Bill Haley & The Comets
"I liked the two R's sound of rock and roll. The rest is history!" -- Bill Haley
Bill Haley had recorded in association with several groups such as “The Downhomers,” “The Range Drifters,” and “The Saddlemen.” In 1952, “Bill Haley & the Saddlemen” changed their name to “Bill Haley & The Comets.” The name change seemed appropriate as the group had moved from their “western swing” style of music to something different, something that combined the western swing with rhythm and blues. Haley claimed credit for introducing the term, “rock and roll.” The Saddlemen had used a Bill Haley penned song, “Rock the Joint” as their theme song. In 1952 he wrote “Rock a Beatin’ Boogie” which contained the lyrics, “Rock, rock, rock everybody, Rock, roll, roll everybody.” In 1954 the group had their first song to crack the Billboard top 40 -- “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” a cover of the original by Joe Turner. “Shake Rattle and Roll” reached #7 on the pop charts in 1954 -- one of the early crossover hits. Before releasing “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” Haley had released “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock,” but it had only limited success. Then, in the spring of 1955, the movie “Blackboard Jungle,” starring Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier was released. “Rock Around the Clock” was played over the opening credits to the movie and it became a national sensation, reaching #1 on July 9th of 1955 and staying there for eight weeks. It was the first “rock and roll” record to reach #1. To get an idea of the unfamiliar company it found on the charts, the other top four songs on that date were: #2, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” by Prez Prado, #3, “Blossom Fell / If I May” by Nat King Cole, #4, “Unchained Melody” by Les Baxter, and #5, “Learnin’ the Blues” by Frank Sinatra. On January 14 of 1956, “See You Later, Alligator” was released. It would sell a million records in its first month and reach as high as #6 on the Billboard Charts, being recognized as the # 31 song of 1956. It would be the last time a song by Bill Haley & the Comets would reach the top 10. In 1973, “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock” was featured in the movie, “American Graffiti.” In 1974, “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock” would again be a top 40 song (#39) when it was used as the original opening theme for the television series, “Happy Days.” Bill Haley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
title week debuted highest ranking weeks on chart
Shake Rattle and Roll 1954 8 21 7 27
Dim Dim The Lights 1954 10 30 11
Rock Around the Clock 1955 5 14 1 24
See You Later Alligator 1956 1 14 6 15
R O C K 1956 4 7 16 5