1925 : Bill Haley Born

When:
July 6, 2024 all-day
2024-07-06T00:00:00-04:00
2024-07-07T00:00:00-04:00

Father of Rock 'n' Roll Bill Haley

Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll Bill Haley Born

On July 6, 1925, Bill Haley, American rock vocalist Bill Haley, known as the father of Rock ‘n’ Roll was born in Highland Park, Michigan (d. 1981).

He is credited by many with first popularizing this form of music in the early 1950s with his group Bill Haley & His Comets and million-selling hits such as “Rock Around the Clock“, “See You Later, Alligator“, “Shake, Rattle and Roll“, “Rocket 88“, “Skinny Minnie“, and “Razzle Dazzle”. He has sold over 60 million records worldwide and has been described as the greatest musical pioneer of the 20th century.

During the Labor Day weekend in 1952, the Saddlemen were renamed Bill Haley with Haley’s Comets (inspired by the supposedly official pronunciation of Halley’s Comet, a name suggested by WPWA radio station program director, Bob Johnson, where Bill Haley had a live radio program from noon to 1 pm), and in 1953, Haley’s recording of “Crazy Man, Crazy” (co-written by him and his bass player, Marshall Lytle, although Lytle would not receive credit until 2001) became the first rock and roll song to hit the American charts, peaking at number 15 on Billboard and number 11 on Cash Box. Soon after, the band’s name was revised to “Bill Haley & His Comets”.

In 1953, “Rock Around the Clock” was recorded by Haley. Initially, it was relatively successful, peaking at number 23 on the Billboard pop singles chart and staying on the charts for a few weeks. A month later it re-entered at number one.

Haley soon had another worldwide hit with “Shake, Rattle and Roll“, which went on to sell a million copies and was the first rock ‘n’ roll song to enter the British singles charts in December 1954, becoming a gold record. He retained elements of the original (which was slow blues), but sped it up with some country music aspects into the song (specifically, Western swing) and changed up the lyrics. Haley and his band were important in launching the music known as “Rock and Roll” to a wider audience after a period of it being considered an underground genre.

When “Rock Around the Clock” appeared as the theme song of the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle starring Glenn Ford, it soared to the top of the American Billboard chart for eight weeks. The single is commonly used as a convenient line of demarcation between the “rock era” and the music industry that preceded it. Billboard separated its statistical tabulations into 1890–1954 and 1955–present. After the record rose to number one, Haley was quickly given the title “Father of Rock and Roll” by the media, and by teenagers who had come to embrace the new style of music. With the song’s success, the age of rock music began overnight and ended the dominance of the jazz and pop standards performed by Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and others. Nevertheless, in the United Kingdom, Haley was supported by former Dankworth Seven lead vocalist Frank Holder among others.

“Rock Around the Clock” was the first record to sell over one million copies in both Britain and Germany. Later on in 1957, Haley became the first major American rock singer to tour Europe. Haley continued to score hits throughout the 1950s such as “See You Later, Alligator” and he starred in the first rock and roll musical films Rock Around the Clock and Don’t Knock the Rock, both in 1956. Haley was already 30 years old, so he was soon eclipsed in the United States by the younger, sexier Elvis Presley, but continued to enjoy great popularity in Latin America, Europe, and Australia during the 1960s. Bill Haley and the Comets performed “Rock Around the Clock” on the Texaco Star Theater hosted by Milton Berle on Tuesday, May 31, 1955, on NBC in an a cappella and lip-synched version. Berle predicted that the song would go number one: “A group of entertainers who are going right to the top.” Berle also sang and danced to the song which was performed by the entire cast of the show. This was one of the earliest nationally televised performances by a rock and roll band and provided the new musical genre with a much wider audience.

Bill Haley and the Comets were the first rock and roll act to appear on the iconic American musical variety series the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday, August 7, 1955, on CBS in a broadcast that originated from the Shakespeare Festival Theater in Hartford, Connecticut. They performed a live version of “Rock Around the Clock” with Franny Beecher on lead guitar and Dick Richards on drums. The band made their second appearance on the show on Sunday, April 28, 1957, performing the songs “Rudy’s Rock” and “Forty Cups of Coffee”.

Bill Haley and the Comets appeared on American Bandstand hosted by Dick Clark on ABC twice in 1957, on the prime time show October 28, 1957, and on the regular daytime show on November 27, 1957. The band also appeared on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beechnut Show, also known as The Dick Clark Show, a primetime TV series from New York on March 22, 1958, during the first season and on February 20, 1960, performing “Rock Around the Clock”, “Shake, Rattle and Roll”, and “Tamiami”.

Source : Bill Haley wikipedia entry.