The 1950s were a time of big cultural changes, especially in the music industry.
For starters, it was the time of the rise of rock n’ roll.
But genres like country, swing, and jazz dominated the decade too.
To give you a better idea of what 1950s music was all about, we made a list of the best 50s male singers.
We’re sure you’re familiar with most of the names on the list, but you may come across some surprises as well.
Table of Contents
- 1. Ray Charles
- 2. Johnny Cash
- 3. Hank Williams
- 4. Elvis Presley
- 5. Louis Armstrong
- 6. Frank Sinatra
- 7. Sam Cooke
- 8. Tony Bennett
- 9. Otis Redding
- 10. Buddy Holly
- 11. Roy Orbison
- 12. Nat King Cole
- 13. Little Richard
- 14. James Brown
- 15. Jerry Lee Lewis
- 16. Paul Anka
- 17. Fats Domino
- 18. Harry Belafonte
- 19. Bing Crosby
- 20. Andy Williams
- 21. Dean Martin
- 22. Porter Wagoner
- 23. Ben E. King
- 24. Chuck Berry
- 25. Johnny Otis
- Best 50s Male Singers – Final Thoughts
1. Ray Charles
Let’s start with one of the most influential singers in history.
Ray Charles is surely one of the most popular male singers from the 50s, and his nickname ‘The Genius’ was well-deserved.
His songs such as “Georgia On My Mind” and “Hit The Road Jk” are timeless classics, and his style has been inspiring artists for decades now.
Ray Charles influenced jazz, rhythm and blues, and pop genres, but he was best known for his crossover hits.
His talent and devotion to music were undeniable, as well as his influence on the 50s culture in general – he was a true genius.
2. Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash could also be nicknamed ‘Genius’; but his stage outfits earned him the nickname ‘The Man in Black.’
His signature songs include “Ring Of Fire” and “Folsom Prison Blues”, but he is also known for his impactful rendition of “Hurt.”
His music was definitely something else, and his calm baritone voice was one of the most unique voices in the music industry.
Cash is also remembered for his famous duets, and one of his most common music partners was his wife, June Carter Cash.
All in all, Cash was one of the kind, which ultimately makes him one of the greatest singers of all time.
3. Hank Williams
When it comes to country music, Hank Williams was undeniably one of the best male singers of the 50s.
He was called the ‘Hillbilly Shakespeare’, but in the 1950s, Williams became known as the ‘Luke the Drifter’, thanks to his religion-themed recordings.
Nevertheless, Williams was a rather versatile singer, and he influenced many artists including Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and even the Rolling Stones.
His most famous songs include “Hey Good Lookin’” and “Move It On Over.”
4. Elvis Presley
Speaking of Elvis Presley, he definitely deserves a place among the top 10 singers from the 1950s.
He is, in fact, one of the most iconic singers of all time.
Widely known as the King of Rock and Roll, Presley made a huge impact on the rock n’ roll genre and music industry in general.
He had a winning combination – distinctive vocals, performing skills, and superstar looks.
Presley is responsible for many all-time classics, but his most popular songs include “Suspicious Minds”, “Hound Dog, and “Pretty Woman.”
5. Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong is without a doubt one of the most influential 50s male singers.
His impact on jazz music is huge, and his songs such as “What A Wonderful World” and “La Vie En Rose” are timeless classics.
Armstrong was also a talented trumpeter and a skilled scat singer.
And with a career spanning over five decades, he is surely one of the most successful singers of all time.
6. Frank Sinatra
Speaking of successful singers, Frank Sinatra is one of the best-selling artists of all time.
His influence on the music industry is unmatched, and his style was truly unique.
After all, Sinatra called himself a saloon singer.
But more importantly, he was responsible for bringing jazz music into the sphere of popular music.
And that’s why ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ deserves a spot on this list – as well as on the list of the best male vocalists of all time.
Sinatra’s greatest hits include “My Way”, “Fly Me To The Moon”, and “That’s Life.”
7. Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke is another popular 50s singer who deserves a place on this list.
He started his career as a member of the gospel band, The Soul Stirrers.
Eventually, Cooke established himself as one of the most prominent artists in the music industry.
He will always be remembered for his songs “A Change Is Gonna Come” and recording of “What A Wonderful World.”
Although he had a short career, Cooke made a huge impact on 1950s music and culture in general.
8. Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett might be retired now, but he had a rich career.
He rose to fame in the 1950s, following the path of Sinatra and other influential jazz artists.
He recorded multiple chart-topping hits during the 50s.
Bennett continued to record and perform in the following decades and well into his 70s.
One of his final performances included a duet with Lady Gaga in 2021.
9. Otis Redding
Otis Redding is best known for his songs “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” and “Try a Little Tenderness.”
And shortly before his tragic death in a plane crash, he wrote and recorded his most iconic song “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.”
In essence, Redding is a seminal artist in soul music and one of the best singers of all time.
He received numerous posthumous awards, including two Grammy Awards, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
10. Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly was hands down one the most important figures of mid-1950s rock and roll.
He made his first TV appearance in 1952, and his style was influenced by country, gospel, and rhythm and blues.
But he truly created something new, and that’s why he is considered a pioneer of rock n’ roll.
Holly has recorded many songs during his short career.
Unfortunately, he tragically died in a plane crash in 1959, along with Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson.
11. Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison was a big star in the 60s, but he is also regarded as one of the best 1950s male singers.
On many occasions, his music was described as operatic, which earned him the nickname “The Caruso of Rock.”
