Can You Name These 1950s Rock & Roll Songs From Their Opening Lyrics?


By: Allison Lips

6 Min Quiz

Image: PictureNet/Corbis/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Put your glad rags on and join the fun. We're going to take a trip back to the 1950s, when rock & roll was still believed to be dangerous. It was a time when the kids rocked around the clock, listened to Elvis, and danced on American Bandstand.

Jerry Lee Lewis, the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, Muddy Waters, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash were just a few of the big names who made their mark on the decade. Unfortunately,  Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper perished on the "day the music died" and did not live to see the end of the decade. However, their records made a huge contribution to the future of rock & roll.

Songs from the 1950s have been covered by everyone from the Beatles to the Stray Cats. Many songs were covered multiple times by contemporary artists of the decade and topped the charts with different renditions. It wasn't uncommon for an Elvis song to have originated with another artist.  How much do you know about 1950s rock and roll? 

"Well, it's one for the money. Two for the show. Three to get ready. Now go, cat, go!" Test your knowledge of these classic 1950s rock & roll songs!

Which song begins, "Para bailar La Bamba"?

Ricky Valens' "La Bamba" was adapted from the Mexican folk song of the same name. In 2004, "Rolling Stone" magazine named it 354 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.


"If you knew Peggy Sue, then you'd know why I feel blue without Peggy," begins which Buddy Holly song?

"Peggy Sue" started life as "Cindy Lou." Cindy Lou was the name of Buddy Holly's niece. The name was changed at the suggestion of Jerry Allison, who changed it to his then-girlfriend's name.


Which song features the line "Day-o, day-o, daylight come and me wan' go home"?

Harry Belafonte released his version of "Day-O" in 1956. The song is a traditional Jamaican folk song.


Which Elvis song begins with "Well, it's one for the money. Two for the show. Three to get ready. Now go, cat, go"?

Carl Perkins wrote "Blue Suede Shoes." His version topped the country chart, the rhythm & blues chart and the pop chart. However, Elvis's version would go on to sell more copies.


"Splish, splash, I was takin' a bath" begins which song?

Bobby Darin's "Splish Splash" was released in 1958. It mentions "Lollipop," "Peggy Sue" and "Good Golly Miss Molly" from other period songs.


"You ain't nothin' but a hound dog" is the introduction to which song?

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote "Hound Dog." Big Mama Thornton recorded the song in 1953. In 1956, Elvis would release his version.


Which lady is the subject of "Oh Susie Q, Oh Susie Q, I love you, my Susie Q"?

Dale Hawkins released "Susie Q" in 1957. In the 1960s, Both Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Rolling Stones recorded cover versions.


Which song starts with "Your cheatin' heart will make you weep"?

Hank Williams recorded "Your Cheatin' Heart" in 1952. The song would see chart success in 1953, shortly after his death.


What are you going to do when you hear "One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock, rock"?

While in the studio, Bill Haley & His Comets only had two takes to capture the song. The first tape was unusable because Haley's vocals could not be heard, so the second take had minimal backing. An engineer was able to salvage the tapes through splicing together segments from the two takes.


Where was Fats Domino singing about with "I found my thrill"?

"Blueberry Hill" was originally released in the 1940s, when Gene Autry recorded a version. Fats Domino's rock and roll version became popular in the 1950s.


"I hear the train a comin'. It's rollin' 'round the bend," is the first line in which song?

On July 13, 1968, Johnny Cash recorded a live album inside Folsom Prison. "Folsom Prison Blues," the song that started it all, was inspired by the film "Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison."


"Come along my baby, whole lotta shakin' goin' on" is the first line of which song?

In 1955, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" was first recorded by Big Maybelle. Jerry Lee Lewis would record his well-known version in 1957.


Which song began "Earth angel, earth angel"?

When "Earth Angel" was released by the Penguins, it became more popular than its A-side, "Hey Señorita." The two songs were released in October 1954.


Which song about a woman starts "Maybellene, why can't you be true"?

"Maybellene" is Chuck Berry's interpretation of a traditional country tune called "Ida Red." He originally named his song "Ida Mae," but Leonard Chess, the owner of Chess Records, didn't like the name. After spotting a mascara box with "Maybelline" written on it, he suggested the song could be called "Maybellene."


