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100 Best Rock and Roll Songs of the ‘50s and ‘60s

I have been an online writer for over four years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

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Some of the earliest rock and roll styles came into being the 1940s in the United States. However, it was the dawn of the ‘50s that gave new direction to the genre. Rock and roll came into its own deriving from a range of musical styles such as jazz, jump blues, boogie woogie, rhythm & blues and country. In the 1934 movie Transatlantic Merry-Go Round, a song “Rock and Roll” by the Boswell Sisters was included.

The list below showcases a diverse collection of rock and roll songs of the 1950s and 1960s. If you have a view, opinion or song suggestion, let us know in the comments section.

Top 10 Best Rock And Roll Songs of the ‘50s and ‘60s

  1. “Johnny B Goode”—Chuck Berry
  2. “Good Golly Miss Molly”—Little Richard
  3. “Blue Suede Shoes”—Carl Perkins
  4. “Tutti-Frutti”—Little Richard
  5. “Rock Around The Clock”—Bill Haley & His Comets
  6. “Don't Be Cruel”—Elvis Presley
  7. “Blueberry Hill”—Fats Domino
  8. “Peggy Sue”—Buddy Holly
  9. “Summertime Blues”—Eddie Cochran
  10. “Jailhouse Rock”—Elvis Presley

What Is Rock and Roll?

Typically rock and roll is a blues shuffle rhythm with backbeat accents provided by a wide range of snare drum patterns. The classic format in the early ‘50s comprised of rhythm guitar, lead guitar, double bass, and drums. By the mid-50s, the double bass was replaced by electric bass guitar which gained momentum in different music genres.

Different forms of rockabilly music became a phenomenon in the 50s, and appealed to a wide genre of teens globally. While rock and roll was an African American movement, white American musicians took a liking to the sound and joined the musical revolution. Gradually, beyond being a simplistic musical style, the term “rock and roll” started being associated with fashion, lifestyle, and attitude.

#11—20

11. “Maybellene”—Chuck Berry

12. “Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On”—Jerry Lee Lewis

13. “Susie Q”—Dale Hawkins

14. “Leader of the Pack”—Shangri-Las

15. “Blue Jean Bop”—Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps

16. “Proud Mary”—Creedence Clearwater Revival

17. “I Get Around”—The Beach Boys

18. “Great Balls Of Fire”—Jerry Lee Lewis

19. “Bye Bye Love”—Everly Brothers

20. “C'mon Everybody”—Eddie Cochran

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The Rock and Roll Story

Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s song “Rock Me” which came out in 1942 is considered by music purists as beginning of rock and roll. While shades of the musical style were evident in few blues records in the 1920s and 1930s, rock and roll as a genre came into being in 1954. Although the early style of music incorporated heavy use of piano or saxophone as the main instrument, by the mid-50s the guitar took over as the lead instrument in different forms of rock and roll.

#21—40

21. “That'll Be the Day”—Buddy Holly & the Crickets

22. “Roll Over Beethoven”—Chuck Berry

23. “Hound Dog”—Elvis Presley

24. “The Great Pretender”—The Platters

25. “Be-Bop-A-Lula”—Gene Vincent & the Bluecaps

26. “Long Tall Sally”—Little Richard

27. “Dizzy, Miss Lizzy”—Larry Williams

28. “The Locomotion”—Little Eva

29. “Who Do You Love?”—Bo Diddley

30. “Rock And Roll Music”—Chuck Berry

31. “In The Still of the Night”—Five Satins

32. “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”—Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers

33. “That’s Alright”—Elvis Presley

34. “The Letter”—The Box Tops

35. “Lucille”—Little Richard

36. “Twenty Flight Rock”—Eddie Cochran

37. “I Walk the Line”—Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two

38. “The Great Pretender”—The Platters “One Night”—Elvis Presley

39. “Don't You Just Know It”—Huey "Piano" Smith & The Clowns

40. “Good Rocking Tonight”—Roy Brown

The Classic Rock and Roll Sound

The classic rock and roll sound which emerged from rhythm &blues became known for its distinctive shuffle licks. The African musical tradition of the ‘50s paved the way for rock and roll which emerged in a diversified avatar in the ‘60s. With the genre incorporating a wide-ranged sound, ‘60s rock and roll became a religion of sorts among youth from different parts of the world. The musical style became symbolic of angst, rage and rebellion.

