Who was/is Bill Haley ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

Bill Haley

The hoopla surrounding the purported fiftieth anniversary of Rock 'n' Roll  2004 didn't quite ring true. Bill Haley might have lobbied for 2001...fifty years after he'd covered Rocket '88'; or 2002…fifty years after he'd recorded Rock The Joint; or 2003...fifty years after he broke into the pop charts with Crazy, Man, Crazy, a record that fit every criterion of rock 'n' roll.  But, of course, Bill Haley said not a word; he had died neglected and alone on the Mexican border in 1981, and even at the time of his death he was wondering why he'd been written out of the story.

True, the Pennsylvania polka bars and union halls where Bill Haley stumbled upon his music didn't have the eye candy appeal of Memphis after dark, and true, kids didn't want to be Bill Haley as they wanted to be Elvis Presley, but he was absolutely, definitively first.

Perhaps the only ingredient of rock 'n' roll (as we would come know it) that's missing from these recordings is the music's democratic ideal. You could buy a guitar and with a little aptitude and a few weeks' patient study you could pick out a Duane Eddy tune or an Elvis solo, but you would not be able to play much of the music on this collection.  

The basic truth about rock 'n' roll

The basic truth about rock 'n' roll has been reiterated in thousands of books, documentaries, and articles. It was the fusion of R&B, country, and pop, but while Elvis talked about seeing the very primitive Arthur Crudup, Bill Haley's idea of R&B was the tightly marshaled swing of Louis Jordan and the showmanship of the Treniers. While Elvis thought of Hank Williams and Bill Monroe as country, Bill Haley thought of the Sons of the Pioneers. It was a difference that resolved itself to age and geography.

Elvis was ten years younger than Bill Haley, and he came from the South, while Haley grew up on the east coast. Make no mistake, though, Bill Haley paved the way for Elvis. When RCA Victor in New York signed Elvis away from Sun Records, they were hoping they'd signed someone who could reach the market that Haley had opened up: a market that no one knew existed before Haley.

The full story of Bill Haley

The full story of Bill Haley's early years is told in Chris Gardner's extended biography. Included with our definitive collection of early Bill Haley, 'The Real Birth Of Rock 'n' Roll' (BCD 16509). Briefly, William John Clifton Haley was born on July 6, 1925 in the Detroit suburb of Highland Park.

His father, Bill Sr., was a transplanted Kentuckian and his mother, Maude, was British. Bill Sr. moved the family to Boothwyn, Pennsylvania during the Depression and kept his head above water by working in the shipyards. He played the banjo and Maude played light classics on the piano. Bill Jr.'s desire to play music was inhibited only by the shyness that probably stemmed from self consciousness over his one blind eye.

Before the end of the Second World War, though, Bill Haley was trying to carve out a career in music. He was very much in the thrall of pre-War faux cowboy music. He wore the hat, sang the songs of an idealized west, and yodeled. In fact, he told Canadian dee-jay Red Robinson that he was an Indiana state yodeling champion, although no one has ever been able to confirm (or deny) that claim. There were rumors that he'd made his first recordings with the Downhomers in 1945, but that seems unlikely. By the end of 1947, Haley was back in eastern Pennsylvania after stints throughout the northeast, and made what were probably his first recordings for Jack Howard's Arcade Records with his group, the Four Aces of Western Swing.

Billy Williamson and Johnny Grande

He had a spot on WPWA in Chester, Pennsylvania, and formed a partnership with two future Comets, steel guitarist Billy Williamson and accordionist Johnny Grande. He'd also signed away parts of his income, apparently in perpetuity, thereby setting the stage for the financial problems that would dog him to the grave…and beyond. In 1948, though, a percentage of Haley's income didn't amount to much. "I was working until 2:00am in the clubs and opening the station [WPWA] at 6:00am," he recalled to the 'Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin'. "Seven days a week!"