Orbison is also recognizable by his dark sunglasses that he wore on stage as a way of dealing with stage fright.
He will always be remembered as a great performer with an impassioned singing style, and for his iconic songs “California Blue” and “Oh Pretty Woman.”
12. Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole was an iconic 50s musician who was once among the world’s top jazz artists.
Over the course of his career, Cole recorded a large number of successful hits, and he was generally one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century.
Besides making popular hits and performing with his trio, Cole also acted in films and performed on Broadway.
So he wasn’t ‘only’ a talented jazz musician but also a true cultural icon.
Nat King Cole’s best known songs include “Unforgettable” and “The Christmas Song.”
13. Little Richard
Little Richard is another 50s singer responsible for the development of new music genres and styles.
He became a pop culture icon and a rock n’ roll star.
And his song “Tutti Frutti” is hands down one of the most popular songs from the 1950s.
All in all, Little Richard’s unique performing style, vocal abilities, and music legacy make him one of the most influential artists in music history.
14. James Brown
The 1950s saw the emergence of another music legend – James Brown.
As a leading figure in the funk genre, James Brown was surely one of the most influential artists of his generation.
Dubbed the ‘Godfather of Soul’, Brown made an impact on many music genres.
He was one of the first 10 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he received many other accolades.
Brown’s most memorable songs include “I Feel Good (I Got You)” and “People Get Up And Drive Your Funky Soul.”
15. Jerry Lee Lewis
In October 2022, the world lost a music legend.
Jerry Lee Lewis was nicknamed ‘The Killer’ for a good reason – he was really killing it, especially in the 50s.
He was a pioneer of rock n’ roll and rockabilly music, and he recorded some popular hits including “Great Balls Of Fire.”
And he was known for his energetic live performances – he even set his piano on fire once.
16. Paul Anka
Paul Anka is also among the top male singers of the 50’s.
His song “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” is still popular and relevant today.
But he also wrote songs for other artists, including Tom Jones and Michael Jackson.
Paul Anka will always be remembered for his songwriting skills as well as his long lasting career.
17. Fats Domino
Antoine Dominique Domino Jr, known as Fats Domino, was a famous 1950s singer and performer.
He was also a rock n’ roll pioneer, and Elvis Presley cited him as one of the biggest influences and inspirations.
Fats Domino’s contribution to rock n’ roll certainly won’t be forgotten.
After all, he sold more than 65 million records, which makes him one of the most successful male singers of the 50s.
18. Harry Belafonte
Recognizable by his silky singing voice, Harry Belafonte is definitely one of the best male 50s singers.
This living legend is also known for popularizing Calypso music.
His calypso-inspired hits surely made an impact on the 50s music scene, especially his breakthrough album Calypso (1956.)
All things considered, Belafonte is arguably the most successful Jamaican-American pop star.
19. Bing Crosby
Thanks to his impactful and long-lasting career, Bing Crosby also deserves a spot on this list.
He left the world a substantial music legacy – he recorded more than 1,700 songs during his lifetime.
Moreover, Crosby collaborated with many legendary artists, including David Bowie.
Apart from singing, Crosby was appreciated for his acting skills – he even won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Going My Way (1944.)
20. Andy Williams
It’s hard to imagine Christmas holidays without hearing “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” in every corner.
Besides this Christmas classic, Andy Williams is known for many other great songs.
Throughout the 1950s, Williams appeared regularly on the “Tonight Show”, before hosting his own show, The Andy Williams Show, in the 60s.
But when it comes to his music career, he achieved great success, selling more than 45 million records worldwide.
21. Dean Martin
In short, Dean Martin was an American singer, actor, and comedian.
But he was also known for his friendship with Frank Sinatra – they even formed the Rat Pack group, together with several other artists.
He was a multi-talent, and definitely one of the most popular figures of his era.
Dean Martin’s greatest hits include “Everybody Loves Somebody” and a Christmas classic “Let It Snow.”
22. Porter Wagoner
Known as Mr. Grand Ole Opry, Porter Wagoner a central figure in the country music scene of the 50s.
He also had his TV show, The Porter Wagoner Show.
And he was known for his famous collaboration, most notably for the 7-year musical partnership with Dolly Parton.
All in all, the 50s music wouldn’t be the same without Porter Wagoner.
23. Ben E. King
Although he is known as one of the most prominent singers from the 60s, Ben E. King began his career in the 50s.
He rose to prominence as one of the lead singers of the R&B vocal group The Drifters.
He embarked on a solo career in 1960, and eventually became one of the most memorable singers of all time.
His signature song “Stand By Me” will surely be familiar to many generations to come.
24. Chuck Berry
This list wouldn’t be complete without the ‘Father of Rock and Roll.’
Chuck Berry was a star in the 1950s, and he continued to make music and perform in the following decades.
He was known for his innovative hits and impressive guitar solos.
And his songs such as “Maybellene”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, and “Johnny B. Goode” made a huge impact on subsequent rock music.
25. Johnny Otis
Another singer who played an important role in the development of rock n’ roll is Johnny Otis.
As a talent scout, he also helped numerous well-known artists in their careers, including Etta James.
But he is mostly remembered for his contribution to American R&B and rock n’ roll music.
His work and talent earned him the nickname the ‘Godfather of Rhythm and Blues.’
Best 50s Male Singers – Final Thoughts
And that’s it for our list of the best 50s male singers!
Besides providing you with musical facts, we hope this list inspired you to explore more about 50s music.
It was an interesting music era for sure, and today’s music wouldn’t be the same without the artists on this list.