Although rock and roll earned a bad name in secular circles, with many listeners calling out the genre the devil’s music, the format achieved cult status in America, and gradually became the epic mainstream sound the world over. Through the ‘60s American rock and roll became exceedingly popular with British youth who adopted the signature sound and culture to develop new musical styles and sub cultures. Since its arrival, rock and roll has become the biggest musical entity in mainstream, and although the style has evolved greatly in recent years, the legacy will only get bigger in the days ahead.

#41—60

41. “Shake, Rattle and Roll”—Joe Turner

42. “Will Love You Tomorrow”—The Shirelles

43. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”—The Rolling Stones

44. “The Train Kept-A-Rollin”—Johnny Burnette Trio

45. “Travelin’ Man”—Ricky Nelson

46. “Earth Angel”—Penguins

47. “Little Bitty Pretty One”—Thurston Harris & The Sharps

48. “At The Hop”—Danny & The Juniors

49. “Bo Diddley”—Bo Diddley

50. “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”—Lloyd Price

51. “Ain't It A Shame”—Fats Domino

52. “School Day”—Chuck Berry

53. “Bony Moronie”—Larry Williams

54. “Please, Please, Please”—James Brown & The Famous Flames

55. “A Teenager in Love”—Dion & The Belmonts

56. “Sweet Little Sixteen”—Chuck Berry

57. “Rocking Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu”—Huey "Piano" Smith & the Clowns

58. “Red Cadillac and A Black Moustache”—Warren Smith

59. “Willie and the Hand Jive”—The Johnny Otis Show

60. “Pretty Thing”—Bo Diddley

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#61—80

61. “There Goes My Baby”—Drifters

62. “Rip It Up”—Little Richard

63. “Bird Dog”—The Everly Brothers

64. “Sh-Boom”—Chords

65. “Be My Baby”—The Ronettes

66. “Reet Petite”—Jackie Wilson

67. “Come Go With Me”—Del-Vikings

68. “I Only Have Eyes for You”— The Flamingos

69. “Rocket 88”—Jackie Brenston

70. “Oh What a Nite”—The Dells

71. “A Thousand Miles Away—Heartbeats

72. “Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite”—Spaniels

73. “All Shook Up”—Elvis Presley

74. “Money Honey”—Drifters featuring Clyde McPhatter

75. “I’m a Believer”—The Monkees

76. “It's Late”—Ricky Nelson

77. “Sixty Minute Man”—Dominoes

78. “The Fool”—Sanford Clark

79. “Wake Up Little Susie”—The Everly Brothers

80. “Breathless”—Jerry Lee Lewis

#81—100

81. “Party Doll”—Buddy Knox

82. “C.C. Rider”—Chuck Willis

83. “For Your Precious Love”—Jerry Butler & the Impressions

84. “Jim Dandy”—LaVern Baker

85. “Brand New Cadillac”—Vince Taylor & The Playboys

86. “I Go Ape”—Neil Sedaka

87. “Splish Splash”—Bobby Darin

88. “The Twist”—Chubby Checker

89. “Red River Rock”—Johnny & The Hurricanes

90. “You Send Me”—Sam Cooke

91. “Hang Up My Rock And Roll Shoes”—Chuck Willis

92. “I'm In Love Again”—Fats Domino

93. “White Christmas”—Drifters featuring Clyde McPhatter

94. “I'm Walkin'”—Fats Domino

95. “Money”—Barrett Strong

96. “I Saw Her Standing There”—The Beatles

97. “Folsom Prison Blues”—Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two

