Bill Haley

Singer / Bandleader

Born: 6 July 1925
Died: 9 February 1981
Birthplace: Highland Park, Michigan
Best known as: The guy who sang "Rock Around the Clock"

Name at birth: William John Clifton Haley

Bill Haley was the leader of Bill Haley & The Comets, the performers of one of the first hits of rock 'n' roll, 1954's "Rock Around the Clock." Haley's musical career began in the 1940s, and he made his first recordings as a country swing artist in 1946. Bill Haley and The Saddlemen became Bill Haley and The Comets and, with the help of Ohio disc jokey Alan Freed, capitalized on the youth market and began to bring rock and roll into the mainstream with "Crazy Man, Crazy" (1952). Haley's "Shake, Rattle and Roll" was hit in 1954, but it was "Rock Around the Clock," used in the 1955 movie The Asphalt Jungle, that catapulted Haley and the Comets to stardom and earned them the reputation as rock music pioneers. The band wore tuxedos and Haley had a signature hairstyle -- a styled forelock called a "kiss-curl" -- but as the music caught on Haley's middle-aged, middle-American look didn't seem as rebellious as the music, and he and his band were overshadowed by Elvis Presley and later, wilder rock 'n' roll stars. Haley and the Comets went about their way, performing for fans in nostalgia shows until the late 1970s, when failing health kept him from touring.

Extra credit: The band is also known as Bill Haley's Comets and Bill Haley and His Comets.

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