Rock Around the Clock (Bill Haley’s version)

~ Song

Annotation

Who wrote this song? There are three indisputable facts:

  1. James E. Myers (as Jimmy De Knight) had a co-writing credit (this is not necessarily same as being the co-writer);
  2. Myers owned the publishing company which published the song;
  3. As a result of the above Myers earned 75% of the royalties from the song.

Beyond these, however, it is difficult to separate fact from fantasy. Myer's story of the creation of the song was that he had written the melody and most of the words when Max Freedman called on him and helped him to complete the song by filling in the missing lyrics. It is interesting to note, however, that Myers did not go public with this version of events until after Freedman had passed away. Most other people say that Freedman was the sole composer. Johnny Grande, who was Bill Haley's piano player, and a reliable witness of the times, told National Public Radio quite simply that "Freedman wrote the song".
The publishing contract for Clock is dated 23rd October 1952. As written, as in the sheet music which was copyrighted on 31st March 1953, (We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock was not a particularly good song. The published sheet music bears rather more than a passing resemblance to the Leroy Anderson composition The Synchopated Clock, and bears little relation to the final article as recorded by Bill Haley and His Comets on 12th April 1954. The introduction is in the minor key and the melody of the verse is completely different. The original recording, by Sonny Dae follows this pattern. Where did the transformation occur? Jimmy Myers conveniently forgot to credit anyone with the transformation — in fact when asked by me why the published and recorded songs were so different, he didn't have an answer. He might not have noticed, because I don't think he could read music. The man who crystallized the sheet music was a little-known muso by the name of Harry Filler. The most interesting thing about the Harry Filler's handwritten manuscript is that Max Freedman is the only credited writer. This could be a slip of the pen or it could indicate that Myers' story of the creation of the song was fiction, and that he became the song's co-writer after it had been written, probably at the time of doing the publishing deal with Freedman. (As in "I'll publish your song if you give me half of the writer credits."). A not-unknown practice in the music industry through the ages, as Chuck Berry, amongst others, was to discover to his disadvantage. This sheet music was littered with wrong notes which were not corrected in the printed edition.
The transformation occurred as the Comets rehearsed the song in Bill Haley's basement in the days leading up to their first Decca recording session in April 1954. Myers gave them a copy of the Sonny Dae recording, and in the process of turning it into the perfect rock and roll record, they altered the melody to what we now know today. To Haley must go the credit of altering the melody lire from the 1st 2nd and 3rd notes of the scale to the 1st 3rd and 5lh. His musician's ear told him that this made the song that much stronger. The other Comets in turn played their part in the transformation. Dick Richards, the Comets drummer who was at the session, but didn't play, worked with session drummer Billy Gussak to perfect the drum part, while Lytle provides the rhythmic bedrock with his slap bass playing, with Gussak punctuating it with turbocharged offbeats, rimshots, and cymbal crashes. Each verse features a different drum pattern, culminating with the "falling off his stool" routine right at the end. Danny Cedrone, another session player and friend of Haley contributed his trademark guitar solo which he had also used in the 1952 recording of Rock the Joint, as well as in the Esquire Boys' recording of Haley's Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie. Joey Ambrose suggested the riff for use on the second instrumental chorus, thus generating far more excitement than would have a more conventional sax solo not forgetting of course that B major is not a saxophonist's favorite key and as Joey remembered "I wasn't all that good at that, time and so it was easier for me to play it in B major".
(Liner notes by Klaus Kettner & Tony Wilkinson on the booklet of "Bill Haley & Friends, Volume 3: The Story of Rock Around the Clock", p. 2)


An electro-pop outfit from Brussels, Belgium.

Annotation last modified on 2015-09-12 16:01 UTC.

Relationships

lyricist and composer:Jimmy De Knight (in 1952)
Max C. Freedman (American songwriter and lyricist) (in 1952)
arranger:Harry Filler
publisher:Edward Kassner Music Co. Ltd.
Meyers Music, Inc
referred to in medleys:Rock Around the Clock / Blue Suede Shoes / Tutti Frutti / Long Tall Sally (order: 1)
Swing the Mood (order: 3)
Mix 4: All Shook Up / Great Balls of Fire / Don’t Be Cruel / See You Later, Alligator / Let’s Twist Again / Rock Around the Clock / Hound Dog (reprise) (order: 6)
Hitler Was a Vegetarian (order: 7)
later parody versions:Fuck Around the Clock
Rock Around the Clock (Bubblerock's version)
Talk About The Lord
later translated parody versions:Élixir rock (Rock Around The Clock)
Hausmasta Rock
K’Nock Around the Clock
later translated versions:Rock Around the Clock (Version of Los Hispanos)
Rock Around the Clock
Rock Around The Clock
Rock'n roll fiskeboll
Rund um die Uhr
Toutes les heures qui sonnent
Tunnista toiseen
Twist Around the Clock
Wenn der Johnny spielt
Д.К.Данс (Мажорный рок-н-ролл)
加價熱潮
version of:We’re Gonna Rock Around the Clock (Original Freedman / De Knight version)

