27 Best Country Singers Of The 50s

Best Country Singers Of The 50s

With tunes that touched hearts and voices that moved souls, the golden era of country music in the '50s was truly remarkable. It’s the musicians that are responsible for these great songs though, so here are the best country singers of the 50s.

1.   Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley was not only a singer and musician, but also an iconic performer who profoundly influenced the world of country music. His unique blend of country, gospel, and blues resonated with audiences across genres.

Elvis's love for country music was evident throughout his career, as he consistently showcased his talent in this genre. But it was in his self-titled album that songs like “One-Sided Love Affair” became staples of 50s country music.

With his signature style and charismatic stage presence, Elvis forever changed the landscape of popular music, country music included. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998.

Elvis Presley

2.   Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash stood as a towering figure in country music for decades. Known as one of the most famous country singers of the 50s, he took country music from rural America to international audiences.

His sound blurred the boundaries between genres and made him a musical icon worldwide.

Cash shared strong bonds with fellow country stars, from Kris Kristofferson to Waylon Jennings. These friendships were legendary within industry circles and provided support during his career's ups and downs.

His connection with fans crossed borders and generations, firmly establishing his status as an ambassador for country music and one of its best-selling artists ever.

Johnny Cash

3.   Patsy Cline

Self-taught and determined, Patsy Cline shattered several glass ceilings in the music industry. She was one of the pioneering country artists who successfully ventured into pop music.

This crossover expanded her fan base and initiated a trend that many future singers would follow.

Her album “Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits” is a testament to her talent and popularity. It soared high on charts quickly after its release and is known today as one of the best-selling records in the country's history.

At just thirty years old, Patsy tragically lost her life in 1963. Despite her short-lived career, she achieved icon status leaving an indelible imprint on music history with her unique style and unforgettable voice.

Patsy Cline

4.   Hank Williams

Hank Williams, a towering figure in 20th-century music, wowed the world with his exceptional songwriting abilities and iconic voice. Dominating country music throughout the 1950s, he earned widespread acclaim and admiration for his emotionally resonant songs.

His extraordinary talent as a singer-songwriter-guitarist elevated him to superstar status.

Tragically, Hank's life was cut short by premature death. Beyond being a beloved musician, Hank also won hearts as the doting father to his children.

Hank Williams

5.   Marty Robbins

Marty Robbins was one of the most popular country singers of his time. He captivated audiences with his smooth vocals and heartfelt lyrics, making him a beloved performer in country music.

Marty Robbins' contributions to the genre cannot be overstated, as he helped shape and define country music during his time in the spotlight. With hits like “El Paso” and “Big Iron,” Marty Robbins left an indelible mark on the industry and continues to be remembered as one of the greatest country singers ever.

Marty Robbins

6.   Johnny Horton

Johnny Horton was an exceptional country singer during the 1950s and 1960s. His unique nickname, “The Singing Fisherman,” added to his charm.

Horton gained widespread recognition for his historical narrative country songs. His ability to weave captivating stories through his music made him stand out from other artists of the time.

One of his biggest hits came in 1959 with “The Battle of New Orleans,” which became an international success.

Known for being one of the top honky-tonk country singers of his era, Johnny Horton left a lasting impact on the genre with his powerful vocals and heartfelt performances.

Johnny Horton

7.   Ray Price

Ray Price is one of the best country singers of the 50s. He was a true innovator, changing the sound of country music during that time and beyond.

One of his most significant contributions to country music was his pioneering shuffle beat in the 1950s. This unique rhythm had a considerable influence on other honky-tonk artists at the time. Ray Price's impact on country music continues to be felt today.

Ray Price

8.   Don Gibson

Don Gibson was a highly influential country musician and singer-songwriter during the 1950s and 1960s. He made a significant impact on the country music industry with his honky-tonk style and heartfelt lyrics.

Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Don Gibson's contributions to the Nashville sound cannot be overstated. His performances at venues like the Grand Ole Opry showcased his dynamic stage presence and undeniable talent.

With his unique blend of traditional country sounds and emotionally-driven songwriting, Don Gibson captured the hearts of many listeners.

