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American Popular Music from 1950 - 2000

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In many ways music can give us more accurate picture of the emotion of people and events than any other medium. Music reflects the times, describes events, and makes us remember forgotten emotions.

This American Popular Music from 1950 to 2000 Web Guide , arranged chronologically, is intended as an overview of American history through music. Visit our earlier music guides located on our Assignment Guides page.  If you are researching cultural history see American Cultural History Decades.

The Tuesday New Orleans Music Show Links to station WWOZ FM- 90.7- in New Orleans, playing songs from Louisiana including gospel, jazz, r & b, bands, blues, doo wop, funk and soul.

African American Music   -   Mid-Century America From Chuck Berry to Boyz II Men. African American music covered and linked, including related archives.

Southern Music Network  -  Watch, Listen and Browse are the subject headings for this site from Gadsden, Alabama.

The Last FM   -  This is a terrific site. Enter the name of the artist and they have gathered lyrics, audio, video, bio, and much more. Love it!

Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Ray Charles, BB King   -  YouTube, 8 minutes, meet several of the early leaders or Elvis, Fats Domino & Friends


The 1950s offered a combination of sounds for everyone. Rock 'n roll, rhythm and blues, love songs, jazz (first Newport Festival), calypso (Harry Belafonte), and musicals were all popular. The music (for a change) was pretty a-political.  Records rather than air play began to determine the popularity of a song.  Hit makers were Johnny Ray (Cry), Patti Page (Tennessee Waltz), Nat King Cole (Stardust),Teresa Brewer (Til I Waltz Again with You), Tony Bennett, Perry ComoPat Boone(Love Letters in the Sand), Doris Day (Secret Love), Eddie Fisher, Frankie Laine (Jezebel), Dean Martin , and Peggy Lee (You Give Me Fever before Madonna :-) . Groups were popular, including the Platters, Les Paul and Mary Ford (How High the Moon), Ames Brothers (You, You, You), Four Aces ( Love is a Many Splendored Thing), Buddy Holly (Peggy Sue) and many others made the huge number of decade hits.
Elvis In 1956, Elvis became the first rock star with hits including Don't Be CruelHeartbreak Hotel, All Shook Up, and Can't Help Falling in Love.   Black recording artists Chuck Berry (Johnny Be Good ) and Fats Domino (I'm Walking) became rock 'n roll stars. Color TV became a major influence, stereos were offered for sale, the first Grammy (1959) was given. American Bandstand had an audience of 20 million teenagers and 20 million adults. Stars like Bobby Darin, Frankie Avalon, Connie Francis and Fabian were discovered on American Bandstand. The Grand Ole Opry with its country sounds was in full swing! Your Hit Parade (Dorothy Collings singing, Please Mr. Sun) aired on TV from 1950-1959, sponsored by Lucky Strike Cigarettes..
Broadway and movie musicals (Wow, this is a great site for background about musicals) played an important part during this decade.  Broadway hits included Guys and Dolls, The King and I, Pajama Game, Singin' in the Rain, Bye Bye Birdie, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Gigi, and The Sound of Music.
He tried to cross
As fast train neared
Death didn't draft him
He volunteered
On curves ahead
Remember, sonny
That rabbit's foot
Didn't save the bunny
Violets are blue
Roses are pink
On graves - Of those
Who drive and drink
Henry the VIII
Sure had Trouble
Short Term Wives
Long Term Stubble!

1950s Rock 'n Roll dancer
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
R&R Hall of Fame by AT&T. Exhibits, info, and news.
Lyrics from the Fifties
Top singles by decades. The Fifties Web had to stop publishing lyrics to the songs. A good alternative.
American Cultural History - The Fifties
From the Kingwood College Librarians - that's us.
Fifties Website
Spend time here!  Contains information on everything fifties, good links to popular music, televison shows, etc. This website has expanded to include the sixties.
Oldies Music
Good site for chronology of musical events from 50's and 60's , lists of artists and bands.

The Sixties to the Mid Seventies

The sixties were the decade of Motown, Pop, Rhythm and Blues, Protest Songsprotesting the war, musicals, and the Beatles.  Musicians of these decades ranged from The Beach Boys to Loretta Lynn to Barbra Streisand to Elton JohnThe Beatles (midis) dominated the sixties.The Monkees and the Rolling Stones and other groups followed suit.  After the Beatles split, Paul McCartney and Wings (Band on the Run), George Harrison (Give me Love), Ringo (You're Sixteen) and John Lennon and Yoko Ono (Whatever Gets You Thru the Night) all had individual hits.   After a quiet decade, music once again became political. The country was in the midst of its second undeclared war (Korea in the 50s followed by Vietnam in the late 60s), Nixon and Agnew resignations, Kennedy assassinations, Charles Manson murders, and the murder of Martin Luther King were all events instrumental in forming the music of this period.

Black music producer Berry Gordy began the Motown music label in 1960.  Hitting the charts were Dionne Warwick, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations,  and the Jackson 5 (Yes, that includes Michael).
Musicals included How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, Fiddler on the Roof, and  Hello Dolly. The rock musicals Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Hair hit broadway and the United States by storm! The Kingston Trio's Tom Dooley in 1957 led the way for Bob Dylan's 'Blowing in the Wind' other protest songs by folk singers including Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary. (Lyrics for protest music)
In 1969, Woodstock was attended by 300,000.  A three day even for peace, love and rock took place. Performers included Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family StoneLed Zepplin, The Grateful Dead,  and Jefferson Airplane. Counterculture music and Counterculture young people seeking a better world, used their music to protest. Tom Lehrer is a good example.



