Rock & Roll is a combination of a number of different types of music, primarily Country and Rhythm & Blues. One of the pioneers who gave life to this genre was Bill Haley, whose song “Rock Around The Clock” in 1954 is considered the opening shot, so to speak, of the rock and roll revolution. It’s appropriate for us to start with him.
“Rocket 88” is credited to Jackie Brenston and was originally recorded by Jackie and His Delta Kings (in reality Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm). It was released in 1951 and reached #1 on the Billboard Rhythm & Blues chart. Later in 1951, country singer Bill Haley recorded it, backed by his band The Saddlemen, and it became a regional hit in the Northeastern US. Haley’s recording is considered by many to be the first Rock & Roll record.
By late 1952, after much success with his new sound, Bill Haley renamed his band The Comets. In 1954, Bill and His Comets recorded “Rock Around The Clock” as the flip side to “Thirteen Women (And Only One Man).” The song failed to chart on its own
Bill’s popularity began to fade after the followup to “Rock Around The Clock,” “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” reached #7 in the US and #4 in the UK. His last Top Ten hit in the US was “See You Later, Alligator” in 1956, but he continued to have chart success in the UK, with a half dozen Top Ten songs there through 1957. By the Sixties, they were considered an “oldies” act.
“Rock Around The Clock” was used as the theme song for the 1973 movie American Graffiti (and later for the TV show Happy Days), and it was re-released in 1974; it reached #34 in the US and #12 in the UK. Haley died in 1981, and a number of bands calling themselves The Comets, which include members of Haley’s bands through the years, have continued the name and the sound of the original group.
Bill Haley and His Comets, your Two for Tuesday, January 16, 2018.