"Oldies music" is a wide-ranging and ever-expanding catch-all term that has come to encompass most pop, rock, and R&B songs released and played on the radio between 1950 and up to at least 10-20 years before the present.
This broad category includes styles as diverse as doo-wop, early rock and roll, novelty songs, bubblegum pop, folk rock, psychedelic rock, baroque pop, surf rock, soul music, funk, classic rock, most hard rock, some blues, and some country.
Since the beginning of rock and roll in the mid 1950s, popular music has undergone many radical changes and branched out into a wide variety of genres, with each decade being defined by a different set of styles. Today, most of what is considered to be oldies music covers the 1950s through at least the 1970s.
Due to ever-changing demographics, some radio stations that specialize in the old ones (such as SCR) are now playing the hits of the 1980s.
The "golden oldies" are those songs that date from the 1950s through the early 1960s, and they have remained a permanent fixture in pop music history. As America entered the 1950s, traditional and jazz-infused pop as performed by artists such as Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Eddie Fisher, Frankie Laine, and Patti Page, gradually gave way to doo-wop, rockabilly, R&B, and other more modern styles.
A major turning point in pop music was the birth of rock and roll in the mid 1950s. Although its stirrings could be heard in tunes dating as far back as the late 1940s-early 1950s, rock and roll had finally taken root by the time Bill Haley and His Comets' seminal "(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock" topped the charts in 1955. Other top bands and artists from the golden oldies era were Fats Domino, Sam Cooke, Nat "King" Cole, Pat Boone, the Platters, the Diamonds, the Chordettes, Chubby Checker, and, of course, Elvis Presley who still reigns today as "the King of Rock and Roll." This era also had its fair share of teen idols that included not only Presley but also Ricky Nelson, Dion, Paul Anka, and Frankie Avalon.
The designation of older pop tunes as "oldies" can be traced back to Los Angeles radio DJ Art Laboe who, in 1957, first coined the phrase, "oldies but goodies," in response to many of his listeners wanting to listen to songs from earlier in that decade. Laboe himself was quite an influence in the West Coast radio scene, being one of the first radio DJs to not only play rock and roll but also many black artists at a time when these performers were not being recognized.
The phrase would soon become well known, thanks in part to a song released in 1961 called "Those Oldies But Goodies" by Little Caesar and the Romans which was a throwback to the doo-wop style of singing from the 1950s. The catch phrase this song title embodied became more popular in later years when many people were becoming nostalgic for songs from previous eras.
To be continued