It's worthwhile to just, you know, take a look at old hits. Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and His Comets was released by Decca Records in the spring of 1954 as a b-side to Thirteen Women. Decca Records was a major label that split operations between London and New York City. Rock Around the Clock was written by someone else, but offered to Bill Haley to record because he had another hit. The initial decision to put Rock Around the Clock as a b-side.
Rock Around the Clock became a hit record after obtaining placement in the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle. This significant fact demonstrates the pre-existence of film as a "hit maker" as well as the nature of the relationship between film and music in terms of audience impact. Certainly, this fact is known to every music industry professional The hit status of Rock Around the Clock was 'officially' secured in July 1955, when it became the 'first rock song to top the billboard pop chart.'
One way to analyze the impact of singles vs. albums in the marketplace is to look at Decca's "Million Seller" list. There is a list of something close to 60 records- 56 are singles, 4 are albums. (BILLBOARD 08/54 PG.46)
It's important to emphasize the continuity in the music industry before and after *Rock Around the Clock*, rock and roll's first "hit" was released. Rock Around the Clock was not anexception for the sales itself, the chart phenomenon was already well established in 1954. The scope of sales was not extraordinary. Rather, it was the ability to attract a passionate new market to the marketplace for the wares of the major labels of the time.
Perhaps the interesting question in the story of Rock Around the Clock is "How did a B side get placed over the opening credits of a Hollywood feature 9 months after release?" In answering that question you might find an unsung genius of the music industry. Another thing to note- that is a 78 playing up there- not a 45.
Dedicated to classics and hits.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
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