1950: Quincy Jones graduates from Seattle’s Garfield High School.

1950: French chanteuse Edith Piaf records her signature song, “La Vie En Rose.”

July 1950: “Your Hit Parade,” a popular radio show, makes its debut on the new medium of TV.

1951: Tony Bennett, the quintessential Italian-American crooner, records a future classic, “Because of You.”

1951: Jackie Brenston records “Rocket 88,” featuring Ike Turner’s King’s of Rhythm, at Sam Phillips’ Memphis recording studio. “Rocket 88” is among the first rock ’n’ roll records.

March 1952: Radio DJ Alan Freed, who uses the phrase rock ’n’ roll to describe a style of music, is host of the Moondog Coronation Ball at Cleveland Arena. A riot ensues when hundreds of concertgoers are unable to get into the sold-out show.

1952: Sam Phillips opens his Sun record label, which would help launch the careers of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others.

1953: Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller write “Hound Dog” for Big Mama Thornton. The song launches the songwriting team’s career and later becomes a smash hit for Elvis Presley.

1953: Bill Haley records the first white rock ’n’ roll hit, “Crazy Man Crazy.”

1953: Crooner Dean Martin records his first million-seller, “That’s Amore — That’s Love.”

1953: Elvis Presley strolls into Memphis’ Sun Studio to record a tune for his mother. Owner Sam Phillips is impressed with the white boy with the “negro sound.”

July 1954: During his first recording session, at Memphis’ Sun Records, Elvis Presley records an obscure black song, “That’s All Right Mama,” and a revved-up version of the Bill Monroe bluegrass tune “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

March 1955: Bill Haley and His Comets’ “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock” is the first rock ’n’ roll song to be featured on the soundtrack for a movie, “Blackboard Jungle.” It’s also the first rock ’n’ roll song to become a No. 1 national hit.

1955: Sony introduces the first pocket transistor radios.

May 1955: The breakthrough hit “Maybelline” introduces Chuck Berry’s incendiary guitar style to the American rock ’n’ roll fans.

1955: Pat Boone records his first million-seller, a white-washed version of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame.”

1955: Scotsman Lonnie Donegan and his skiffle group record their first hit, “Rock Island Line,” written by Huddy Ledbetter.

1955: B.B. King records “Every Day (I Have the Blues),” helping to establish him as “the king of the blues.”

1955: Mitch Miller records a hit version of the U.S. Civil War campfire song, “Yellow Rose of Texas.”

1955: RCA Records buys Elvis Presley’s recording contract and Sun master recordings for $35,000.

September 1955: Little Richard records “Tutti Frutti,” with its unforgettable line of rock ’n’ roll gibberish, “Awop-bop-a-loo-bop, a-lop-bam-boom.”

1956: Singer and guitarist “Little Bill” Engelhart joins the Bluenotes, the Northwest’s first rock ’n’ roll band. The band is still popular today on the local blues scene.

1956: James Brown and the Famous Flames record “Please, Please, Please,” launching the R&B singer’s extraordinary career.

1956: Johnny Cash finds a national audience with his first million-selling hit, “I Walk the Line,” recorded on Sam Phillips’ Sun label.

September 1956: Elvis Presley makes his first appearance on Ed Sullivan’s TV show, “Toast of the Town.”

November 1956: Elvis Presley appears in his first film, “Love Me Tender.”

1956: Garfield High School grad Quincy Jones becomes a staff arranger for ABC Paramount Records after touring with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band.

1956: Harry Belafonte’s “Jamaica Farewell” launches the calypso sound.

March 1956: Elvis Presley records his first million-seller, “Heartbreak Hotel,” unleashing Elvis mania.

April 1957: “Dark Moon,” recorded by Northwest songwriter Bonnie Guitar, reaches No. 6 on the national charts. Gale Storm’s version is a simultaneous hit.

September 1957: More than 15,000 attend Elvis Presley’s first Seattle show at Sick’s Stadium.

1957: The Crickets, featuring Buddy Holly, record “That’ll Be the Day.”

1957: The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, host of the Grammy Awards, is established. NARAS awards its first Grammys the following year.

1957: The Everly Brothers record their first million-seller, “Bye Bye Love.”

October 1957: While on stage in Sydney, Australia, Little Richard announces he is giving up show business and going back to God.

1957: Ricky Nelson, singing on TV’s “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett,” is the first in a flock of new teen idols.

July 1957: John Lennon meets Paul McCartney at a church social near Liverpool, England. McCartney later joins Lennon’s skiffle band, the Quarrymen.

September 1957: Los Angeles singer Richard Berry performs his song “Louie, Louie” during a show with headliners Little Junior Parker and Bobby “Blue” Bland at Eagles Auditorium. Black and white teenagers are introduced to a tune that would become an intregral part of the “Seattle sound.”

August 1957: Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” makes its debut on national TV. The first song Clark plays is Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.”

December 1957: Piano-pounding Jerry Lee Lewis marries his 13-year-old second cousin, Myra Gale Brown. His career is nearly ruined when news of the marriage reaches the media.

Summer 1958: Seattle radio station KOL plays an instrumental rock tune, “Straight Flush,” recorded by Seattle rock ’n’ roll band The Frantics.

February 1959: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper die in a plane crash in Iowa on the way to a show in North Dakota.

1958: Influential bluesman Muddy Waters wows fans during his first visit to England.

1958: Elvis Presley reports to the local draft board in Memphis, Tenn., and becomes an army private.

1958: The prolific Bobby Darin records his first million-seller, “Splish Splash.”

1958: Folk music heats up with the Kingston Trio’s hit version of “Tom Dooley,” a traditional American folk song.

1958: Future “wall of sound” producer Phil Spector, with his band the Teddy Bears, makes his debut on “American Bandstand” with the song “To Know Him Is to Love Him.”

1959: The Fleetwoods, a high school vocal trio from Olympia, records its first million-seller, “Come Softly to Me.”

November 1959: KJR DJ Pat O’Day hires Tacoma group The Wailers to play the first in a series of teen dances at the Spanish Castle in Federal Way. Jimi Hendrix later writes a song about the club, “Spanish Castle Magic.”

1959: The Isley Brothers’ “Shout” and Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” bring the black church sound to the national charts.

1959: Folk singer Joan Baez makes her debut at the Newport Folk Festival, thrilling audiences with her crystalline soprano. She is a prototype for generations of socially conscious singer-songwriters.

1959: Golden Crest Records, a New York label, releases “Tall Cool One” by Tacoma band The Wailers. The song becomes a Northwest favorite, as well as a national hit.

1959: Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “Shop Around” becomes the first million-selling hit for Berry Gordy’s Motown label.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *