Bill Haley - Singer, Musician

Bill Haley - Boothwyn/Chester

Bill Haley (William John Clifton Haley) was born in Highland Park, Michigan in 1925, and moved with his family to Boothwyn, Pennsylvania when he was 7. Both of his parents were musicians, and Haley began playing on a cardboard guitar he made himself.

Haley had his first professional job at the age of 13, playing and entertaining at an auction for $1 a night. He left home at 15, working at whatever jobs were presented and became known for his yodeling and his western swing style.

Moving back to Pennsylvania, Haley became music director of Chester radio station WPWA (later designated WCZN), a job that he held for six years while also playing at clubs around Philadelphia, in a group known as Bill Haley's Saddlemen. The group recorded Rocket 88 in 1951, a song that predated Rock Around the Clock and is thought by some historians as the first rock and roll record.

He renamed the group Bill Haley with Haley's Comets in 1953 (changing it to Bill Haley & His Comets), and recorded Rock Around the Clock in 1954. Though unsuccessful on its release, the song became a number one hit around the world after appearing as the theme song for the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle starring Glenn Ford.

Though historically significant, Haley and his group had few hits in the U.S. His success was eclipsed in 1956 by a younger and sexier Elvis Presley, who soon owned the Rock and Roll brand created by Haley.

Bill Haley continued to perform throughout the world until is death in 1981 at the age of 55.