PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Song of the Day for May 20: "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets

The decline of the United States began May 20, 1954 when Bill Haley and the Comets released “Rock Around the Clock.” Parents, clergy, teachers and law enforcement lamented how the music was a communist plot; a bad influence on their children; how it was too sexual, how it was creating juvenile delinquents.

The criticism didn’t end until the teenagers grew into adults and became parents, criticizing the latest music, saying it was a bad influence on their kids, how it was too sexual, how it was leading to juvenile delinquency and drug use.

That lasted until those teenagers aged into adulthood and became parents… You get the point.

Song of the Day “Rock Around the Clock” wasn’t even the first rock ‘n’ roll song, but it was the song that pushed rock into the mainstream. It was recorded in two takes as the B-side of “Thirteen Women.”

The record had modest success, but it was a year later, in 1955, when it became a hit. Ten-year-old Peter Ford, the son of actor Glenn Ford, discovered the song and showed it to his father. Glenn Ford was filming “Blackboard Jungle,” a story about juvenile delinquents. He passed the song along to the producers. The song ended up playing over the opening credits of Ford’s movie.

“Rock Around the Clock” became the first rock tune to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It stayed there for eight weeks.

According to Guinness Book of World Records, the song has sold more than 25 million copies.