About Motown Great background site - by the decade - with links to music and the artists.
Motown Story A little history and an album discography.
Rock 'n Roll
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Based in Cleveland. This is an excellent site for Rock music, soul, Motown, Disco, etc... Pretty much any music ranging from 1950 to the present.
Devil Music: Race, Class, and Rock and Roll TV Rant
Links to Sites Containing the Beatles Just what it sounds like. :-)
Ultimate Band List Homepage Today's Bands! Links to bands, magazines, lyrics, labels and much more.
Gospel Music
Wikipedia entry about Gospel Music - golden age in the 40s and 50s.
Elvis' Spiritual and Gospel Songs - list, may play - but copyright guru's have removed most Elvis midi's from the web.
Folk Music
Dirty Linen The Magazine of Folk, Electric Folk, Traditional and World Music
The Joan Baez Web Pages Photographs, lyrics, information and tours.
Peter, Paul, and Mary Home Page Great information on this 60's folk group. Contains links to song lyrics, photos, bios, and more.
Bob Dylan Links Links to Internet sources for Bob Dylan.
The Southern Folklife Collection The Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill houses one of the world's largest collections of Southeastern-tradition derived music. Photographs are wonderful.
Folk Music of the 60s Essay from Canada.

Country Western, Blue Grass, and Old Time Music

The Grand Ole Opry From Nashville - it's all there. Visit with Patsy Cline, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton representing the new guard and Opry institutions like Grandpa  Jones, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Little Jimmy Dickens and Flatt &  Scruggs.
Ten Things You Didn't know about Country Music Just the facts, m'am.
COWPIE Bunkhouse For country music guitar players -- search by song.
Old Time Music Home Page Collection of Links to OldTime music on the Web.
Cybergrass Great site - Bluegrass magazine.
Brandywine Friends of Old Time music Promotes and sponsors bluegrass and old time music in the Wilmington, Delaware area 
Oklahoma Opry Live from Oklahoma city, the Opry features local and southwest country and gospel performers every Saturday night
Native Ground Music This site is worth 'pickin' over. It contains info about American Music and Folklore. Watch for the music notes to listen.

Texas state flagMusic from Texas (Sorry, we are taking a little license since we are Texans... You can search for the early music from your state.)

Austin City Limits The longest running country music program on public television.
Austin Music Connection Check in here for info about Austin country, blues, rock and "uncategorizable" music. Includes maps of the various music districts in the area.
Tejano Music Awards Awards for Tejano Music - presented annually in San Antonio.
OndaNet - Tejano Music Site Selected by Texas Monthly as one of the best 100 sites.
Willie Nelson Willie's page by Sony - discography, history, background, the like. (Hear Willie)
 Country Music Television New and old - get the latest on country videos.

The Musical

Texas, the Outdoor Musical A musical romance of the history of the Texas Panhandle. 35th year.
Broadway Musical Lyrics Links to broadway musicals on stage today. Copyright warning.
Musicals Offers a list of songs, links to other sites and a synopsis of many musicals, among other features.

Louisiana: Cajun Music

Twangin'! - American Music Good site for ethnic and traditional music links. Ranges from Cajun to Tejano music. Good place to start looking -- not just for music but for food, language, and history.
NPR New Orleans Healing Concert Concert after Rita.
The Cajun Culture Dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of Cajun and Creole cultures, excellent links to sites.


DeeT's 70s Page A tribute to the greatest decade ever.[That's definitely a matter of personal taste :-) But, DeeT likes disco, and we like her site.]

Disco Music 101 Leads to a ton of info about disco - and some very good sites.

Disco Fever On the charts, clips, very 70s.

Skipping through the 1980s and 90s

Music of the 1980s and 1990s

Southern Music

Southern Music of the 1980s

Southern Music of the 1990s

Punk/ New Wave/ Heavy Metal

New Wave Outpost Links to anything you want to know about the new wave phenomenon -- groups like Culture Club, Duran Duran, etc...
The Punk Page One of the first WWW web pages for punk music. Contains, lyrics, photos, etc..., an organized list of all punk links on web.
Rock N Roll Photos Hundreds of photos of concerts. This is an unbelievable collection of R&R photographs of bands.

Rap/ Hip Hop

Mr. Blunt's Hip-Hop Great page with links to performers, top numbers of the day and past, and radio netcast links.
Rap/ Hip Hop Lyrics Lyrics - missing links, but good overall.
Best of Rap A list of 25 favorites - add your comments.
Rap - Hip Hop Timeline (this is a comprehensive site of lists - from 1950s to 2000.


The best way to find journal articles is to search an appropriate database.  Kingwood College students may search most of our recommended databases from any computer. 

Literature Resource Center - Includes articles from CLC, DLB, and Twayne's, as well as some full text journal articles.
Proquest Research Library - This index to journal articles includes some full text and some older articles you may not find elsewhere.
Academic Search Complete  - Index to journals articles, some full text.  While similar to Proquest, it may have different articles.

Citing Sources Using the Library MLA Style Guide | LSC-Kingwood library guide. Examples of both paper and electronic citations.

American Popular Music before 1900  |   American Popular Music from 1900-1950     
American Cultural History by Decade
Lone Star College System Libraries    |  LSC-Kingwood Library Research Guides    |  Author: Peggy Whitley | Revised 7/2009rp

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