|First posted 7/9/2010; updated 1/25/2020.|
We’re Gonna Rock Around the Clock
Bill Haley & His Comets
Writer(s): Max Freedman/Jimmy DeKnight (see lyrics here)
First Charted: May 10, 1954
Peak: 18 US, 12 HP, 18 CB, 14 HR, 3 RB, 15 UK, 16 (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 20.0 US, 1.44 UK, 25.0 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 15.8 video, -- streaming
Happy birthday, rock and roll! On July 9, 1955, Bill Haley & the Comets hit #1 on the Billboard singles chart with “Rock Around the Clock”. In honor of that occasion, this blog entry is an excerpt from the Dave’s Music Database book The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era 1954-1999.
While multiple songs claim they birthed rock-n-roll, “Clock” is generally regarded as the place keeper that separates the pre-rock era from the rock era. As the best selling rock record of all time, KL it makes for a more than suitable launching pad.
The song focused more on the bass and drums than the melody, KL making for a song with youth appeal in an era dominated by adult contemporary fare. Initially, the record company didn’t know what to do with it, calling the single a “novelty foxtrot.” SF
Although he started as a yodeler (!), Haley converted to rock when he saw its effect on audiences. RS500 In 1953, Freedman, a 63-year-old Tin Pan Alley writer, and Myers, Haley’s agent, reworked the blues number “My Daddy Rocks Me with a Steady Roll” for Haley. SJ Dave Miller, who signed Haley to Holiday Records, wouldn’t let him record it because he disliked Myers. BR1 Sonny Dae & His Nights tackled it in October 1953, SF but it flopped. Haley got another shot when he jumped to Decca and “Clock” landed on the B-side of novelty song “Thirteen Women.” SF
When featured in the movie The Blackboard Jungle, its rioting teen audience trumpeted it as their theme for alienation and hostility. SJ Billboard’s Top 40 chart was only a few months old SF when this went #1, making it a signpost for the birth of rock-n-roll and top 40.
Haley’s music was more country-oriented and he was plump, balding, and over thirty, so his teen idol appeal was limited, but Haley has said “‘I started it all. They can’t take that away from me.’” HL The song was revived in 1974 as TV series Happy Days’ opening theme.
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