Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: A few years ago, you wrote about hit makers of the 1940s, or earlier, who at that time were still living.

My question is similar, but specifically about the Pop & Rock stars of the '50s. Of that decade's top solo artists, how many are still standing, and what are their ages?
—Marianne J. Duffy, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR MARIANNE: They may not all be standing, but each and every one in this group clearly has a pulse.

Compiled per your request is a list that does not likely exist elsewhere, of the still-living stars whose careers either began or flourished in the '50s. There may be others. Some of these folks are also among the top acts of the '60s, and a couple of them gained fame in the '50s as a lead singer of a group, then established themselves as a solo performer.

All are listed according to their age on June 1, 2010, and those the same age are in day of birth order. For example, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Mathis are both 74, but Lewis is one day older than Mathis.

From Tony Martin, soon to be a centurion, to youngster Brenda Lee, who just qualified for Medicare, here they are:

Tony Martin (97)
Jimmy McCracklin (88)
Johnny Otis (88)
Kitty Kallen (88)
Kay Starr (87)
Doris Day (86)
Roger Williams (85)
B.B. King (84)
Stan Freberg (83)
Tony Bennett (83)
Chuck Berry (83)
Ed Ames (82)
Patti Page (82)
Andy Williams (82)
Fats Domino (82)
Vic Damone (81)
Eddie Fisher (81)
Bobby Bland (80)
Joni James (79)
Little Richard (77)
Lloyd Price (77)
Jimmie Rodgers (76)
Pat Boone (76)
Steve Lawrence (74)
Jerry Lee Lewis (74)
Johnny Mathis (74)
Jack Scott (74)
Frankie Valli (73)
Etta James (72)
Duane Eddy (72)
Ben E. King (71)
Connie Francis (71)
Neil Sedaka (71)
Johnny Tillotson (71)
Dion DiMucci (70)
Frankie Avalon (70)
Freddy Cannon (70)
Jerry Butler (70)
Smokey Robinson (70)
Cliff Richard (69)
Paul Anka (68)
Bobby Rydell (68)
Fabian (67)
Bobby Vee (67)
Brenda Lee (65)

IZ ZAT SO? The beginning of the singer-songwriter era is generally thought to be the early '60s, and understandably so.

However, the first Rock Era singer to reach No. 1 with his own composition came along much earlier: Buddy Knox with “Party Doll,” in March 1957.

Six months later, Paul Anka followed suit with his homage to “Diana,” and Buddy Holly with “That'll Be the Day.”

As evidenced by two Buddys and a Paul, the singer-songwriter concept is indeed a bit older than is widely regarded.

Seven years before “Party Doll,” the C&W and R&B fields had their own singer-songwriting stars. Among those are Hank Williams and Fats Domino, both renowned for writing their own tunes.

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