We’ve all heard Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” a million times. For many of us, the song is as embedded in our brain as “Happy Birthday.” But just because you’ve heard something, doesn’t mean you necessarily appreciate it. Despite the enduring popularity of this 1954 tune, most people today think of it as nostalgic fluff – the theme song to ’70s sitcom Happy Days.
Well, listen up, kids: “Rock Around The Clock” is one of the baddest tracks of rock and roll ever committed to tape, riding the cutting edge of a musical revolution. Here are five reasons why it is worthy of a serious revisit by anyone who claims to love rock:1. Innovation – “Rock Around The Clock” was a genre-bending mash-up that blended many existing styles into something new. In the course of one song, you can hear the twang of steel guitar (country), a honkin’ saxophone (R&B), and a jazzy guitar solo.
2. Monster Rhythm – This sonic concoction was underscored by the
3. Riotous Youth – Although these influences do not seem very “rock” by today’s standards, in 1954 the song’s heavy groove and teen-friendly lyrics were a revelation. “Rock” topped the charts for eight weeks, and caused riots at Haley shows in Europe.
4. Legacy Of Firsts – “Rock Around The Clock” was the first rock and roll song to hit the Billboard #1. It was also the title track of the first rock and roll LP, and the first rock song to be used as the theme of a major motion picture, The Blackboard Jungle, which was such a hit with teens that they would sit in theaters all day just so they could dance to Haley’s tune during the opening credits. There were some theaters where they actually tore the seats out.
5. It Sounds Great – So quit reading, start listening, and as with any good rock and roll, turn it up!
Daniel Glass is the drummer for Royal Crown Revue and the co-author (with Zoro) of the forthcoming book The Commandments Of Early Rhythm And Blues Drumming. To hear audio versions of “Moment In History,” please visit danielglass.com