It was on the 12th of April in 1954 that Bill Haley recorded ‘Rock Around the Clock’. The song was a big hit a year later after it’s inclusion in the film ‘Blackboard Jungle’. If it hadn’t been for that piece of luck then ‘(we’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock’ may never have reached so many people down the years. The song was recorded as a B side to Bill Haley and his Comets single ‘Thirteen Women’. The story has it that the band spent so much time of the scheduled studio slot on ‘Thirteen Women’ that there was only 40 minutes left to capture a decent take of ‘Rock Around the Clock’. The first one was poor, Bill Haley’s vocals were drowned out. A second effort was recorded and the two were pieced together.
So, how did an obscure B side make it so big? The son of film actor Glenn Ford had a copy of the record. The 10 year old boy, Peter Ford, flipped it over and heard the other side. He played it to Dad, he really liked it. Glenn Ford was the star of the film ‘Blackboard Jungle’, a sort of teen drama. The song was put over the opening credits and consequently sold a million copies in a month in 1955.
Was it the first iconic rock and roll record? Certainly not, in 1954 ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ had been a number 1 selling record in the USA, sung by Big Joe Turner. It is estimated that ‘Rock Around the Clock’ has sold 25 to 30 million vinyl copies. It was a no.1 in Britain in 1955, re-entered the Top Twenty in 1968 and again in 1974. Give it a listen, it’s a big slice of rock and roll history.