A Falling Comet

by Christopher Paul on May 21, 2011

You’ve probably heard of the song: “Rock Around the Clock” by Haley And The Comets. But, like me, you probably didn’t know much about Bill Haley. Texas Monthly has a fascinating article by Michael Hall who tells the story of a shy but talented boy who fell into stardom and became one of the first pioneers of Rock & Roll.

“Of course, no one invented rock and roll: not Elvis, not Chuck Berry, not Jerry Lee Lewis, not Little Richard, and not Bill Haley. They were all pioneers, all fathers of rock and roll. Haley at least had the modesty to admit that his paternity was an accident, and he had the pride to know that if anyone was prepared to stumble onto something so historic, it was him—a boy who’d heard his dad sing Kentucky mountain music, a teen who’d sung cowboy ballads, a young man who’d played western swing, a DJ who’d spun R&B records. He didn’t know what he was doing back in 1951—none of those guys did. They were just musicians playing songs they liked.”

Sadly, his life was not all glamor and glitz. He was soon eclipsed by some of his opening acts like Elvis Presley, he drank, and he had a slew of shattered relationships. Ultimately, he died like Elvis – alone.

“He had once been the King of Rock and Roll. He’d written more than a hundred songs and recorded more than five hundred. He’d had nine Top 20 singles, including the biggest one of all. He’d made millions and he’d spent millions. He had performed some 10,000 times, in front of more people than anyone in his era. In England the crowds had yelled, “We want Haley!” and in France, “Vive Haley!”

Not anymore. Nobody was screaming for him now. No one even seemed to remember him…”

If you’re a music fan, historian, or just like rock & roll, you’ll want to read the whole article. As you do, you’ll start to listen in your head some of the hits Bill Haley like this one, and this one, and this one gave us.

Falling Comet – Texas Monthly via Eric Alper and Steve Silberman

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