Logo  
  | home | authors | calendar colophon | links | newsgroups | newsfeed | new | printer version |  
volume 6
april 2003

A sample of 100 early rock and roll songs

 





  Appendix to: "The music matters. An analysis of early rock and roll"
by Joe Burns
Previous
  This page is the appendix to Joe Burns' report of his research into the musical characteristics of early rock and roll, titled: The music matters. An analysis of early rock and roll. For this research project Burns selected a sample of hundred rock and roll songs for the years 1955-1959. The selection criteria can be found in the article. The results are listed in the table below, presenting the song titles, performing artists and the main chord progressions.
   
 
1955
 
"Rock Around The Clock" Bill Haley
A D A E A
1 4 1 5 1
 
"Maybellene" Chuck Berry
A D A E A
1 4 1 5 1
 
"Ain't That A Shame" Fats Domino
Bb Eb Bb Eb F# Bb
1  4  1  4  5  1
 
"Tweedle Dee" LaVern Baker
C F C G C
1 4 1 5 1
(Chorus)
   
F C F C G F
4 1 4 1 5 1
(Break)
"Tutti Frutti" Little Richard
E A E B E
1 4 1 5 1
 
"Unchained Melody" [1] Roy Hamilton
A F# D E A
1 6  4 5 1
(Verse)
   
A Amaj7 F#m E D E A
1 1     6   5 4 5 1
 
"Hearts Of Stone" The Fontane Sisters
A E B7 E A
1 5 2  5 1
(1/5 is a 4th)
"Bo Diddley" Bo Diddley
G
1
 
"Dance With Me Henry" Georgia Gibbs
F Bb F C F
1 4  1 5 1
(1/2 step modulation up)
 
1956
 
"Heartbreak Hotel" Elvis Presley
E A D E
1 4 5 1
 
"Don't Be Cruel" Elvis Presley
D G7 A7 G7 A7 D
1 4  5  4  5  1
(Chorus)
   
D G D Em A7
1 4 1 2  5
(Verse)
"Blue Suede Shoes" Carl Perkins
A D7 A E7 A
1 4  1 5  1
 
"I'm In Love Again" Fats Domino
B E F# B
1 4 5  1
 
"See You Later Alligator" Bill Haley
D G D A G D
1 4 1 5 4 1
 
"Why Do Fools Fall In Love?" Frankie Lymon
F Dm Bb C F
1 6  4  5 1
 
"Long Tall Sally" Little Richard
E A E B A E
1 4 1 5 4 1
 
"Be-Bop-A-Lu-La" Gene Vincent
E A E B A E
1 4 1 5 4 1
 
"Let The Good Times Roll" Shirley And Lee
C F C D7 G C
1 4 1 2  5 1
 
"Fever" [2] Little Willie John
Bb Db F Ab Bb
1  3  5 7  1
 
"In The Still Of The Night" The Five Satins
F Dm Bb C F
1 6  4  5 1
(Chorus)
   
Bb F Bb C
4  1 4  5
 
"Roll Over Beethoven" Chuck Berry
D G D A G D
1 4 1 5 4 1
 
"Eddie My Love" The Fontane Sisters
C Am Dm G C
1 6  4  5 1
 
"The Great Pretender" The Platters
G C G C G - -
1 4 1 4 5
 
   
C D G C G D G
4 5 1 4 1 5 1
 
"Honkey Tonk" Bill Doggett
E A E D A E
1 4 1 5 4 1
 
"Slow Walk" Sil Austin
F Bb F C Bb F
1 4  1 5 4  1
 
"Hang Up My Rock And Roll Shoes" Chuck Willis
F Bb
1 4
(Main)
   
F C G F C F
1 5 2 1 5 1
(Break)
(1/5 is a 4th)
"I Walk The Line" [3] Johnny Cash
A D A E B E A
1 4 1 5 2 5 1
(1/2 step modulation 3x)
"Ain't Got No Home" Clarence Frogman Henry
C F C G F C
1 4 1 5 4 1
 
 
1957
 
"All Shook Up" Elvis Presley
Bb Eb F Bb
1  4  5 1
(Verse)
   
Eb B Eb F Bb
4  1 4  1 5
(Chorus)
"Honeycomb" Jimmy Rogers
F Bb C F
1 4  5 1
 
"Wake Up Little Suzy" The Everly Brothers
D F G D
1 3 4 1
 
"You Send Me" Sam Cooke
G C E G
1 4 5 1
(Chorus)
   
A G A E C
4 1 4 5 1
(Break)
"Party Doll" Buddy Knox
A E A D E A
1 5 1 4 5 1
 
"That'll Be The Day" Buddy Holly
D A D A
1 5 1 5
(Main)
(1/5 is a 4th)
   
D A D A D
1 5 1 5 1
(Solo)
"Little Darlin'" The Diamonds
Bb Ebm C Bb
1  4   2 5
 
"Blueberry Hill" Fats Domino
E B F# B (B+4) E
1 4 2  5 (5)   1
 
"Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" Jerry Lee Lewis
C F C G F G C
1 4 1 5 4 5 1
 
