Rock From The 50s
On The Acoustic

On this rock from the 50s page are some very popular artists whose music is fun to learn on guitar.  You'll find artists such as Eddie Cochran, The Everly Brothers and more.

There are free demos, chord sheets along along with rhythm tips to assist in your learning.

If you'd like to purchase the full lesson tutorials for a small fee, check out the prices in the right menu.

Rock From The 50s

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Rock From The 50s

1. Bill Haley

rock around the clock guitar lesson

Rock Around The Clock was not written by Bill Haley but by Max Freedman and James Myers in 1952.  Bill Haley recorded the song in 1954 and it took only two takes combined to make the final version.

And because of a delay arriving at the studio to record the song, Sammy Davis Jr's studio time was delayed while he waited in the hallway as Bill Haley recorded this song. Bill Haley had a #1 with this song and can be found on his album of the same name.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: down up down up down up and a few downstrokes 
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: A, E7, D7
Chords & Lyrics

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2. Carl Perkins

everybodys trying to be my baby guitar lesson

Everybody's Tryin' To Be My Baby was written in 1936 by Rex Griffin but often given credit to Carl Perkins who recorded the song in 1957 and covered by The Beatles in 1964.

To my knowledge the song was released as a single in 1957 but I'm not sure if it charted. The track is from the album "Dance Album Of Carl Perkins".

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root down root up down up
  • Picking: No just a few riffs in the rhythm
  • Chords: E, A, B7
Chords & Lyrics

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3. Chuck Berry

johnny b goode guitar lesson

Johnny B Goode was written in 1955 but not recorded and released until 1958. Chuck Berry said later on the song was a reflection of his early days and changed the lyrics country boy from colored boy to ensure the song received radio play. The opening riff was lifted from a song from 1946 entitled "Ain't That Just Like A Woman".

The song peaked at #2 on Billboards R&B chart and #8 on the Hot 100 chart. The song can be found on the "Chuck Berry Is On Top" album.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: down up down up and repeat or use al downstrokes
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: A, D, E7
Chords & Lyrics

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Promised Land guitar lesson

Promised Land follows the melody of an old American folk song called The Wabash Cannonball. He had just gotten released from prison when this

song was released in Dec 1964 and reached #41 on Billboard a month later.  In fact, Berry used a prison atlas to chart the travels listed in the song.

This song hails from the 1964 album "St Louis To Liverpool". Download the Chuck Berry Promised Land lyrics below.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: down up down up and repeat or use all downstrokes
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: C, F, G
Chords & Lyrics

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sweet little 16 guitar lesson

Sweet Little 16 was recorded and released in Jan of 1958 and managed a #2 on the Billboard chart. Berry surpassed this with a number one eventually, but not until 1972 with My -Ding-A-Ling.

This song is from his album One Dozen Berrys.

  • Drop D Tuning: Yes
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: down up down up down up with some chops
  • Picking: No
  • Chords: A, D, G
Chords & Lyrics

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4. Del Shannon

runaway guitar lesson

Runaway was a song written by a guy named Charles Westover, (who changed his name to Del Shannon), and a keyboard player named Max Crook. Max had built a keyboard with a unique sound and he called it a Musitron. 

When their manager persuaded them to record the song they had no idea it would peak at #1 on Billboard in the US and three weeks later top the charts in the UK. The song can be found on the 1961 album "Runaway With Del Shannon".

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root down up root up down up
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: Am, G, F, E, E7, Gbm, D
Chords & Lyrics

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5. Eddie Cochran

hallelujah i love her so guitar lesson

Hallelujah I Love Her So was never released as a single by Eddie Cochran as he only ever released one album during his short lifetime. That album was in 1957 but did not have any songs that charted.

This number is actually a Ray Charles song which Eddie had recorded and it only ended up on an album after his death. You can find this song on the "Eddie Cochran Memorial Album". 

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root up down root up down up will work
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: G, G6, C, C#7, D7, Gdim, E7, Em, A7
Chords & Lyrics

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I Remember was the B-side to the single Teenage Heaven which was released in 1959.

