The first Billboard Top 40 Charts of the rock era emerged in 1955 when the Bill Haley classic "Rock Around the Clock" hit #1. Anyone who is into the era, and the evolution of the music, knows that rock 'n' roll was a derivative of the soul and gospel music that was created and popular with African Americans.
It is not surprising that the first #1 hit by an African American group was on the horizon, shortly after the inception of the Top 40 Charts. This group, today, is lesser known than some of the big 1960's soul groups -- Temptations, Supremes, Four Tops. However this group, from Los Angeles, while not exactly rock "n" rollers, could sing like canaries and they were a dominant force in the 1950's and the early 1960's.
Back in 1956, those were simpler and less controversial times. It was exciting. Rock music was new, TV was new, the Second World War was over and people liked, and respected, the President. Ike Eisenhower was a universally popular President (a phenomenon that has eluded recent occupants of the oval office). Ike was a former war hero, who had helped engineer the defeat of Hitler and Nazi terror. Both political parties had wanted him as their Presidential candidate, he was coy about his political affiliations, but Ike ended up serving two terms as a Republican.
This group that goes down in history as scoring the first #1 hit for African American artists in the rock era, consisted of four guys and a 15 year old girl. In the end, these kids were the most popular vocal group during the first five years of the rock era. They had forty chart hits and that included fourteen songs in the Top 20, seven in the Top 10 and four that peaked at #1.
This is an appropriate post, here on Christmas Day, and you will know why when you hear the tune. To be taken back in time to remember 1956, and to hear original members of the group perform their hit (all be it a few years later), simply click on the 1950's TV. Make that test pattern go away and participate in the sound of music history.