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Senior Year

Senior Year, 1956: Hail, Hail Rock 'n' Roll

by Linda Ryan

Senior Year, 1956: Hail, Hail Rock 'n' Roll

About this playlist

Rockabilly may take its name from rock 'n' roll and hillbilly music, but the undeniable influence of the blues and R&B is certainly there in spirit, if not name. While such artists as Frank Sinatra, Doris Day and Pat Boone reigned supreme in 1956, a newer, rawer sound was bubbling over. And once out, there was no way to put this genie back in the bottle.

It was an electrifying year for music. Rock 'n' roll fever was spreading faster than mono among teenagers. Country artists like Johnny Cash crossed over to the pop charts, while such R&B greats as Chuck Berry followed suit. Some artists, including Carl Perkins, actually appeared on all three charts! Clearly, it was a time for rewriting society's rule books and tearing down the walls of convention built by Depression-era adults.

High school seniors in 1956 weren't that different from seniors during any other year: their imminent graduation and subsequent entry into the "real" world made most teenagers feel both proud and a little shaky. As official adulthood loomed, it seemed the more they tried to act on their own, the more their parents (or The Man) tried to put them down. Amid this whirling vortex of emotions and hormones, this new fad called rock 'n' roll lured in teenagers like moths to a flame. Amplified power chords and swiveling hips were the guns and bullets used to kill the dying remnants of Mayberry, USA. Hail, hail the hits of 1956!