In this podcast, Daniel deconstructs Bill Haley’s 1950s classic tune “Rock Around The Clock,” and explains how understanding more about its evolution can influence musicians in the 21st Century.
Resources, references and links featured in the podcast.
The Saddlemen were influenced by the sound of Hank Williams and hits like “Cold, Cold Heart.”
Jimmy Preston’s “Rock the Joint”(1949) is an early example of what became known as Rhythm and Blues. The elements from which it is comprised – heavy backbeat, honkin’ tenor saxophone, electric guitar and raucous hollering vocals – would all factor into the sound of 1950s rock’n’roll.
“Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (led by Ike Turner), is an early Rhythm and Blues tune that was covered by Bill Haley.
The newly dubbed “Haley’s Comets” recorded a cover version of “Rocket 88” in 1951. Although the band’s sound was moving toward R&B, the country lineup remained intact, and the record is devoid of the drums and honkin’ sax that would eventually play such an integral role in “Rock Around the Clock”.
Bill Haley first encountered the Treniers when both bands were working at the Wildwood resort area on the Jersey shore. Led by a pair of identical twin brothers, the Treniers’ slick, high energy approach to R&B influenced Haley’s decision to change the direction of his band.
A rare 1953 performance of the Comets’ first big hit “Crazy Man Crazy,” featuring touring drummer Dick Richards. Richards was the comets from 1953-55, but quit along with two other members of the band because they were not being fairly compensated by Haley.
Trailer for the 1955 film “The Blackboard Jungle,” which featured “Rock Around the Clock” in the opening credits. The film was supposed to be a sober warning about the dangers of juvenile delinquency, but it ended up spreading rock’n’roll to a much wider audience.
Bill Haley &His Comets rehearsing at the Dominion Theatre in London in the late 1950s. Although their sound and instrumentation is not what we would consider “rock’n’roll” by today’s standards, the Comets had more to do with introducing rock to teen audiences than just about any other band of the period.