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The music industry in the 1950s

  • Sam Phillips opens Memphis Recording Service

    In Memphis, Tennesee, a radio engineer named Sam Phillips opened up shop at 706 Union Avenue. Two years later, Sun Records was born.
  • Les Paul pioneers multi-track recording

    Married couple Les Paul and Mary Ford release their version of "How High the Moon" in 1951. The production is something entirely new, as Paul overdubbed multiple vocal and instrumental layers in the recording proc
  • Alan Freed invents the term "Rock 'N' Roll"

    Alan Freed invents the term "Rock 'N' Roll"
    A Cleveland DJ named Alan Freed coins the term "rock 'n' roll" on air. His early adoption and support of rhythm and blues and rock earned him the title "The King of Rock N' Roll". At least until Elvis came along.
  • The Moondog Coronation Ball

    The Moondog Coronation Ball
    Considered the first rock and roll concert, the Moondog Coronation Ball took place in Cleveland, Ohio. A mixed-race revue for a mixed-race audience, the concert was put on by a local DJ, a record store owner and a concert promoter. The tickets were so hot that 20,000 people showed up to a venue which only held 10,000. The concert has become an annual event in Cleveland, bringing together 50s style acts and inviting the public to dress up in the styles of
  • Elvis' first song hits airwaves

    A Memphis DJ named Dewey Phillips plays the first song Elvis Presley recorded -- a cover of Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right" -- on his radio show, Red, Hot and Blue. Three days later, due to overwhelming demand, he played the song on repeat for the whole two hours of his show.
  • Bo Diddley's first track hits charts

    Bo Diddley's self-titled track tops the R&B charts and introduces the Bo Diddley "boom-chukka" beat.
  • Bill Haley and His Comets release "Rock Around The Clock:

    Bill Haley and His Comets release "Rock Around The Clock:
    VIDEO Bill Haley and His Comets recording of this Freedman/Myers song is credited with taking rock and roll into the mainstream. The single went to #1 in both the US and UK.
  • The birth of FM radio

    The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) begins the first FM radio service on May 2, 1955. The broadcast were initially made in mono.
  • Pat Boone tops the charts with a tame version of Fats Domino

    Pat Boone tops the charts with a tame version of Fats Domino's Ain't That a Shame. Boone was the most popular version of a common practice of having white performers cover black artists, and having those covers gain more radio play. Boone, the non-threatening all-American boy, notched 38 Top 40 hits in the process.
  • Chuck Berry releases his first single

    Chuck Berry releases his first single
    VideoChuck Berry recorded his first number, "Maybellene" in the summer of 1955, on Chess Records, a blues label in Chicago. The song shot up the charts, going #1 on the R&B charts, and up to #5 on pop.
  • Elvis makes his Ed Sullivan Show debut

    Elvis makes his Ed Sullivan Show debut
    Although Sullivan had said Elvis' suggestive dancing was "unfit for family viewing", approximately 60 million people tuned in -- a record 82.6% of the television audience. Instantly, Elvis was a huge national celebrity and sensation.
  • Million Dollar Quartet records at Sun Records

    The legendary "Million Dollar Quartet" of Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley gather for an impromptu recording session at Sun Records.
  • "Rock, Rock, Rock" hits cinemas

    This film gathered a bevy of early rock 'n' rollers including Teddy Randazzo, The Teenagers, Frankie Lymon and Chuck Berry DJ Alan Freed also makes an appearance, playing himself.
  • The day the music died

    The day the music died
    While flying over Clear Lake, Iowa, the small airplane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and "The Big Bopper" Richardson crashed. The three rock n roll pioneers died, as did the pilot, Roger Peterson.