The Musicians of the '50s, '60s and '70s Quiz


By: Robin Tyler

7 Min Quiz

Image: Electra Records via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

They don't make them like they used to, do they? Well, if you are over the age of 50, you might agree with that statement, especially when it comes to music.

The music of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s brought us some of the greatest artists of our times. Just think about it - Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan all recorded at some point in these decades.  And what about bands from those three decades? The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Cream, the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Led Zepplin... we really could go on forever. 

Each and every one of them contributed so much to music. As we said in the beginning, they certainly don't make them like they used to. So, as a lover of music, you think your knowledge of music in those three decades is pretty good, right? Great, then this quiz is just for you! It has questions relating to all three of these decades, including some about both artists and songs from each decade. Do you think you could end up on "Top of the Pops"? Or will you finish at the bottom of the charts?

Of course, you can succeed!  What are you waiting for?

Good luck!

Which famous rock and roll artist was known to his fans as "The King"?

Without a doubt the most famous name in rock and roll, Elvis Presley first came to prominence in the mid-1950s. His career spanned three different decades and included his "comeback" in the late '60s, after a period of inactivity, when Elvis began performing in Las Vegas. Sadly, Presley died of a heart attack in 1977. He was only 42.


Where did Fats Domino find his thrill?

Fats Domino released his version of "Blueberry Hill" in 1956, and it reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the R&B charts. But did you know the song was actually first released in 1940 and recorded many times before Fats Domino, by artists including the Glen Miller Orchestra and Gene Autry?


Queen, certainly a group considered to be rock royalty, had a hit with what song in 1975?

They said that it would never sell. At nearly six minutes long, "Bohemian Rhapsody" was three minutes longer than most songs that received radio airplay. But it did sell - over one million copies in just three months. It also stayed at No. 1 on the British charts for nine weeks and to date remains Queen's top-selling single.


Which of these '60s bands sang "California Dreamin'"?

The song "California Dreamin'" has been recorded by many artists. Originally written by John and Michelle Phillips, it is their version with the Mamas and the Papas that is the best known.


Who was the lead singer for the Doors in the 1960s?

The Doors were extremely successful in the late 1960s. Their lead singer, Jim Morrison, was also the band's chief songwriter. He is regarded by many as one of rock music's greatest frontmen. Morrison died at the age of 27.


Can you name the drummer of the Beatles?

Richard Starkey, or as the world knows him, Ringo Starr, is the drummer of the Beatles, possibly the greatest group of all time, despite the fact that they were only together for a decade. Interestingly, Starr was not the original drummer of the band and only joined them in 1962, replacing Pete Best.


What is Elton John's real name?

With over 300 million records sold worldwide, Elton John, or is that Reginald Dwight, certainly doesn't need an introduction. John has been recording since the 1960s, writing songs in a partnership with lyricist Bernie Taupin. His charity, the Elton John Foundation, has raised hundreds of millions in the fight against HIV/AIDS.


Which of these bands was the first to make use of a billboard to advertise a new album release?

Led by one of rock and roll's greatest frontmen, the Doors were one of the most iconic bands of the late 1960s. The Doors' sound was different from other bands at the time, thanks to Jim Morrison's poetic lyrics and Ray Manzarek's keyboard bass sound. And yes, they were the first band to make use of billboards to advertise a new release.


Which nickname does the vocalist and bass player of the Police, Gordon Sumner, go by?

Born in 1951, Gordon Sumner, or Sting as he is known, is the main songwriter, vocalist and bass player for the late 1970s to early 1980s group, the Police. He gained his nickname because he often wore a black-and-yellow-striped sweater that bandmates in the Phoenix Jazzmen, an early group he played in, said made him look like a bee. And the name Sting was born.


Can you name the country star known to his legions of fans as "The Man in Black"?

Johnny Cash recorded his first songs at the legendary Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1955. In fact, at one point in those early years, Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis all happened to be in the studio together and jammed. This was recorded, with some of the songs surviving to this day.


"Hotel California," a massive hit in 1977, was recorded by which of the bands below?

Originally the backing band for Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles soon became one of the biggest bands on the planet in the 1970s. Their single "Hotel California," which was released in 1977, was their biggest hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard charts. It remains just as popular today, with many digital downloads.


Who died alongside J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and Ritchie Valens in a plane crash on February 3, 1959?

An event that shocked the music world, the light aircraft crash on February 3, 1959, saw Buddy Holly, the up-and-coming Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson all killed. The pilot, who lost control of the plane in bad weather, also died.


What rebellious form of music gained traction in the 1970s?

The punk movement exploded in the 1970s on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States, bands such as the New York Dolls and the Ramones drove the movement, while in the United Kingdom, the Sex Pistols had early success.


Don McLean famously referenced the death of Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and Ritchie Valens in his song "American Pie." What did he call the event?

Don McLean spoke of the death of Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and Ritchie Valens in his 1971 classic, "American Pie." His reference to it as "the day the music died" quickly stuck and the tragedy has been called that ever since.


Queen guitarist Brian May famously made his own electric guitar, together with his father. What is it called?

Brian May and his father first began work on the "Red Special" in 1963. It took two years to complete, with the neck constructed from a piece of wood from a fireplace mantel. Incredibly, May still plays the guitar today.


True or false? The term "rock and roll" was first used to describe a musical genre by disc jockey Alan Freed.

Although rock and roll was a term heard in R&B songs from the 1930s, it was Alan Freed who first used it to describe a new musical genre. Early rock and roll artists included Big Joe Turner, who sang the song "Shake, Rattle & Roll."


The lyrics, "All of my life, I've been a-waitin', tonight there'll be no hesitatin'," are found in which Buddy Holly song?

