Some background on who wrote the songs posted here.
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Rock Around the Clock” is a rock and roll song in the 12-bar blues format written by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers (the latter under the pseudonym “Jimmy De Knight”) in 1952. The best-known and most successful rendition was recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1954 for American Decca. It was a number one single on both the United States and United Kingdom charts and also re-entered the UK Singles Chart in the 1960s and 1970s.
“At The Hop” The song was written by White, Medora, and Singer in 1957, when Danny & the Juniors were still called The Juvenairs. Initially called “Do the Bop”, the song was heard by Dick Clark, who suggested they change its name. After performing the song on Clark’s show American Bandstand, it gained popularity and went to the top of the US charts, remaining at number one for five weeks.
The song describes the scene at a record hop, particularly the dances being performed and the interaction with the disc jockey host.
A sample of the song’s lyrics (contemporary popular dances in italics):
You can rock it you can roll it
Do the stomp and even stroll it
At the hop.
When the record starts spinnin’
You chalypso and you chicken at the hop
Do the dance sensation that is sweepin’ the nation
at the hop.
“There’s a Moon Out Tonight” is a song originally released in 1958 by The Capris. The initial release on the Planet label saw very limited sales, and the Capris disbanded. In 1960, after a disk jockey played the song on air, the public interest in the song that was generated led to it being re-released on the Lost Nite label, and later that year the Old Town label. The group reunited shortly thereafter.
In early 1961, “There’s a Moon Out Tonight” spent 14 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart peaking at No. 3, while reaching No. 11 on Billboard‘s Hot R&B Sides, and No. 14 on Canada’s CHUM Hit Parade.
The song was ranked No. 50 on Billboard‘s end of year “Hot 100 for 1961 – Top Sides of the Year“ and No. 51 on Cash Box‘s “Top 100 Chart Hits of 1961.
“A Teenager in Love” is a song written by Doc Pomus and partner Mort Shuman and was originally sung and released by Dion and the Belmonts in March 1959. It reached #5 on the Billboard pop charts. In May 1959, the song held three positions in the British Top 20, the other two versions being by Marty Wilde and Craig Douglas. The song is considered one of the greatest songs in rock and roll history.
The song was covered by Bob Marley with The Wailers. In 1965 recorded on the Coxsone label, it was covered by Simon & Garfunkel in their final show as a recording duo at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in Queens, New York.
“I Wonder Why” is a doo-wop song, written by Melvin Anderson and Ricardo Weeks (lyrics), and first recorded by Dion and the Belmonts (released as Laurie Records’ first single, number 3013), becoming the group’s first national pop chart hit, in 1958. It is sung from the point of view of a man telling his girlfriend that he loves her but does not know why. The song is noted for Carlo Mastrangelo singing the bass part in rhythm.
“Mr. Sandman” (sometimes rendered as “Mister Sandman“) is a popular song written by Pat Ballard which was published in 1954 and first recorded in May of that year by Vaughn Monroe & His Orchestra and later that same year by The Chordettes. The song’s lyrics convey a request to “Mr. Sandman” to “bring me a dream” – the traditional association with the folkloric figure, the sandman.
The pronoun used to refer to the desired dream is often changed depending on the sex of the singer or group performing the song,[ as the original sheet music publication, which includes male and female versions of the lyrics, intended. Some time later, Ballard also rewrote the lyrics for Christmas use as “Mr. Santa”. The chord progression in each chorus follows the circle of fifths for six chords in a row. Singer Dorothy Collins charted with “Mr. Santa” (#51, US trade Music Vendor. 1955). The song was later recorded by Tony Sandler and Ralph Young (1968) and Suzy Bogguss. Emmylou Harris‘ recording of the song reached the top-ten on the U.S. country singles chart in 1981
.“Lipstick on Your Collar” is a song written by Edna Lewis (lyrics) and George Goehring (music) which was a 1959 hit single for Connie Francis.
Francis recorded the song April 15 1959 in a session at Metropolitan Studio (NYC) produced and conducted by Ray Ellis. Veteran guitarist George Barnes contributed a solo to the track.
To provide a contrasting B-side for the upbeat track, a ballad from the same session: “Frankie”, was utilized. This Howard Greenfield/ Neil Sedakacomposition was inspired by Frankie Avalon.
“Lipstick on Your Collar” became the first uptempo Connie Francis single to reach the US Top Ten, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1959. That summer the track also reached No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart, and became Francis’ first Top Ten hit in Australia at No. 4. It sold over one million copies in the US alone.
“Frankie” also became a Top Ten hit in the US with a #9 peak making the “Lipstick on Your Collar”/ “Frankie” single the most successful double-sided hit of Francis’ career.
