Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rock Around the Clock only became a hit because of a teenager

Rock Around the Clock was not the first Rock 'n Roll record.  It was the first-ever Rock ‘n’ Roll song to hit #1 on the pop charts. If it wasn't for the musical tastes of one teenage boy, the song might have disappeared into obscurity.

When Bill Haley recorded Rock Around the Clock, his producer insisted on slapping the song on the B-side of the record. The B-side of almost any record is the lesser important side.  It is traditionally reserved for experimental songs, half-hearted instrumentals and throwaways.  In other words, filler.

Selected for the A-side was a song called Thirteen Women (And Only One Man in Town).  Almost no one knows it.  Bill Haley and his band had only 40 minutes to arrange Rock Around the Clock. The band ground out the song in just two takes.

Thirteen Women was released and quickly disappeared from history. That’s where the story would have ended if it wasn't for Peter Ford. Peter’s father was the popular actor Glenn Ford, who was about to star in a film called Blackboard Jungle, about a teacher trying to cope with tough juvenile delinquents.

Ford and the producers needed some music in the film that represented what the kids were listening to. So they decided to raid Peter Ford’s records where they found Rock Around the Clock. It fit perfectly, so they set the opening and closing credits to the song.

Blackboard Jungle and the song both proved to be smash hits. Kids flocked to the theatre, but they often came to hear its theme song play in the credits.

How many other songs are out there that never saw the light of day?

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