"EXTRA!" Page 1 / Bill Haley and the Comets
It isn't the fault of production or actors, it is just that Miss Frankel's inept little opus has respectively, at the Tuesday (8) annual meeting of the Dramatists Guild at the Perry Ivlns The Cloak Walter Beecher A Lady Poet Amtnta Dyne Lotsie No. . the ELT version waj produced, conceived and directed by Philip Robinson. Also cast: Nathaniel Frey, Don Adams, Joe E. Marks, John Fiedler. and while attending one he meets and befriends the octogenarian Maude (Janet Gaynor). Helen Hayes reprised her performance as writer Harriet Beecher Stowe for the Also cast: Virginia Robinson, Phillipa Bevans, Russell Hardie, Leona Maricle. Janet Beecher on IMDb: Awards, nominations, and wins. Cast: Rose Allin, Edwin Arden, Janet Beecher, Mary Frances Boyce, Harold M. . Thomas Mitchell , Frank Morgan, George Nash, Edward G. Robinson, Joseph Slaytor, Gerald Starling's musical, "Meet The Wife," at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts.
After "Skinny Minnie" hit the charts inHaley had little further success in the United States, although a spin-off group made up of Comets musicians dubbed The Kingsmen no relation to the later group of " Louie, Louie " fame had a hit with an instrumental, "Weekend", that same year.
Overseas, however, Haley and his band continued to be popular, touring the United Kingdom in Februarywhen Haley and his crew were mobbed by thousands of fans at Waterloo station in London at an incident which the media dubbed the "Second Battle of Waterloo ".
The group also toured Australia inand in enjoyed a successful if riot-dominated tour of the European mainland. Elvis, who was on military duty in Germany, visited them backstage at some shows.
Back in the U. Members of the Comets were commissioned to work as session musicians on many of these recordings, many of which were written or co-written by Haley and members of the Comets. The Clymax experiment only lasted about a year. InHaley's relationship with Decca collapsed; after a final set of instrumental-only recordings in the fall, Haley announced he was leaving Decca for the new Warner Bros.
Records label, which released two more albums inwhich were moderately successful. Beecher later returned briefly to play with the Comets, when his record label failed to take off, sharing guitar duties with Kay.
Kay left the band in but returned in the early s for an aborted world tour. They hosted a television series, Orfeon a Go-Go, and made cameo appearances in several movies, lip-synching some of their old hits. Haley, who was fluent in Spanish, recorded a number of songs in the language, but most of the band's output during these years was instrumental recordings, many utilizing local session musicians playing trumpet.
There was also some experimentation with Haley's style during this time; one single for Orfeon was a folk ballad, "Jimmy Martinez", which Haley recorded without the Comets. Inthe Comets without Bill Haley cut an album for Orfeon as session musicians for Big Joe Turner, who had always been an idol to Haley; no joint performance of "Shake, Rattle and Roll" was recorded, however. In a interview with BBC RadioHaley said Turner's career was in a slump at this time, so he used his then-considerable influence with Orfeon to get Turner a recording session.
Byas related by Haley in an interview with radio host Red Robinson in that year, the group was "a free agent" without any recording contracts at all, although the band continued to perform regularly in North America and Europe. During this year, Haley—without the Comets—recorded a pair of demos in Phoenix, Arizona: Neither recording would be released for 30 years. In order to revive his recording career, Haley turned to Europe. Revival[ edit ] By the late s, Haley and the Comets were considered an "oldies" act.
The band's popularity never waned in Europe. The group signed a lucrative deal with Sonet Records of Sweden in and recorded in a new version of "Rock Around the Clock", which hit the European charts that year. The band recorded a mixture of live and studio albums for the label over the next decade.
In the United States inpromoter Richard Nader launched a series of rock and roll revival concert tours featuring artists of the s and s. At one of the first of these shows, held at the Felt Forum at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Haley received an eight-and-a-half-minute standing ovation following his performance, as Nader related in his recorded introduction to Haley's live album Bill Haley Scrapbook, which was recorded a few weeks later at the Bitter End club in New York. The band appeared in several concert films in the early s, including The London Rock and Roll Show for which Haley's —66 lead guitarist, John Kay, briefly rejoined the band —he's the one with the eye patch and Let the Good Times Roll.
