The Musicians of the 1950s Quiz


By: Heather Cahill

6 Min Quiz

Image: Ralph F. Seghers c/o Ken Seghers via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Music is essential to our lives. But we can't have music without the incredible and talented artists who make it! The '50s were a time when rock n' roll and swing were gaining popularity and bluegrass was getting its start. This was a time when legends were born, and some, unfortunately, were lost. Thankfully, their music will live on for future generations to enjoy. So, you think you know all about them?

What do you know about Bing Crosby's most famous song that he recorded? Do you know which artist earned the nickname of "The King of Swing?" Do you know what the name of Bill Monroe's first music group was? Each star on this quiz made themselves a name through their music and their talents. Many of them even paved the way for today's greatest artists!

Do you know which famous artist was sisters with another renowned artist, Crystal Gayle? How about which of The Beatles albums sold the most copies? Can you name Miles Davis's signature instrument? You'll need to know a lot about these iconic artists to ace this quiz!

So, if you think you're an expert on the artists of the '50s, then what are you waiting for? Take the quiz to prove it!

Which artist made history by becoming the first African-American woman to win a Grammy Award?

Ella Fitzgerald made history with her Grammy Award wins for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Jazz Performance. She was a legend who paved the way for many others after her.


Who recorded the song "Your Cheatin' Heart"?

Hank Williams was the artist that recorded this song in 1952. This was a year before his tragic death in a car accident. He's also famous for songs such as "Hey, Good Lookin'" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."


Which album by The Beatles sold the most copies in Britain?

The album "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" became the top-selling album in Britain and continues to hold the spot. You may remember it as being the band's eighth album which had hits such as "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "Good Morning Good Morning."


Which artist is known for songs like "Crazy He Calls Me" and "Strange Fruit"?

Billie Holiday was a legendary artist who played some of the most iconic venues in history, such as Carnegie Hall. You may recall her autobiography which was titled, "Lady Sings the Blues." Lady Day had quite a hard life first growing up, and later as she navigated her way through the entertainment industry.


Which artist was known as the "Godfather of Rhythm and Blues"?

Johnny Otis was a talented performer who worked with many other big names in the industry. He had hit after hit such as "Barrelhouse Blues," which helped to cement his iconic title of the "Godfather of Rhythm and Blues."


Who earned the nickname of the "King of Swing?"

Benny Goodman was credited as being the King of Swing for his catchy jazz music. You may remember his hits such as "Sing Sing Sing" and "I Got It Bad," but did you know that he moved from Chicago to New York City to make his career take off?


What was the name of the music group that Bill Monroe formed?

He's not called the "Father of Bluegrass" for nothing! Bill was one of the first to create bluegrass music and did so along with his band, the Blue Grass Boys. For his accomplishments and innovations in country/bluegrass music, he has been inducted into several halls of fame.


This musician was responsible for helping to create who we know as Tina Turner. Who was he?

Ike Turner was Tina Turner's husband for a time and helped her to create a name for herself. Did you know that Ike Turner was self-taught on the guitar? He was a talented and legendary musician in his own right!


Which musician hosted a musical television show in the late '50s?

Perry Como had a long career in music that continued until the end of his life. He also had a career in television where he hosted "Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall." Some of his biggest hits were "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" and "Juke Box Baby."


Which artist sang the song titled, "The Wallflower?"

Etta James was the artist behind this RnB classic. Did you know that Etta had the honor of singing at the 1984 Olympics? It's definitely an accomplishment worth boasting about!


This artist created a song so iconic that it became an official state song. Who is it?

Ray Charles had a hit song called "Georgia on my Mind," which became the official song of the state of Georgia. The song is considered one of Ray's best of his career, with the stats to prove it!


Which song by Nat King Cole was later made into a duet by his daughter?

The song "Unforgettable" was a big hit for Nat King Cole, and his daughter paid tribute to him later by creating a duet from the song. It was a beautiful tribute that was recognized by the Grammy's.


Which artist recorded the song "Everybody Loves Somebody"?

Dean Martin recorded one of the most successful versions of this song. Did you know that lyrics from the song are written on Dean's epitaph? It is a great memory from an incredible musician.


Which talented group made music solely with their voices?

The Mills Brothers were an exceptional talent that used only one instrument in their first recordings – a guitar. Did you know that because of this, they often put a disclaimer on their music stating that only a guitar was used? Yes, their voices were that good!


Who was known as the "Rhinestone Cowboy"?

Glen Campbell was known as the "Rhinestone Cowboy" due to that being the name of one of his biggest songs. Did you know that Glen was also a host on his own television show called "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour?"


