"He (Elvis) won't last. I tell you frankly -- he won't last."
-- Jackie Gleason
With 24 of G & T’s Top 40, 11 of the 16 #1 songs of 1957, and 18 of Billboard’s Top 30 being classified as rock and roll, the “new” music was clearly increasing in popularity in 1957. Of all the powerful new rock and rollers, the Everly Brothers would have the most success, placing two songs in the G & T Top 40, “Bye Bye Love” (#8) which would reach #2 and “Wake Up Little Susie” (#13) which would be the duo’s first #1 recording.

Elvis Presley's phenomenal success in 1956 continued into the new year as “Too Much” replaced “Singing the Blues,” the Guy Mitchel carry-over from 1956 as the #1 song on February 9th. Jackie Gleason had declared “He won’t last. I tell you frankly -- he won’t last," but it didn't appear Elvis was going away. The song was featured on Elvis’s January 6th appearance on Ed Sullivan. The recording brought Bill Black, Scotty Moore, and D.J. Fontana back into the studio (Hollywood) with Elvis. On April 13th “All Shook Up” would become Elvis’s second #1 of the year. Written by Otis Blackwell (Elvis would take part credit), the song was based on a popular 1950’s expression and would be ranked by Billboard as the year’s #1 single. Coupled with the previous year’s “Heartbreak Hotel” it marked the only time in the Elvis era that the same artist would claim the #1 spot two consecutive years. Elvis’ recording success in 1957 was coupled again in 1957 to his movie’s successes. On July 8th, “Teddy Bear” became the #1 song as the flip side to the title song from the movie, “Loving You.” The movie premiered the day after the song reached #1. Elvis’s other movie of ‘57, “Jailhouse Rock” produced his final #1 song of the year as the title track and its flip side, “Treat Me Nice” became #1 on October 28th. With national exposure from the BBC, “Jailhouse Rock” became the first song ever to enter the British charts at #1. (It’s never happened in the U.S.)

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Pat Boone distanced himself from rock and roll in 1957, moving away from his success covering rock singers such as Little Richard and turning to more traditional ballads. He would challenge Elvis for most popular artist honors of 1957. Like Elvis, Pat Boone found that coupling movies and recording careers produced a great deal of success. “Loveletters in the Sand,” the flip side to “Bernadine,” the title cut from the movie, reached #1 on June 16th. It would prove to be Pat Boone’s most successful single and was awarded the top spot on G & T’s Top 40 for 1957. It was on the chart for 31 weeks. Boone also had success with more upbeat songs such as “Don’t Forbid Me” (#1 and G & T’s #10 for the year), “Why Baby Why” which would reach #5, and the previously mentioned “Bernadine” which made it to #14. The year would end with Boone’s second #1, “April Love,” from the movie of the same name. Boone had been reluctant to record the song, not believing it would be commercial enough in a market more inclined to the sound of rock and roll. So he spiced it up, writing the crescendo instrumental introduction. He though it “made it sound important.”

One of the prominent styles of rock and roll in 1957 was what would come to be known as the “doo-wop” sound. In later years, the style would achieve a cult status with some of the original 45’s becoming quite valuable. “Doo wop” was the rock and roll descendent of the early harmony groups such; as the Ink Spots. In the early 1950’s the “bird groups” (Ravens, Orioles, Penguins) built on that sound, giving the harmony more of an R&B flavor. The Orioles had one of the first R&B recordings to reach a white audience with “Crying in the Chapel” in 1953. In 1954, the Crows recorded “Gee” and thanks to promotions by disk jockey, Alan Freed, it was a big crossover hit. In 1954 “doo-wop” came into its own with the Penguin’s “Earth Angel” that reached #8 on the pop charts. Record companies went in search of groups to replicate that success. There would be many “doo-wop” hits in 1957. Typical of the genre, many would be “one hit wonders” or at least close to it. The Tune Weavers reached #5 with “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby,” never to chart again. The same was true for Johnnie and Joe (“Over the Mountain, Across the Sea,” #8) and Thurston Harris (“Little Bitty Pretty One,” #6). The two “doo-wop” groups that did enjoy some long term success were The Platters and The Coasters. The Platters had somewhat of a down year with “I’m Sorry” (#19) as their only top 40 recording (they would bounce back in 1958). The Coasters made their chart debut in 1957 and would have two top ten recordings.

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Rock and roll’s preeminent position in popular music came about due to the music’s exposure to the majority white audience. The “covering” of R&B records by white artists sometimes had a “boomerang” effect, exposing the artist to a new fan base. The practice continued into 1957 with “Young Love,” one of the best examples of a cover success and the most heated contest of two versions of the same song for the “Elvis Era.” Sonny James took the song to #2 with a country version that had a distinct rock and roll flavor. The song was covered both by the Crewcuts and by Tab Hunter. Tab Hunter was a young movie star with the good looks that would become more and more part of recording success in the future as teen idols became the focus of popular music. In 1957, the handsome Hunter; was able to croon “Young Love” all the way to #1 on March 2nd. G & T would rank Sonny James’ version 35 and Tab Hunter’s #2 for the year.