Aftertax and management problems prevented Haley from performing in the United States, so he performed in Europe almost exclusively, though he also toured South America in The band was also kept busy in the studio, recording numerous albums for Sonet and other labels in the s, several with a country music flavor. InHaley's original Decca recording of "Rock Around the Clock" hit the American sales charts once again, thanks to its use in the film American Graffiti and the television program Happy Days.
Late career[ edit ] In FebruaryHaley's saxophone player and best friend, Rudy Pompillidied of cancer after a nearly year career with the Comets. Haley continued to tour for the next year with a succession of new sax players, but his popularity was waning again, and his performance in London was critically lambasted in the music media, such as Melody Maker.
In earlyHaley announced his retirement from performing and settled down at his home in Mexico. According to the John Swenson biography of Haley, the musician was quoted as saying that he and Pompilli had an agreement that if one died, the other would retire. The Comets continued to tour on their own during this period.
InHaley was persuaded to return to performing with the offer of a lucrative contract to tour Europe. An almost completely new group of musicians, mostly British, including saxophonist Pete Thomaswere assembled to perform as the Comets. Haley appeared on numerous television shows and in the movie Blue Suede Shoes, filmed at one of his London concerts in March A few days later, a performance in Birmingham was videotaped and aired on UK television; it was released on DVD in It was also the last time he performed in Europe and the last time most fans saw him perform "Rock Around the Clock".
InBill Haley and His Comets toured South Africabut Haley's health was failing, and it was reported that he had a brain tumor. The tour was critically lambasted, but surviving recordings of a performance in Johannesburg show Haley in good spirits and good voice.
Nonetheless, according to the Haley News fan club newsletter and the Haley biography Sound and Glory, planned concerts such as a fall tour of Germany and proposed recording sessions in New York and Memphis were cancelled, including a potential reunion with past members of the Comets.
Haley returned to his home in Harlingen, Texaswhere he died in his sleep of an apparent heart attack on February 9,at the age of At that time, supporting bands were not also named to the Hall of Fame. This policy was subsequently changed, and in a special committee of the Hall of Fame inducted the Comets.
The Comets placed their handprints in cement; a space was left blank for Haley. Only one group was sent out to perform by Haley himself and his management and production company, consisting of musicians who had played with Haley throughout the s and s—lead guitarist "Nick Masters" Mathias Nicholas Nastosbassist Ray Cawley, singer Ray "Pudge" Parsons, and drummer Buddy Dee—and who had continued to perform as the Comets between gigs and during Haley's retirement.
They have also recorded a half-dozen albums for small labels in Europe and the United States. British singer Jacko Buddin augmented the group on vocals during most of their European tours, with Lytle taking over on vocals for US and Canadian tours beginning in and full-time in Europe in the mids. Since they connected with Klaus Kettner's Rock It Concerts Germany inthey have played hundreds of shows all over Europe and have appeared on dozens of television shows.
Two additional groups claim the name Bill Haley's Comets and have extensively toured in the United States since forming in the s: Haley had used Rappa as a fill-in player on live gigs for several years prior to that. Both these musicians claim trademark ownership of the name "Bill Haley's Comets"; this dates back to Lane and Rappa during a period when they worked together as one band winning a trademark infringement lawsuit against the aforementioned Joey Rand group in These tours later begat two CD albums released over the past year: Both albums see Gina, who has been a professional singer for a number of years, but who expressed a desire to record an album of her dad's songs as far back as when I met her during the Rock is Fifty celebrations in Los Angeles, take on a number of her father's famous and not-so-famous songs.
I am currently working to obtain a copy of the New Comets album both CDs are available online through Hydra Records as of this writingand will post a review of it in the near future. Meanwhile, this month Novemberher older brother Bill Haley Jr. The former lead singer of the Satellites recruited a number of top-notch musicians -- including Bill Turner, who played lead guitar for Bill Haley in the mids -- for a collection of his dad's famous songs, from "Rock Around the Clock" to "Hot Dog Buddy Buddy.
