CBS Radio – The Howard Miller Show – guests: The Crew Cuts – September 6, 1955 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
This is the first of what are two posts, back-to-back, dealing with the early days of Rock n’ Roll and the difference, even at the radio network level, how this new genre of music was going to be handled.
This post deals with what is considered mainstream Pop Music, circa 1955. What the majority of Americans were listening to. They had only heard about Rock n’ Roll, were on the periphery – some outright rejected it while others were slow to accept it. Pop Music of the mainstream variety was still the dominant force as far as the Music industry was concerned and also as far as radio airplay was concerned. Radio, like the rest of the country, was still pretty much steeped in segregation. Although it wasn’t something everyone talked about, it was curious that some songs, made popular primarily in the Black Community were being “covered” by White groups.
Classic case in point – and it pertains to The Crew Cuts. A singing group originally from Canada, they were very popular with the mainstream in the U.S.. They also covered a number of R&B songs in the 1950s, originally recorded by many African-American groups . Notably, they covered Sh-Boom, a song originally recorded by The Chords, early in 1954, but which was recorded later on that year by The Crew Cuts, who had a sizable hit with it. They weren’t the only group doing it and it was a practice carried on up to the early 1960s.
As the youth market became more of a voice in this movement, the covers slowly faded from view and the original artists stood on their own, albeit reluctantly by some media outlets. But covers were a mainstay for a number of years.
Here is an interview done with The Crew Cuts, conducted by Chicago radio personality Howard Miller for his program, which was carried coast to coast by the CBS Radio network.
By contrast, another CBS Radio program, aired only a year later was a short-lived program hosted by Alan Freed.
By comparison, you get an idea Popular Music, and certainly Rock, were living on different planets in the 1950’s..