Teen Idols - Fad or Fashion

by Erika Cox

Teen idols became a phenomenon in the late 50ís and early 60ís. 

A turning date in Rock and Roll, and perhaps a slight decline to some was February 3, 1959. 

It has been noted as the ďThe Day the Music DiedĒ, mainly because many believed that all the true rock pioneers of the 50ís glory days were gone. 

Elvis Presley went to the Army, Chuck Berry was in jail, Jerry Lee Lewis had been banned from the airwaves and in the public eye, Little Richard decided to change from his evil ways quitting the business to study the Bible. 

Buddy Holly, Ritchie Havens, the Big Bopper, and Eddie Cochran had all died unexpectedly. 

This mass exodus left a major void in Rock and Roll music returning the music industry back into the hands of stale record producers and promoters. 

Many, including parents, may have been relieved to finally see the end of what they perceived to be wild, threatening, uninhibitive music. 

Now, they thought, we can start to clean up the music and portray safe, clean cut, respectable artists. 

Depending on your music style of choice, the Teen Idol craze was either a curse or a blessing. It was either fad or fashion that numerous teen idols were to be unleashed within the next few years. 

Rock and Roll just didnít sound like Rock and Roll; the unabandoned, artistic, energetic, free style music that the world had come to know was gone, it just wasnít the same.

This new sound of Rock music was more of a rehash of Pop music, so actually Pop music had made a comeback. 

Many of these teen idols were given the spotlight and became famous by appearing on various radio and television programs. 

However, the real push behind the teen idol burst was money. Find a good looking, middle-class, clean-cut kid (didnít matter if he could really sing or not), cut a record, get the radio stations to play the song, and you will have a hit and a teen idol within a few weeks. 

The bottom line was profit not music. So, letís look at some of these teen idols. The first and probably most successful was Pat Boone, who was a safe alternative to Elvis. 

Pat Boone was the king of the cover artists. The next was Fabian, who had the looks but admitted he could not sing, however, he was promoted as the ďTiger ManĒ albeit a nice, cuddly tiger. 

Paul Anka, who actually was a musical prodigy with a nasal voice, became an overnight success. 

Ricky Nelson not only had talent but also had a true sex appeal and was often compared to Eddie Cochran. Ricky Nelson was also a child star in a popular television show and came from a family of talented actors. 

A few more to mention was Frankie Avalon, Connie Francis, Bobby Darin, and Bobby Vinton, however, only a handful like Ricky Nelson and Paul Anka actually had a lasting impression and continued success. 

Unfortunately, most of these teen idols were one or two hit wonders never to see fame again, or perhaps they would have lasted had it not been for the upcoming and unexpected British Invasion that took a hold of the music world allowing Rock and Roll to make a comeback.

Go to Rewind the Fifties Home


Rewind the Fifties and all related Pages copyright 1997 - 2006