Like many fathers, Bill Haley did some of the heaviest lifting to build something special, and was rightly celebrated – even adored around the world. But as soon as a ‘new generation’ of rock’n’rollers arrived, Bill was quickly rendered ‘un-cool’. This man who pioneered that certain blending of country-swing with rhythm’n’blues to create early ‘Rock’n’Roll’, had an immense influence on the 50s’ generation. His landmark ‘Rock Around the Clock‘ was the first rock’n’roll song to hit #1 on the Billboard national pop charts in the summer of ’55. Within a few months, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and especially Elvis Presley would bring the youngsters a far more exciting live show, and put more compelling music on the charts. Then Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and eventually a tidal wave of new talent changed the music scene entirely. Bill Haley and His Comets were suddenly passe; they survived as an ‘oldies-revival act’. And 40 years ago this week, Bill passed away.
I was inspired by a listener’s email to showcase the amazing story and music of Bill Haley – well-beyond that one historic song. And I’m excited about sharing several songs from before ‘Rock Around the Clock’ – some going back to the late 1940s – as well as some of the fine follow-ups too.
This week also marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Carole King’s ultimate classic album – ‘Tapestry’, in 1971. I’ll also spotlight Stompin’ Tom Connors on what would’ve been his 85th birthday, as well as a nice celebration of Nikki Yanofsky. And I hope you’ll tune in to the first hour (1-2pm.) for our ‘‘This Week in Zoomer Music‘ feature, which will include the rarely-heard first televised performance of Elvis Presley’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ on ‘Stage Show’. That’s the performance where the show-hosts – Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey – didn’t trust Presley’s musicians, and instead, played their big band swing as accompaniment to Presley’s soon-to-be classic. It’s a very strange mixture of two genres – which nobody ever dared to do to Elvis again. But this one is simply fascinating – and I hope you’ll catch it soon after the start of the show. Less than a decade after Elvis, The Beatles shook the music world again with their historic performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Here’s a trivia question: what was the first song they played that night February 11th, 1964? I’ll play you that song this Sunday, along with Ed’s introduction. Plus: Dire Straits and Adele – all making Zoomer Music history this week. This will be another ‘hot’ show, so I hope you’ll tune in Sunday 1-4:30pm. Cheers.