“Rock Around the Clock”: Bill Haley and his Comets Usher in the Era of Rock ‘n Roll

Bill Haley and his Comets

Bill Haley and his Comets

Fun Facts About “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and his Comets

  • Written by songwriter Max Freedman, this song was intended for Haley, but industry politics kept him from recording the song. The original version was most likely recorded in October, 1953 by Sonny Dae and His Nights. It sank without a trace, but Haley finally recorded it on April 12, 1954 and the song became a massive hit.
  • Most people didn’t know what Rock And Roll was when this was released, so the record company had a hard time describing the song. The label on the single called it a “Novelty Foxtrot.”
  • This was the original opening theme song for the TV show Happy Days. The song was re-released in 1974 to capitalize on its new popularity, and charted at #39 in the US. In 1976 theme was changed to “Happy Days.”
  • The term “Rock ‘n’ Roll” was a relatively new way of describing music when this came out. A lot of early “Rock” was based on The Blues, and was far too racy for most white listeners. This was tame by Blues standards, but still caused a stir. It took Elvis to really shake things up.
  • This was one of the first hits of the Rock era. Billboard had been keeping a Top 40 chart for only a few months when this came out. It stayed at #1 for 8 weeks.
  • The group released this in 1954 as the B-side of a novelty song called “Thirteen Women,” which was about an atomic blast that leaves only 1 man and 13 women alive. It wasn’t until a year later that it was re-released and became a hit.
  • This was used in the 1955 movie Blackboard Jungle, which gave it a great deal of exposure and helped send it up the charts.
  • In the UK, this was the biggest-selling single of the ’50s.
  • Elton John took a swipe at this in his song “Crocodile Rock.” Elton thought this was kind of overrated, so he put a line in about how they were doing the Crocodile Rock while the other kids were “Rocking ’round the clock.”
  • Haley had several hits before recording this song, including “Shake, Rattle And Roll” and “Mambo Rock.”
  • He was never able to duplicate the massive success of “Rock Around The Clock,” but he did have a few more hits in the ’50s, including “See You Later, Alligator” and “The Saints Rock ‘N Roll.”
  • Haley is a key figure in the evolution of Rock music, helping transform the sound out of Country music.
  • Bill Haley and His Comets were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.
  • According to Rolling Stone in their “100 Greatest Guitar Songs” issue, Comets guitarist Danny Cedrone was paid $21 for his work on this track, which became a classic Rock solo. Unfortunately, he died in a fall just months after he recorded it.
  • There is a different snare drum pattern on each verse.

VIDEO:  Bill Haley and his Comets performing “Rock Around the Clock”

Special thanks to www.songfacts.com
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