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Remembering 1950s Hit Songs

Elvis Presley memorabilia

Elvis Presley memorabilia

1950s Hit Songs

As I recall 1950s hit songs, it seems as if I were listening to them yesterday. My interest in popular recorded music began when I was about 8 or 9 in the early 1950s. Mom and dad had a small record player, 12-inch television, and radio inside a small entertainment console cabinet. When my parents weren't around, I would often listen to dad's Hank Williams records and mom's Patti Page records.

From Hank to Elvis

At the beginning of 1956, I started listening to Elvis Presley's first hits on the radio. By the summer, rock music was starting to take the country by storm. Dad had a more giant TV and outside antenna so that we could receive Chicago stations that were only 90 miles away. One of my favorite stations was WGN which hosted Bandstand Matinee with Jim Lounsbury. I loved watching kids rocking to the tunes of Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, and Elvis.

By the fall of 1957, I vividly recall listening to Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis's hit songs on WLS radio after school every day. I also jitterbugged to the pieces of the Everly Brothers at a Halloween Party. After getting a small record player for Christmas in 1958, how can I forget enjoying Danny and the Juniors and more Elvis Presley music??? Finally, in 1959, I listened to a radio in our barn while doing chores. I especially remember singing along to Johnny Horton and Bobby Darin.

In this article, I will highlight some of my favorite songs from the 1950s.

Memories of the Early 1950s

I started to listen to '50s music in 1952 or 1953 when I was seven or eight years old. We lived in a small apartment in West Allis, Wisconsin. Mom and dad had a small entertainment console cabinet consisting of a 12" black and white television, radio, and record player. They also had some records that were mostly of dad's music.

Hank Williams

Dad loved listening to Hank Williams and I was quickly introduced to such tunes as "Long Gone Lonesome Blues," "My Son Calls Another Man Daddy," and "The Gal Who Invented Kissing."

Mom liked listening to Patti Page and her hit song "Doggie in the Window." She also played "My Adobe Hacienda" by Eddy Howard.

Memories of 1956

In the winter of 1956, popular music began to catch my attention. I listened to music on a small radio every evening and Elvis Presley immediately captivated me. "Love Me" was a great hit. After hearing this song a few times, I knew the lyrics and could sing along like I was Elvis. "Heartbreak Hotel," "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You," "Hound Dog," and "Don't Be Cruel" were other hits I fell in love with.

Elvis vs Pat Boone

Pat Boone was another pop singer trying to compete with Elvis at this time. Pat had his fans because he was a clean-cut guy compared to Elvis who would shake his hips and have greasy hair when he performed. "Love Letters in the Sand" was a Pat Boone hit that I liked.

Bandstand Matinee

By the summer of 1956, I was watching Bandstand Matinee on TV daily. This was a teen dance show hosted by Jim Lounsbury out of WGN TV in Chicago. My folks had a 21-inch television and an outdoor antenna on the roof so that I could get reception of this favorite afternoon program.

Fats Domino

On Bandstand, many teen couples would jitterbug to the latest pop hits. I can still remember a couple dancing to "I'm Walkin'" by Fats Domino and Lounsbury remarking that the young man was moving like he had a hotplate on his rear!

Other hits of 1956 that I remember and liked are "Canadian Sunset" by Eddie Heywood and Hugo Winterhalter, "The Great Pretender" by The Platters, and "Que Sera Sera" by Doris Day.

Memories of 1957

In 1957, I still loved Elvis and begged dad to take me to town so that I could see Elvis Presley's first movie, Love Me Tender, in January. "Love Me Tender" was also the hit song in the movie.

We moved from a rented farm in the Mukwonago area to just north of Honey Creek where my folks bought a farm in March 1957. I attended Saint Thomas Aquinas in Waterford.

Buddy Holly & Chuck Berry

At the beginning of eighth grade in September, I recall being into pop music. Buddy Holly was out of this world and I remember playing "That'll Be the Day" in a soda fountain in Waterford after school.

I also remember listening to the top hit tunes on WLS out of Chicago after school every day. Some of my favorite songs were "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis, "School Days" by Chuck Berry, and "Young Love" by Sonny James.

Everly Brothers

One of my classmates invited me and other classmates to her home for a Halloween party. "Wake Up Little Susie" by the Everly Brothers was a song playing. A girl asked me to do the jitterbug with her and I almost broke her arm twirling. I guess I didn't learn how to dance watching Bandstand Matinee!

Memories of 1958

At the beginning of 1958, I was in the second semester of eighth grade. When not doing my homework, I was crazy about Elvis and Buddy Holly.

Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" was my favorite. During an eighth-grade trip to Washington D.C. in May, I still can remember eating in a diner with my classmates and playing "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck" and "Teddy Bear" on the jukebox.

At home, I couldn't get enough of Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue" and "Oh Boy," which were released at the end of 1957, as well as "It's So Easy" which came out in 1958.

Music was also getting faster and kids were jitterbugging wildly to "At the Hop" by Danny and the Juniors and "Sweet Little Sixteen" by Chuck Berry.

First Record Player

By the end of 1958, I loved listening to pop music so much that mom and dad bought me a small record player and my favorite hit records for Christmas.

Memories of 1959

As 1959 began, I was a second-semester high school freshman. My locker was in the school basement and very close to a jukebox which was next to the hallway. During lunch hour, many students would dance to such hits as "Calendar Girl" by Neil Sedaka and "Charlie Brown" by the Coasters.

Johnny Horton

At home, I lived on a dairy farm where we had a radio in the barn. While doing my chores, I still remember listening to songs like "Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton, "Mr. Blue" by the Fleetwoods, and "Donna" by Ritchie Valens. I also listened to Elvis every time he came on the air.

© 2022 Paul Richard Kuehn