Recordings

DateTitleAttributesArtistLength
performance
1950Rock Around the Clock (live, 1950s: Paris, France)liveBill Haley avec les Comets1:36
1954-04-12Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:13
1955-04-17(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1955-04-17, Masonic Temple, Cleveland, Ohio, show 2)liveBill Haley & His Comets3:01
1955-04-17(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1955-04-17, Masonic Temple, Cleveland, Ohio, show 1)liveBill Haley & His Comets2:32
1955-08-07(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (1955-8-7, TV show) (live, 1955-08-07, CBS TV Studio 50, New York City, New York)liveBill Haley & His Comets2:05
1956-11-24Rock Around the ClockcoverPat Boone2:11
1956(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (mid. 1956, Brooklyn Theatre) (live, mid. 1956, Brooklyn Theatre, New York City, New York)liveBill Haley & His Comets2:29
1956Rock Around the ClockcoverRenato Carosone3:18
1956Rock Around the ClockcoverThe Deep River Boys2:35
1956Rock Around the Clock (early 1956, Ray Bolger TV show) (live, early 1956, Ray Bolger's TV show 'Washington Square')liveBill Haley & His Comets2:13
1956Rock Around the Clock (instrumental)cover and instrumentalMichel Legrand et son grand orchestre avec Les Fontana3:01
1957-01-07(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1957-01-07, for 'Ampol Show', Sydney, Australia)liveBill Haley & His Comets2:01
1957-03-20Rock Around the ClockcoverBuddy Knox with The Rhythm Orchids1:54
1957Rock Around the Clock (du film Graine de violence)coverPeb Roc et ses Rocking Boys2:36
1958-10-15(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1958-10-15, Olympia, Paris, France)liveBill Haley & His Comets1:45
1959-10-24Rock Around the ClockcoverThe Isley Brothers2:14
1960-01-12Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:13
1960Rock Around the ClockcoverChubby Checker2:22
1962-08-31(We're Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & The Comets2:11
1962Rock Around the ClockcoverPhil Flowers2:15
1963Rock Around the Clockcover and instrumentalSandy Nelson2:36
1964-01-29Rock Around the ClockcoverThe Platters2:59
1964-09Rock Around the ClockcoverJumpin’ Gene Simmons2:13
1964Rock Around the ClockcoverTed Herold2:16
1964Rock Around the ClockcoverDinah Lee2:01
1966-01-28Arededor del Reloj (Rock Around the Clock)Bill Haley y sus Cometas2:12
1966-09-24 – 1966-09-25(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1966-09-24 or 25, Alhambra Théâtre, Paris, France)liveBill Haley & The Comets2:08
1968-06-24(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1968-06-24, Phillips Studio, Stockholm, Sweden)liveBill Haley & The Comets2:52
1968-06-25(We're Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & The Comets2:16
1968Rock Around the ClockcoverFreddy Cannon1:55
1969-12-16(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1969-12-16, show 1, The Bitter End, New York City, New York)liveBill Haley & The Comets2:49
1969-12-16(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1969-12-16, show 2, The Bitter End, New York City, New York)liveBill Haley & The Comets3:04
1972-04-23 – 1972-04-24(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1972-04-23 or 24, Cobo Hall, Detroit, MI, USA)liveBill Haley & The Comets2:04
1972-08-05(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1972-08-05, 'London Rock & Roll Show', Wembley Stadium, London, England)liveBill Haley & The Comets2:02
1972Rock Around the ClockcoverMae West & The Hot Rockers2:09
1973(We're Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & The Comets1:35
1974-03-25(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1974-03-25, Hammersmith Palais, London, England)liveBill Haley & The Comets2:16
1974-12-12(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1974-12-12, Salle Pleyel, Paris, France)liveBill Haley & The Comets1:36
1974Rock Around the ClockcoverNilsson & John Lennon3:07
1976-01Rock Around the ClockcoverLee Jackson1:39
1977Medley: A Woman in Love / Rock Around the ClockmedleyAdriano Celentano3:57
1978Rock Around the ClockcoverCarl Perkins2:16
1979-03-08(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1979-03-08, The Royalty, for a documentary movie 'Blue Suede Shoes', London, England)liveBill Haley & The Comets1:33
1979-10-27(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1979-10-27, for TV, Amsterdam, Netherlands)liveBill Haley & The Comets0:47
1979-11-26(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1979-11-26, 'Royal Comand Performance', Theatre Royal, London, England)liveBill Haley & The Comets2:11
1979Rock Around the ClockinstrumentalJimmy De Knight2:01
1979Rock Around the ClockTelex3:49
1979Rock Around the Clock (live, 1979, England)cover and liveSex Pistols2:02
1979Rock Around the ClockcoverGary's Gang4:10
1982-06(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (outtake)coverThe Replacements3:03
1986-07-24Rock Around The Clock (live, 1986-07-24: Yomiuri Land EAST, Inagi, Tokyo, Japan)cover and live河合奈保子?:??
1986-07-24Rock Around The Clock(’86 コンサート・ダイジェスト) (live, 1986-07-24: Yomiuri Land EAST, Inagi, Tokyo, Japan)cover and live河合奈保子?:??
1988(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1988, for the TV show 'Rock & Roll Palace', Little Darins, Orlando, FL, USA)cover and liveThe Comets1:59