Hopefully it won't be long before we see Gina and Bill Jr. In the meantime, we can look forward to Gina ripping it up with the New Comets and Original Comets next spring; see above. November 22, Clip from upcoming Lytle film released On June 10, in memory of Marshall Lytle, the producer of a movie based on his autobiography released a preliminary clip from the film.
June 10 was the same day a memorial service was held for the longtime Comets bass player, who died on May The clip does not feature any dramatic scenes from the picture, but consists of interview footage of Lytle himself. Higgins notes that this is a "rough, barely edited clip," but it features Marshall reminiscing about his life. The clip can be viewed on YouTube here. As of this writing no release date for Still Rockin' has been announced, but I'll post the information once I hear anything.
Marshall Lytle, the last surviving founding member of The Comets, died on May 25 after fighting cancer. His death was confirmed on his Facebook page by his wife, Cathy. Lytle had been performing up until a few months ago, but had cancelled an upcoming performance in the UK and had also fallen silent on the Bill Haley e-mail discussion group he belonged to, though on May 19 he was interviewed on Big Dawg Radio's Sunday Morning Fun House in which he revealed that his cancer had been diagnosed as "treatable, but not curable.
Lytle was in fact a guitar player, but later recalled that Haley himself taught him the basics of playing the slap bass, which became his instrument of choice for the rest of his career.
InLytle co-wrote "Crazy Man, Crazy" with Bill Haley but the singer convinced him to leave his name off the credits, and the song went on to become the Comets' first national hit, and the first known rock and roll song to be played on US network TV when it was heard during a live drama production starring future movie icon James Dean.
Lytle was also a talented singer and was often featured in solos; though he never got a chance to record solo work in-studio with the Comets during the s only steel guitar player Billy Williamson was afforded the luxuryhe was recorded singing an early version of the Jodimars' "Let's All Rock Together" during a performance in Cleveland that was later released by Hydra Records on the CD Rock and Roll Show.
Lytle, dissastisfied with being only a salaried member of the Comets, left the group in the fall ofjoining fellow ex-Comets Joey Ambrose and Dick Richards to form the Jodimars. Although the breakaway group never scored any major hits, they nonetheless recorded a string of top-notch rock and roll classics including "Well Now Dig This" and "Eat Your Heart Out, Annie," with tenor Lytle and baritone Richards trading off or sometimes sharing vocal duties.
When the original line-up of the Jodimars broke up inLytle attempted to keep the brand going by recording a set of tracks unreleased until the s backed by Ricky Nelson's band.
He also recorded a solo single with Wes Buchanan. After the Jodimars, Marshall pursued other musical and business ventures, and also began using the name Tommy Page professionally, and later recalled that he met Haley for the last time backstage after a Comets show in the early s.
In the late s, he was invited to join with Ambrose, Richards, Johnny Grande and Franny Beecher for a one-off reunion performance in Philadelphia. Lytle himself got to sing "Rock Around the Clock," although in the excitement he sang the verses out of order. But that didn't matter, and before long demand began to build for the Original Comets to tour again. Initially an added attraction during a Jodimars reunion tour of the UK, by the early s the Original Comets were back on the road and in the recording studio, initially with singer Jacko Buddin providing the Haley vocals, though by the early s, Marshall was taking on lead vocal duties more frequently particularly for North American concerts, with Buddin featured in the UK and Europeand by the mids, Buddin had departed and Marshall became the band's full-time lead singer.
The reunited Comets recorded a number of albums, including two for the legendary Rollin' Rock label. Beginning in the mids, Lytle and the Comets began a long residency performing in Branson, Mo. I first met Marshall though the Internet, having found his e-mail address on a webpage in late I'm happy to say I kept in touch with him up until he fell silent a few weeks ago.
I met him for the first time in Edmonton, Alberta, in when the Original Comets at that time performing as A Tribute to Bill Haley due to ongoing issues regarding the rights to the Comets name performed at the Klondike Days fair. Meeting him and all the other originals was a dream come true for a fellow who'd been a Comets fan since he was four years old!
