DEAR JERRY: I am fascinated with 1950s Rock and Roll films because they are a great source of videos of so many of the early Rock stars. That is, after all, the only reason these movies exist. None will ever be confused with “Gone with the Wind.”
What I can't find anywhere is a full list of them, along with the major recording stars used.
Do you know of such a source?
Lawrence Ridgeway, Harrisburg, Pa.
DEAR LAWRENCE: As for those specific details, I do not know of such a list. But I'm about to create one for you.
Since who qualifies as a major star is subjective, we will first list the nationally charted artists in the cast, but only if more than one. Following separately will be other recording artists with a part.
(1956) “Rock Around the Clock”: Bill Haley and His Comets; Tony Williams and the Platters; Ernie Freeman Combo. Also: Freddie Bell and His Bellboys; Tony Martinez and His Band.
(1956) “Rock, Rock, Rock”: Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers; Chuck Berry; Lavern Baker; Connie Francis; Moonglows; Three Chuckles [Featuring Teddy Randazzo]; Flamingos; Johnny Burnett Trio. Also: Jimmy Cavallo and His House Rockers; Coney Island Kids; Cirino and the Bowties; Alan Freed's 18-Piece Band.
(1956) “The Girl Can't Help It”: Julie London; Fats Domino; Tony Williams and the Platters; Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps; Little Richard and His Band; Treniers; Eddie Cochran; Chuckles; Eddie Fontaine; Barry Gordon; Nino Tempo. Also: Johnny Olenn; Abbey Lincoln.
(1956) “Don't Knock the Rock”: Bill Haley and His Comets; Alan Dale; Little Richard; Treniers; Dave Appell and His Applejacks.
(1956) “Shake, Rattle and Rock”: Fats Domino; Joe Turner; Tommy Charles. Also: Choker Campbell; Annita Ray.
(1957) “Jamboree”: Fats Domino; Buddy Knox; Jimmy Bowen; Charlie Gracie; Slim Whitman; Jerry Lee Lewis; Connie Francis; Four Coins; Carl Perkins; Frankie Avalon; Jodie Sands; Count Basie Band; Joe Williams. Also Lewis Lymon and the Teenchords; Ron Coby; Andy Martin; Rocco and His Saints.
(1957) “Carnival Rock”: Bob Luman and the Shadows [with James Burton]; Tony Williams and the Platters; David Houston. Also: Shadows; Blockbusters.
(1957) “Bop Girl Goes Calypso”: Mary Kaye Trio; Nino Tempo. Also: Goofers; Titans; Cubanos; Lord Flea and His Calypsonians.
(1957) “Calypso Heat Wave”: Treniers; Hi-Los; Johnny Desmond. Also: Alan Arkin; Joel Grey.
(1957) “Mister Rock and Roll”: Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers; Chuck Berry; Lavern Baker; Clyde McPhatter; Brook Benton; Little Richard; Ferlin Husky; Moonglows; Teddy Randazzo. Also: Shaye Cogan; Lois O'Brien; Al Fisher & Lou Marks.
(1958) “Let's Rock”: Paul Anka; Julius La Rosa; Danny and the Juniors; Roy Hamilton; Wink Martindale; Della Reese; Royal Teens. Also: Tyrones.
(1958) “The Big Beat”: Fats Domino; Gogi Grant; Del Vikings; Diamonds; Four Aces; Mills Brothers; Harry James; Freddy Martin; Jeri Southern; Cal Tjader Quintet; Lancers; Russ Morgan; George Shearing Quintet; Charlie Barnet. Also: Alan Copeland; Bunny Bregman; Bill Thompson Singers.
(1958) “High School Confidential”: Jerry Lee Lewis; Ray Anthony.
(1959) “Girl's Town”: Paul Anka; Tony Williams and the Platters; Ray Anthony; Mel Torme; Dick Contino.
(1959) “Juke Box Rhythm”: Johnny Otis; Treniers; Earl Grant Trio.
(1959) “Go Johnny Go”: Jimmy Clanton; Chuck Berry; Eddie Cochran; Jackie Wilson; Ritchie Valens; Sandy Stewart; Harvey of the Moonglows; Flamingos; JoAnn Campbell.
(1959) “Hey Boy, Hey Girl”: Louis Prima, Keely Smith. Also: Sam Butera and the Witnesses.
IZ ZAT SO? Mention must also go to these nine '50s R&R films built around or featuring one prominent artist:
(1956) “Love Me Tender”: Elvis Presley.
(1956) “Loving You”: Elvis Presley and the Jordanaires.
(1957) “Jailhouse Rock”: Elvis Presley and the Jordanaires.
(1957) “Rock All Night”: Tony Williams and the Platters. Also: Blockbusters.
(1957) “Untamed Youth”: Eddie Cochran; Les Baxter [score].
(1957) “Rock Baby, Rock It”: Johnny Carroll. Also: Kay Wheeler; Cell Block Seven; Five Stars.
(1958) “Sing Boy Sing”: Tommy Sands.
(1958) “King Creole”: Elvis Presley and the Jordanaires.
(1958) “Hot Rod Gang”: Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps.
Finally, here is a British film featuring three American acts:
(1957) “Sweet Beat”: Mellow-Kings; Five Satins; Billy Myles.