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Bill Haley Rocks Around the Clock

The 9th of July marks the 66th anniversary of a key musical milestone. On this day, Bill Haley and his Comets' 'Rock Around the Clock' hit number one on the Billboard pop charts. No rock'n'roll song had ever made it to the top. It would also become the first ever record to sell one million copies in the UK.

At the time, Bill Haley was going through a remarkable transition. He had cut his teeth as a yodelling Hillbilly entertainer and disc jockey. Now though, he was transforming into a chart-topping rock'n'roll performer, sporting smart suits and a fashionable kiss-curl hairstyle. Bill Haley was a friend and imitator of the Black musicians who were creating and pioneering rock'n'roll. He understood that it possessed an electrifying energy and was particularly fun to play live. 

Upon its release in 1953, 'Rock Around the Clock' brought rock'n'roll to a mainstream white audience. The song, and subsequent tours, were to have a huge cultural impact internationally. Crowds of young pop fans began to mob Haley's car during tours; frenetic jive dancing became a common response to hearing the music; and a fuse was lit which ultimately produced unstoppable icons like Elvis and Chuck Berry.

For Bill Haley himself, what followed the release was a truly rock'n'roll story, complete with great highs and lows. More info on the Bill Haley story can be found in the star's first complete biography: Crazy Man, Crazywritten by Bill Haley Jr and Peter Benjaminson and published by Omnibus Press in 2019.

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