What instrument was Miles Davis known for playing?

Miles Davis was a talented and decorated trumpet player. He had won multiple awards for his talent while playing the trumpet. In addition to this, he was also decorated as a music composer.


Who sang the iconic Rock N' Roll song, "Johnny B. Goode?"

Chuck Berry is known for this song, which is regarded as one of the most influential and important songs in music history. It even has a Grammy Award to its name to prove its legendary status.


Which artist was first part of The Famous Flames before becoming a solo artist?

James Brown got his start in music with a band called The Famous Flames. James proved himself a worthy solo artist and became the face of the newly popular genre of funk music.


Bing Crosby was known for singing one of the most popular holiday songs of the century. What holiday was it for?

Bing Crosby's version of "White Christmas" is one of the most popular holiday songs ever made. It is often the song that Bing is synonymous with, but he had many other hits as well. Take the songs "Blue Skies" or "You Are My Sunshine" for example!


Which song did Johnny Cash not write?

One of Johnny's biggest hits was not written by him! Instead it was written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore. Johnny's performance on the song is unique and iconic as it shows in the chart positions and many covers of the tune.


Which hit Patsy Cline song earned her three standing ovations at the Grand Ole Opry?

"Crazy" was a smash hit for Patsy, proving just how legendary the song was when she received three standing ovations at the Grand Ole Opry after performing it. Did you know that Willie Nelson wrote this song which was then recorded by Patsy?


Which Tony Bennett classic has the lyrics "She starts to glitter / When the sun goes down"?

These lyrics are from Tony Bennett's hit "Firefly". It reached number 20 on the Billboard chart in the late '50s. You may have heard the modern version with Lady Gaga which was released in 2014 as well.


Which song was Buddy Holly's only number one song?

"That'll Be the Day" was a song that was part of the album titled, "The "Chirping" Crickets". The song reached number one in the late '50s, making history for the legendary Buddy Holly.


Which song became an accidental hit for Tennessee Ernie Ford?

Due to a mix-up of the "A" side and "B" side of the tapes by the radio station, "Sixteen Tons" became a massive hit. It was the start of a long career for the legendary Tennessee Ernie Ford!


Who wrote the theme song for the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson"?

Paul Anka was the artist behind this theme song classic, but its not the only song that he's known for! He also recorded hit songs such as "Put Your Head on my Shoulder" and "Puppy Love".


Which artist is said to have created the first song in the Rock N' Roll genre?

Fats Domino was best known for his blues music, but made history in Rock N' Roll. The song that earned this title was called "The Fat Man" which was released in the late '40s. It is still a classic today.


This artist had a few historical songs such as "The Battle of New Orleans". Who is it?

Johnny Horton had a few songs that were on the subject of history including "Johnny Reb". Although his life and career was tragically cut short, he contributed greatly to country music and the entire industry as a whole.


Which artist was known for their incredible guitar skills?

B.B. King was a guitarist that was unmatched in his skill. He also had many talents before becoming a star as he worked as a DJ and later became a vocalist and writer that was highly respected.


One of her most famous songs was "Rockin' Around the Clock". Who was she?

Brenda Lee is most well-known for her Christmas single, but there are many more songs that helped to put her on the map. A few of her hits were called "I Want to Be Wanted" and "As Usual".


This famous artist is sisters with Crystal Gayle. Who is she?

Loretta Lynn comes from a family of famous artists, including her sister Crystal Gayle. Loretta's hits included "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "I'm A Honky Tonk Girl" which all helped to shoot her into stardom.


What was on the "A" side of Roy Orbison's track "Yo te Amo Maria"?

This song became one of the biggest hits for Roy Orbison. He is a highly decorated artist, being inducted into multiple hall of fames like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Who was the original artist on "Blue Suede Shoes"?

Carl Perkins wrote the legendary song that was later recorded by Elvis Presley. It was arguably the most famous of his songs, and helped him become inducted into multiple halls of fame. Many others also put their own unique spin and style on the song.


Who sang the song "Bright Lights, Big City"?

Jimmy Reed was known as one of the greatest blues singers ever. The song "Bright Lights, Big City" became a big hit for Jimmy and has been covered many times by other artists.


What was Elvis Presley's first instrument?

Elvis Presley's first instrument was his signature guitar. He was a kid when he first received it and it is arguably what got him into playing music. He was just a kid when he received the guitar.


Which group played as a gospel at one time?

This was how the Oak Ridge Boys got their start. However, it's more likely that they are best known for their hit song "Elvira". Although, many will probably remember them as the Oak Ridge Quartet as well!


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