Don Gibson

9.   Tennessee Ernie Ford

Tennessee Ernie Ford was a notable country artist of the 50s. He released nearly 50 country singles during this time, and his music became incredibly popular. One of his biggest hits was “Shotgun Boogie.” His ability to span different genres set Tennessee Ernie Ford apart from other country artists.

His music had an impact on early rock ‘n' roll as well. Tennessee Ernie Ford was considered a pioneering recording artist, leaving a lasting mark on the country music industry. With numerous hit singles and an ability to cross genres, he made a significant impact on both fans and fellow musicians alike. Speaking of Tennessee, here are some top Tennessee country songs.

Tennessee Ernie Ford

10. Patti Page

Patti Page was a talented and successful female singer in the 1950s. She holds the impressive title of being the top-charting female vocalist and best-selling female artist of that decade. With over 100 million record sales, Patti Page was a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.

One of her most well-known songs is “Tennessee Waltz,” which catapulted her to even greater fame and solidified her status as the best-selling singer of the 1950s. Known for her beautiful voice, she was often called the “Oklahoma Thrush.” Her vocal style captivated audiences across the nation.

Patti Page's impact on music cannot be overstated. Her record-breaking sales hit songs and captivating voice left an indelible mark on country music history.

Patti Page

11. Kitty Wells

Kitty Wells was a pioneering figure in country music during the 1950s. As the first female star of the genre, she broke barriers and blazed a trail for other women in the industry.

Wells achieved a significant breakthrough when she scored the first solo hit by a female singer on the top of the country charts. Her success didn't stop there – she went on to receive more top female vocalist awards than any other artist in country music history.

Kitty Wells will always be remembered as an icon and legend of country music, with her legacy continuing to resonate through generations. Her powerful voice, inspiring songs, and unwavering determination have left an indelible mark on both male and female artists.

Kitty Wells

12. George Jones

George Jones was a highly influential American country musician, singer, and songwriter. His powerful vocals and dynamic performances made him one of the greatest vocalists in country music history.

Starting his career in the late 1940s, George Jones released many hit singles and albums. He became internationally famous for his incredible talent and contributions to country music. George Jones left a lasting impact on country music as a performer and songwriter.

George Jones

13. Hank Snow

Hank Snow, a gifted country music singer, and songwriter of the 1950s, left an indelible mark on the industry with his extraordinary talent. His remarkable achievements included seven country chart-topping hits and 40 top 10 country songs over 25 years.

With a prolific output of over 80 albums and more than 2,000 recorded songs, Hank Snow's legacy in country music remains enduring and influential. What truly set him apart was his exceptional ability to craft “traveling” pieces, which struck a chord with audiences all across America, resonating deeply with their hearts and wanderlust.

His music touched the souls of countless fans, and his lyrical prowess and captivating performances solidified his status as a revered figure in the country music scene. Hank Snow's timeless contributions continue to be celebrated and cherished by music enthusiasts worldwide.

14. Bill Monroe

Bill Monroe, also known as the Father of Bluegrass, was one of the most famous country singers of the 50s. He significantly contributed to country music as a singer, songwriter, and mandolin player.

With his pioneering style and innovative approach, he invented bluegrass music and became a legend in the genre. His stage name was William Smith Monroe, and he is remembered for his traditional sound and iconic status in the music world.

As a musician, he played the mandolin with incredible skill, bringing it to prominence within bluegrass music. His songs were filled with heartfelt lyrics that resonated with audiences across America.

Bill Monroe

15. Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, undeniably one of the most exceptional songwriters in history, has traversed a remarkable musical journey throughout his illustrious career. Initially known for his folk singer roots, he underwent a transformative shift into rock music later during the 50s.

Bob Dylan's unparalleled ability to seamlessly blend the essence of folk, rock, and country sets him apart, resulting in a unique and compelling musical identity. This distinctive fusion has solidified him as a transformative and influential figure in the music world.

Throughout his storied career, Dylan has remained an enigmatic and thought-provoking artist, defying conventions and continuously evolving. His poetic lyrics, rich storytelling, and thought-provoking compositions have earned him the status of a musical icon, inspiring generations of musicians and listeners alike.

