A brief history of popular music #2 (1950s and 1960s)

1940s continued: Frank Sinatra is the first pop idol

Stardom and idols are cruical to pop muisc, and Frank Sinatra was the first. Here he is, young and damn handsome in 1944.

1950s: Rock changes the face of music

Rock'n roll is the first true youth music, and even if there were music rebellions before - street fights and youthful recklessness became integrated in the rock'n roll aesthetic.

The first rock recording is supposedly Jackie Brenston's rockin and for its time sexually explicit Rocket 88 from 1951 (one year before the first recording of Rock Around the Clock!).

In 1955 there were street riots between reckless youths and police in Oslo in front of the ticket office for a Louis Armstrong concert. The same year the film Blackboard Jungle (featuring the now famous Rock Around the Clock) had its premiere in the US, and Armstrong wasn't so much to riot about any more. Next time Norwegian media reported about youth riots were at the Norwegian premiere of the film. Since then rock'n roll and its offshoots has been the music of youth.

Other highlights from the 1950s:

  • 1953: How Much is That Doggie in the Window reaches #1, and the number of members in the American kennel club increases with 8%. 
  • 1953: First Elvis single
  • 1956: Elvis performing Hound Dog on American TV, and becomes Elvis the Pelvis: 

  • 1958: First Phil Spector Wall of Sound in Teddy Bears' To Know Him is to Love Him

  • 1959: Buddy Holly dies, and rock has its first great dead icon. The rock heroes were the new bohemians and as with their turn of the century colleagoues they should die young, so they'll never suffer the disgrace of getting old. But unlike the bohemians suicide you shouldn't kill yourself. Rock stars should die of either excess from the hard life on the road (booze or drugs) or in a car or helicopter accident. 

1960s: Beatles, soul, flower power and birth of heavy metal

Beatles (1960-70)

Beatles were formed in 1960, and one could describe the whole 1960s with examples from their ten year career. Beatles encompass most styles, from beat, pop, rock and blues to psychedelia, soul and orchestrated jazz. 

First Beatles single - Love me Do (1962). Very innocent

Long haired rock'n roll - Help (1965)

Psychedelic overdose - I am the Walrus (1967)

Pokin' fun at the maoist (1968)

And just to put it in - Beatles were always competing with the Rolling Stones. This 1964 TV concert is a gem!


Nothing says 1960s more than Motown. The first single from the Detroit label to hit #1 was The Marvelettes' Please mr. Postman from 1961. With Motown it doesn't really matter who sings - it is the sound that is iconic.

Bob Dylan plugs in his Fender Stratocaster in 1965

Dylan showing his finger to the dogmas of music at the Newport festival in 1965 is on of the iconic moments in rock history. This marvelous performance is from the following year at the Manchester Free Trade Hall. Even here someone in the audience is yelling "Judas!"

Led Zeppelin is formed and heavy metal is born (1968)

Robert Plant is 20 years old in this video!!


Popular posts from this blog

«Composer With a Conscience» – Interview with Ståle Kleiberg

A brief comment on NRK, Arne Nordheim and Eugeniusz Rudnik

Battle of the killer B´s