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Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (16) | Personal Quotes (5) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Born in Highland Park, Michigan, USA
Died in Harlingen, Texas, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameWilliam John Clifton Haley
Nicknames The Original King of Rock 'n' Roll
The Father of Rock 'n' Roll

Mini Bio (1)

William John Clifton Haley - better known as Bill Haley, leader of the first-ever rock & roll band The Comets - is probably the greatest musical pioneer of the 20th century. He was the first white artist to record a rhythm & blues hit - the 1951 "Rocket 88" for Dave Miller's subsidiary label Holiday - and scored a rockabilly hit in 1952 with "Rock The Joint" (Essex) long before the term was known and the style was adopted by Sam Phillips on Sun Records, when Phillips recorded artists like Elvis Presley and Charlie Feathers. In 1953 Haley entered the Billboard & Cashbox Top 20 with his composition "Crazy Man Crazy". Some historians believe this song is the first rock & roll record, and other historians disagree, but there's no doubt that it was definitely the first to enter the pop charts. In 1954 Haley enjoyed two million-sellers with "Dim Dim The Lights" and "Shake, Rattle & Roll" for the major label Decca (now MCA). His recording of "Rock Around The Clock" was used in the MGM movie Blackboard Jungle (1955) starring Glenn Ford and a young Sidney Poitier, as well as the underrated Vic Morrow, who was heavily criticized for his allegedly Marlon Brando-like performance, but who was just doing what most every young actor in the US--including James Dean, who oddly enough was never criticized for it--did, which was display Brando's at the time refreshing rebelliousness. It gave Haley his first #1 hit, which at this writing is the greatest-selling single record of all time. From 1955 to 1960 Haley enjoyed 22 Top 30 Hits and appeared in four movies - a short called Round Up of Rhythm (1954), then Rock Around the Clock (1956) and Don't Knock the Rock (1956), and in a German film, Hier bin ich - hier bleib' ich (1959) alongside Caterina Valente, with whom he sang the duet "Viva La Rock & Roll".

In 1960 Haley, embroiled in major legal problems relating to his divorce, fled to Mexico, where he became known as the "Spanish King Of Twist" and had a best-selling record in Latin America with "Florida Twist". He also starred in three movies there, before having a major worldwide comeback in 1968, when "Rock Around The Clock" made the international charts again, scoring #1 in England and the UK. In 1970 he recorded an artistically highly successful album in Nashville entitled "Rock Around The Country" (Sonet), and starred in the Peter Clifton-directed The London Rock and Roll Show (1973) along with Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Little Richard. He appeared in Let the Good Times Roll (1973) and toured extensively with the Richard Nader Revival Package Shows. He also recorded the theme song for the hit TV series Happy Days (1974) starring Henry Winkler and Ron Howard. In 1976 his saxophonist for 25 years, Rudy Pompilli, died of lung cancer; after that Haley retired for three years. "I was out of the business for the past three years," he explained, "because my saxophone player died. We were together for 25 years, and we had a pact--if he died first I would stop playing, and if I died first he would not play. But now I feel the mourning period is over, and I'm about 80% ready to go back on the road." In 1979 he toured the UK and Germany, also playing a command performance for the Queen. It was at this time that he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and a few years later, on February 9 1981, he passed away after a tour of South Africa. Currently there are four bands playing under "The Comets" banner, one being the official one led by Al Rappa, who is the only musician of this lineup who has any Haley connection, having played bass for him between 1959 and 1969. Another band is led by Joe E. Rand, who once fronted a Comet lineup consisting of musicians who actually played with Haley. A third band feature drummer John "Bam Bam" Lane, who worked for Haley between 1962 and 1969. The "original" band, however, is still playing, and consists of Englishman Jacko Buddin doing a nice job on the Haley vocals and featuring all the original Comets: Franny Beecher (lead guitar), Joey Ambrose (sax), Dick Richards (drums) and Marshall Lytle (double bass), and they recently recorded an outstanding album for the Las Vegas based Rollin Rock label of Ronny Weiser. They're still rocking around the clock !!!

