Music - 1950s

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“5” Royales, The

The "5" Royales began life in the 1940s as a gospel group called The Royal Sons Quintet but rechristened themselves The Royals after going secular and signing to New York's Apollo label in 1952. But Hank...

2i’s Coffee Bar

The 2i's Coffee Bar was an integral part of British pop music history. Although London's first skiffle bar was the Gyre & Gimble in Charing Cross, the 2i's was where British rock 'n' roll began. Situated at...

Al Martino

Jasper Cini was born in 1927 and became a friend and disciple of Mario Lanza. Changing his name to Al Martino in the late 1940s when he started his career as a romantic Italian baritone,...

Alan Freed

The Disc Jockey widely believed to have first coined the phrase "rock 'n' roll" began life as a jazz trombonist with a band called Sultans Of Swing (it may have been them that Dire Straits were singing...

Alma Cogan

Alma Angela Cohen was born in London in May 1932. The family name was originally Kogin, from which emerged the stage name Alma Cogan. Following the family's move to Worthing, 11-year-old Alma entered the Sussex Queen...

Ames Brothers, The

The Ames Brothers were a singing quartet from Massachusetts (USA) who became famous in the 1950s for their traditional pop music hits. The Ames Brothers consisted of Joe (1921 - 2007), Gene (1923 - 1997), Vic (1925 - 1978)...

Andy Williams

Howard Andrew Williams was born in Wall Lake, Iowa and started singing professionally with his three older brothers - Bob, Don and Dick - as the Williams Brothers Quartet. They worked in nightclubs and on...

Anne Shelton

Anne Shelton, the singer with the wholesome girl-next-door appeal, came to be known as the "Forces' Favourite" on wartime radio. She provided an instant hit with her weekly radio programme for the BBC, during World War...

Anthony Newley

Anthony George Newley was born on 24 September 1931. He grew up around Hackney in the East End of London and began acting in his teens. He attended the Italia Conti Stage School and starred in...

Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup

Arthur Crudup was born in 1905 in Jackson, Mississippi, and grew up in Forest, a town 40 miles west. He worked mainly as a sharecropper, but also as a levee worker, logger and sanitation worker. He...

Atlantic Records

Atlantic Records has introduced the world to some of the most influential musicians this planet has ever produced; Jazz icons such as John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman, and rock giants like Led Zeppelin, Crosby, Stills...

BB King

He says he can't sing and keep rhythm on the guitar at the same time, but the unquestionable king of the blues - in both record sales and influence - took the world by storm...

Big Bopper, The

The "Big Bopper" was born Jiles Perry Richardson on 24 October 1930, in Sabine Pass, Texas. Following military service in the Army, he worked as a DJ on Radio KTRM in Beaumont, Texas (where he assumed...

Big Joe Turner

Joe Turner was born in Kansas City on 18 May 1911, and by the late 1920's he was a singing bartender in a town where the Great Depression was hardly noticed. "Roll 'em, Pete" Turner would...

Big Mama Thornton

Born in Montgomery, Alabama, on 11 December 1926, Willie Mae Thornton's father was a minister, and as a young girl, she and her six brothers and sisters frequently sang in his church. While still very young,...

Bill Haley & His Comets

Bill Haley, who had been singing and playing guitar with a country & western combo since 1940 - when he was 15 years old - was one of the first white singers to realise that...

Billie Holiday

Born Eleanora Fagan on 7 April 1915 and abandoned by her parents as a baby, former teenage prostitute Billy Holiday's troubled upbringing in 1920's Maryland remains pivotal to one of the greatest jazz voices of...

Billy Lee Riley

Billy Riley was born in 1933 in Pocahontas, Arkansas, and grew up hard through the Great Depression, with his father taking jobs wherever he could, including time as a painter and sharecropper. Billy Lee heard country...

Bo Diddley

Otha Ellas Bates was born on 30 December 1928 in McComb, Mississippi, and at the age of five, moved with his family to the south-side of Chicago. He spent his formative years studying classical violin and later...

Bobby Darin

Bobby Darin was born Walden Robert Cassotto on 14 May 1936, in the Bronx area of New York, and was raised by his mother - a former professional entertainer. His father had disappeared a few...

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“5” Royales, The

The "5" Royales began life in the 1940s as a gospel group called The Royal Sons Quintet but rechristened themselves The Royals after going secular and signing to New York's Apollo label in 1952. But Hank...

10,000 Maniacs

10,000 Maniacs (named after the low-budget horror movie Two Thousand Maniacs) was formed in Jamestown, NY, in 1981 by singer Natalie Merchant and guitarist John Lombardo. The group gigged extensively and recorded independently before signing with Elektra and...

101’ers, The

Primarily known as the band Joe Strummer was in before he joined The Clash, The 101'ers were part of the last wave of British pub rock bands of the mid-'70s. The group never released any recordings...

10cc

Vocalist/guitarist Graham Gouldman was a songwriter of pop hits during the 1960s. Amongst his many compositions are some pure classics: For Your Love (The Yardbirds), No Milk Today (Herman's Hermits), Look Through Any Window (The Hollies) - chart pop at its most...

13th Floor Elevators

Featuring the yelping vocals and visionary - occasionally demented - lyrics of Roky Erickson, The 13th Floor Elevators were one of the original acid-rock bands. Formed in Texas in the mid-60s, The Elevators started as a...

1910 Fruitgum Company

The 1910 Fruitgum Company began life as Jeckell and The Hydes in New Jersey in 1965. They signed to Buddah Records in 1967 and released five LPs under their own name (plus a number of singles)...

1927

1927 formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1987. Guitarist and keyboardist Garry Frost had left Moving Pictures after their second album, Matinée (Frost had co-written Moving Pictures' 1981 #1 hit What About Me? ) and was writing songs for...