The 5 Greatest Rock Acts Of 1955
Chuck Berry at the Toronto Peace Festival, 1969 - onemediamusic / Youtube
Rock n’ roll was steadily gaining traction during the late 40’s, and fully unfurled its wings when the 1950’s rolled in. Gospel, jazz, boogie-woogie, rhythm n’ blues, country, and blues; these various genres helped shape rock n’ roll’s growth. Artists from these preceding musical styles also adapted their material to fit the ever-changing landscape of the musical and artistic trend. Here are some of the most influential figures of 1955, and how they helped develop rock music as a whole.
5. The Nutmegs
The Nutmegs were an American vocal group, which were common for earlier forms of rock n’ roll instead of the band or solo format. The Nutmegs were primarily performing doo-wop and rhythm n’ blues, but their tracks like “Story Untold” and “Ship Of Love” contained the earliest forms and characteristics of rock n’ roll tracks. The five-piece group was headed by the tenor Leroy Griffin, and were pioneers of a cappela as well.
4. Etta James
Multi-genre singer Etta James delved in gospel, jazz, and blues, among other musical styles, but was most known for her contribution in rhythm n’ blues, and its consequent development to rock n’ roll. James’ rumbling and earthy contralto vocal quality allowed her to break free from the traditional pop music setting, and settle down for styles like jazz and soul. She is frequently referred to as a the bridge between the gap of rhythm n’ blues and rock n’ roll.
3. Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers
A rather unique rock outfit was seen with Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, because as the name suggests, the vocal group was comprised of young teenage artists. The group has seen many lineup variations, but the one that brought the most success was with Frankie Lymon at the lead. The 12-year old singer helped pen the group’s first big hit, “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”. The group is still active in the present, with remnants of the original lineup augmented by newer members, and are now known as The Legendary Teenagers.
2. Bo Diddley
Another pivotal piece in the development of rock n’ roll was the iconic American singer-songwriter and musician Bo Diddley. Diddley helped the transition from blues to rock n’ roll become seamless, with his signature style of African beats and rhythms, especially his distinct five-accent hambone rhythm, which paved the way for rock n’ roll, pop, and hip hop. Songs such as “Pretty Thing”, “Say Man”, and “You Can’t Judge The Book By The Cover” catapulted Diddley’s career, and started his prime years in the industry.
1. Chuck Berry
Popularly referred to as the Father of Rock N’ Roll, Chuck Berry has been a massively influential figure in the genre’s development, especially during its juvenile years in the 50’s. Berry made it possible to integrate rhythm n’ blues influences into rock n’ roll, especially with his hits “Roll Over Beethoven”, “Johnny B. Goode”, and “Maybellene” dominating the airwaves, and becoming popular show staples. Chuck Berry is most known for his extravagant showmanship, and impressed audiences with his brash guitar solos and entertaining stage antics, with its influence evident in succeeding artists and bands over the years.