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The Online Roots of Rock

The Online Roots of Rock
Bill Haley - Rock Around The Clock

Bill Haley
July 6, 1925 — February 9, 1981

The Father of Rock 'n' Roll

Rex Zario Collection
Zario Collection
London Features International
Bill Haley and the Four Aces of Western Swing
Bill Haley with his patented kiss curl
Bill Haley and the Comets
Bill Haley's meteoric rise took him from hillbilly singer to Rock & Roll's first superstar. LEFT: Haley with his Four Aces of Western Swing in 1948. CENTER: In 1953 Haley, now sporting his trademark "kiss curl" forelock, added a drummer and called his group the Comets. RIGHT: Bill Haley and the Comets — Rock 'n' Roll's first international ambassadors.

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William John Clifton Haley Jr.
It was Bill Haley's dream, as a "hillbilly and western" singer, to appear on the Grand Ole Opry. Fate, however, had bigger plans for Bill Haley.
In 1948 Bill Haley and his band were called The Four Aces of Western Swing. As they were often referred to as simply The Four Aces, Haley decided to change the name because, as luck would have it, there was already a group in their hometown of Chester, Pennsylvania, called The Four Aces. And this other group was starting to receive national attention.
Haley and his next group, the Saddlemen, were billed as "The Cowboy Jive Band," reflecting their growing awareness of Rhythm & Blues. Their early hits, Rocket "88" (1951) and Rock The Joint (1952) - both R&B covers - are landmark Rock & Roll recordings.
At the time, however, Haley had little sense of direction, except that his music was becoming less C&W oriented. The Saddlemen became the Comets and, in the summer of 1953, released their first major hit, Crazy, Man, Crazy.
In spite of his hits, Haley couldn't hold onto Rock & Roll. He was never sure of what he had. Consequently he was unable to release two consecutive hits. Something remarkable would be followed by something equally inane.
His successes, however, had caught the ear of Milt Gabler of Decca Records. Gabler had a background in Jazz and R&B, working with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and, in particular, Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five. Gabler could see where Haley's music was coming from, and more importantly, where it was going.
Under Gabler's direction Bill Haley and the Comets recorded (We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock and Shake, Rattle and Roll in 1954. When the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle was released with Rock Around The Clock as the title song, the floodgates were opened.
Bill Haley was inducted into the Rock + Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

.Featured Sites .

Bill Haley website
Bill Haley and his Comets website
Bill Haley Picture Gallery website
Denise Gregoire's
informative Rockabilly
Hall of Fame site
Rik Hull's site with bio, labels, sound files, video clips, links and more
Chris Gardner's collection of rare and unpublished photos

Other Recommended Sites
Bill Haley Tribute
José G. Cruz Ayala recounts Haley's Mexican years
EXTRA – Read All About It
Alex Frazer-Harrison's news and reviews
Put Your Glad Rags On
Alex Frazer-Harrison's tribute to "Rock Around The Clock"
Bill Haley Database
Chris Gardner's extensive discography

Related Sites

Click on any link below for more information, or to order online

Bill Haley:
The Daddy of Rock and Roll
Sound and Glory
Bill Haley
Bill Haley - Sound and Glory
by John Swenson
by John W Haley
(Bill's son) and
John von Hoelle

Click on any link below for more information, or to order online

Bill Haley
and his Comets
The Decca Years
& More
Rock Around the Clock
Bill Haley and his Comets
Bill Haley - The Decca Years
Bill Haley and the Comets - Shake, Rattle and Roll
1 CD / 12 tracks
Bear Family
5 CDs / 132 tracks
1 CD / 15 tracks

The Best of
Bill Haley
and his Comets:
Bill Haley:
From Western Swing
to Rock
Bill Haley
and the Comets:
For Dancers Only
Bill Haley and his Comets
Bill Haley - The Decca Years
Bill Haley and the Comets - Shake, Rattle and Roll
Varese Sarabande
1 CD / 18 tracks
4 CDs / 90 tracks
1 CD / 25 tracks

Other Bill Haley Recordings Available Online
Celebration: Bill Haley and the Comets (Madacy Records / 1CD / 10 tracks)
Bill Haley – Greatest Hits (Prime Cuts / 1CD / 10 tracks)
Golden Classics: Lucky 13 (Cleopatra / 1 CD / 13 tracks)
The Bill Haley Tapes (Jerden Records / 1 CD / interview with Red Robinson)

Click on any link below for more information, or to order online

Blackboard Jungle
(1955 film)
Rock Around The Clock
(1956 film)
Don't Knock
The Rock /
Rock Around The Clock
(1956 films)
Encore Series:
Bill Haley and
his Comets
Blackboard Jungle with Ball Haley
Rock Around The Clock with Bill Haley
Don't Knock the Rock with Bill Haley
Rock Around The Clock with Bill Haley
"(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock" is title track. Introduces Rock & Roll to the world
info / order
Nine Haley songs. Introduces the Platters singing "The Great Pretender" and "Only You"
info / order
"Don't Knock features five Haley songs and introduces Little Richard singing "Long Tall Sally" and "Tutti Frutti"
info / order
Features footage of the band performing their classics
info / order


click on any image to view enlargement

Saddlemen poster
Blackboard Jungle
Sheet music for
Rock & Roll's Anthem
British Headlines
Bill Haley and the Saddlemen poster
When Haley and the Saddlemen started scoring hits with R&B songs in 1951, he promoted his group as "The Cowboy Jive Band." Reflecting these same two influences (Country and Blues) Elvis Presley, in 1954, was billed as the Hillbilly Cat.
If you click on the poster to view the enlargement you'll notice "Country" music referred to as "Hillbilly," "Western" music referred to as "Cowboy," and black-influenced music referred to as "Jive."
Rock Around The Clock sheet music
Rock Around The Clock, written by Max Freedman and Jimmy De Knight, is considered the anthem of Rock & Roll. It sounded the death knoll for Tin Pan Alley dominance on the Pop charts. Ironically, the song was written by an Alleyman with connections in the movie industry. When first released in 1954 it was considered a novelty foxtrot. When re-released in '55, following its phenomenal success as the title song of Blackboard Jungle, it was Rock & Roll!
Bill Haley in the Daily Mirror headlines
Haley's triumphant tour of England in 1957 would mark the highpoint of his career. He was the uncontested international King of Rock & Roll. But upon returning home to America however, 30-year-old Haley was unable to compete with the younger Rockabilly artists. He is remembered by many as the Father of Rock & Roll.

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