In 1949, Haley changed the name of his group to the Saddlemen (to avoid conflict with another popular local group, the Four Aces) and moved them through a number of brief label affiliations, including a fling with Atlantic Records via a lease deal. In 1951, Haley signed with Dave Miller, an engaging if morally ambiguous man. Who at least knew how to get records distributed outside eastern Pennsylvania. (one of his labels, Palda, issued records by the other Four Aces). Miller later found his niche as one of the godfathers of the budget record business. At one time, was responsible for more records cluttering up thrift stores and charity shops than anyone else—even Andy Williams.  

 

Dave Miller

Dave Miller met Bill Haley at the Twin Bars in Gloucester, New Jersey, where the Saddlemen had a regular gig. Miller had just taken a sales trip down South and returned with a copy of Jackie Brenston's Rocket '88', then atop the R&B charts. The practice of covering R&B songs for the country market was gathering steam, and Miller saw potential for Rocket '88' in the country market. "I played the record for Bill," Miller said in an interview quoted in 'The Real Birth Of Rock 'n' Roll,' "and he was quite reluctant to record it as it wasn't his 'bag' – he being a country artist. But Billy Williamson and a few of the other fellows in the band said Bill, we have nothing to lose, so Bill did make the cover of 'Rocket '88', which sold very well locally. If Haley was truly reluctant, he nevertheless brought a distinctly black feel to his recording. It was the first intimation of greatness. The other side, Green Tree Boogie, was more firmly in the country boogie mold. (ie. with the emphasis firmly, if engagingly, on country)  

Now we fast-forward to 1952.

R&B bandleader Jimmy Preston, who was from Haley's adopted hometown, Chester, cut the frantic Rock The Joint as a Good Rockin' Tonight spinoff in 1949. An R&B dee-jay in Chester used Preston's record as his themesong, so Haley undoubtedly knew it well. "Out on the job one night, just kidding the band," Haley told 'TV Radio Mirror' in 1957, "I went into 'Rock The Joint.' Billy (Williamson) and Johnny (Grande) started to laugh and joined in. Al Rex hit it on the bass. We really got a kick out of it ourselves. Then I looked around -and, so help me- people were dancing. I turned to the guys and said, 'What on earth did I do?"  The guitar solo was by Danny Cedrone, leader of another local group, the Esquire Boys.

It doesn't take a degree in musicology to figure out that it's the same solo that Cedrone would replicate almost note-for-note on Rock Around The Clock two years later. It was a fiendishly difficult solo, and the first great rock 'n' roll guitar setpiece. Haley, incidentally, wrote Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie for Cedrone's Esquire Boys. Parenthetically, it's worth noting that Haley's record wasn't the first white cover version of Rock The Joint; that honor goes to the sadly neglected Jimmy Cavallo, who, in 1951, cut a version modeled closely on Preston's. Haley seemed reluctant to commit himself to this new music. Preferring the economic certainties of the east coast country music dances. But he slowly began to realize that he'd seen the future…and it rocked.

The Saddlemen became the Comets

At the suggestion of Bix Reichner (who hosted a jazz show on WPWA and later wrote songs for Haley), the Saddlemen became the Comets, and the first single under the new name was Real Rock Drive. Although credited as the composer, Haley had in fact rewritten Tani Allen and Buck Turner's Bullet recording of Tennessee Jive. Bullet's publishing company, Volunteer Music, sued right away, despite Turner's advice that they should wait to see if Haley's disc became a hit. Essex stopped working Haley's record, and promptly issued Crazy Man Crazy.Haley's new manager, 'Lord' Jim Ferguson, persuaded Haley to quit the beer joints in favour of high school gigs. Despite the fact that it meant a drop in earnings. It proved the smartest thing we ever tried, wrote Haley's accordionist, Johnny Grande, in 1957. The kids taught us.  

We tried our experiments on them.

