Footnote: January 7, 1955 – “Rock Around The Clock” Enters The UK Charts
If you were a kid in the 1950’s, it didn’t matter where you lived, what your race or class; rock and roll was your music. When Bill Haley & His Comets entered the UK charts with their version of “Rock Around The Clock” on January 7th, 1955, rock and roll officially crossed over into the international mainstream. Although it wasn’t the first time the song had been recorded, Haley’s version––which also appeared in the opening credits of, Blackboard Jungle, a popular film about inner-city teenagers and juvenile delinquency––spoke directly to the feelings associated with and the excitement around this new musical entity that was rock and roll.
Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” marked the enormous changes that where about to overtake both American popular culture and music alike. As the nation thrived in the aftermath of war and the Baby Boom irrupted, the 50’s brought about the idea of “the teenager” as a marketing category. For the very first time in history, the youth of the day began to self-identify as a unique generational group with its own disposable income, hobbies, fashion, and music.
Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” also demonstrated the unprecedented success that a white group with a country and western background could achieve playing an electric twelve-bar blues. The song was truly black and white at the same time. Ultimately it prepared a receptive mass audience for the raw intensity of rhythm and blues and it opened the floodgates for artists such as Elvis, Carl Perkins, and Buddy Holly.
Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” truly signified the breaking point in rock and roll music history. The song spoke to the cultural changes of the moment, to a fevered excitement amongst a generation coming into its own, and to a musical phenomenon on the brink of exploding.