Top Ten Things Not to Do at the First Recording of Bill Haley and the Comet’s Rock Around the Clock

On April 12, 1954, Bill Haley and the Comets recorded what became the declaration of independence for the new rock and roll style of music. This is the kind of event that we need to visit. If you go, please take the list with you so that we can witness the recording without causing a tear in the time continuum.

Top Ten Things Not to Do at the Recording of Bill Haley and the Comet’s Rock Around the Clock.

10 If you go, do not light your bic as if you are at a concert. If you do, at best, someone will point out the no-smoking sign. At worst, since Bic lighters weren’t invented until 1972, you might get a few stares. (Also, Leonard the tradition of holding up candles began at Woodstock in August of 1969. The singer Melanie wrote a song titled “Candles in the Rain,” and while she was singing at Woodstock, the hillsides were filled with people and lit candles. It continued from there.)

9 If you go, do not ask Tiny the WWF champ if you can play Tamborine. If you do, At best, Tiny won’t know the word Tamborine. At worst, Tiny, who flunked out of music school and is now a part-time guard will want to play the Tamborine himself. (Don’t worry, Lucian. That flight of stairs that Tiny is going to toss you down has a landing on the first floor. Maybe you can control your descent somehow.)

8 If you go, do not point out that the group is recording the wrong song. If you do, at best, you’ll be ignored. At worst, the producer will offer to help you out by asking, “How did you get in?” (The song that took so many takes is titled “Thirteen Women.” “Rock Around the Clock was recorded in two takes after Thirteen Women was finished. Oh, you never heard of Thirteen Women. You are not alone, Lucius.)

7 If you go, do not complain that the instrumentals are so loud you can’t hear the vocals. If you do, at best, the producer will send you out for coffee. At worst, since there is only enough studio time left for one more take, the Producer will lose his cool. (I would stay out of the way Lukas. The producer is going to do the vocals over and hope for the best. In fact, he is hoping the guy doing the final mix can save the mess somehow. Yes, he has a knife. I think you’d better be quiet now.)

6 If you go, do not ask who is doing the guitar solo. If you do, at best, you’ll be told it’s handled. At worst, the soloist Danny Cedrone is standing right next to you. (Good thing Danny is a nice guy, Lionel. Since he was only paid $31 to riff perhaps the greatest guitar solo he might have been a little grumpier)

5 If you go, do not mention you saw the movie, Blackboard Jungle, and the tune was playing over the opening credits. If you do, at best the band will think you are drunk. At worst, they will wonder what you are smoking and want some. (Rock around the clock did, in fact, play over the opening credits of Blackboard Jungle in the spring of 1955. The movie starred Glen Ford, who was introduced to the song by his 10-year-old son, Peter. Where was the song, Luciano? On the B side of the record Thirteen Women. That’s where.)

4 If you go, do not ask the Decca engineer what he is doing. If you do, at best he’ll tell you to get lost. At worst, he will find you annoying and call the police. (You see, Leif. It is his job to put the instrumentals and vocals together into something that sounds like Rock Around the Clock. He painstakingly spliced together the two recordings. This was something that was not done in that day and age.)

3 If you go, do not make bets with anyone on how many records Rock Around the Clock will sell. If you do, at best, no one will care. At worst, everyone will wonder how you know and how you can prove the number. (Okay, Lennon, Rock Around the Clock sold 25 million copies. Now you tell me how you can show that on the day it was recorded. I think you better just hit the backdoor and forget it.)

2 If you go, don’t ask the band why they are late. If you do, at best, the session will start before you are heard. At worst, your question will be like salt in a wound. (The band got delayed because the ferry they were taking from Philadelphia to New York got stuck on a sandbar. I think I would just stop asking questions Ludwig.)

1 If you go, do not tell Bill Haley that he will be performing at a command performance for Queen Elizabeth. If you do, at best he will think you are joking. At worst, he will wonder what scam you are trying to pull. (So, you let slip the fact that Bill Haley and the Comets played at a command performance in November of 1979, Lenny. I think you should tell Bill you were just kidding.)

70 comments

  1. Now that would be something I would love to be at. I promise I’ll keep my mouth shut and not put it on Instagram.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I coud just see everyone’s eyes when you pulled out your cellphone to take a shot to put in Instagram. Big trouble for sure. Thanks, Darlene.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like a lot of fun, John. I wonder if I could ask Tiny the WWF champ if I could play the clarinet? I used to play in middle and high school. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the laughs. Happy Monday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always respected clarinet players since was a big fan of Benny Goodman. I played trombone and loved the swing era songs. Of course, In the Mood by Glenn Miller was my favorite. Thanks, Jill

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  3. Loved that song. One of the few I mastered in middle school when I played trumpet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll bet it was fun to play. I played trombone.

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      1. It was a blast. Everything went downhill after that.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know how it is.

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  4. If I’d know the when and where of the recording session, I could have been there. Granted, I would only have been eight years old, but I was eight, for gosh sakes! I’m not sure how I feel about having been around for a historical event! (And, yes — we were dancing to it in our poodle skirts not long after!)

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    1. I was thirteen and definately would have been able to be there. Bill Haley was born in Highland Park Michigan (Detroit suburb) and lived there from seven years. This was about eight miles from where I grew up.

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  5. I think Iโ€™ll just stay in the corner and keep my mouth free of Tonyโ€™s knuckles. 13 Women? Really? Iโ€™m gonna have to look that up, John. Great list. Maybe todayโ€™s soundtrack will be oldies.

