The history of the Official Charts: the Fifties

The decade that gave us the UK's first singles chart, as well as Al Martino, Bill Haley, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

1952 – the first Singles Chart is published in the New Music Express, dated Friday November 14. It is published as a Top 12, although it comprises 15 singles - because of ties at Number 7, Number 8 and Number 11. The Number 1 is Al Martino's Here In My Heart and the first Number 2 is Jo Stafford's You Belong To Me. The NME chart is henceforth viewed as the start of the Official Singles chart lineage.

1954 – from October 1, the Singles Chart becomes a Top 20 for the first time.

1955 – the show destined to become the UK’s first broadcast chart show, Pick Of The Pops, is launched on the BBC’s Light Programme. Initially not featuring any charts, host Alan Freeman begins referring to the Top 10s published by the various music papers, Melody Maker, NME, Disc and Record Mirror two years later in 1957. An averaged Top 10 is introduced in 1958.

The first single destined to become a UK million-seller (Billy Haley & His Comets’ Rock Around the Clock) is a hit for the first time. It goes on become a Top 20 smash on five separate occasions - twice in 1955, plus in 1956, 1968 and 1974.

1956 – from April 13, the NME Singles Chart becomes a Top 30.

In turn, NME rival Record Mirror steals a march on its competitor by launching the UK’s first Albums Chart from July 28, a Top 5. The chart, whose first Number 1 is Frank Sinatra's Songs For Swingin' Lovers, is now viewed as the part of the Official Albums Chart lineage.

1957 – on his way to setting the record for the most Number 1 singles (a grand total of 22, to date), Elvis Presley scores his first with All Shook Up.