Bill Haley & His Comets – Biography
Bill Haley And His Comets is one of the longest surviving American rock bands. Formed in 1952 by Bill Haley, the band went by several names which includes Bill Haley’s Comets, Bill Haley and the Saddlemen, The Kingsmen, The Lifeguards, and B.H. Sees Combo. The band was active until Haley’s death in 1981. Even though band members came and went with several gaining fame as solo performers, Bill Haley remained the star of the band.
Bill Haley And His Comets, then still known as Bill Haley and the Saddlemen, started off their musical career playing mostly country and western songs.
In 1953 Haley scored his first national success with an original song called “Crazy Man, Crazy”, a phrase Haley said he heard from his teenage audience. Haley later claimed the recording sold a million copies, but this is considered an exaggeration. “Crazy Man, Crazy” was the first rock and roll song to be televised nationally when it was used on the soundtrack for a 1953 television play starring James Dean.
Haley and His Comets then recorded “Rock Around the Clock”, Haley’s biggest hit, and one of the most important records in rock and roll history. Sales of “Rock Around the Clock” started slow but eventually sold an estimated 25 million copies (per the Guinness Book of World Records) and marked the arrival of a cultural shift.
The band suffered a decline in popularity from 1956 to 57 due to the emergence of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard whose performance were wilder and raunchier and thus more appealing to the younger generation. However their popularity was not effected outside the US, especially in the UK where they toured in 1957.
touring the United Kingdom in February 1957, during which 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.
In 1987, Bill Haley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At that time, supporting bands were not also named to the hall. This policy has since changed and efforts have been under way for several years to have The Comets also named to the Hall.
In 2012, a special committee finally inducted the Comets into the hall. Bill Haley and His Comets have also been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and, in July 2005, the surviving members of the 1954–55 Comets represented Haley when Bill Haley and His Comets were inducted into Hollywood’s Rockwalk, a ceremony also attended by Haley’s second wife and youngest daughter.
The Comets placed their handprints in cement, a space was left blank for Haley.