Because of segregation, white people, for the most part, just didn't listen to 'black' music in the mid '50s; but white artists like Pat Boone and later Elvis Presley would take these R&B songs and turn them into huge hits.
Here is The Crew Cuts version of Sh-Boom:
Route 66 was actually first a hit for Nat King Cole all the way back in 1946. The song was later covered by The Rolling Stones in 1963, and Depeche Mode in 1987 (among many others).
Playing the 4 versions back to back is like getting a history lesson in the evolution of Rock Music!
1946 - Nat
1961 - Chuck
1963 - Mick
1987 - Mode
And since this is a Kansas City Chiefs site, let me throw one more blast from the past at you -- Wilbert Harrison, 1959.