The Oldies era is traditionally delineated in musical history to include the segment of timeline between the mid1950s to the mid 1970s, give or take. Within this era, most music critics include pop, rock, soul, R&B, and doo-wop styles. Occasionally a country standard creeps in, but it is not a common fixture in the Oldies canon.
Like the 80s and classic rock, the Oldies have a fervent following among FM listeners. Unfortunately for many, radio conglomerates have cut back on Oldies formats due to low advertising converts. But satellite and streaming digital radio have changed much of that anyway.
Elvis Presley is without a doubt one of the Oldies’ hottest commodities. His celebrity came to the forefront during the turbulent early days of rock and roll in the mid 50s. The middle class right-wingers considered Elvis a danger to the future of America’s youth and subsequently all of rock and roll would be branded as longhaired, hippie music not safe for the listening. Even though his premature death in 1977 signaled the end of an era, his presence in music has barely subsided.
Other rock and roll pioneers most often included on the Oldies playlist includes the Beatles, the first of the British Invasion bands that also included the Rolling Stones and Herman’s Hermits. Most American homes had televisions and the appeal of new artists spread rapidly due to the new medium. The Beach Boys became the West Coast sound that conjured images of surfers and beach blanket beauties. Bob Dylan and The Byrds signaled new sub-genres of rock and roll, but their sound appealed across a wide scope of fans.
R&B Oldies regularly include Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and the Supremes. During the 60s doo-wop melded with R&B to turn out The Shirelles, Chubby Checker and The Chiffons. True R&B artists often included in the canon are The Righteous Brothers and Wilson Pickett, both of whom influenced following generations of R&B and hip-hop artists.
Motown was a hugely successful record label during the 60s and 70s. Notable soul and R&B artists shot to the charts. The labels ubiquity and sensation nearly defined a generation of Motown artists. Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, The Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and The Temptations were some of Motown’s biggest stars and remain consistent Oldies fodder.
By the end of the 60s and into the early 70s rock and roll the likes of Cream, the Who and Jefferson Starship was the rage and typically falls into the Classic Rock canon. But artists of this era that remain a signature part of the Oldies include Sly and the Family Stone and Smokey Robinson.