What were the most popular genres of music in the US between 1957 and 1963?

Same as on the tin

Pop :wink:


Beach music was big towards the end of this period. Folk was probably the dominant “popular” form with a lot of artistic development going on. Sinatra and his standards, as well as his flock - Sammy, Deano, etc were all big during this time.

It was a confused period in American music because the initial promise of rock and roll was floundering, both by opposition by powerful players (Frank, et al) and racism: white American music executives gave credit to the R 'n R fad on everything except the music (which was African-American-based). It took The Beatles, and the rest of the British Invasion, to end this. IIRC, The Beatles expressed surprise that Americans did not know where they got their sound from (Muddy Waters, BB King, etc) and were unfamiliar with the names.

The folk music scene was huge at that time, with such people as the Chad Mitchell Trio, Joan Baez, Tom Paxton and Pete Seeger making a splash. And one little guy from Hibbing Minnesota who called himself Dylan.

People forgot how big folk music was in the world before four lads from Liverpool changed all that.

In fact, there was a network TV show called “Hootenanny” that featured folk singers (actually po-folk.) It sort of collapsed when they refused to book “pinkos” like Pete Seeger, and groups that felt they owed a lot to people like Seeger boycotted the show.

The other big thing I can remember from that era is big, lush, heavily orchestrated songs. Sometimes they were themes from movies, some of them were standalone hits.

Billboard’s top 100 for:


Wikipedia on the TV show Hootenanny.

Bjorn Ulvaeus, ABBA’s guitarist, got his first taste of fame in the early 1960’s with a Swedish folk group The Hootenanny Singers

And I maintain that Dylan is lucky he came to his initial fame at this time. He never had been allowed near a stage in the rock era.

On a personal note, thanks for my oldest brother James who got me into the early folk music scene. His best and longest lasting legacy to me during his short life.

If you look at the album charts, they were mostly dominated by what we would today call standards. Singers like Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, and Judy Garland, movie and Broadway soundtracks, and orchestral instrumentals. Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder had some number ones, Harry Belafonte scored with Calypso, and The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul, and Mary represented folk. Probably most surprising are the number of comedy albums.

Wikipedia has a list of Billboards number-one albums by year. Start here for 1957 and click on the links below for newer years.

Other folk musicians and groups that were huge in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s include The Chad Mitchell Trio, The Kingston Trio, Richard & Mimi Farina, and Phil Ochs.

Richard & Mimi Farina didn’t release an album until 1965 and never hit the charts. Phil Ochs’ first album was 1964 and he never hit the top 100. They were huge only in a six-block radius of Greenwich Village. (OK, slight exaggeration, but only slight.)

I’ve been reading Positively 4th Street by David Hajdu for the scoop on Mimi & Richard & Joan & Bob.

Here’s a fairly sparkling answer to the question: Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, “Misirlou” (1963).

His real name was Richard Monsour, he was Lebanese-American, and he ascended to that great casbah in the sky only the day before yesterday. Listen to this while bidding him a fond farewell.