In a 1959 interview, Francis attributed her being the sole songstress then scoring rock and roll hits by saying: “Rock ‘n’ roll is a masculine kind of music” with its mindset of “‘Come on out baby we’re going to rock’..[best] suited for a man to sing…The mistake that many girl singers have made is trying to compete with the men [whereas] I’ve tried for the cute angle in lyrics, things like ‘Lipstick on Your Collar’ and ‘Stupid Cupid’
.”Poor Little Fool” is a rock and roll song written by Sharon Sheeley and first recorded by Ricky Nelson in 1958.
Sheeley wrote the song when she was fifteen years old. She had met Elvis Presley, and he encouraged her to write. It was based on her disappointment following a short-lived relationship with a member of a popular singing duo. Sheeley sought Ricky Nelson to record the tune. She drove to his house, and claimed her car had broken down. He came to her aid, and she sprang the song on him. Her version was at a much faster tempo than his recording.
The song was recorded by Ricky Nelson on April 17, 1958, and released on Imperial Records through its catalog number: 5528. It was the first number-one song on Billboard magazine‘s then-new Hot 100 chart, replacing the magazine’s Jockeys and Top 100 charts. It spent two weeks at the number-one spot. It also reached the top ten on the Billboard Country and Rhythm and Blues charts. Following its success, Sheeley worked with Eddie Cochran.
“Poor Little Fool” became a radio hit when it was released as part of a four-song Extended Play 45 rpm disc which was excerpted from the artist’s second LP, Ricky Nelson. Responding to the buzz, Lew Chudd, the founder and head of Imperial Records, rushed out a single version (on both 45 and 78 rpm). Nelson objected, however, believing that the move would hurt sales of the EP. Under his contract with Imperial, the singer had approval rights for all picture-sleeve art and to express his displeasure with Chudd’s decision, he chose not to select a photograph for the “Poor Little Fool” single. As a result, “Poor Little Fool” was the only Ricky Nelson single released by Imperial to be issued in the United States without a photo in a plain label-cut-out sleeve
“That’ll Be The Day” Buddy Holly’s recording sessions at Decca were produced by Owen Bradley. Unhappy with Bradley’s control in the studio and with the sound he achieved there, he went to producer Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico, and recorded a demo of “That’ll Be the Day“, among other songs. Petty became the band’s manager and sent the demo to Brunswick Records, which released it as a single credited to “The Crickets“, which became the name of Holly’s band. In September 1957, as the band toured, “That’ll Be the Day” topped the US “Best Sellers in Stores” chart and the UK Singles Chart. Its success was followed in October by another major hit, “Peggy Sue”
“Peggy Sue” is a rock and roll song written by Buddy Holly, Jerry Allison, and Norman Petty, recorded and released as a single by Holly in early July of 1957. The Crickets are not mentioned on label of the single (Coral 9-61885), but band members Joe B. Mauldin (string bass) and Jerry Allison(drums) played on the recording. This recording was also released on Holly’s eponymous 1958 album.
The song was originally entitled “Cindy Lou”, after Holly’s niece, the daughter of his sister Pat Holley Kaiter. The title was later changed to “Peggy Sue” in reference to Peggy Sue Gerron, the girlfriend (and future wife) of Jerry Allison, the drummer for the Crickets, after the couple had temporarily broken up.
Appropriately, Allison had a prominent role in the production of the song, playing paradiddles on the drums throughout the song, the drums’ sound rhythmically fading in and out as a result of real-time engineering techniques by the producer, Norman Petty.
Initially, only Allison and Petty were listed as the song’s authors. At Allison’s insistence, Holly was credited as a co-writer after his death. Joe B. Mauldin (string bass) and Allison (drums) played on the recording
All I Have to Do Is Dream” is a popular song made famous by the Everly Brothers, written by Boudleaux Bryant of the husband and wife songwriting team Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, and published in 1958. The song is ranked No. 141 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song is in AABA form
“Put Your Head on My Shoulder” is a song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka. Anka’s version was recorded in August 1958 and released as a single by ABC-Paramount in 1959 as catalog number 4510040. It was arranged and conducted by Don Costa. The B-side was “Don’t Ever Leave Me”. “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” became very successful, reaching number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The song was repopularized when released as a single by The Lettermen in 1968. This version peaked just peaked number 44 on the Hot 100, it was more successful on the Adult Contemporary chart where it peaked at number 8.
