Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bill Haley: Rock Aournd the Clock (1955)

     Bill Haley was born today in 1925....died in 1981.

     For years, this song was labeled, "The First Rock and Roll Song". The whole, "first" thing is quite murky just like most things historically. There are many songs we can point to, from post World War II on, that could grab that title. The fact of the matter is that it was a process that took several years as R&B began to influence white audiences AND performers, this blending continued long later the release of this song.

      On thing that cannot be argued was that Bill Haley was the first, "Rock and Roll Star", and watching his career with the Saddlemen and then with the Comets is like watching the blending of rock, R&B, and country. He started in Western Swing, and from song to song one could here the maturation to Rock and Roll. They had a hit with, "Crazy, Man Crazy", and "Shake Rattle and Roll" prior to "Rock Around the Clock" and in fact had been recorded and released in 1954 but really didn't go anywhere. It was due to it's use in the 1955 movie, "Blackboard Jungle" starring Glenn Ford that it took off.

      His role as a teen idol didn't last long as a slew of artists came to fill the bill better than the 30'ish, slightly chubby Haley. He remained however a force on the charts for the rest of the decade, and until the last couple of years of his life continued to tour. He might not exactly be the, "Father of Rock and Roll", but his influence as the person who became the face of the burgeoning new music cannot be questioned. I chose this version of the song from a live performance in 1955 because it truly rocks compared to the studio recording....


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