"Come Go With Me" Del Vikings
G Em Am D7 G
1 6  2  5  1
 
"Mr. Lee" The Bobbettes
C Am F G C
1 6  4 5 1
(Chorus)
   
C F7 C G C
1 4  1 5 1
(Verse)
"Youngblood" The Coasters
A D E A
1 4 5 1
 
"Jim Dandy" LaVern Baker
E A E B A E
1 4 1 5 4 1
 
"Lucille" Little Richard
D G A G D
1 4 5 4 1
 
"Little Bitty Pretty One" Thurston Harris
A C
1 3
 
"Rockin' Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu" Huey Piano Smith
C G
1 5
(1/5 is a 4th)
"I'm Walkin'" Ricky Nelson
G C G D G
1 4 1 5 1
 
"Raunchy" Bill Justice
D G D A G D
1 4 1 5 4 1
 
"Young Love" Tab Hunter
D Bm G A D
1 6  4 5 1
(Intro)
   
D F# G A D
1 3  4 5 1
(Verse)
   
D A G A D
1 5 4 5 1
(Chorus)
(1/5 is a 4th)
"Suzie Q" Dale Hawkins
E A B E
1 4 5 1
 
 
1958
 
"At The Hop" Danny and the Juniors
G Em C D7 G
1 6  4 5  1
(Intro)
   
G C G D C G
1 4 1 5 4 1
(Verse)
"All In The Game" Tommy Edwards
E A B E
1 4 5 1
(Chorus)
   
E C# A# D# F# C# B E
1 6  4  7  2  6  5 1
 
"Tequila" The Champs
F Eb
1 7
 
"Dream (All I Have To Do)" The Everly Brothers
D Bm G A D
1 6  4 5 1
(Chorus)
   
G F#m Em A D
4 3   2  5 1
(Verse)
"Poor Little Fool" Ricky Nelson
B G#m E F# B
1 6   4 5  1
 
"Get A Job" The Silhouettes
G C G D C G
1 4 1 5 4 1
(Verse / Chorus)
   
G C D G
1 4 5 1
(Break)
"Don't" Elvis Presley
D A D G D A Em A D
1 5 1 4 1 5 2  5 1
(1/5 is a 4th)
"Yakety Yak" The Coasters
G C D G
1 4 5 1
 
"Great Balls Of Fire" Jerry Lee Lewis
C F G7 F7 C
1 4 5  4  1
 
"Sweet Little Sixteen" Chuck Berry
G C G C F C G
1 4 1 4 5 4 1
(Main)
   
F C G C
5 4 1 4
(Break)
"Rockin' Robin" Bobby Day
F# B C# B F#
1  4 5  4 1
(Main)
   
B F# B F# C B
4 1  4 1  5 1
(Break)
"Lollypop" The Chordettes
G Em C D G
1 6  4 5 1
(Main)
   
G C G C G D G
1 4 1 4 1 5 1
(Break)
"Splish Splash" Bobby Darin
B C#m F# B
1  2  5  1
 
"Tears On My Pillow" Little Anthony
B Abm Dbm G# B
1 7   3   6  1
(Chorus)
   
E Gb B Abm B Gb B
4 6  1 7   1 6  1
(Break)
"The Stroll" The Diamonds
F Bb F C Bb F
1 4  1 5 4  1
 
"Book Of Love" The Monotones
Bb Gm Cm F Bb
1  6  2  5 1
(Verse)
   
Eb Bb Eb F
4  1  4  5
(Break)
"Do You Wanna Dance" Bobby Freeman
C Am7 Dm7 G7 C
1 6   2   5  1
 
"Rebel Rouser" Duane Eddy
E A E B E
1 4 1 5 1
 
"Summertime Blues" Eddy Cochran
E A B E
1 4 5 1
(Verse)
   
A E A E
4 1 4 1
(Chorus)
"Oh Boy" Buddy Holly
A D A E A
1 4 1 5 1
(Chorus)
   
E A D E
5 1 4 5
(Verse)
"Willie And The Hand Jive" Johnny Otis Show
Bb Eb Bb
1  4  1
(Verse)
   
Eb Bb F Bb
4  1  5 1
(Chorus)
"I Wonder Why" Dion and the Belmonts
A F#m D E A
1 6   4 5 1
 
"Summertime" The Jaimees
F C Bb C F
1 5 4  5 1
(Intro)
(1/5 is a 4th)
   
F Bb G F Bb G C F
1 4  2 1 4  2 5 1
(Verse)
   
F Bb F C G C F
1 4  1 5 2 5 1
(Break)
"Donna" Ritchie Valens
E A B E
1 4 5 1
(Chorus)
   
A E A B
4 1 4 5
(Verse)
"Rumble" Link Ray
D D G D D E - -
5 5 1 5 5 6
 
   
D D A D D E - -
5 5 2 5 5 6
 
   
D D B
5 5 3
 
 
1959
 
"Red River Rock" Johnny and the Hurricanes
Bb F Bb Eb Bb F Bb
1  5 1  4  1  5 1
(1/5 is a 4th)
"Mac The Knife" Bobby Darin
Bb Cm F7 Bb
1  2  5  1
(1/2 step modulation 7x)
"Stagger Lee" Lloyd Price
D Bm G A7 D
1 6  4 5  1
(Intro)
   