The song never appeared on any albums.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: down up down down down down down and repeat
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: C, Am, F, G, C7, Em, Dm, G7, A7
Chords & Lyrics

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jeannie jeannie jeannie guitar lesson

Jeannie Jeannie Jeannie was actually called Johnny Johnny Johnny and was written for the female group The Georgettes, but they never recorded the song. So Eddie Cochran changed the words and recorded as a single in 1958. It reach #98 in the US. After his death it was released again in the UK in 1961 and reached #33. It can be found on an album called "Legendary Masters Series". The Stray Cats also coved this number.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: 2nd fret
  • Rhythm: down up down up down up
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: E, B7, A
Chords & Lyrics

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twenty flight rock guitar lesson

Twenty Flight Rock was a single release by Eddie Cochran back in 1957 but the song never charted. Eddie also appeared in the film "The Girl Can't Help It" with Jane Mansfield, where he performed the song in that movie.

The song was written by a lady named Nelda Fairchild.

It can be found on the album "Never To Be Forgotten", which was released after his death in 1960.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: 2nd fret
  • Rhythm: down up down up down up and repeat with riff
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: G, C7, D7
Chords & Lyrics

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6. Fats Domino

blueberry hill guitar lesson

Blueberry Hill was recorded 6 times in 1940, the same year it was published. The Glenn Miller Orchestra had the biggest hit with the song that year reaching #2 in the US.

Fats Domino had a #1 on the R&B charts and a #2 Pop Hit when he released his version in 1956. Even Russian President Putin covered the song on Dec 10th 2010 in a benefit show for sick kids.

You'll find the Fats Domino track on his album "This Is Fats Domino".

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: Capo 3rd fret
  • Rhythm: down down up down down up and repeat with walking bass
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: G, C, D, Am7, Gb, Bm, B7, D7, Cm
Chords & Lyrics

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im walkin guitar lesson

I'm Walkin became a #1 hit on the R&B chart by Fats Domino in 1957. Others covered the song including Ricky Nelson, Nancy Sinatra and Tom Petty.

The song hails from the album "Here Stands Fats Domino".

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: 2nd fret = original key
  • Rhythm: down up down up and repeat with walking bass blended into the rhythm
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: G, D, C, G7, Cm
Chords & Lyrics

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7. Jerry Lee Lewis

just dropped in guitar lesson

Just Dropped In was considered a psychedelic rock song written Mickey Newbury. Jerry Lee Lewis first recorded the song in May of 1967. But it was Kenny Rogers and The First Edition who released their version later that year and scored a #5 hit. I don't believe Jerry Lee Lewis released his version as a single but it can be found on the album "Soul My Way".

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root down root up down up
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: Dm, A7, G, Gm
Chords & Lyrics

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whole lotta shakin guitar lesson

Whole Lotta Shakin was first recorded by Big Maybelle in 1955, but the 1957 version by Jerry Lee Lewis is the one most people know best because he radically changed the vibe.

He said he'd knew it would be a hit when he cut the song at Sun Studios in Feb 1957. It hit #3 on Billboard and #1 on the R&B Charts.

This track can be found on the "Original Hits Vol 1" album from 1969. 

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: down up down up down up down up and repeat
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: C, F, G, G7, C7
Chords & Lyrics

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8. Los Lobos

we belong together guitar lesson

We Belong Together is a song from 1958 and first recorded by the duo "Robert & Johnny" and was a #12 R&B hit for them. Ritchie Valens recorded the song in 1959 and had success with the song.

Los Lobos, who formed in LA in 1973, were chosen to record a version of the song in 1987 for the movie about Ritchie Valens' life called "La Bamba".

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No - original key = capo 3rd fret
  • Rhythm: use a down down down up  down down and repeat will work best
  • Picking: arpeggio riff as you play thru this one
  • Chords: D, Bm, Em, A7, G, D7, Gm, E7 
Chords & Lyrics

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9. Melvin Endsley

the blues dont mean a thing guitar lesson

The Blues Don't Mean A Thing was one written and recorded by Melvin Endsley but the only reference to the song is on a rockabilly album called The Last Great Rockabilly Saturday Night.

Most of the artists listed on the album cover are not well known. Endsley himself had a successful career as a writer, penning over 400 songs, but his commercial success as a singer was limited.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root down root up down up and repeat
  • Picking: a little
  • Chords: A, D7, E, B7, E7

Chords & Lyrics

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10. Ricky Nelson

a teenager in love guitar lesson

A Teenager In Love was first recorded by Dion And The Belmonts and released as a single in 1959, reaching #5 on the Pop charts.