When their shoulders started moving and their feet started tapping and their hands clapping. We knew that a certain tune was worth keeping in the act....Bill noticed that their favorite expression was 'Crazy!'. He took their word and their football chant, 'Go! Go! Go!' and gave it back to them in a song".  Crazy Man Crazy entered the Pop Top 10 and the die was cast. Everyone around Haley began to sense that they were onto something – even if no-one knew quite what. Grande described the painstaking process by which Haley had evolved his sound: We rehearsed in the studio every day for two years. One of the engineers gave us a big assist by putting our trial runs on tape.  And playing them back so that we could study them.

When we were broke he would sort of delay putting it on the bill. Always we were looking for something. We'd take a standard like 'Ida' and we'd play it every way we could think of; - fast, slow, loud, soft, hillbilly, waltz, dixie, progressive. 'Haley was like a scientist putting one thing after another into a test tube,' Billy (Williamson) says. 'And he'd be so happy when one experiment turned out right'. One of the most important experiments happened one day when we were studying some Count Basie records. Since we didn't have brasses, we fooled around with the strings, trying to get the same effect, trying to build volume. Haley with the bass discovered that when he plucked the strings in the accepted way, it came out rrom-pahhh. If he back slapped them, it changed the accent to rrom-pahhh. That's how the heavy back beat became the basic form in our rock & roll."  

Crazy Man Crazy

The follow-ups to Crazy Man Crazy showed that Haley still hadn't truly grasped what was happening. At two of the sessions after Crazy Man Crazy, though, he presented a song called Rock Around The Clock. But Dave Miller refused to cut it because of an ongoing dispute with the music publisher and co-writer, James Myers. The song had been written in 1953 by Max C. Freedman, a Philadelphia songwriter, already 60 years old. He'd written Sioux City Sue in 1945, and had worked stints as an announcer and radio personality.

He would later put lyrics to operettas. After Miller refused to cut Rock Around The Clock, Myers placed it with veteran country artist Sonny Dae. The song made its inauspicious debut on Jack Howard's Arcade label! Bill Haley Bill Haley - Bill Rocks

Read more at: https://www.bear-family.com/haley-bill-bill-haley-bill-rocks.html Copyright © Bear Family Records

More information about Bill Haley on Wikipedia.org

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See You Later Alligator (LP, 10inch, Ltd.) Bill Haley & His Comets: See You Later Alligator (LP, 10inch, Ltd.) Art-Nr.: BAF110012

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10inch LP (Limited edition - black vinyl) 10 tracks. Unique 10inch 11000 LP collector's series Reissue of the rare Brasilian LP Decca SLP-7029 Plus 2 bonus tracks! Reproduction of the rare original album cover Painstakingly remastered...
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The Father Of Rock & Roll - Book 2 - The Rock & Roll Revival Years And Bill Haley´s Legacy  Bill Haley: The Father Of Rock & Roll - Book 2 - The Rock &... Art-Nr.: 00088740

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Taschenbuch 568 pages, Publisher Books on Demand, Language: Englisch ISBN-10: 3741248746, 14.8 x 2.9 x 21 cm 'I owe him so much.. .without him, I would not have discovered rock & roll...' Elvis Presley 'Bill Haley was a very nice...
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The Father Of Rock & Roll - The Rise of Bill Haley Bill Haley: The Father Of Rock & Roll - The Rise of Bill Haley Art-Nr.: 00088566

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Paperback 538 pages, Publisher Books on Demand, Language: Englisch ISBN-10: 3741248568, 14.8 x 2.8 x 21 cm , Book One of a 1000 pages biography on Bill Haley. On April 12th 1954, Bill Haley & His Comets created the "National Anthem Of...
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Heroes Collection (2-CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: Heroes Collection (2-CD) Art-Nr.: CDPGD053

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(Pegasus) 50 tracks
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Rock Around The Clock aka 'The Seeds Of Violence' (LP, 10inch, Ltd.) Bill Haley & The Comets: Rock Around The Clock aka 'The Seeds Of... Art-Nr.: SLP7001R

