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Famous Like Me > Composer > H > Bill Haley

Profile of Bill Haley on Famous Like Me

Name: Bill Haley  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 6th July 1925
Place of Birth: Highland Park, Michigan, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Bill Haley, with his band, the Comets, was one of the first rock and roll acts to tour the United Kingdom. This magazine cover dates back to that first 1957 tour.

Bill Haley (July 6, 1925 – February 9, 1981) was one of the first American rock and roll musicians, and is credited by many with first popularizing this form of music in the mid-1950s with his hit song "Rock Around the Clock".

Haley was born William John Clifton Haley (some sources append "Junior" to his name, but his eldest son states that this is erroneous) in Highland Park, Michigan and was raised in Pennsylvania. In 1946, Haley joined his first professional group, a country band called the "Down Homers", after which he set out on his own. He made a number of unsuccessful country music singles in the 1940s, for several labels, including Cowboy Records 1948-1949 while working as a touring musician and later a DJ. In 1951, he and his band, The Saddlemen, changed styles, recording cover versions of Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88" and "Rock this Joint". The relative success of the latter of these convinced Haley that he could be a successful rock and roller. In 1952, The Saddlemen became Bill Haley & His Comets, and in 1953, Haley's recording of his original composition, "Crazy Man Crazy," became the first rock and roll song to hit the American charts.

In 1953, a song entitled "Rock Around the Clock" was written for Haley, but he was unable to record it until April 12, 1954. Initially, it was unsuccessful, but Haley soon scored a major worldwide hit with a cover version of Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle and Roll," which went on to sell a million copies and became the first ever rock'n'roll song to enter British singles charts in December 1954. Haley and his band were important in launching the music known as "Rock and Roll" to a wider (white) audience after years of it being considered an underground movement. When "Rock Around the Clock" appeared on the opening credits of the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle, it launched a musical revolution and opened the doors for the likes of Elvis Presley. "Rock Around the Clock" wrote history by becoming the first record ever to sell over one million copies in both Britain and Germany. In 1957, he became the first American rock singer to tour Europe. Haley continued to score hits throughout the 1950s such as "See You Later Alligator" and he starred in the first rock and roll musical movies. His star was soon surpassed in the USA by the younger, sexier Elvis, but Haley continued to be a major star in Latin America and in Europe in the 1960s, and continued to be a popular touring act for the rest of his career. He made his final performances in South Africa in 1980. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Haley's original Comets from 1954 and 1955 still tour the world to packed houses. Despite ranging in age from 70 to 82, the band shows no sign of slowing down and recently released a concert DVD.

Some sources state that Haley was born in 1927, which is due to Haley knocking two years off his age for publicity purposes in the 1950s. A few sources erroneously give a birth year of 1924.

Note: the article Bill Haley & His Comets includes more detailed biographical information on Haley's career.


In 1980, Haley began work on an autobiography entitled The Life and Times of Bill Haley but died after completing only 100 pages. The work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office and has yet to be released to the public.

In 1982, John Swenson wrote Bill Haley: The Daddy of Rock and Roll (published in the UK under the title, Bill Haley), which is controversial among Haley fans for alleged inaccuracies.

In 1990, Haley's eldest son, John W. Haley, along with John von Hoelle wrote Sound and Glory, a biography focusing mostly on Haley's early life and peak career years. This book is long out of print.

A French-language biography apparently exists, but no other information is available.

A book on the history of Haley's most famous recording, Rock Around the Clock: The Record That Started the Rock Revolution by Jim Dawson was published in June 2005.

Film portrayals

Unlike his contemporaries, Bill Haley has rarely been portrayed on screen. Following the success of The Buddy Holly Story in 1978, Haley expressed interest in having his life story committed to film, but this never came to fruition. In the 1980s and early 1990s, numerous media reports emerged that plans were underway to do a bio-pic based upon Haley's life, with Beau Bridges, Jeff Bridges and John Ritter all at one point being mentioned as actors in line to play Haley (according to Goldmine Magazine, Ritter attempted to buy the film rights to Sound and Glory).

Bill Haley has also been portrayed - not always in a positive light - in several "period" films:

  • John Paramor in Shout! The Story of Johnny O'Keefe (1985)
  • Michael Daingerfield in Mr. Rock 'n' Roll: The Alan Freed Story (1999)
  • Dicky Barrett (of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in Shake, Rattle and Roll: An American Love Story (also 1999)

In March 2005, the British network Sky TV reported that Tom Hanks is planning to produce a biopic on the life of Bill Haley, with production tentatively scheduled to begin in 2006. However this rumor was quickly debunked by Hanks.


Married three times, Bill Haley had at least eight children. John W. Haley, his eldest son, wrote Sound and Glory, a biography of Haley, while his youngest daughter, Gina Haley, is an up-and-coming musician based out of Los Angeles. Scott Haley is a noted athlete, while Bill's youngest son, Pedro Haley, is also a musician-in-the-making.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Bill Haley