Bill Haley And His Comets

Bill Haley And His Comets

Synopsis of Pop Music

“We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight,
We’re gonna rock, rock, rock, ‘til broad daylight,
We’re gonna rock, gonna rock around the clock tonight...”

A favorite argument among rock and roll fans is, “Who put out the first rock and roll record?” Over the years, most people have come to realize that there is no single answer for this question. Since the rock and roll sound combines so many different styles of music, it's impossible to pinpoint specifically when and where is began. A better question would be, “Who made rock and roll popular?” That question has one definite answer: Bill Haley. In 1955, Bill Haley and his Comets became the first group to popularize the rock and roll sound through an amazing hit called “Rock Around The Clock.” With this classic, Bill Haley and his Comets began a string of hits that ensured rock and roll would become popular around the world.

Though his name would soon become synonymous with rock and roll, Bill Haley actually began his career as a country music performer. After spending much of the 1940’s in country outfits like the Downhomers and the Range Drifters, he began forming groups of his own. As the musical director for groups like the Four Aces of Western Swing and the Saddlemen, Bill Haley began shaping a sound that combined elements of country, big band and r&b into a pop-friendly sound with a steady, toe-tapping beat. In 1953, Bill Haley decided to drop his cowboy image for good and formed a non-country outfit that he called the Comets. With this group, Bill Haley would make musical history.

Bill Haley and His Comets scored a hit in 1953 with their first single, “Crazy Man Crazy.” This slice of swinging, good-time pop went to #12 and thus became one of the first Top-20 rock and roll hits. They followed it with “Shake Rattle and Roll,” another sharp tune that paired jive-style lyrics to a steady beat and topped it off with some killer saxophone licks. In 1955, the group staked out their true claim to fame with “Rock Around the Clock,” a party anthem driven by sharp drumbeats, jazz-styled slap bass, and some nimble-fingered electric guitar solos. This older single was reissued when it won international exposure as the theme song for the hit film The Blackboard Jungle.

“Rock Around The Clock” would ultimately spend eight weeks at #1. It also inspired a film of the same name that starred Bill Haley and his Comets. Although it was banned in some countries for the raucous behavior the music inspired in teens, this fictionalized version of Bill Haley’s rise to the top became a box-office hit all over the world. On record, Bill Haley and his Comets continued to score Top-10 hits throughout 1956 with songs like “See You Later Alligator” and “Burn That Candle.” In 1957, he became the first rock and roll star to tour abroad when he performed in England. These concerts inspired fan pandemonium and helped Haley build a loyal and long-lasting fan base on that side of the Atlantic.

As Elvis Presley cornered the rock and roll market in the late 1950’s, Bill Haley moved on to record r&b, country and even Latin tunes. They were not as overwhelmingly popular as his straight rock and roll tunes, but they sold steadily. More importantly, Haley maintained a steady level of popularity with frequent tours. With these concerts, Bill Haley assumed an ‘elder statesman of rock’ status that made him a popular attraction in any oldies tour during the 1960’s and 1970’s. His classic rock songs also occasionally returned to the charts, the best example arriving when “Rock Around The Clock” became a Top-40 hit once again in 1974 after appearing on the soundtrack of the nostalgic hit American Graffiti.

In 1981, rockers around the world were saddened when Bill Haley died of a heart attack. By that time, his pioneering rock and roll sound had sold over 60 million records. Since then, the classic hits of Bill Haley and his Comets have remained popular. They were posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and the Comets continue to tour today as Bill Haley’s Comets. They are a hit wherever they go, providing the living proof that good old-fashioned rock and roll will never die.

Artist Release History

1954 - Rock With Bill Haley and the Comets
1955 - Rock Around The Clock
1955 - He Digs Rock ‘N’ Roll
1955 - Rock ‘N’ Roll Stage Show
1956 - Music For The Boyfriend
1957 - Rockin’ The Oldies
1958 - Rockin’ Around The World
1959 - Bill Haley And The Comets
1959 - Chicks
1959 - Strictly Instrumental
1960 - Haley And His Comets
1960 - Bill Haley and His Comets
1961 - Bill Haley’s Jukebox
1962 - Twisting Knights
1964 - Rock Around The Clock King
1968 - Rip It Up
1969 - Greatest Hits
1970 - On Stage
1970 - Travelin’ Band
1972 - Golden King Of Rock ‘N’ Roll
1972 - Golden Hits
1973 - Mr. Rock ‘N’ Roll
1973 - Just Rock ‘N’ Roll Music
1973 - Rock And Roll Giants
1974 - Live In London 74
1974 - Live In Sweden
1974 - Scarpbook: Live At The Bitter End
1974 - Biggest Hits
1975 - Rock‘n’roll
1976 - Rock Around The Country
1976 - Collection
1976 - R-O-C-K
1978 - Armchair Rock ‘N’ Roll
1979 - Twenty Golden Pieces Of Bill Haley
1980 - Everyone Can Rock ‘N’ Roll
1980 - Hail Hail Rock And Roll
1981 - Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival
1981 - Rock ‘N’ Roll Forever
1981 - Tribute To Bill
1983 - Rock and Roll Stage Show
1985 - Golden Greats
1985 - From The Original Master Tapes
1994 - 1950’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival
1998 - Still Rockin’ Around The Clock: Encore Collection
1999 - Best of Bill Haley And His Comets: 20th Century Masters

Pop Sub Categories


Essential Music Albums

From The Original Master Tapes (MCA)

Band Members

Bill Haley lead vocals, guitar
Frank Beecher lead guitar
Billy Williamson steel guitar
Johnny Grande piano
Rudy Pompilli saxophone
Al Rex bass
Ralph Jones drums
Nick Nastos (1968-76) guitar
Al Rappa (1968-76) bass

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