Bill Haley & The Comets

Bill Haley & The Comets

Bill Haley was born in 1925 in Michigan, America. His father played the banjo and his English mother taught piano. He was a shy child, self-conscious about his appearance, perhaps because he was blind in one eye. He began singing country songs but then started to cover rhythm and blues numbers ‘Rocket 88’ made in 1951 was the first black rhythm and blues song recorded by a white artist. This was followed in 1952 by ‘Rock the Joint’ which sold over 75,000 copies. In 1954, Haley and his band The Comets recorded ‘Rock around the Clock’. It made no particular impact until it was featured in the movie soundtrack for Blackboard Jungle, a film about juvenile delinquency. It shot to number one and ushered in a new music phenomenon.

This image was taken at a concert at the Dominion Cinema during a 1957 tour to England. Haley was met at Waterloo by thousands of screaming fans, a most un-British response for that time, which completely overwhelmed the police. Haley himself was a chubby, unpretentious man who always sported his trademark ‘kiss-curl’.