Rhythm & Blues, Jazz, and Country music had been rumbling for a few years prior to the 1950s. But when all three genres came together, a certain kind of music was born.

It was on July 9, 1955, that “Rock Around The Clock” became the very first Rock 'n Roll record to hit #1.....and it was by a man who was born in Michigan.

The group was Bill Haley & His Comets. Haley was born in Highland Park, Michigan on July 6, 1925. “Rock Around The Clock” hit #1 three days after his 30th birthday.

He worked as a radio disc jockey but his music career began in 1945 when he joined a group called The Downhomers. Later, he formed his own group, Bill Haley & The Four Aces of Western Swing. In 1950 he changed the band name to Bill Haley & The Saddlemen, and finally in 1952, they became Bill Haley & His Comets.

The group's first Top 20 hit was “Crazy Man, Crazy” in 1953.

Their first Top Ten was “Shake, Rattle And Roll” in 1954, followed by the Top 20 hits “Dim, Dim The Lights”, “Birth Of The Boogie”, and “Mambo Rock” in the first half of 1955.

Haley's next single not just went to #1, but it kicked off the whole Rock 'n Roll phenomenon, making it mainstream for the entire country. After it was featured in the opening credits to the film Blackboard Jungle, the song exploded on the charts and was #1 for eight straight weeks.

When the TV show Happy Days debuted in the 1970s, “Rock Around The Clock” was used as the theme for the first two years, causing the single to again hit the Top 40, nineteen years after it's first run.

Since then, the single has sold almost 30 million copies, Haley was nicknamed “The Father of Rock & Roll”, he was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and “Rock Around The Clock” was inducted into the National Recording Registry, assuring it as a “culturally significant recording”.

Not a bad legacy for a man originally from Michigan.

Bill Haley died in 1981 at the age of 55.


The Graves of Three Michigan Rock Musicians

Concerts, Dances & Socials: 1855-1980s

Pine Knob, 1972-2000

94.9 WMMQ logo
Enter your number to get our free mobile app

Bill Haley.com

More From 94.9 WMMQ