The country music genre had been littered with tales of alcoholism, loneliness and heartbreak based in a honky tonk style coming into the 1950s. Critically acclaimed song writer Hank Williams had mastered this style with his multiple hits including Cold, Cold Heart and Your Cheating Heart which have maintained their popularity to this day.
In response to the phenomenon and uprise in pop and rock and roll music going on in the 1950s, country music started to drop its honky tonk sound and take on what music professionals describe as the Nashville sound. This was a new style of country which integrated mainstream styles such as backgrounds vocals and string arrangements while maintaining the despair and heartbreak of classic country through the songwriters lyrics. The artists in this genre such as Marty Robbins and Johnny Horton eventually turned back to a more classical style of country in order to avoid replicating the sound of a similar emerging style called rockabilly.
The slap back technique and many other innovative methods of playing music were made popular through the rockabilly style in the 1950s. A completely unique genre at that time, musicians used an acoustic bass and electric instruments to produce catchy mixtures of country and rock and roll.
Although Elvis Presley was popularized as the king of rock and roll, Rock Around the Clock has been said to be the song that kicked off the entire rockabilly genre. Johnny Cash broke onto the scene and brought those rock beats back to a more somber, country lyric that appealed to fans of the honky tonk, Nashville sound and rockabilly genre.
Although the 1950’s seem to be dominated by different mixtures of country, rock and roll and rhythm and blues genres, there are some contributions from Caribbean, folk and jazz musicians which propelled those genres in later years.