Bob Marley and The Whalers, 10cc and even The Red Hot Chilli Peppers covered this song. But Ricky Nelson also covered the song.

What is strange is that it was never released as a single and I could not find which album the song resides.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root down up root up down up
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: C, Am, F, G

Chords & Lyrics

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dont leave me this way guitar lesson

Don't Leave Me This Way was released as a single in 1986 but never made it onto the charts.

You'll find this track on the album "All My Best".


  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root up down up up down up and repeat
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: E, B7, A, Gb
Chords & Lyrics

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dream lover guitar lesson

Dream Lover was written by Bobby Darin who recored his version  back in 1959. Twenty years later in 1979, Ricky Nelson covered the song for his album "Rockabilly Renaissance" which was never released.

The song re-appeared for his Memphis Sessions album of 1986.

Nelson's version peaked at #29 in the US. Download the Ricky Nelson Dream Lover chords below.

  • Drop D Tuning: Yes
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root up down up up down up and repeat
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: D, Bm, A, G
Chords & Lyrics

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garden party guitar lesson

Garden Party was written by Ricky Nelson about a concert he was boo-ed at at MSG in NYC. It's believed the boo-ing was due to police action in the crowd, but Nelson thought it was directed at him, so he played one more song and left the building.

The show was a Rock N Roll Revival show so many 50s artists were there performing also. He never returned for the finale. The song reached #6 in the US, his last top 40.

The song hails from the album of the same name. Download the Garden Party Ricky Nelson lyrics and chords below.

  • Drop D Tuning: Yes 
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root up down up root up down up and repeat
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: D, A, G, A/Db, Bm, Bm/A 
Chords & Lyrics
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poor little fool guitar lesson

Poor Little Fool was recorded by Ricky Nelson back in 1958. The song was written by a 15yr old by the name of Sharon Sheeley who had met Elvis Presley and he encouraged her to become a writer.

Since she had a short relationship with Don Everly which came to an end, this song was what she'd written. The song went to #1 in the US and #4 in the UK for Nelson. The song is on the album "Ricky Nelson".

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root down root up down up
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: G, Em, C, D
Chords & Lyrics

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traveling man guitar lesson

Travelin Man was Ricky Nelson's first #1 hit which happened in 1961. Ironically Sam Cooke's manager passed on the song intended for Sam Cooke. Not sure if he ever did hear the song but Nelson never passed.

With the help of The Jordanaires on backup vocals, it also became his biggest hit in the UK reaching #2 and hit #1 in Canada, New Zealand and the US. Neil Sedaka said he used some of the chord progressions for his song Calendar Girl.

You can find this on the album "Rick Is 21". Download the Ricky Nelson Travelin Man lyrics below.

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: root down up down up root up down up and repeat
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: D, Bm, A, D7, G, Gm, Gbm, E7
Chords & Lyrics

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11. Ritchie Valens

come on lets go guitar lesson

Come On Let's Go hails from 1958 and was written by Ritchie Valens himself.

It peaked at #42 on Billboard and was one of four singles from his debut album "Ritchie Valens".

  • Drop D Tuning: No
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: down up down up up down up and repeat
  • Picking: Yes
  • Chords: A, D, G, E
Chords & Lyrics

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donna guitar lesson

Donna was recorded in Dec of 1958 as the A-side for a single which was to include La Bamba as the B-Side. The song peaked at #2 and his highest charting single of the 3 he managed to release before his death. The other was Come On let's Go.

This song appears on an album entitled "Ritchie Valens".

  • Drop D Tuning: No 
  • Capo: 3rd fret
  • Rhythm: down down up down down down down 
  • Picking: No
  • Chords: D, G, A
Chords & Lyrics

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12. The Crows

Gee was the only hit from this group who formed in 1951 and released this song in 1953. Many considered this song to be the first rock and roll song.

The song reached #14 on the Pop charts and #2 on the R&B charts.

  • Drop D Tuning: No 
  • Capo: No
  • Rhythm: down up down up down up 
  • Picking: a little in the rhythm
  • Chords: D, Bm, Em, A7, G, D7, Ab
Chords & Lyrics

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Thanks for dropping by my rock from the 50s page and I hope you found some of the info here useful.


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