It is surprising but there are even some real fans of Bill Haley & His Comets who don’t know that the band’s single ‘Rock Around the Clock’ was the best-selling single of the 1950s in the UK. This is a clear indication of their impact on the music charts and shows how they helped to popularise rock and roll. However, there were plenty of other artists doing very well during the same decade.
The second best-selling single of the 1950s in the UK was Paul Anka’s ‘Diana’, which reached number one two years after the Comets’ hit song. Anka’s song has been covered so many times by other artists since then that many people don’t realise that he was responsible for the original.
Harry Belafonte takes third place on the list of best-selling 1950s singles in the UK. His version of ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ was released in 1957 and shows that people still enjoyed genres of music other than rock and roll. This wasn’t the first version of this song and was definitely not the last. It has become one of the most popular Christmas songs ever.
No discussion of chart-topping music of the 1950s would be complete without Elvis Presley, who has not one but two songs in the top ten sellers of the 50s. ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and ‘All Shook Up’, both came a few years after Bill Haley & His Comets’ single but anyone who has ever heard the songs can see the influence that the latter had on Elvis’ music.
The rest of the top ten is filled with well-known music acts such as Cliff Richard, Adam Faith, Buddy Holly and Pat Boone. The 1950s is an era where there was plenty of room for different tastes in music and soft ballads really held their own against the more upbeat numbers produced by the new generation of music-makers.