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Otto Fuchs - ottomartinfuchs@yline.com

Spouse (3)

Martha Velaesco (14 January 1963 - 9 February 1981) (his death) (3 children)
Barbara Joan Cupchak (18 November 1952 - 1960) (divorced) (5 children)
Dorothy Crowe (11 December 1946 - 14 November 1952) (divorced) (2 children)

Trade Mark (2)

Red plaid jackets (1950s)
Distinctive kiss curl

Trivia (16)

Once performed a show backed by Buddy Holly and The Crickets, when the Comets were late for a gig.
Haley and Elvis Presley wanted to perform together during Haley's 1958 tour of Germany, while Elvis was in the United States Army. The idea was vetoed because of concerns about audience violence.
Haley's early recordings, in particular "Rock the Joint", inspired disc jockey Alan Freed to coin the term "rock and roll".
Posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Blind in his left eye due to a botched operation when he was a child. Haley adopted his trademark "kiss curl" look early in life as an attempt to draw attention away from his blind eye.
He built a house called Melody Manor in 1955 for his second wife (and wife at the time) Cuppy (real name Barbara Joan Cupchak) and their then-two children. Yearly memorable Christmas parties for all of the Comets and their families were thrown there. When Haley and Cuppy divorced in 1960, Cuppy's lawyers claimed Melody Manor, and Haley "shuffled around in cheap motels until he could no longer even afford those anymore" before going to Mexico.
His best friend and session guitarist Danny Cedrone died on June 17, 1954 from a heart attack after mysteriously falling down a flight of stairs; Haley and Cuppy's second child Doreen Haley died on July 21, 1954 of SIDS; Haley's mother Maude Green died on April 25, 1955 of complications from her diabetes; Haley's father William Haley died on June 17, 1956 of cancer and tuberculosis (he "threw up his lungs"); and Haley's sister Margaret Haley died on June 21, 1958 of cancer; all were buried at Melody Manor.
Many reference books add "Junior" to the end of Haley's full name. However, according to his family, this is not correct.
Attended and graduated from Boothwyn High School in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania.
He joined the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1955.
His popular-song compositions include "Green Tree Boogie", "Sundown Boogie", "Crazy Man Crazy" and "Rock-a-beatin' Boogie".
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6435 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 354-356. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
In February 2006, the International Astronomical Union announced the naming of asteroid 79896 Billhaley, honoring the 25th anniversary of Bill Haley's death.
His name, and that of his band, The Comets, have led many to incorrectly pronounce Halley's Comet with a long a. The correct pronunciation is Halley's Comet, with a short a.
His mother was born in Ulverston, Cumbria, U.K., the home town of Stan Laurel.

Personal Quotes (5)

No matter how bad a show may be going some night, that song (Rock Around the Clock) will pull us through. It's my little piece of gold. (1970s)
When I'm 75 and you can still clap your hands, and I can still hold a guitar, we'll still have rock and roll. (1969)
I busked around the country riding freight trains, the usual story, playing in radio stations and what have you. I did a stint in Chicago at the International Barn Dance, and played in St. Louis and Dallas, Louisiana and out through the Midwest. Then I returned home. My mom and dad were living near Philadelphia and I returned there with disillusion at the grand old age of twenty two. I had had what I felt was a halfway decent career, but I felt I wasn't going to make it, and I returned with the idea of getting out of show business. Then I became a disc jockey on a local station, WPWA in Chester (Pennsylvania), because it was in me, but I was still singing country and western. (1979)
I was too shy to play in public. He (manager of the Booth Corners Auction Mart) asked me to sing for his big audience -- but I never figured I'd have the nerve. What I didn't know is that he had secretly rigged a microphone in his office and some loudspeakers in the mart. So I had my first audience before I knew about it. And they seemed to like it all right. So I went on doing it -- out in front of the public -- for a dollar a night. (1979)
Everybody hates us -- except the kids. (1956)

Salary (1)

Rock Around the Clock (1956) $40,000 (salary for entire band)

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