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    1. Thanks, Dan. Bill Haley had a remarkable career

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  6. Thanks for a great fine. I went and listened to Thirteen Women. It just goes to prove there’s always an upside to nuclear Armageddon. By the way, did you know that ol’ Bill was a Country and Western performer before he got into rock ‘n roll? (You probably did know that.)

    It used to be Bill Haley and The Four Aces of Country Swing. And before that it was Bill Haley and The Saddlemen. If you listen to that music, you’d know why he switched to rock ‘n roll.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha. I’m sure he was glad to have switched over as well. The Saddlemen name was changed to Bill Hailey with Hailey’s Comets. He and the group had a number 15 hit with “Crazy Man Crazy” in 1953 and then changed the name of the group to Bill Haley and the Comets.

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      1. That should be Bill Haley with Haley’s Comets. Don’t know how that i got in there.

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  7. Would love to be there for this one. Makes me think of the show Happy Days.

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    1. For sure, Teri. Also, American Graffiti. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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  8. Gwen M. Plano · ·

    Who can listen to Bill Haley and not start dancing? What an incredible way to begin the day!! Thank you, I needed the boost. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thanks for letting me know, Gwen. ๐Ÿ˜€

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  9. 25 million copies, huh? That is a LOT of rocking around the clock.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would say so too. Thanks, Marc.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I had no idea it started out with another title! And I hear this tune and can’t help but think of “Happy Days” Eyyyyyyy!
    And thanks for that additional snippet on the Bic – I always wondered where it started this lighting of lighters – usually ballads – came from.

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    1. I thought the lighter bit was an interesting piece of information. Thanks, Dale.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is. You are always learnin’ us, Boss!

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      2. Hahaha. The search started with the idea of wondering if the lighter bit was done after 1954 so I could say in my post “don’t do it.” Sure enough a Google question got the answer. ๐Ÿ˜˜

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      3. Don’t you love how we can follow a trail like that? So cool.
        ๐Ÿ˜˜

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      4. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. Thirteen Women?? That’s a new one for sure. Guess I’m going to have to Google that and give it a listen!

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      1. Um, think I like the other side’s song better!

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      2. So did the buying public. Thanks, Debbie.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. History is SO full of interesting tidbits that are not widely known. I loved all of this, John! And you are right… I’ve never heard of “Thirteen Women.” Now, I’ll have to go look it up. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  13. Found it. “Thirteen women and only one man in town…” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOSGEEswmqQ

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    1. This was a good hut, Jan. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. I really liked that movie, “Blackboard Jungle”. Ford went on my list of favorites because of his performance. But “not so seriously”, I could just picture Tiny’s face when someone flicked their bic!!

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    1. Tiny would have had a fit. Would probably think it is a stick of dynamite.

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  15. He was only 55 when he died. I remember having a cousin who was a big fan. She wore black until my aunt went a little off the beam. YOU DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HIM, she hollered, my cousin wailing. But, when you admire someone, you do know them. They become your pal, in essence. I still can tear up over Anthony Bourdain for instance. His writing bonded us, as Haley’s music roped in my cousin. It’s all sort of romantic if you think about. Thanks for the reverie. Perfect for this rainy day under house arrest.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your cousin’s story. I pretty much felt the same when Buddy Holly was killed. His songs spoke to me in a number of ways. As for the reverie, I’m always glad to supply some diversion to prisoners in solitary confinement. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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      1. He was only 22. Imagine that. I always loved the lyric in the song, American Pie, he day the music died. History woven into a melody. So clever. and heartfelt.

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      2. I was forced retired at 52 and pulled out my broadcasting license from college. Went to work as the nighttime radio host at a 50,000 watt station and loved American Pie. The song ran 8.02 minutes which meant I could get coffee and use the facilities. It was called the DJ’s friend. Of course, I also liked it for it’s tribute to Buddy. Thanks for the memory.

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      3. I forgot how long it was. That’s a great story about you. One muse leads to another.

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      4. So true, Susannah. ๐Ÿ˜Š

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I love how you’ve used the “Top Ten” to give us the history of “Rock Around the Clock”!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Liz.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome, John.

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  17. Thanks for the history lesson – too bad history classes in school weren’t like this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, would have been more fun for sure.

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  18. I think Iโ€™ll just slip out the back door. โ€œSee you later alligator. Huh, whatโ€™s that Bill?โ€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He said,
      “After while crocodile.”

      Liked by 1 person

  19. D.L. Finn, Author · ·

    I’m glad they lost the thirteen women part:) Great list, John!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Denise.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out another great top ten list from John Howell in this post from his blog. This one is the TOP TEN THINGS NOT TO DO AT THE FIRST RECORDING OF BILL HALEY AND THE COMETโ€™S ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the share, Don

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks for the smiles, John, and as always, I’m a day late. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you’re staying safe and healthy. It’s been a while since I’ve visited.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You aren’t late, Lauren. Just delayed. We are all healthy here. I hope you are the same. So nice to see you again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good to hear, John, and my family is the same. I may be returning to blogland after such a long time. Still working out the time, etc…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Will be good to have you back.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks, John. That’s nice to hear. I was pretty sure I’d been forgotten since it’s been so long.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I didn’t forget. ๐Ÿ˜ Major surprise given my age.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. I love all the little known backstories behind this song. Thanks for all your research, John. Tiny flunking out of music school…that was really funny!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was funny. He is so jealous.

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      1. Haha! ๐Ÿ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  23. 11. Don’t tell the Decca engineer that it will be their last major work, coz they will reject Beatles after an audition soon after.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good one. Thanks.๐Ÿ˜€

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