Bill Haley & His Comets was an American rock and roll band that was founded in 1952 and continued until Haley’s death in 1981. The band, also known by the names Bill Haley and The Comets and Bill Haley’s Comets (and variations thereof), was the earliest group of white musicians to bring rock and roll to the attention of white America and the rest of the world. From late 1954 to late 1956, the group placed nine singles in the Top 20, one of those a number one and three more in the Top Ten.
Bandleader Bill Haley had previously been a country music performer; after recording a country and western-styled version of “Rocket 88”, a rhythm and blues song, he changed musical direction to a new sound which came to be called rock and roll.
“Rock Around the Clock” is a rock and roll song in the 12-bar blues format written by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers (the latter under the pseudonym “Jimmy De Knight”) in 1952. The best-known and most successful rendition was recorded by Bill Haley and His Comets in 1954 for American Decca. It was a number one single on both the US and UK charts and also re-entered the UK Singles Chart in the 1960s and 1970s.
It was not the first rock and roll record, nor was it the first successful record of the genre (Bill Haley had American chart success with “Crazy Man, Crazy” in 1953, and in 1954, “Shake, Rattle and Roll” sung by Big Joe Turner reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart). Haley’s recording nevertheless became an anthem for rebellious Fifties youth and is widely considered to be the song that, more than any other, brought rock and roll into mainstream culture around the world. The song is ranked No. 158 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.