"Oh, Boy!" was a hit for Buddy Holly and the Crickets in 1957. The song was not written by Holly, but by Sonny West, Bill Tilghman and Norman Petty.


What is the birth name of Freddie Mercury of Queen?

We know him as Freddie Mercury, one of the greatest frontmen and vocalists in the world of rock. He was named Farrokh Bulsara by his parents, however. Mercury was born in Zanzibar, grew up in India and moved to England as a teenager. He was not only the singer for Queen, but he also wrote some of the band's greatest hits, including "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We are the Champions." Mercury died as a result of complications from AIDS in 1991.


Can you name the massive music festival that began on August 15, 1969?

Held on a dairy farm near Bethel in New York, Woodstock was a music festival billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music." It ran from August 15–18, 1969, and featured 32 artists, including Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and the Who.


About how many people attended Woodstock?

Yes, over 400,000 people were at the show. Interestingly, artists played through the nights, over the course of the weekend. The final performance was by Jimi Hendrix, who played on Monday morning. By that time, many of the concert-goers had chosen to leave and get an early start back, so Hendrix played to around 200,000 people.


Chuck Berry started making music to fund equipment for his dream job. What was it?

Believe it or not, Chuck Berry had dreams of becoming a photographer. He made music to bring in cash to fund his dream and buy photography equipment. Lucky for us, Berry stayed in the music industry!


Which of these rock and roll singles was the first to reach the Billboard charts?

"Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets was the first rock and roll song to hit the Billboard charts. It did so in 1955. The song was originally written in 1952 and was to be called: "We're Gonna Rock Around the Clock Tonight!" That was later shortened.


Cliff Richard first made a name for himself in the United Kingdom in the late 1950s. Can you name his backing band?

Cliff Richard first hit the scene in 1958. His backing band, the Shadows, included Hank B. Marvin on lead guitar. Many British guitarists, including Jimmy Page, cite Marvin as a massive influence. The Shadows released many instrumental albums of their own.


Of the names listed below, who is not a member of Queen?

Although he is from a band formed in the 1970s, it is not Queen. In fact, Stewart Copeland was the drummer with the Police. The Police, including Copeland, Andy Summers and Gordon Sumner, went on to enjoy massive chart success before disbanding in the mid-1980s, reforming again, then disbanding again in 2006.


David Bowie's real name is what?

David Robert Jones, or David Bowie, started his recording career in the 1960s. Don't confuse him with Davy Jones of the Monkees! Bowie was known for his various personas over the years, including Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke and Aladdin Sane. Bowie died in 2016.


Can you identify the famed musician who died in London on September 18, 1970?

Perhaps the greatest guitar player the world has ever seen, Jimi Hendrix died on September 18, 1970, in London. He was just 27 years old. His cause of death was listed as "Inhalation of vomit due to barbiturate intoxication."


Paul Hewson is the lead singer with U2, an Irish band formed in 1976. What is he more popularly known as?

Paul Hewson, or Bono, was one of the founding members of the Irish rock band U2 in 1976. But how did he get his nickname? Well, initially he took his name from a hearing aid store in Dublin. Interestingly, "Bono Vox" means "good voice" in Latin.


Which artist won two Grammy Awards for the hit "A Boy Named Sue" in 1969?

A massive hit for Johnny Cash, "A Boy Named Sue" also struck it big at the 12th Grammy Awards. Here it won in two categories: Best Country Vocal Performance (Male) and Best Country Song.


Crooner Frank Sinatra released one of his biggest hits in 1969. Can you name it from the list below?

"My Way" was written by Paul Anka and actually set to the music of a French song, "Comme d'habitude." Frank Sinatra, however, was the vehicle that made it famous. Many other artists went on to cover the song, including Elvis Presley.


Frank Sinatra, ever present on the charts in the '50s, '60s and '70s, was often called "Ol' Blue Eyes." Do you know his other nickname?

"Chairman of the Board" is a lesser-known nickname for Frank Sinatra, but one he was called in certain quarters. Why? Well, Sinatra was said to have Mafia connections, and maybe it was linked to that in some way. We'd better not say too much!


Which album, released by the Beatles in 1967, is considered one of their greatest?

The Beatles were prolific in the 1960s, with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" their eighth studio album of the decade. It is also thought to be one of their most influential. And people loved it. It was No. 1 on the American and U.K. album charts for many weeks.


One of the world's guitar greats, Eric Clapton, was in which of the bands listed below in the 1960s?

Cream was one of Eric Clapton's collaborations, along with the Yardbirds and the Blues Breakers. Clapton was invited to the band by Ginger Baker (drums) and Jack Bruce (bass). Cream enjoyed success on both sides of the Atlantic, thanks to hits such as "White Room" and "Strange Brew."


John Lydon, lead singer with the 1970s punk band the Sex Pistols, was better known as _____?

An ever-sneering, wide-eyed frontman, John Lydon, or Johnny Rotten as he is better known, was the frontman of British punk group the Sex Pistols. It is said that Rotten was so named by Pistols manager, Malcolm McLaren, because of his rotting teeth.


Released by Chuck Berry in 1958, which song essentially made him famous?

One of rock and roll's true classics, "Johnny B. Goode" has that incredible Chuck Berry sound! And it's that riff that drives the song throughout. The song actually left our solar system, believe it or not. Yes, it was included on the Voyager spacecraft!


A band in the 1950s with Danny Rapp on lead vocals was known as what?

Danny and the Juniors formed in 1955 and still tour today with some of the remaining members. Perhaps their greatest hit was "At the Hop," which topped the United States charts in 1958. Danny Rapp was only 16 at the time.


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