In the early 1950s, Fats Domino began making the charts, first in R & B, then in Pop.

Nat King Cole's records were topping the best-seller list.  "Too young" held the top place on Your Hit Parade for four consecutive weeks in 1951. 

From 1951 to 1960, Muddy Waters assembled the greatest collection of electric blues recordings ever made.

Composer, producer, arranger, bass player, recording artist, session musician, talent scout, and bandleader for Chess records in the 1950s and early 1960s, Willie Dixon did more to shape postwar Chicago blues than perhaps any other artist save Muddy Waters.

Before Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, there was Kitty Wells. Her 1952 recording of "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" became the first No. 1 Billboard country hit for a solo female artist. She was the first female to sell a million records. 

In 1952, Sam Phillips began Sun Records.  In his Sun Studios at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, he recorded future blues greats B. B. King and Howlin' Wolf.  He also discovered Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison. Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley changed the course of popular music forever.

One of the great pioneers of Rock 'n' Roll in the 1950s was Little Richard from Macon, Georgia.

In 1955, Mae Axton 'Queen Mother of Nashville' wrote the song "Heartbreak Hotel" with Tommy Durden. This was Elvis' first #1 hit.

CORDELL JACKSON  - The first female to write, sing, arrange, accompany, record, engineer, produce, and distribute her own music. 

Like so many of his contemporaries in rock 'n' roll, the young Gene Vincent served an apprenticeship amidst a poor community in the deep South, integrating his country music roots with the rhythms of R & B.

Between 1955 and 1959, Chuck Berry from St. Louis produced such top 10 hits as "Sweet Little Sixteen," "Rock And Roll Music," and "Johnny B. Goode."

Self described as the "world's oldest teenager," Rufus Thomas started out performing with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels in the mid-30s.  He released "Bear Cat" in the 50s on Sun Records and "Walking The Dog" in the 60s on Stax records.

Jimmy Reed was one of the most influential bluesmen of the post-World War II period.  Reed sold more records in the 1950s and early 1960s than any other blues artist save B. B. King.

Miles Davis grew up in a middle-class family in East St. Louis.  Miles Davis said that the greatest musical experience of his life was hearing the Billy Eckstine Orchestra (with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker) when it passed through St. Louis. 

John Coltrane's spirit inhabits his sound--a sound so astonishingly individual and powerful that it has endured mightily since those club dates in the 50s and 60s when it was reported to have hypnotized audience members who ranged from the uninitiated of jazz to the aficionados; a sound that continues to melt hearts, open minds, and unleash passions.

Patsy Cline began recording for Four Star Records in 1955.

Hank Cochran has had over a thousand songs recorded by such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, and Elvis Presley.

Buddy Holly, a man destined for success, was killed in an aircraft crash in 1959.  The news that Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper, among others, were killed in a plane crash, stunned millions of fans all over the world.  The void left in music history will never be filled.  All three were at the peak of their popularity and had collectively, in 12 months, sold over 10 million records worldwide.

From 1956 until 1970, Joe Bussard ran the last 78 rpm record label, Fonotone.

Southernmusic.net has been online every day since 1997.

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By Carl P. McConnell










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