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(Jacaré) 10 tracks • Stunning reproduction artwork • Limited Edition only 500 copies worldwide • Features 10 classic Bill Haley And The Comets rockers in stunning sound quality The rare 1955 Brazilian 10inch LP ‘ Rock Around The Clock ’...
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Strictly Instrumental (CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: Strictly Instrumental (CD) Art-Nr.: CDHALL692

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(Hallmark) 12 Tracks - Reissue of the original 1959 Decca album!
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Rock Around The Clock & Rock 'N Roll Stage Show (CD) Bill Haley & The Comets: Rock Around The Clock & Rock 'N Roll Stage Show... Art-Nr.: CDHALL706422

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(2007/Hallmark) 25 tracks
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Still Rockin' Around The Clock (CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: Still Rockin' Around The Clock (CD) Art-Nr.: CDBMG44687

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(1998/BMG) 10 tracks
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Live In Paris 14-15 Octobre 1958 (CD) Bill Haley & The Comets: Live In Paris 14-15 Octobre 1958 (CD) Art-Nr.: CDFA5671

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(2017/Fremeaux) 19 tracks (50:38) - Killer live album in very good quality! Hear the complete concert including speeches to the crowds (goin' wild) rocks - highly recommended.*****(Bear Family Records)
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The Best Of Bill Haley And The Comets (LP) Bill Haley & His Comets: The Best Of Bill Haley And The Comets (LP) Art-Nr.: LPHO19

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(Polydor) 12 tracks - The compilation includes 1969 live recordings from'The Bitter End' Club in New York City
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Bill Haley's Chicks - Strictly Instrumental (CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: Bill Haley's Chicks - Strictly Instrumental (CD) Art-Nr.: CDDL78821

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(1996/Timeless 'n' Tunes) 24 tracks - Two original albums from 1959 and 1960 - both are in Stereo!
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The Decca Years And More (5-CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: The Decca Years And More (5-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD15506

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(1990/Bear Family Records) 132 tracks + Book Rock'n'Roll begins here. This set includes everything that Bill Haley recorded for Decca between 1954 and 1960, and again in 1964. All the hits, all the misses, all the album tracks, even two...
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Crazy Man Crazy (LP, 10inch, Ltd.) Bill Haley: Crazy Man Crazy (LP, 10inch, Ltd.) Art-Nr.: BAF11007

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Bill Haley ,&, His Comets: Crazy Man Crazy BEAR FAMILY Vinyl Club Exclusive limited collector's edition, order now from Bear Family's Shop and Mailorder - no terms and conditions for dealers! 10inch LP (limited edition - colored...
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R.O.C.K.! (CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: R.O.C.K.! (CD) Art-Nr.: CDBH111

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31 Tracks - Original 1950s Decca recordings plus one 1979 Sonet number! A rarity!
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Holiday-Essex Rockabilly Sessions 1951-53 (CD, Japan) Bill Haley & His Comets: Holiday-Essex Rockabilly Sessions 1951-53 (CD,... Art-Nr.: CDPVINE1947

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(1993/P-Vine Japan) 12 Tracks - Rare Japan version! Collector's item! Still factory sealed!
$56.11
Rock Around the Clock (CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: Rock Around the Clock (CD) Art-Nr.: CD26487

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25 original tracks - total playing time - 64:33 On 12 April 1954. Bill Haley and his Comets crowned their first session in New York for Decca Records with a recording of Rock Around The Clock, a novelty song co-written by Haley's manager...
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Rock & Roll Legends Series (CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: Rock & Roll Legends Series (CD) Art-Nr.: CD3051849

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(2008/UNIVERSAL) 20 tracks, digipac
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The Ultimate Collection (2-CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: The Ultimate Collection (2-CD) Art-Nr.: CD9829103

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(2006/Spectrum) 42 Tracks, Decca 1954 - 1964!
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Master Series (1968-79) (CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: Master Series (1968-79) (CD) Art-Nr.: CD533946

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(1997/Polygram) 18 Songs
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From The Original Master Tapes (CD Japan) