Bill Haley (July 6, 1925 – February 9, 1981) was one of the first American rock and roll musicians. He is credited by many with first popularizing this form of music in the early 1950s with his group Bill Haley & His Comets and their hit song “Rock Around the Clock“.

Bill was precocious, having his first professional job at the age of 13, playing and entertaining at an auction for the fee of $1 a night. Very soon after this he formed a group of equally enthusiastic youngsters and managed to get quite a few local bookings for his band.

His band was Bill Haley & His Comets (inspired by a popular mispronunciation of Halley’s Comet). In 1953, a song called “Rock Around the Clock” was written for Haley.  He was unable to record it until April 12, 1954. Initially, it was relatively unsuccessful, staying at the charts for only one week, but Haley soon scored a major worldwide hit with a cover version of Big Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll“, which went on to sell a million copies and became the first ever rock ‘n’ roll song to enter British singles charts in December 1954 and became a Gold Record. He retained elements of the original, but threw some country music aspects in to the song (specifically, Western Swing) and cleaned up the lyrics.

Haley and his band were important in launching the music known as “Rock and Roll” to a wider, mostly white audience after years of it being considered an underground genre. When “Rock Around the Clock” appeared behind the opening credits 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 that had come to embrace the new style of music.

“Rock Around the Clock” was the first record ever to sell over one million copies in both Britain and Germany and, 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 movies Rock Around the Clock and Don’t Knock the Rock, both in 1956. His star was soon surpassed in the USA by Elvis, but Haley continued to be a major star in Latin America, Mexico, and in Europe throughout the 1960s.

Source: Wikipedia.org

Categories: Stories of artists

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