D4HALEY INTERNATIONAL
                                                           
                                                     Bill Haley (& His Comets) Museum and Marketplace        

D4Haley International 

WHO WAS BILL HALEY??

 A BASIC HISTORY OF THE MAN & HIS MUSIC

   Bill Haley is the most under rated rock and roll musician who achieved popularity during the 1950s....

(NOTE: Some of this may be repetition to the seasoned fans. This is meant as a basic introduction to those who want to learn more about Bill Haley. For more detailed sites, please visit our link sites).

Bill Haley started his musical career in country music. He learned how to yodel and became the Indiana State Yodeling Champion during the 1940s. He formed such groups as the Texas Range Riders, sang with the Down Homers, and started recording with the Four Aces of The Western Swing in the late 1940s. Far from being just another struggling voice, young Haley showed great promise in the Western field.

However, the tides in music were changing. Bill Haley was aware of the upcoming changes, and began to integrate black rhythm and blues into his music sets.  Gone were the "Four Aces of The Western Swing" and in came the Saddlemen (still a western themed group name). He recorded "Rocket 88" for Holiday records in 1951 (note: During this time Elvis Presley was still in high school and Sun records had no release of a white man singing rhythm and blues style music). It was not a country record. It had the spirit and vitality of a jump blues record.  Dave Miller owned Holiday records (and the larger Essex label). He wanted a white band to do rhythm and blues for his label. The same year, the western outfits were tossed out and tuxedos were thrown on.

Bill Haley was very observant of the trends in music, and he was observing young people...teenagers. It was through his observations the backbeat in his musical sets and records became louder, and steady with a 2/4 beat. The Saddlemen recorded a song called "Rock The Joint". It was raw, it was loud...and it was great.

"Rock The Joint" was a regional hit in 1952 for Essex records. Dave Miller saw he had hit on a trend, and the experiments with the band continued. However, they couldn't be called the "Saddlemen" and record this "hep" music. It was then the COMETS were born. Bill Haley and His Comets continued to experiment and record with Essex records, with little movement on the charts. But in 1953, some gold was struck with "Crazy Man Crazy". The song was a top 20 hit and proved the jumping board for future successes.

In 1954, Bill Haley and His Comets moved on to Decca records, where their producer would be Milt Gabler (who also produced Louis Jordan and His Tymphany Five records). During their first recording session, they recorded "Thirteen Women" for Gabler and filled in the second side of the record with "Rock Around The Clock" (for very detailed information, please visit:  http://www.rockabillyhall.com/RockClockTribute.html.) The disc sold, but not even enough to hit any major charts. It vanished (for now). Then came "Shake Rattle and Roll", a cover of Big Joe Turner's rhythm and blues hit. While considered a cover, Bill Haley did clean up the lyrics of the song, but the musical arrangement is quite different from Big Joe Turner's (incidentally, the two performers became very good friends and Haley would help his old friend in the 1960s by taking him to perform in Mexico). The band hit gold with "Shake Rattle and Roll" in 1954. Later on that year, "Rock Around The Clock" was revived in the movie "Blackboard Jungle" and the rest is literally history.

During his peak years, Bill Haley owned record labels, his own publishing companies, and his own recording studios. They were mainly used to promote local and regional bands. However, he had the concept of full control long before other performers considered doing such a thing.

Bill Haley was NOT a "flash in the pan", a "one hit wonder" nor the leader with a band who happened to "get lucky". He was a man with the foresight and talent to pull off the recordings he made in the early '50s. He was a man, who with his band, worked hard at refining and honing their talents. Why is Bill Haley largely ignored by the media today? We can argue that one until the end of time. It's probably all about marketing folks. If you get enough big money behind you, no one will ignore you. But in the long run, talent speaks for itself.

 


Copyright 2006 D4Haley International