“Diana” is a song written and made famous by Paul Anka in 1957, recorded in May 1957 at Don Costa studio in New York City. Reportedly inspired by a high school friend of Anka’s named Diana Ayoub, in an interview with NPR‘s Terry Gross in 2005, Anka stated that it was inspired by a girl at his church whom he hardly knew. Session musicians on the record included Bucky Pizzarelli on Guitar, Irving Wexler on piano, Jerry Bruno on bass, and Panama Francis on drums. The song was recorded in May 1957 at RCA studios. Backup singers included Artie Ripp (who later in his career as a music industry executive was the first to sign and produce Billy Joel as a solo artist after Michael Lang, who had given Joel a monetary advance, passed Joel along to Ripp—while retaining rights to a cut of profits from Joel’s output—to focus his attentions elsewhere instead.)
The original Paul Anka 1957 recording reached number one on the Billboard “Best Sellers In Stores” chart (although it climbed no higher than number 2 on Billboard′s composite “Top 100” chart) and has reportedly sold over nine million copies. “Diana” also hit number one on the R&B Best Sellers list chart. It also reached number 1 in the UK Singles Chart and sold 1.25 million copies in the UK.
“Earth Angel” (occasionally referred to as “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)“) is a song by American doo-wop group the Penguins. Produced by Dootsie Williams, it was released as their debut single in October 1954 on Dootone Records. The Penguins had formed the year prior and recorded the song as a demo in a garage in South Los Angeles. The song’s origins lie in multiple different sources, among them songs by Jesse Belvin, Patti Page, and the Hollywood Flames. Its authorship was the subject of a bitter legal dispute with Williams in the years following its release.
Although the song was going to be overdubbed with additional instrumentation, the original demo version became an unexpected hit, quickly outstripping its A-side. The song grew out of Southern California and spread across the United States over the winter of 1954–55. “Earth Angel” became the first independent label release to appear on Billboard‘s national pop charts, where it peaked within the top 10.
It was a big hit on the magazine’s R&B charts, where it remained number one for several weeks. A cover version by white vocal group the Crew-Cuts peaked higher on the pop charts, reaching number three. More cover versions followed, including recordings by Gloria Mann, Tiny Tim, Johnny Tillotson, and Elvis Presley.
The Penguins’ only hit, it eventually sold in excess of 10 million copies. The original recording of the song remained an enduring hit single for much of the 1950s, and it is now considered to be one of the definitive doo-wop songs. In 2005, it was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congressto be added to the National Recording Registry, deeming it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important.
The song was first issued by Mindy Carson with Ray Conniff‘s Orchestra and The Columbians. Carson’s version reached No. 53 on Billboard‘s Top 100 chart.
The most popular version of the song was recorded by Dean Martin in 1955. He was backed by The Easy Riders (who consisted of Gilkyson, Dehr, and Miller), who wrote it. On the B-side of the 45 and 78 recordings was “Change of Heart” written by John Rox.
Memories Are Made of This” is a popular song written by Terry Gilkyson, Richard Dehr, and Frank Miller in 1955. Dean Martin’s version reached No. 1 on Billboard‘s Top 100 chart, remaining at the top for five weeks in 1956, while spending six weeks atop Billboard‘s chart of songs “Most Played by Jockeys”, five weeks atop Billboard‘s chart of “Best Sellers in Stores”, and four weeks atop Billboard‘s chart of songs “Most Played in Juke Boxes”. It became a Gold record and Martin’s biggest hit. It was also his only UK number one hit, topping the UK’s New Musical Express chart on 23 February 1956, and remaining at the top for four weeks.
Where The Boys Are Connie Francis recorded “Where the Boys Are” as the theme song for the motion picture Where the Boys Are a 1961 MGM release filmed in 1960 in which Francis made her movie acting debut as one of four coeds on spring break in Fort Lauderdale.
According to Francis she was on location in Fort Lauderdale when the film’s director Joe Pasternak advised her that he had commissioned the Oscar-winning songwriting team of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen to write a theme song for the movie which Francis would sing.  When at Francis’ insistence Pasternak agreed to consider a submission from the Sedaka – Greenfield songwriting team behind her “Stupid Cupid” hit – (Pasternak quote:)“They’ve got a week but it’s got to be here by Wednesday: that’s when we’re picking the song” –
Francis phoned through to Howard Greenfield in New York City and Greenfield agreed to complete a “Where the Boys Are” theme song with Sedaka although Francis recalls Greenfield initially reacting unfavorably to the assignment (Greenfield quote: “‘Where the Boys Are’?
What kind of stupid title is that? Who can write a song with a title like ‘Where the Boys Are’?”). Sedaka and Greenfield in fact completed two “Where the Boys Are” theme songs and so as to meet Pasternak’s deadline the demos of Sedaka singing both songs were given to an airline hostess of Francis’ personal acquaintance who was working a Florida-bound flight on which she brought the demos to Francis.
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