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Not long after that, Marshall was one of a growing number of friends and fans who would regularly exchange e-mails; this became more formalized around when a Yahoo Group was established.
One of our group's conversations was about misheard song lyrics. I recalled mishearing a line in Haley's "Rockin' Thru the Rye" that went "Maxwelltown's braes are bonny" as "Max Welchin's razor bunny.
As always, it was a great show, but the highlight for me came after the concert when, due to them having a free day, I rented an SUV and drove Marshall and the others out to Banff and Lake Louise, where they had a blast taking in the scenery and the shops my only regret is Franny Beecher begged off, preferring to relax at the hotel in Calgary.
But all this paled in comparison to July when I travelled down to Los Angeles to join Marshall and the Comets as they took part in a number of events marking the 50th anniversary of "Rock Around the Clock" hitting No.
Rock is Fifty saw the Comets take part in a whirlwind of activities, some of which deserved more attention than they got, but between having their handprints immortalized on the Rockwalk and meeting up with Bill Haley's daughter, Ginato performing at the trendy Viper Club in West Hollywood, to giving a special private show for the staff at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, this was an event to remember.
Sadly, it was also the end of an era in some ways -- Johnny Grande would pass away a year later, and Franny would retire from active touring with the Comets. And it was the last time I met Marshall in person, as well. What I admired most about Marshall was his perseverence.
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A few years ago, he lost part of one leg I believe due to a blood clotwhich ended his bass-throwing days. But he continued to perform with the Comets, and even decided a couple of years ago to relaunch his solo career Ambrose and Richards continue to perform today as the Comets.
He also wrote an autobiography, Still Rockin' Around the Clock, and in recent months had been excitedly giving progress reports on the filming of a movie based upon the book.
On top of all this, he even followed Dick Richards' lead and launched a movie acting career, appearing in the film Through the Eye. For a fellow in his late 70s, he was busier than most people I know in their 40s. Lytle was one of the unsung pioneers of rock and roll, and I hope his contributions are remembered. Pingatore was best known for writing or co-writing Haley hits such as "Happy Baby" and "Two Hound Dogs," and when several members of the Comets left the band in the fall ofPingatore began writing songs for them, including "Well Now Dig This" and "Clarabella", and he also collaborated with Marshall Lytle on "Eat Your Heart Out Annie" and other songs.
According to John Swenson's biography of Haley, the musician cut ties with Pingatore after he songwriter began working with the Jodimars even, so Swenson claims, jeopardizing a TV series deal by forbidding any Pingatore songs from being performed. However, Pingatore did write "Everybody Out'a the Pool", a song recorded by members of the Comets in the late s as the Lifeguards.
In recent years, "Clarabella" has taken on a life of its own after a previously unreleased cover version by the Beatles recorded for BBC Radio was released in the mids; the song was also performed by the White Stripes, and back in the s future "fifth Beatle" Billy Preston also performed it on TV. The group, of course, had its roots as Bill Haley and the Saddlemen, a country swing-themed group formed in the late s. By the fall ofit was clear that "Saddlemen" no longer accurately decribed the type of music the band was performing in urban centres like Wildwood, N.
There are differing views as to who was responsible for suggesting the name "Comets. At first, the group was billed as Bill Haley with Haley's Comets, and the cowboy hats were swapped out for suits and bow-ties. The original members were Bill Haley, Lytle on bass, Johnny Grande on piano and accordion and Billy Williamson on steel guitar who initially got a special "featuring There is some debate as to who the group's first drummer was, with Lytle indicating Earl Famous was the original drummer for the band, with Charlie Higler joining soon after Dick Richards would join inalthough he's stated that he was invited to join as early asbut declined.
