“I sat down one night and wrote the line rock, rock, rock everybody. I was going to use the word ‘stomp’ – like rock, rock, rock and then stomp, stomp, stomp. But that didn't fit. I went from one word to another and finally came up with ‘roll.’” – Bill Haley
And so it sometimes is with writers in any genre, but in this case perhaps more than any other, Haley’s little idea turned into a mantra for a whole generation and changed the face of music forever.
When Rock Around the Clock appeared as the theme song of the 1955 film “Blackboard Jungle,” it soared to the top of the American Billboard chart for eight weeks and is became the starting point for the rock and roll era. Haley was quickly given the title "Father of Rock and Roll" by both media and teenagers who embraced the style. Rock Around The Clock was the first million seller in three countries – U.S., Great Britain and Germany – and Haley the first international touring rock singer.
Born this day in 1924, Haley intended to hang his star on country music. He was a professional entertainer at age 13, working as a singing cowboy and in C&W roadhouses. He formed a band called The Saddlemen and also worked as a disk jockey before renaming his band Bill Haley and the Comets after reading about Halley’s Comet (which actually is pronounced Hal Lee and his is Hay Lee, “but it seemed like a good fit,” he said.).
Haley had a whole series of number one hits after age 30, including Shake, Rattle and Roll, See You Later Alligator and Razzle Dazzle. His records sold 25 million copies before his sudden death at age 57 in 1981. He was inducted into the aptly named Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.