The Bill Haley Tapes
In 1953 Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Crazy Man Crazy” became the first rock and roll record to enter the U.S. charts. Speculating that Haley’s blend of black rhythm and blues and white country swing could gather a much greater following, the large Decca record company gave Haley a recording contract and in 1954 anxiously released “Rock Around the Clock.” The song flopped.
Undaunted, Decca soon released “Shake Rattle and Roll,” a real leg-shaker that put Haley back on the charts. Although the tune stayed in the Top 20 for 12 weeks, Haley, and the record company expected more. They didn’t have long to wait.
Used as the theme song for the cult film “Blackboard Jungle,” “Rock Around the Clock,” which just shortly before had been such a disappointment, became a world-wide hit and battle cry of teenagers from Detroit, Michigan (where Haley was born in 1927) to London, England and beyond. The tune elevated Haley to the highest ranks of stardom and enabled him to open the rock and roll doors for Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. It was also a tune that would be revived time and time again to always receptive listeners. In short, a classic that let the world know rock and roll was here to stay.
Bill Haley was the catalyst who brought country and rhythm and blue together to make Rock ‘N Roll a viable music form. Many have forgotten how this pioneer laid the groundwork for what was to come. After his initial groundbreaking hits he was soon over-shadowed by those who followed, so much so that in later years he was constantly overlooked, for the benchmark music he created in the mid-fifties.
During my interview with Bill in the late sixties, I found him to be a most articulate spokesman for Rock ‘N Roll. He was candid about his experiences over the years and vocal about the good, the bad and the ugly in the record business. I respected the man for his contributions to the music world and I appreciate more and more, as time passes, his undeniable place in history.
Bill Haley was also a realist. He recognized as early as 1956 that he and his band would soon fade as newer and younger voices would drown out his rustic beginnings of a brand new music form. Above all Bill Haley was a human being and I always found him to be a gentleman. I know you will recognize his sincerity when you hear his voice on this archival recording. His music now belongs to the ages.
“The Godfather of Rock `n` Roll” is featured in a lengthy, personal and provocative interview conducted by Canadian Hall of Fame D.J., Red Robinson. Also features Haley and his Comets musically on several of their classic hits.
Run time a total of 30 minutes 26 seconds