I love oldies and classic rock so I decided to make a playlist of songs from the 1950s that might not be too familiar to some. Besides being able to click on a link to hear the song, I’ve also provided a little bit of history about each artist, band or song. Enjoy!
“Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go” by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters
Hank Ballard is probably known best for writing and originally recording the song “The Twist” in 1959 (he also invented the dance that goes with the song). Ironically it was the B-side to “Teardrops on Your Letter.” If it wasn’t for Chubby Checker’s rendition of it a year later, “The Twist” may have been ended up on this list as a “lost gem.”
“Swamp Root” by “Harmonica” Frank Floyd
“Harmonica” Frank Floyd got his name from…. Well, himself. Neither of his parents wanted to name him, so eventually, he decided on Frank Floyd. His first songs were recorded in Memphis, Tennessee by Sam Phillips (of Sun Records fame). He was the first white musician to ever record for Phillips.
“Just Because” by Lloyd Price
Lloyd Price was signed onto Specialty Records at an early age based solely on his song “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” The record company set him up with a band to back him up, which included Fats Domino on piano. Price was drafted in 1954 and sent to Korea. When he returned home, he found that Little Richard had taken his spot in the band. He later formed his own record company and the first song to become a hit was “Just Because.” At the age of 78, he continues to perform.
“Kansas City” by Wilbert Harrison
This isn’t really a “lost gem” at all, but I wanted to add it to this playlist. It has been covered by everyone from Sammy Davis, Jr. to The Beatles. The Beatles combined “Kansas City” with the Little Richard song, “Hey Hey Hey Hey,” changing the dynamic of the original song completely. But the recording that Wilbert Harrison did is the best known, topping the R&B and Billboard Hot 100 charts.
“Danny (Lonely Blue Boy)” by Conway Twitty
Elvis Presley recorded “Danny (Lonely Blue Boy)” for the film King Creole, but it was never put on the soundtrack. There was a rumor circulating that Presley was performing under a different name so when Conway Twitty came out with his version of the song, people thought for sure that they were being had. Do you hear any similarity?
“Do You Wanna Dance?” by Bobby Freeman
Bobby Freeman started his musical career at the age of 14, but it wasn’t until he was 17 that he scored a hit with “Do You Wanna Dance?” This song was also covered by many artists including The Mamas and The Papas, John Lennon, Bette Midler and even The Ramones. Unfortunately, he didn’t have many hits after that, and had to provide from himself by singing at strip clubs.