33¢ Rock ‘n Roll
Celebrate the Century – 1950s
Issue Date: May 26, 1999
City: Springfield, MA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
The development of rock and roll from blues and country western music was a reaction against the ballads and novelty tunes popular during the 1940s and early 1950s. The music represented a rebellion against the standards set by parents, schools, and other authority figures. Rock and roll was attacked for its presumed contributions to juvenile delinquency.
In 1951, disc jockey Alan Freed coined the term “rock ‘n’ roll” on his program “Moondog Rock ‘n’ Roll Party.” Radio played an important role in popularizing rock music. With television’s increasing popularity, radio stations were looking for a gimmick to attract listeners. Most importantly for young people, rock and roll was the first music targeted to their generation.
The Everly Brothers, Rosemary Clooney, and Frankie Avalon were some of the decade’s most popular performers. But the man who turned rock ‘n’ roll into a national craze was Elvis Presley. His tough, rebellious manner and suggestive moves led Ed Sullivan to declare Elvis “unfit for a family audience.”
Teenagers across the country tuned in to Dick Clark’s daily TV show “American Bandstand” to watch their favorite stars. The show helped boost the popularity of performers Connie Francis, Fabian, and Bobby Darin.
First Inductees In Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
On January 23, 1986, the first group of musicians was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was the brainchild of businessman, Atlantic Records co-founder, songwriter, and philanthropist Ahmet Ertegun. He, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, and several record executives established the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation on April 20, 1983.
In the coming years, they began plans for the physical museum. They considered several cities with ties to rock history – New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago, San Francisco, and New York. They ultimately settled on Cleveland, Ohio, the place where disc jockey Alan Freed coined the phrase “rock and roll.”
As plans for the museum progressed, the organizers wanted to start honoring rock legends. So on January 23, 1986, they held the first induction ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The first inductees were all pioneers in the world of rock and roll – Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Ray Charles, James Brown, Sam Cooke and Jerry Lee Lewis.
There were also non-performer inductees – Sun Records founder Sam Philips and DJ Alan Freed. The museum also inducted Early Influencers Robert Johnson, Jimmie Rogers, and Jimmy Yancey. Additionally, Columbia Records’ John Hammond, who had discovered Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen, received the museum’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.
A special guest inducted each honoree. The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards delivered a heartfelt speech about Chuck Berry; Steve Winwood honored James Brown; Quincy Jones inducted Ray Charles; Herb Alpert inducted Sam Cooke; Billy Joel honored Fats Domino; Neil Young inducted the Everly Brothers; John Fogerty honored Buddy Holly; Hank Williams, Jr., inducted Jerry Lee Lewis; Roberta Flack inducted Little Richard; and John Lennon’s sons inducted their father’s hero, Elvis Presley.
After the ceremonies, an all-star jam took over the stage with performances by the living inductees, Steve Winwood, John Fogerty, Billy Joel, and ZZ Top. They played songs by the inductees as well as other classic rock hits well into the night.
Nearly a decade later, the museum officially opened on September 2, 1995, with performances by Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Al Green, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, Iggy Pop, John Fogerty, John Mellencamp, and many others. While the museum is located in Cleveland, most of the induction ceremonies (26) have been held in New York City, while two have been in Los Angeles and four in Cleveland.
Click here for more about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.