In the spring of the group scored their first national hit with "Crazy, Man, Crazy" for Essex Records. A year later, with the band now augmented with the addition of sax player Joey Ambrose, the Comets jumped ship for Decca Records and recorded a little song called "Rock Around the Clock. Some only played for a few performance dates; others, like sax player Rudy Pompilli, stayed by Haley's side for years. Many others were never considered "official" Comets, but through their session work nonetheless contributed to the classic Comets sound guitar virtuoso Danny Cedrone's guitar solo on "Rock Around the Clock" remains the gold standard for rock, jazz and swing guitar players.
Sixty years on, so much has changed. Lytle and Higler are the only surviving members of the original version of the Comets, with Lytle continuing to perform as a solo performer after having left the Original Comets several years ago. The Comets name continues to be invoked by several groups, including the Original Comets now featuring sax man Joey Ambrose and Dick Richardswho continue to tour when they're not in residence in Branson, and two versions of Bill Haley's Comets, one fronted by Al Rappa, who played bass with Haley in the s, the other fronted by Lenny Longo, who continues to tour in honor of his late band leader, drummer John "Bam-Bam" Lane.
Not a bad legacy after 60 years. September 7, Comets movie planned As the Comets reach their 60th anniversary, original member Marshall Lytle has announced that a film adaptation of his memoirs is in the planning stages. Lytle has announced that filming on Still Rockin' Around the Clock is targeted for early Casting for the film has yet to be confirmed. This is Lytle's second recent foray into films, having appeared in a role in another Cayo Largo production, Through the Eye, which was released in As a character, Haley has appeared briefly in several films, all made-for-TV movies: To date, none of the Comets have been portrayed on film, with the two productions featuring Haley backed by unidentified musicians and a big band in the Barrett prouduction.
April 18, R. Although Clark didn't become a household name until when American Bandstand went national, there is no denying that his impact on the development of rock and roll ranks alongside that of Alan Freed, Murray the K and other famous announcers and deejays. The Comets' spin-off group The Kingsmen also performed their hit instrumental "Week End" on the show.
Clark continued to be a supporter of Haley throughout his career, and when asked to describe the origins of Rock and Roll, invariably would begin where it should, with Bill Haley and the Saddlemen. Clark's appreciation of Haley reached a climax when, after Haley died inClark dedicated part of a TV special marking Bandstand's 30th anniversary to assembling a supergroup of musicians to play along with footage of Haley and the Comets doing "Rock Around the Clock".
It was the only major tribute Haley received on American television after his death. Clark hosted Bandstand untilby which time he was also one of TV's biggest producers of game shows and live events he established the American Music Awards.
He hosted countless game shows and TV specials over the years, and even inherited the mantle of "Mr. Blooper" when he picked up the ball from pioneering TV producer Kermit Schaefer and hosted TV shows and made record albums preserving outtakes from TV, radio and cinema. The broadcast was his final national appearance before cameras. Clark was one of the last of a generation that included the likes of Alan Freed who saw promise in what folks like Bill Haley and Elvis Presley were trying to accomplish, and I personally feel many of the names you see listed in both the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame owe Dick Clark a debt.
During a ceremony that reportedly lasted some five hours, the inductees were introduced, ranging from Guns n' Roses to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
But the highlight for many was the long-overdue induction of a number of backing groups whose leaders had long since become Hall of Fame inductees. Robinson, as the only surviving bandleader from this group, introduced the inductees. The induction specifically recognized the members of the Comets from towhich also included Franny Beecher who was unable to attend the ceremonyRudy Pompilli, Ralph Jones, Johnny Grande and Billy Williamson.
Guitarist Danny Cedrone, who was never an official Comet but whose contribution to the Haley sounds is incalculable thanks to his session work on "Rock Around the Clock" and other recordings, was also included. The event was attended by many luminaries and family members. Lytle spoke on behalf of the Comets during the presentation which saw members of all the groups take to the stage. This was the first time Lytle, Ambrose and Richards had been together on stage since Lytle left the Comets to pursue solo work in Rex, though he no longer performs, recently attended a concert by Bill Haley Jr.
It remains to be seen if the induction of the Comets makes the final cut. Although Bill Haley -- who died 31 years ago today -- was inducted as part of the Hall's second contingent inbased on the rules of the time, backing bands were not eligible. This oversight began to be corrected when the HOF introduced a sidemen category. Efforts to get the Comets, or individual members, inducted have been ongoing for a number of years.