98. “Do You Wanna Dance”—Bobby Freeman

99. “Work with Me, Annie”—Hank Ballard & the Midnighters

100. “Let the Good Times Roll”—Shirley & Lee

Other Notable Rock and Roll Songs of the ‘50s and ‘60s

  • “Tears on My Pillow”—Little Anthony & The Imperials
  • “Rumble”—Link Wray
  • “She She Little Sheila”—Gene Vincent
  • “Yakety Yak”—Coasters
  • “Somethin' Else”—Eddie Cochran
  • “Carol”—Chuck Berry
  • “Sea Cruise”—Frankie Ford
  • “Mack the Knife”—Bobby Darin
  • “Not Fade Away”—Buddy Holly
  • “Little Bitty Pretty One”—Thurston Harris
  • “At My Front Door”—El Dorados
  • “Tweedlee Dee”—LaVern Baker
  • “Poison Ivy”—Coasters
  • “Shout”—Isley Brothers
  • “Raunchy”—Bill Justis
  • “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man”—Chuck Berry
  • “Short Fat Fannie”—Larry Williams
  • “Poor Little Fool”—Ricky Nelson
  • “Baby Let's Play House”—Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill
  • “Reelin’ and Rocking”—Chuck Berry
  • “Send Me Some Lovin'”—Little Richard
  • “Matchbox”—Carl Perkins
  • “A Shot of Rhythm & Blues”—Johnny Kidd & The Pirates
  • “Rockin’ Robin”—Bobby Day
  • “Heartbreak Hotel”—Elvis Presley
  • “Story Untold”—Nutmegs
  • “Lotta Lovin’”—Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps
  • “Crying In the Chapel”—Sonny Til & the Orioles
  • “What Do You Want”—Adam Faith
  • “Blue Monday”—Fats Domino
  • “Chantilly Lace”—Big Bopper
  • “Please Don't Tease”—Cliff Richard
  • “Race With The Devil”—Gene Vincent
  • “Lonely Teardrops”—Jackie Wilson
  • “Rebel Rouser”—Duane Eddy
  • “Only Sixteen”—Craig Douglas
  • “Around And Around”—Chuck Berry
  • “Sea Of Love”—Phil Phillips with the Twilights
  • “Get A Job”—Silhouettes
  • “Do You Want To Dance”—Bobby Freeman
  • “Hard Headed Woman”—Elvis Presley
  • “I'm A Man”—Bo Diddley
  • “Rave On”—Buddy Holly
  • “Three Steps to Heaven”—Eddie Cochran
  • “In The Still of the Night”—The Five Satins
  • “Honky Tonk”—Bill Doggett
  • “Take Good Care Of My Baby”—Bobby Vee
  • “Speedoo”—Cadillacs
  • “Lipstick On My Collar”—Connie Francis
  • “My Babe”—Little Walter
  • “Just Like Eddie”—Heinz
  • “Poetry in Motion”—Johnny Tillotson
  • “Big Girls Don't Cry”—The Four Seasons
  • “Keep A-'Knockin'”—Little Richard
  • “A Teenager in Love”—Dion & the Belmonts
  • “Oh Boy!”—Buddy Holly & the Crickets
  • “I've Got a Woman”—Ray Charles
  • “It's Only Make Believe”—Conway Twitty
  • “Stagger Lee”—Lloyd Price
  • “Please Don't Touch”—Johnny Kidd & The Pirates
  • “Move It”—Cliff Richard
  • “What In the World's Come Over You”—Jack Scott feat. The Chantones
  • “Kansas City”—Wilbert Harrison
  • “I'm A Moody Guy”—Shane Fenton & The Fentones
  • “On The Beach”—Cliff Richard With The Shadows
  • “Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay”—Danny & The Juniors
  • “Maybe Baby”—Buddy Holly & the Crickets
  • “You're So Fine”—The Falcons
  • “Shake A Hand”—Faye Adams
  • “Rubber Ball”—Bobby Vee
  • “Sherry”—Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
  • “Teach You To Rock”—Tony Crombie & The Rockets
  • “Runaway”—Del Shannon
  • “Baby Sittin'”—Bobby Angelo & The Tuxedos
  • “Shakin' All Over”—Johnny Kidd & The Pirates
  • “Nut Rocker”—B. Bumble & The Stingers
  • “Have Mercy Baby”—Dominoes
  • “Runaround Sue”—Dion
  • “Book of Love”—Monotones
  • “Gee”—The Crows
  • “The Cruel Sea”—The Dakotas
  • “It Will Stand”—The Showmen
  • “Pretty Little Angel Eyes”—Curtis Lee
  • “Honey Don’t”—Carl Perkins
  • “Love Potion No. 9”—Clovers
  • “Tear It Up”—Johnny Burnette Trio
  • “Saturday Nite At The Duck Pond”—The Cougars
  • “Peter Gunn”—Duane Eddy
  • “Ain't Misbehavin'”—Tommy Bruce & The Bruisers
  • “Handy Man”—Jimmy Jones
  • “See You Later, Alligator”—Bill Haley & His Comets
  • “Ready Teddy”—Little Richard
  • “Blue Moon”—The Marcels
  • “Hats Off To Larry”—Del Shannon
  • “Surfin’ U.S.A.—The Beach Boys
  • “Let There Be Drums”—Sandy Nelson
  • “Tequila”—Champs
  • “You Got What It Takes”—Mary Johnson
  • “Tower Of Strength”—Gene McDaniels
  • “Little Girl of Mine”—Cleftones

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