1988 – 1989(We're Gonna) Rock Around the ClockcoverBill Haley2:22
1991-11-16(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (live, 1991-11-16, Nachtwerk, Munich, Germany)cover and liveBill Haley's Comets2:11
1999-08-04 – 1999-08-10(We're Gonna) Rock Around the ClockcoverThe Original Band2:11
2000-01(We're Gonna) Rock Around the ClockcoverThe Original Band2:15
2000(We're Gonna) Rock Around the ClockcoverBill Haley & The Comets and others4:00
2001-01-29Попурри из произведений классического рок-н-роллаcover, live and partialГруппа Стаса Намина «Цветы»14:34
2001-12-08Rock Around the Clock (live, 2001-12-08: Edinburgh, Scotland)cover and liveShowaddywaddy2:13
2003-10-08 – 2003-10-11Rock Around the Clock / Skandal im Sperrbezirk (live, 2003-10: Lustspielhaus, Munich, Germany)cover, live and medleySpider Murphy Gang6:38
2004-04-15Rock Around the Clock (live, 2004-04-15: Maximilianeum, Munich, Germany)cover and liveSpider Murphy Gang?:??
(We're Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:18
(We're Gonna) Rock Around the ClockcoverBill Haley's Comets with Joey Rand2:02
(We're Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:14
(We're Gonna) Rock Around the ClockcoverSex Pistols2:03
(We're Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets?:??
(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clockcover and instrumentalAl Caiola2:25
(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley and His Comets2:14
(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:14
(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the ClockcoverBill Haley & His Comets2:12
(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley and His Comets2:08
(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley and His Comets2:10
(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:11
(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:04
(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:11
(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (part of “Chris Tarrant Presents Ultimate Party Megamix” DJ‐mix)Bill Haley2:08
At the Hop / Rock Around the ClockOrphei Drängar4:10
Medley: Rock Around the Clock / See You Later Alligator / Hound Doginstrumental, live and medleyJames Last with His Orchestra3:55
Medley: Rock Around the Clock / See You Later Alligator / Shake Rattle and RollmedleyYngve Forsséll’s Orchestra2:39
Opening Medleylive and medleyThat’ll Be the Day 1997 touring cast6:10
Raggarkungencover and medleyGalenskaparna & After Shave5:04
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:11
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:08
Rock Around the ClockcoverTelex3:56
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley and His Comets?:??
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley?:??
Rock Around the ClockcoverBill Haley & His Comets2:13
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:11
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley2:12
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley and His Comets2:15
Rock Around the ClockcoverNilsson3:26
Rock Around the ClockcoverNilsson3:14
Rock Around the ClockcoverZangeres Zonder Naam met Normaal2:14
Rock Around the ClockМистер Твистер2:35
Rock Around the ClockcoverRob Hoeke2:54
Rock Around the ClockcoverSex Pistols2:03
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley2:10
Rock Around the Clockcover and instrumentalFlorida State University Marching Chiefs1:44
Rock Around the ClockcoverBen Cramer & Joke de Kruijf2:31
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & The Comets2:16
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:13
Rock Around the Clock (part of “Grandmaster Party” dj-mix)Bill Haley & His Comets1:01
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets?:??
Rock Around the Clock (mono)Bill Haley and His Comets2:10
Rock Around the Clockcover and instrumentalGary Lambert & Eddie Cochran2:26
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:11
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley2:14
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:13
Rock Around the ClockcoverМистер Твистер2:05
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:15
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets2:12
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley and His Comets2:12
Rock Around the ClockcoverBill Haley & His Comets2:11
Rock Around the ClockliveBill Haley & His Comets2:12
Rock Around the ClockcoverChubby Checker2:19
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley and His Comets2:12
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley?:??
Rock Around the ClockcoverCarl Perkins2:17
Rock Around the ClockcoverCarl Perkins2:20
Rock Around the Clockcover and instrumentalBIG Sound2:09
Rock Around the ClockcoverThe Walkmen3:34
Rock Around the ClockBill Haley & His Comets?:??
Rock Around the Clockcover and instrumentalOrchester Ambros Seelos2:36
Rock Around the ClockcoverThe Chevrons?:??
Rock Around the ClockcoverSex Pistols2:05
Rock Around the ClockcoverSex Pistols2:00
Rock Around the ClockcoverSex Pistols2:08
Rock Around The Clockcover[no artist]?:??
Rock Around The ClockBill Haley2:10
Rock Around The ClockcoverSex Pistols2:20