The naming also comes on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Saddlemen changing their name to the Comets in the fall of The induction of the Comets also includes guitarist Danny Cedrone.
Cedrone was never officially a member of the Comets, being hired as a session musician prior to his death inbut he nonetheless was pivitol to the success of "Rock Around the Clock" and other early Comets and Saddlemen recordings. Cedrone's family has been lobbying for him to be inducted in the Sidemen category for years.
October 25, Comets notes It's been a busy summer so I haven't been able to keep the site updated as much as I'd have liked. But here are a few updates from the world of the Comets. First, a belated happy 90th birthday to the legendary Franny Beecher, which he celebrated on Sept. One of the big pieces of news is how Bill Haley's children have stepped up to the plate to celebrate their father's music this year.
It was a double-barrelled tour for Gina, who started out performing as a special guest with the popular UK tribute band Phil Haley and His Comments, after which she went over to the mainland to join the German tribute group Bill Haley's New Comets for a number of shows. With both Phil Haley and the New Comets, Gina performed songs that aren't often performed by the Comets or tribute groups, such as Haley's unknown country classic "Jealous Heart", the Essex-era "I'll Be True to You", and the world's biggest-selling flipside, "Thirteen Women" of course tweaked to become "Thirteen Men" for the occasion.
Bill Turner of the s-era Comets joined Gina on a number of European dates. After releasing an album of original music backed by The Satellites see review belowHaley has been fine-tuning his own tribute to his father.
Bill Haley & His Comets
No word as to whether a collaboration between Bill Jr. The Original Comets continue to perform in Branson, Mo. Joey Ambrose and Dick Richards bid farewell to guitarist Jackson Haney earlier this year, but promise big things in Marshall Lytle parted company with the Original Comets two years ago, but hasn't slowed down.
He continues to perform as a solo - sharing the stage not long ago with Bill Haley Jr. But even more exciting, you'll be able to see Marshall on the big screen! Morgan in the motion picture Through the Eye, which was filmed in several locations in Florida in October Meanwhile, keep an eye out for a film called Zombie Presidents which was shot earlier this year and features none other than Bill Turner as one of the presidential undead!
Meanwhile, Johnny Kay, who returned to recording several years ago, has a new album of original music out with his group, JK Rockets, called Ready 2 Rock!
You can find a review of the album below, along with my much-delayed review of Otto Fuchs' massive Bill Haley biography. April 11, Ray Parsons R.
His cause of death was not immediately indicated, but Parsons had been residing in a hospice in Cheyanne, Wyoming. Parsons also performed harmony vocals with Haley and was involved in the October recording sessions that produced the album Rock Around the Country for Sonet Records. Parsons can be glimpsed during the Haley segment of the concert film Let the Good Times Roll, and took part in performances by the Comets during the late s when Haley was temporarily retired.
He was front-and-centre when Haley came out of retirement in March for a tour of the UK. Parsons and bass player Jim Lebak were the only "veteran" Comets involved in the tour, and Parsons was once again called upon to sing "Rockin' Robin" as a solo. There is quite a bit of video and film footage of Parsons performing with the Comets during the spring tour; he is shown acting the "carnival barker" for Haley and singing "Rockin' Robin" for the concert segment that concludes the documentary Blue Suede Shoes and he performed harmony vocals with Haley on "Me and Bobby McGee", one of the songs performed in Birmingham for an episode of the documentary series Format V and later released in numerous DVD editions often labeled, incorrectly, as footage from Haley's farewell tour.
Watch carefully on some versions of this video to see Parsons acting out one of his other roles in the Haley organization - bodyguard - when he tackles a fan who rushes on stage in the middle of a song! Parsons did not participate in Haley's final European tour in the fall ofnor Haley's final live shows in South Africa in Maybut after Haley's death he joined a reunited group of Bill Haley's Comets and sang many of the Haley vocals.
