Oldies Music – Definitions And History

The term, “oldies,” refers to both popular music from the 1950s-1970s and the radio format that specializes in this kind of music. “Golden oldies” usually refers to oldies music exclusively from the 1950s-early 1960s. Oldies songs are typically from the R&B, pop and rock music genres but can additionally include country, movie soundtrack, novelty, and other types of popular music played on the radio from around 1950-on. Pop music genres that had their heyday before the 1950s (e.g., ragtime, big band) are generally thought to be “too old” to be included in the oldies radio format. Oldies music radio stations, which typically feature performers and artists such as (to name a few ) Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Little Richard, Pat Boone, Sam Cooke, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, the Rascals, the Association, the Temptations, the Who, Elton John, and Fleetwood Mac, cover a broad variety of styles including early rock and roll, rockabilly, doo-wop, surf rock, girl groups, the British Invasion, folk rock, psychedelic rock, baroque pop, soul music, Motown, and bubblegum pop. Oldies music additionally overlaps with classic rock which focuses on the rock music of the late 1960s and 1970s as well as newer music in a similar style.
The phrase, “oldies but nice ies,” has been first coined in 1957 by renowned deejay Art Laboe who, at around that time, used to get frequent requests from his audiences for songs from the early 1950s. A central figure in L.A. radio for over half a century, Laboe has been the first deejay to play rock and roll on the West Coast and one of the first to play black and white artists on the same show. In 1959, he put together the first LP to feature (mostly older) songs by divergent artist s. This immensely popular compilation album, entitled “Oldies But Goodies,” stayed on Billboard’s Top 100 LP’s chart for over three years and has, to date, spawned some 14 sequels. (Click here for a recent interview with Art Laboe.)
Soon following the release of Laboe’s first “Oldies But Goodies” album, the phrase, “oldies but nice ies,” became commonplace and by around 1960, people were waxing nostalgic for 1950s doo-wop which has been already starting to be classified as “oldies.” Little Caesar And The Romans’ 1961 hit, “Those Oldies But Goodies (Remind Me of You)” and its sequel, “Memories of Those Oldies But Goodies,” both pay homage to early doo-wop and doo-wop artist s. This wave of nostalgia brought about a doo-wop revival in the early 1960s which has been the first of many nostalgia movements in pop music since the term, “oldies,” has been first applied to older pop music.
While “golden oldies” has remained a constant over the years, the larger body of pop music that we still call “oldies” now – which is made up of core golden oldies songs plus more modern material – is not fixed but has been gradually expanding forward in time to keep up with changing demographics. Nowadays, oldies music is generally considered to include all of the 1970s, even disco, and the same is expected to be true someday for the music of the 1980s, now usually described as “retro.” Oldies music is additionally expanding in breadth as thousands of long-forgotten tunes from the 1950s and 1960s that never made the Top 40 in their day are being re located and resurrected. Whether because of nostalgia, curiosity, or a genuine love for nice music, the oldies format has maintained a very big following and will probably continue to do so for many years to come.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *