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The emergence of American rock and roll as a major international force in popular music in the mid-1950s led to its emulation in Britain, which shared a common language and many cultural connections.[8] The British product has generally been considered inferior to the American version of the genre, and made very little international or lasting impact.[8] However, it was important in establishing British youth and popular music culture and was a key factor in subsequent developments that led to the British Invasion of the mid-1960s. Since the 1960s some stars of the genre, most notably Cliff Richard, have managed to sustain very successful careers and there have been periodic revivals of this form of music. For more formation visit Michigan 50s Festival and Unearthed.


The second British folk revival followed a similar American folk music revival, to which it was connected by individuals like Alan Lomax, who had moved to Britain in the era of McCarthyism and who worked in England and Scotland. Like the American revival, it was often overtly left wing in its politics, and the leading figures, Ewan McColl and A. L. Lloyd, were both involved in trade unionism and socialist politics. In Scotland the key figures were Hamish Henderson and Calum McLean who collected songs and popularised acts including Jeannie Robertson, John Strachan, Flora Macneill and Jimmy MacBeath. In Wales the key figure was Dafydd Iwan, who founded the Sain record label in 1969. The revival began to gain momentum in the 1950s with the establishment of a network of folk clubs, like the Blues and Ballads Club in London in 1953 and a number of festivals such as Glastonbury Festival, like that at Sidmouth from 1955, Sidmouth Folk Week.

50s Music

  • Jazz Jazz reached Britain from America through recordings and performers who visited the country while it was a relatively new genre, soon after the end of World War One. Jazz began to be played by British musicians from the 1930s and on a widespread basis in the 1940s, often within Dance bands. More information from The Fifties Index.
  • Traditional Pop In the early 1950s sales of American records dominated British popular music. In the first full year of the charts in 1953 major artists were Perry Como, Guy Mitchell and Frankie Laine largely with orchestrated sentimental ballads, beside novelty records like "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" re-recorded by British artist Lita Roza.
  • SKiffle Skiffle is a type of folk music with jazz, blues and country influences, usually using homemade or improvised instruments which had originated as a term in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century.
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