Little Richard starts which song with "Bop bop-a-lu a whop bam boo" (or something similar)?

Little Richard wrote "Tutti Frutti" with Dorothy LaBostrie. The original lyrics were racier, but a cleaned-up version was released in 1955. Elvis Presley would record a version that was released the following year.


What are you going to do when you hear the song that starts, "Well, you know you make me wanna"?

The Isley Brothers recorded "Shout" as a response to Jackie Wilson's "Lonely Teardrops." The song peaked at number 47 on the Billboard Hot 100.


Which holiday song starts "Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock"?

Bobby Helms released "Jingle Bell Rock" in 1957. The song's B-side was "Captain Santa Claus (and His Reindeer Space Patrol)."


What song begins "Love me tender, love me sweet"?

"Love Me Tender" shares its melody with the Civil War song "Aura Lee." Elvis released "Love Me Tender" in 1956.


Which classic rock & roll song's first line is "Well be-bop-a-Lula she's my baby"?

In 1956, Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps recorded "Be-Bop-A-Lula." It has since been covered by David Cassidy, Queen, the Stray Cats and many other artists.


The first line of which song is "Well, I got a woman, way over town"?

"I Got a Woman" became Ray Charles' first number one in 1955. The Beatles recorded a version of the song in 1963 for BBC Radio.


Which song starts with "Gypsy woman told my momma, before I was born"?

Willie Dixon wrote "Hoochie Coochie Man." Muddy Waters recorded the song in 1954.


"I took my troubles down to Madame Ruth" is from which song?

"Love Potion No. 9" is another song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. This song was originally recorded by the Clovers. The song's initial release was in July 1959.


"Gonna tell Aunt Mary 'bout Uncle John" is from which song?

"Long Tall Sally" was written by Robert "Bumps" Blackwell, Enotris Johnson and Richard Penniman. Little Richard recorded it in 1956.


What song begins "Hello baby, Yeah, this is the Big Bopper speakin'"?

The Big Bopper released his version in 1958. The B-side was "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor."


Who is the subject of the song that begins, "Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans"?

"Rolling Stone" considers "Johnny B. Goode" to be the first rock & roll hit about rock & roll stardom. The song came about in April 1958 and was based on Chuck Berry's experiences.


"I keep a close watch on this heart of mine" is the start of which song?

In 1956, Johnny Cash scored his first big hit with "I Walk the Line." The song stayed on the charts for well over six months.


What song begins with "You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain"?

Jerry Lee Lewis recorded "Great Balls of Fire" at Sun Studio. It was released on November 11, 1957.


Which song opens with "I'm gonna raise a fuss, I'm gonna raise a holler"?

Eddie Cochran co-wrote "Summertime Blues" with his manager Jerry Capehart. It was originally released as a B-side. In September 1958, the song peaked at 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.


Which song announced that "The warden threw a party in the county jail"?

"Jailhouse Rock" shares its name with the 1957 movie it appears in. It was Elvis's third movie.


"She comes on like a rose but everybody knows" describes which woman?

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote "Poison Ivy." The Coasters recorded a version in 1959 that went to the top of the R&B chart.


"Oh wah, oh wah, oh wah, oh wah, oh wah, oh wah" starts which song?

Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers saw chart success with "Why Do Fools Fall in Love." Lymon died of an overdose at the age of 26.


What 1950s song starts with "You know I can be found, sitting home all alone"?

In 1956, "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel" were released on two sides of the same 45 RPM record. They are still two of Elvis's biggest hits.


Which song starts, "Get outta that bed, wash your face and hands"?

"Shake, Rattle and Roll" was written in 1954 by Jesse Stone. Big Joe Turner, Bill Haley & His Comets, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, and Jerry Lee Lewis all recorded versions of the song.


"Oh well, oh well, I feel so good today" is the first line of which song?

Chuck Berry released his version of "Back in the U.S.A" in 1959. Almost 20 years later, Linda Ronstadt would release her version as a single.


Which song starts with "Hey mama, don't you treat me wrong"?

Ray Charles wrote and recorded the original version of "What'd I Say." Elvis recorded a version and used it in the 1964 film "Viva Las Vegas."


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!