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, 72.33 video, 60.60 streaming
Awards: (Click on award for more details).
About the Song:
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.” While arguments can be made for multiple songs as the beginning of rock and roll (check out the DMDB list of the top 100 rock-n-roll origins songs), “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.
Although he started as a yodeler (!), Haley converted to rock when he saw its effect on audiences RS500 covering covers of “Rocket 88” and “Rock the Joint” in 1951 and 1952. TC 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. BR 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
Haley “brought a country and western swing flavour to the R&B changes so that it sounded like sophisticated hillbilly music (admittedly and oxymoron).” TC His version fcused 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. In addition, Haley’s teen idol appeal was limited. He was plump, balding, and over thirty, so his teen idol appeal was limited, but as Haley said, “‘I started it all. They can’t take that away from me.’” HL He explained, “We premiered this music…We put country and western together with rhythm and blues.” TC
Initially, the record company didn’t know what to do with it, calling the single a “novelty foxtrot.” SF However, 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. The song was revived in 1974 as TV series Happy Days’ opening theme
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First posted 7/9/2010; last updated 9/8/2021.