Inthe National Enquirer ran a photo page showing a version Comets performing on the bed of a flatbed truck as a stunt driver soared overhead - I believe Parsons can be shown singing during this stunt, though I've never been able to confirm that.
Little is known of Parsons' activities after this version of the Comets disbanded. At one point in his career he recorded under the name Dorsey Ray Parsons. In the early s, as I was updating my Bill Haley Who's Who, Parsons was reported to have been retired from music and living in Colorado. Ray Parsons played an important role in the Comets during the often-turbulent s, and he will be missed. April 4, Massive Bill Haley biography published To mark the 30th anniversary of Bill Haley's death, Austrian fan Otto Fuchs has published a massive book paying tribute to the founder of rock and roll.
Father of Rock 'n' Roll clocks in at just shy of pages, and was originally published in a German-language edition several years ago. The new English-language edition has been massively revised and updated, incorporating many interviews Fuchs has conducted with the likes of bass player Marshall Lytle and guitarists Bill Turner and Johnny Kay. A review of this long-awaited biography -- one of only four major biographies of Haley published since the early s -- will be posted at a later date needless to say, it takes a while to read pages!
The book is published in paperback by the German company Wagner Verlag. As of April 4,it is available via several online retailers, including The Book Depository and also via Amazon. February 7, Bill Haley: I was all of 11 years old. I'd been a fan of Haley's ever since I first saw him perform on a Canadian variety show aroundand had already worn the grooves out of the two albums I owned by him.
So while fans in the UK and Europe apparently had indications that Haley was not in very good shape in a German newspaper even reported in the fall of that he was dying, which was claimed as the reason why a tour of Germany had been cancelledin Canada we'd heard none of that.
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A year-in-review issue of either People or Us Weekly had run a picture of Haley because had been the 25th anniversary of "Rock Around the Clock". I didn't even know sax player Rudy Pompilli had died five years earlier, almost to the day.
So to hear Bill Haley died was a shock. Remembering how everyone had gone nuts when Elvis died a few years earlier incredibly, less than five years earlierI went to school and tried to get people to care. One of my teachers kept asking who "Bill Haney" was. As for the other kids in my class, the guy wasn't Gene Simmons or "insert popular singer of here" and they didn't care.
In fact, they teased me about it. It's not as if the media were covering it either. Granted, I'd heard the news on a morning news show that had a music expert discussing Haley's influence. A local radio station replayed an interview Haley gave during a visit in and my grandfather, being on the ball, managed to record it for me while I was at school see Page 3 for a transcript.
But the local newspaper lumped his death in with that of film composer Hugo Montenegro, and try as I might I couldn't find a whole heck of a lot on TV about it. The death of Bill Haley remains a sad memory 30 years later. Had he not died, would he have gone on to record more albums, do more tours? Might I have been able to see him in person? Would he have had a chance to perform with his children, including Bill Haley Jr.
All academic questions, of course. But one thing I wish Haley had been here for was so he could defend himself against the historical revisionists who seem hellbent on reducing his place in music history.
There were signs of this even before Haley died, of course. But I really started to notice it in with the 50th anniversary of "Rocket 88", a song originally recorded as a blues song by Jackie Brentson and Ike Turner, and later transformed into the textbook definition of rock and roll - country mixed with RnB - by Haley.
And it's happening again with the 60th anniversary - people claiming that Brentson's song started rock and roll and Haley just copied it. Listen to Haley's recording and you'll see it's not a copy.
Fast-forward to and you saw some magazines going to unforgivable lengths to push the agenda that Elvis Presley started rock and roll, and the fact Bill Haley had had a worldwide hit with his rock-and-roll version of Joe Turner's blues song "Shake, Rattle and Roll", and a national American hit in with "Crazy, Man Crazy" an original song, bear in mind, written by Haley and an uncredited Marshall Lytleand had been recording rock and roll since, actually, his cover of "Teardrops From My Eyes" in before "Rocket 88" - well, that was an inconvenient truth, to be ignored.
