Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Of the early records that ended up in the "boys' room", the bedroom that I shared with my brothers, many were oldies. Many. We listened to Top 40, like all kids did back then, but we also listened to oldies almost more than current music. I've no clue why we latched onto oldies. It might have been because the playlists were vast, but repeated month after month, year after year, unlike Top 40 hits which came and went. Whatever the reason, we latched onto oldies when we were barely teens. To give you an idea, the first LPs that I remember my younger brother Ted buying were an Eddie Cochran two disc set, the Who's Who's Next, Black Sabbath Vol 4, and a Bill Haley and the Comets compilation. When he was twelve. Who buys Bill fucking Haley with their paper route money in the seventies? My brother Ted did.

Buying the compilations gave us an opportunity to hear deeper cuts than what the oldies stations played. Haley's a good case in point. How many people nowadays can name one Bill Haley and the Comets song that isn't "Rock Around the Clock". I know one who can. Ted.

This all came back to me this past weekend. Several months ago, someone had given Ted a busted up Rockola jukebox that didn't work. Being the kind of guy who never shrinks from rolling up his sleeves, he went to work right away cleaning it up. After getting the cosmetics taken care of, it looked good but mechanically was still kaput. He ended up finding a guy online that lived about an hour away that said that he would completely rehab the thing for $150 plus parts. He went for it, and when he got it back was ready to load it. He'd rounded up a sizable collection of 45s, around 600 or so, from estate sales. There must be a lot of aging rockers in his neck of the woods because he picked up a formidable catalog of good shit (The Killer on Sun! Little Richard on Specialty!). After all of that, which he shrugged off as not that big of a deal, the real work was just beginning. What to put on the damn thing.

This was a big deal. Me and my brothers have wanted a jukebox for years and years. Since we listened to oldies back in our bedroom. This would be the first. What would be the inaugural record to be loaded in? I don't think he's ever deliberated more about anything. Last weekend he called me. He had made his selection. Bill Haley and the Comets' "Rock Around the Clock" would be the first record loaded. He selected that one not for the well known hit, but the B side, "Thirteen Women". That particular song was a big favorite in the boys room, despite it's vintage. It's about a guy who has a dream about an H-bomb going off and the only people left in town are him and thirteen women. Can you imagine what thoughts go through a puberty age brain with a song like that? No competition! Thirteen women! Fuckin' sign me up, H-bomb or not!

Haley was the first rock 'n' roll star. He had a crack band and, despite sub-marquee looks and a somewhat advanced age (28 when he had his first hit), dazzled teens with his fun lovin', always smiling, stage presence. Check the videos. Dude had it down.

Bill Haley and the Comets - Thirteen Women mp3 at Internet Archive
Bill Haley and the Comets - Crazy Man Crazy mp3
at Russ Strathdee
Bill Haley and the Comets - Rock Around the Clock mp3
at Rocky 52
Bill Haley and the Comets - Mambo Rock mp3
at Rocky 52
Bill Haley and the Comets - See You Later Alligator mp3
at Rocky 52

Bill Haley and the Comets - Goofin' Around at YouTube Dig the licks.
Bill Haley and the Comets - Rip It Up at YouTube 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can identify completely! I started listening to the radio in 1976. I didn't have older siblings, and my parents pretty much only listened to classical music at that point, so I was on my own. At age 11, I was a bit young for punk, funk, hard rock, or jam bands, and I was a long way from discovering outlaw country. Listening to the radio meant a lot of soft rock garbage, but on Sunday night there was an oldies show, and it didn't take me long to figure out that I liked that stuff a lot better than Seals and Crofts and James Taylor. I grew up listening to music that was made before I started kindergarten - or before I was born - and I still listen to it, even though I've added 20 other genres that I also love. By the way, my (reissue) single of "Rock Around the Clock" had "Shake, Rattle & Roll" on the B side.