D G D A D A D
1 4 1 5 1 5 1
 
"Kansas City" Wilbert Harrison
C F C G F C
1 4 1 5 4 1
 
"Big Hunk O' Love" Elvis Presley
B E B F# E B
1 4 1 5  4 1
 
"Charlie Brown" The Coasters
A D A E D A
1 4 1 5 4 1
(Chorus)
   
D C D E
4 3 4 5
(Break)
"La Bamba" Ritchie Valens
C Fmaj7 G C
1 4     5 1
 
"Sixteen Candles" The Crests
E E7 A B7 E
1 1  4 5  7
(Chorus)
   
A E B7 E
4 1 5  1
(Verse)
"Sea Of Love" Phil Phillips
G B C A G A G C G
1 3 4 2 1 2 1 4 1
(Verse)
   
D C D C B D
5 4 5 4 3 5
(Chorus)
"My Heart Is An Open Book" Carl Dobkins Jr.
F C F C F
1 5 1 5 1
(Chorus)
(1/5 is a 4th)
   
Bb F C F
4  1 5 1
(Verse)
"Till I Kissed You" The Everly Brothers
G Em
1 6
(Chorus)
   
G C
1 4
(Verse)
"What'd I Say?" Ray Charles
E A E B A E
1 4 1 5 4 1
 
"A Lover's Question" Clyde McPhatter
G C G C G
1 4 1 4 1
(Main)
   
C G C G Em A D G
4 1 4 1 6  2 5 1
(Bridge)
"A Whole Lotta Lovin' For You" Fats Domino
Bb Eb Bb Eb Bb F Bb
1  4  1  4  1  5 1
 
"Lonely Teardrops" Jackie Wilson
G Em C D
1 6  4 5
(Chorus)
   
C Cm G D
4 4  1 5
(Verse)
"Venus" [4] Frankie Avalon
Amaj7 Bm E Amaj7
1     2  4 1
(Chorus)
   
C#m Bm E Amaj7
3   2  5 1
(Verse)
   
F#m7 Cm7 E Amaj7
6    3   5 1
(Break)
"Peter Gun" Ray Anthony
F
1
 
"Sea Cruise" Frankie Ford
C F C F G C
1 4 1 4 5 1
(Chorus)
   
F C G
4 1 5
(Verse)
"Only Sixteen" Sam Cooke
A D E D E A
1 4 5 4 5 1
(Chorus)
   
B7 A B7 E
2  1 2  5
(Break)
"It's Just A Matter Of Time" Brook Benton
E A E B E
1 4 1 5 1
(Main)
   
A A F# B
4 4 2  5
(Break)
"Teenager In Love" Dion and the Belmonts
C Am F G C
1 6  4 5 1
(Main)
   
F G F G
4 5 4 5
(Break)
"Oh Carol!" Neil Sedaka
Bb Gm Cm F Bb
1  6  2  5 1
 
"Love Potion #9" The Clovers
G Ab C Db
7 1  3 4
(Intro)
   
Gb B Abm E
7  2 1   5
(Chorus)
   
Abm Dbm Abm Dbm
1   4   1   4
(Verse)
   
Dbm Bbm Dbm Ebm
4   2   4   5
(Verse)
"Teen Angel" Mark Dinning
C F C F G C
1 4 1 4 5 1
(Verse)
   
C G C F G C
1 5 1 4 5 1
(Chorus)
"Handy Man" Jimmy Jones
Bb Gm Eb F Bb
1  6  4  5 1
(Verse)
   
Eb B  Eb C7 F
4  2b 4  2  6
(Break)
"There Goes My Baby" The Drifters
A F#m D E A
1 6   4 5 1
 
"Mashed Potato Time" Dee Dee Sharp
D Bm G A D
1 6  4 5 1
 
   
Previous
  Notes
1. "Unchained Melody" is a rather slow song and because of that some people will dismiss it as a rock and roll song. However, it was decided, for this sample, that a song does not have to be of fast tempo to be rock and roll. Conversations over the Internet newsgroups alt.rock-n-roll and alt.rock-n-roll.oldies agreed with this decision. Return to text
2. Like "Fever", many songs in this sample might be better characterized as rhythm and blues than rock and roll. However all songs that might fall under such suspect did cross over to the Billboard pop charts, and for that reason were included in this sample as another genre of rock and roll. Return to text
3. Although Johnny Cash is today recognized as a country artist, in 1956 he was labeled rock-a-billy. The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll refers to rock-a-billy as the purest form of the rock and roll genres (DeCurtis, Henke and George-Warren, 1992). "I Walk The Line" is considered rock and roll for this sample. Return to text
4. "Venus" might not be considered rock and roll by some standards, but the song is representational of a shift in the later fifties toward calming rock and roll. Rolling Stone notes the teen idols as another genre in the wide umbrella of rock and roll music. Return to text
   
Previous
  1996 © Joseph E. Burns / 2003 © Soundscapes