A future teen idol, Ricky Nelson first gained prominence with a cover of Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin’.” The Diamonds hit #1 with a cover of “Little Darlin’” by the Gladiolas. Charlie Grace and Andy Williams both found chart success with “Butterfly” -- Williams covering Gracie’s country version. Both would be in G & T’s Top 40 (Williams #26 and Gracie’s #32). Even Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Whole Lotta Shakin’” could be considered a “cover” of an earlier recording by the Commodores -- but Lewis’s version was even more rock and roll.

In 1957 popular music came in four basic media: the 78 rpm 12” disk, the 45 rpm 7” disk, the LP -- 33 1/3 rpm 12” disk, and the EP -- 33 1/3 7” disk. The 45 was rapidly becoming the most popular and the “single” was the most important release. Todd Stover and Gordon McClendon had pioneered the “Top 40” format for radio and it was catching on fast. The practice of playing the most popular recordings over and over left little room for the album or album cut. It was in the LP market that movie and Broadway soundtracks dominated. “My Fair Lady, “ Around the World in 80 Days,” and “Oklahoma” were listed by G & T as the top 3 LP’s of the year.

Elvis and Pat Boone weren’t the only ones to parlay movie tracks into top ten singles. One of the most successful recordings of 1957 was a ballad by Debbie Reynolds, “Tammy” from the movie “Tammy and the Bachelor" with Leslie Nielsen. The song, lifted from the movie sound track, was three and a half minutes long, considered a risk because it didn’t conform to disk jockey’s needs for two minute records. But on August 8th, “Tammy” reached #1. It would get bumped off the top spot the next week (“Diana” by Paul Anka) but then return for another week as #1. The song was nominated for the Oscar and Reynolds would perform at the ‘58 awards ceremony. From July 28, 1956 to December 1, 1958, Debbie Reynolds was the only female to reach #1.

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Always a staple of popular music, the rock and roll versions of songs named for girls would rank high in 1957. Of course, “Peggy Sue” would have to be regarded the best of the group. Called “the first rock and roll folk heroine,” “Peggy Sue” debuted in November of 1957 and would reach #3. The center of Buddy Holly’s attention started out as “Cindy Lou,” the name of Holly’s drummer’s girl friend. Paul Anka made “Diana,” his first recording, a #1 song in August. Anka wrote the song at age 15 -- it was a reference to his younger brother’s baby sitter. The Cadets (“Stranded in the Jungle”) sang backup for the recording. Other successful “girl name” songs of 1957 included:

• “Lucille” by Little Richard -- written about a drag queen, it would reach #21 and be re-recorded by many artists.
• Larry Williams, Lloyd Price’s former valet would chart with both “Short Fat Fannie” -- #5 ( a response to Little Richard’s 1956 hit, “Long Tall Sally”) and its follow-up “Bonie Maronie” -- #14.
• “Marianne” was a #4 it for Terry Gilykson and the Easy Riders. They had sung backup on the 1956 Dean Martin hit, “Memories are Made of This.”

Other Notable Music Events of 1957:

• Sam Cooke crossed over from the gospel genre to score a #1 record with “You Send Me.”
• Lloyd Price hit the top 40 with “Just Because” (he wouldn’t have another top 40 hit until 1959 when he would place 5 songs in the Top 40).
• A former female impersonator, Bobby Marchin, sang lead for “Huey (Piano) Smith and the Clowns on “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.” It would only reach #52, but would be covered by Johnny Rivers in 1972/73 and reach #6. (The title lyric was taken from Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” -- “I got rocking pneumonia sittin’ down at a rhythm review.”)
• The Bobbettes reached #6 with “Mr. Lee” -- a tribute to their school principal.
• The Everly Brothers “Wake Up Little Susie” was literally banned in Boston due to its suggestive lyrics about a girl and guy who were at the drive in and “fell asleep, our goose is cooked, our reputation is shot.”

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The Everly Brothers' first #1, "Wake Up Little Suzie" was reportedly "banned in Boston."
Elvis choreographed the big dance scene in his 1957 movie, "Jailhouse Rock."
Like Elvis, Pat Boone capitalized on his movie roles to create #1 hits such as 1957's "April Love."
The Tune Weaver's "Happy Happy Birthday Baby" was one of the "one-hit wonders" of 1957.
Sonny James and Tab Hunter battled it out for the most popular version of "Young Love."
Ricky Nelson decided to impress a girlfriend who "just adored" Elvis by making a record of his own. It was a "cover" of the Fats Domino song, "I'm Walkin'." It's success for the Verve label led to a recording contract with Imperial where Ricky would produce 16 top 10 hits.
"Tammy & The Bachelor" produced a #1 song for Debbie Reynolds.
Paul Anka had his first chart record with "Diana" and it went all the way to #1.
When Sam Cooke wanted to record a non-gospel song, he was dropped by the Specialty labe where he had been part of the gospel group, The Soulstirrers. He moved to Keen records and produced a #1 single with "You Send Me."