Roots of Rock & Roll – Bill Haley and the Comets Rock Around The Clock

The AWESOME! page has random music stuff that I think is cool. You never know what you will find here!

Here’s the second installment of the Awesome! blog series of The Roots of Rock & Roll.

Rock Around the Clock was written in 1952 by Max Freedman and James Myers (aka Jimmy DeKnight). The first recording of the song was in March of 1954, by Sonny Dae & His Knights. Bill Haley and the Comets recorded it in April of that year.

The version by Bill Haley and the Comets is widely acclaimed as the first rock & roll record. It certainly is not. Historians have debated for years on this topic. Some say that Rocket 88 by Ike Turner in 1951 was the first. Others suggest Rock Awhile by Goree Carter was first, in 1949. Roy Brown’s Good Rocking Tonight and Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s Strange Things Happen Every Day also get votes.

In fact, it is not even the first rock & roll record by Bill Haley. In 1953, he released Crazy Man, Crazy which historians say is the first rock & roll record to hit the Billboard charts.

The song still is credited with the birth of rock & roll because clearly it brought rock & roll into the mainstream culture around the world.

Initially, it was a commercial disappointment. But in 1955 it was used in the opening credits for the film Blackboard Jungle. This catapulted the song to #1 on the Billboard charts for 8 weeks.

When they finished writing the song, Myers and Freedman debated over the title. Myers suggested “Rock Around the Clock,” while Freedman didn’t know if “rock” made sense. Freedman thought “Dance Around the Clock” might make more sense. Myers said that he had a gut feeling about the name, and that since he was half the writer and the whole publisher, the final decision was to go with “Rock.”

The song is #158 in the Rolling Stone list of the Greatest Songs of All Time. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1982.

Here’s Bill Haley and the Comet’s performance on American Bandstand from 1960. It really is a brilliant song. I’m going to get a curl in my hair like Haley’s! Check out the shots of the kids in the audience – everyone chewing gum. Hilarious! And as always…Dick Clark is cool.


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