When a major American magazine basically proclaimed that Elvis' "That's All Right" was the de facto start of Rock and Roll with no other candidates to be considered and a UK magazine did an end run around sanity by suggesting not the first demo Elvis recording, but the second which was still a country recording was the first, I threw up my hands and realized Haley is unlikely to get his due from mainstream media.
As it is, it's February 6 as I write this I haven't found any North American magazine mentioning the anniversary fortunately the UK is a bit more on the ball, with Now Dig This featuring an anniversary feature this month co-written by Chris Gardner and myself. Fortunately, there are many who continue to push the truth - that, while Haley may not have invented rock and roll, and let's be truthful - no one did - he was the one who first recognized that what he had was not some swingy country-style recordings, or just a faster-paced RnB.
The numbers don't lie. Today, there are no less than three groups of Comets touring America and Europe, several other former Comets, including Johnny Kay, Bill Turner, and Marshall Lytle, continue to perform the songs Bill Haley and the Comets made famous, and several of Bill Haley's children have followed in their dad's footsteps.
Meanwhile, writer Otto Fuchs is preparing an English-language release of his massive German biography of Haley, and there's always the hope of more rare recordings from the man himself being released. I have no doubt that the memory of Bill Haley will live on, as will his music and his influence.
Someone trying to rewrite the history books isn't going to change that. November 8, Year in Review It's been a fairly busy year in the world of The Comets.
That said, I haven't had much opportunity to update this column over the past 12 months. Fortunately I have had a chance to give my three Extra pages, and the "Rock Around the Clock" tribute page, some revision. You'll find some articles have been moved around, a few others retired, and I've added some new images along the way.
There's also a review of a new CD by former Comet Johnny Kay - no less than his third new release in the last 18 months. There have been a few changes in the world of the Original Comets over the past year.
Marshall Lytle announced his departure from the group near the end ofnot long after undergoing surgery that resulted in the partial amputation of one of his legs. This hasn't stopped Marshall from continuing to give energetic performances, whether during his final stints with the Original Comets in Florida near the end ofor in his solo performances since then.
He's also filmed a role in an upcoming movie, and in October he took to the stage with s Comets guitarist Bill Turner and Bill Haley Jr. They're still going strong, with Dick in particular showing how drumming is a real-life fountain of youth. The two other Comets contingents also continue to perform.
Al Rappa, Haley's bass player from tocontinues to tour fronting Bill Haley's Comets, recently joining forces with mids Comets piano player Joey Welz. And despite the passing of their bandleader, John "Bam-Bam" Lane, several years ago, Lane's version of Bill Haley's Comets has also continued to tour under the leadership of lead singer Lenny Longo.
A number of former Comets also continue to do what they love the most - perform. Johnny Kay guitarist recently released his third album of new recordings sincefronting his revived pre-Comets group, the Rockets. Bill Turner continues to tour extensively with his Blue Smoke Band. And Franny Beecher, who will celebrate his 90th birthday incontinues to perform regularly near his home in Pennsylvania, recently joining forces with Johnny Kay for a show.
Looking ahead tobesides Franny's 90th birthday we can also look forward to a number of other milestones, including the 60th anniversary of the recording of "Rocket 88" by Bill Haley and Saddlemen, which helped usher rock and roll into the world. On a more sombre note, the year will also mark the 30th anniversary of Bill Haley's death. The roadmap may have changed a little, but when it comes to the veterans of Bill Haley and the Comets, all roads continue to point to rock and roll!
August 31, ; Nov. And now, he's telling his story about those early days. Still Rockin' Around the Clock: My Life in Rock 'n' Roll's First Supergroup, co-written by Michael Jordan Rush, tells Lytle's story of how he was there when Bill Haley and the Comets made musical history, and his musical career since those storied early days.
Although several books have been published telling the Haley's story, this is the first time a book has been published from the point of view of one of the Comets. Lytle joined Bill Haley and His Saddlemen in Originally a guitar player, he was taught to play slap bass by Bill Haley himself and was brought in to replace Al Rex, who had left the band. Lytle's earliest known recording with Haley is believed to have been "Green Tree Boogie" recorded for Holiday Records in