The History of Oldies Music

Defining ‘oldies music’ is not easy. It is a term that constantly expands its range and adapts. In general, oldies music is the music that encompasses songs of different genres that were released between 1950s until the last few decades before the present time. This category includes songs that come from early rock & roll, doo-wop, folk-rock, soul, blues, country, pop, funk and other genres. Today we consider oldies music the music that was created and released between 1950 and 1970. However, the demographics are changing all the time and some radio stations in the world include songs from the decade of 1980s and even from 1990s. Sometimes the song from these decades are labelled as ‘classic hits’. 

Early Oldies

            Many people in the music industry refer to the decades of 1950s and 1960s to be the golden age of oldies songs. This was the period where many great artists have become legends and created oldies masterpieces. Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, Eddie Fisher, Perry Como are some of the most recognizable singers from 1950s. Later emerged Nat King Cole, Chubby Checker and Elvis Presley who all left a big mark in the music from that period.

            The phrase ‘oldies’ was first used in 1957 when a radio DJ from Los Angeles used it to announce songs from the early decade of 50s. The phrase quickly became very popular and was widely used after that. This catch phrase was even popular in the later decades and today when people are nostalgic for the great songs from older eras.

            1960s and 1970s were also very fruitful decades when many popular oldies emerged. Mainly rock & roll was popular style in early 60s, dominating the charts. Later in the 70s funk and soul music became more popular with some great artists like James Brown, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin dominating the music scene.

Later Oldies

            Decade of 1980s was the time when punk-rock, alternative rock and new wave became most popular. Michael Jackson, Madonna, Duran Duran, George Michael, Phil Collins, Billy Joel are some of the popular representatives in this decade. In 1990s Rod Stewart, Guns and Roses, Prince, Whitney Houston, Elton John and Santana were at the height of their popularity.

            Many knowledgeable people in the music world claim that the era between 1950 and the early years of 1970s was the real oldies era. However, as everything in life evolves, the music from later years and decades was gradually added to the oldies repertoire. For example, kids that grew up in the 1990s today consider that time to be oldies time for them, exactly in the same way people from older generations felt about the decade in which they grew up.

            Truth is that oldies music will thrive forever and new generations will continue to discover great tunes from the previous decades. Children and young adults today can search and download many older hits and classic tunes from their parents` time. Oldies will always be popular no matter what, constantly reminding us of the good old times.