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, 32 GR, 14 HR, 3 RB, 15 UK, 16, 1 DF (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, 69.83 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
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 doing 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. FB 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, it earned iconic status when featured in the movie The Blackboard Jungle, “a film about juvenile delinquency, although not very delinquent by today’s standards.” LW At the time, however, the movie caused rioting amongst its teen audience who trumpeted “Rock Around the Clock” as their theme for alienation and hostility. SJ The timing was ideal. “Dance bands had had their day and the new, young record-buying public” LW wanted music to call their own. “Clock” “wasn’t country, it wasn’t rhythm and blues, and it hovered on the edge of parody, but it did the business and it got the kids on their feet and jiving.” LW 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
First posted 7/9/2010; last updated 11/23/2022.
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