List of best-selling singles of the 1950s in the United Kingdom

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Bill Haley & His Comets had the biggest-selling single of the 1950s with "Rock Around the Clock", the first single in the UK to sell more than one million copies.
1950s in music in the UK
Number-one singles
Number-one albums
Best-selling singles
Best-selling albums
Summaries and charts
1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954
1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959
1949 1960
Top 10/12 singles
1952, 1953, 1954
1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959

Singles are a type of music release that typically have fewer tracks than an extended play or album; during the 1950s, sales of singles in the United Kingdom were compiled by the magazine New Musical Express (NME), and published weekly as a record chart. The singles chart was founded in 1952 by Percy Dickins of NME, who wanted to imitate the hit parade that featured in the American magazine Billboard; before this, the popularity of a song had been measured by its sales of sheet music.[1] Dickins sampled twenty shops, asking which their ten biggest-selling singles were. His aggregated list of sales was then published in NME on 14 November 1952 as a Top 12 chart.[1] NME's chart is considered by the Official Charts Company (OCC) to be the canonical UK Singles Chart during the 1950s;[2] it was expanded to a Top 20 on 1 October 1954.[3]

Sales of records significantly increased in the mid-fifties, following the birth of rock and roll. As a result, the top ten biggest-selling singles of the 1950s were all released in the latter half of the decade.[4] The biggest-selling single of this period was "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets, which became the first single ever to sell more than a million copies in the UK.[5]


Best-selling singles of the 1950s in the UK
No. Single Artist Record label[a] Year[a] Sales Chart
1 "Rock Around the Clock" Bill Haley & His Comets Brunswick 1955 1,390,000 1
2 "Diana" Anka, PaulPaul Anka Columbia 1957 1,240,000 1
3 "Mary's Boy Child" Belafonte, HarryHarry Belafonte RCA 1957 1,170,000 1
4 "What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?" Emile Ford & The Checkmates Pye 1959 920,000 1
5 "Jailhouse Rock" Presley, ElvisElvis Presley RCA 1958 880,000 1
6 "What Do You Want?" Faith, AdamAdam Faith Parlophone 1959 820,000 1
7 "Living Doll" Cliff Richard & The Drifters Columbia 1959 770,000 1
8 "All Shook Up" Presley, ElvisElvis Presley HMV 1957 740,000 1
9 "Love Letters in the Sand" Boone, PatPat Boone London 1957 710,000 2
10 "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" Holly, BuddyBuddy Holly Coral 1959 680,000 1
  1. ^ a b c The record labels, years and chart peaks are those given by the OCC.[6]


General (chart positions)
  1. ^ a b Williams, Mark (19 February 2002). "Obituary: Percy Dickins". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 476290235. Archived from the original on 22 July 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2010. 
  2. ^ Smith, Alan (December 2007). "50s & 60s UK Charts – The Truth!". Archived from the original on 3 September 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  3. ^ "Key Dates in the History of the Official UK Charts". London: Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 10 January 2008. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Ash, Russell; Crampton, Luke; Lazell, Barry (1993). The Top 10 of Music (illustrated ed.). London: Headline. ISBN 978-0-7472-0798-6. OCLC 29519791. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (14 January 2005). "The history of the chart-topper". London: BBC News. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "Artist Chart History". London: Official Charts Company. 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2011.