Bob Dylan

16. Ray Charles

Ray Charles was a pioneering artist who crossed musical genres and significantly impacted the music industry. He integrated jazz, rhythm and blues, country, and gospel into his soulful music, creating a unique and diverse musical style.

With popular hits like “Unchain My Heart” and “Hit the Road Jack,” Ray Charles demonstrated his ability to blend R&B, gospel, pop, and country elements in his songs. His crossover success in different genres earned him commercial success throughout his career.

A showcase of his incredible talent despite the genre can be heard when he covered “I’m Movin On” by Hank Snow, a country classic that Ray Charles made his own.

Ray Charles

17. June Carter Cash

June Carter Cash, born Valerie June Carter on June 23, 1929, in Maces Spring, Virginia, was a versatile artist with deep roots in country and Appalachian music. Growing up immersed in the genre, she developed an enduring passion for its melodies.

In the 1950s, June Carter Cash succeeded as a solo artist, captivating audiences with her vibrant personality and engaging performances. Among her popular hits of the era was “Jukebox Blues,” a song that epitomized her lively and energetic style.

Her immense talent and magnetic charisma left an indelible mark on the country music landscape of the time, establishing her as a beloved figure in the hearts of fans. June Carter Cash's legacy endures as a testament to her lasting impact on the rich tapestry of country music.

June Carter Cash

18. Brenda Lee

Brenda Lee, born Brenda Mae Tarpley on December 11, 1944, rose to legendary status as a singer, musician, and performer, captivating audiences as a teenage sensation during the 1950s. Her music career spanned an impressive five decades, filled with remarkable achievements and enduring influence.

A true icon, Brenda Lee's repertoire encompassed rockabilly, pop, and country music, garnering immense acclaim for her powerful voice and enthralling stage presence. Among her most famous hits, “Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree” remains an enduring classic that continues to resonate with audiences across generations, standing as a testament to her timeless artistry.

Throughout her journey in the music world, Brenda Lee seamlessly transitioned from a rockabilly teen sensation to a pop superstar, etching her name in the annals of musical history. Her unparalleled talent and magnetic charisma left an indelible mark on the hearts of fans worldwide, solidifying her status as an evergreen musical legend.

Brenda Lee

19.  Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis, famously dubbed “The Killer,” emerged as an iconic and polarizing figure in the annals of rock and roll, leaving an indelible mark on its history. His performances were nothing short of spectacular, characterized by an electrifying stage presence that mesmerized audiences across the globe.

During the 1950s, Jerry Lee Lewis pioneered a groundbreaking fusion of country music and rock and roll, forging a distinctive sound that bore the unmistakable stamp of his style and panache. The impact of his musical ingenuity reverberated through hits like “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On,” forever etching his name in the Rock and roll hall of Fame.

Yet, Lewis's influence extended beyond rock and roll; his undeniable contributions to country music showcased his versatility.

Blessed with angelic vocals and an energetic mastery of the piano, he reigned supreme as one of the era's finest country singers, unafraid to portray a rebellious attitude that further endeared him to his fanbase.

Jerry Lee Lewis

20. Webb Pierce

Webb Pierce was one of the most popular country singers of the 50s. He carried on the honky-tonk legacy left by Hank Williams, who passed away in 1953. What set Pierce apart from other artists like Hank Williams was his chart success – he had more number-one hits than anyone else during that time.

But it wasn't just his impressive record that made him stand out; his passionate and distinctive vocal style also captivated audiences.

Webb Pierce left a lasting legacy as a beloved and influential figure in country music. His impact on country music cannot be overstated. From honky-tonk classics to heartfelt ballads, there was no denying the power of Webb Pierce's voice.

Webb Pierce

21. Ferlin Husky

Ferlin Husky, a gifted country singer of the 1950s, possessed a remarkable skill: the uncanny ability to emulate renowned country icons such as Tennessee Ernie Ford and Kitty Wells. His musical prowess garnered widespread acclaim, earning him a well-deserved star on the illustrious Hollywood Walk of Fame, a testament to his significant contributions to the music industry.

Among his chart-topping achievements was the sensational “Wings Of A Dove,” a delightful blend of gospel and country elements that resonated with diverse audiences. The song's enduring popularity ensured its remarkable stay in the top 10 of the country chart for an impressive 50 consecutive weeks, solidifying Husky's status as a trailblazing force in country music.

Ferlin Husky

22. Jim Reeves

Jim Reeves, a luminary in country music, is one of the finest musicians from the vibrant 1950s era. With his velvety-smooth vocals and a crossover appeal that transcended musical boundaries,

Reeves left an indelible mark on the hearts of listeners worldwide. His mesmerizing voice and heartfelt delivery brought a unique blend of country and pop elements to his music, captivating audiences with each soul-stirring performance.

The allure of Jim Reeves' artistry lay not only in his exceptional talent but also in his ability to tell poignant stories through his songs. Hits like “He'll Have to Go” and “Welcome to My World” showcased his prowess as a masterful storyteller, drawing listeners into a world of heartfelt emotions.

Reeves' influence on the country music landscape of the 1950s remains unparalleled, earning him a rightful place among the genre's elite and securing his legacy as one of the best country musicians of his time.

Jim Reeves

23. Lefty Frizzell

Lefty Frizzell, a true honky-tonk country music icon of the 1950s, effortlessly earned his title as one of the era's most exceptional musicians. His velvety-smooth voice and heartfelt storytelling resonated deeply with audiences, leaving an indelible mark on their hearts.

With chart-topping hits like “If You've Got the Money, I've Got the Time” and “Always Late (With Your Kisses),” Frizzell showcased his irresistible charm and undeniable talent. His distinctive honky-tonk style set him apart, making him a standout figure in the history of country music.

Lefty Frizzell's enduring impact and significant contributions have solidified his position as one of the most excellent country musicians of the 1950s, securing his place among the genre's legends.

Lefty Frizzell

24. Carl Smith

Carl Smith, born in 1927, was another dominant figure in 1950s country music. Nicknamed “Mister Country,” Smith's honky-tonk style and dashing good looks made him a fan favorite. His string of hits such as “Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way” and “Loose Talk” showcased his robust vocal prowess and knack for storytelling, crucial components of the country genre.

Smith’s influential sound maintained traditional country roots while embracing the upbeat rhythms that were beginning to define the era, making him a pivotal player in shaping the trajectory of country music in the 50s and beyond.

Carl Smith

25. Buck Owens

Buck Owens, whose real name was Alvis Edgar Owens Jr., was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and bandleader. He is best known for his contributions to the country music genre, particularly the Bakersfield Sound. This style emphasized a more electric and raw sound compared to the polished typical sound of the time.

Buck recorded his first singles in the early 1950s for smaller record labels. While Buck Owens' success during this decade was not as widespread, this period was crucial for his growth as an artist and for the development of his unique musical style.

Buck Owens

26. Carter Stanley

Carter Stanley was one of the founding members of the bluegrass duo, The Stanley Brothers.

While they formed in the mid 1940s, it was during this time where they emerged as a true powerhouse. Songs like “I'm a Man of Constant Sorrow,” “How Mountain Girls Can Love,” and “The White Dove.” became classics of the genre.

The Stanley Brothers' music reflected the rural and often melancholic themes common in traditional Appalachian songs.Their close harmonies and instrumental prowess made them popular among country enthusiasts.

Carter Stanley

27. Jimmie Driftwood

Another country icon who went by a surname, James Corbett Morris, better known as Jimmie Driftwood is known for his contributions to country music and traditional folk.

Best known for his song “The Battle of New Orleans”, which even won a Grammy later when another artist did his own rendition of it, he was big on preserving traditional songs from several regions of the country, especially Arkansas. His performances included a mix of his original compositions and traditional folk songs.

Carter Stanley

Top Country Singers Of The 50s, Final Thoughts

The 1950s was a golden era for country music, producing some of the greatest singers and timeless hits. Artists like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and Hank Williams set the standard for emotional storytelling and authenticity in their music. Their influence resonates in today's country music scene, making them true genre legends.

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