to George(…)

Frankie Vaughan

Frankie Vaughan was a Liverpool crooner who had some UK hits from 1955 to 1967 singing big production songs spread thick with smiling sincerity, or doing what the middle-aged thought was rock. His best-known hits were Green Door, Kewpie Doll and Tower Of Strength.            

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