In the early 1950's new recording technologies such as the 45 RPM single, the 33 and 1/3 RPM long playing album, 45 RPM jukeboxes, along with solid body electric guitars and electric bass guitars emerge. The rapid adaptation of these new technologies change the way people create and listen to music
An equally important convergence occurs in what people are listening to on the radio and jukeboxes, along with the records they are buying. White teenagers begin listening to and buying traditionally black music such as Rhythm & Blues.
This cross-current of musical styles and influences - blues, boogie, jazz, gospel, R&B vocal groups, and country begins influencing the music created by both black and white musicians. The new music style is eventually given the name "Rock and Roll" by Cleveland, Ohio Disc Jockey Alan Freed.
By 1953 and 1954 hit songs from the R&B Charts begin to cross over to the Top 40 Pop Charts, then dominated by more staid recording artists such as Doris Day, Mitch Miller, Percy Faith, Nat King Cole, Frankie Laine, Rosemary Clooney and others.
Pioneering radio stations such as WJW in Cleveland, Ohio capitalize on the shifting styles with new programs such as Alan Freed's Moondog Show. Freed plays R&B hits, but aims his show beyond the traditional black audience for R&B and gains a wide audience of both white and black teenagers.
In 1953, Bill Haley and His Comets are the first to hit the pop charts with a rock and roll song, taking their single "Crazy Man Crazy" to #12. Black R&B artists such as Doo Wop group the Orioles cross-over to the pop charts in 1953 with their R&B hit "Crying in the Chapel". More cross-over hits from black R&B artists such as Fats Domino and The Platters climb the pop charts. White artists such as Pat Boone, The Crewcuts and Georgia Gibbs find success covering R&B hits and turning them into hits on the pop charts.
Independent record labels such as Sun (Memphis), Ace (Jackson, MS), Vee-Jay (Gary, IN), Chess (Chicago), Specialty Records (Los Angeles) and many other labels are quick to pick up on the opportunity and begin to release Rock and Roll records from newly signed artists.
In 1955 rock and roll has it's first nationwide #1 hit when Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock" tops the Pop Charts. Although considered a novelty or fad by most, rock proves it's staying power. In 1955 black R&B artists Little Richard and Chuck Berry score significant Pop hits. Scouts from RCA records, looking to sign their own rock and roll performer, buy out the contract of Memphis singer Elvis Presley from regional label Sun Records.
In April 1956 Elvis Presley tops the Pop Charts with his first RCA single release "Heartbreak Hotel". By the end of the year he would be the first artist ever to have nine singles in the
Hot 100 at one time. By 1957 rock and roll artists appear regularly on the popular music charts and by 1959 rock and roll records account for 43% of all records sold.
The end of the decade is marked by tragedy as a February 1959 plane crash takes the lives of rock and roll stars Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.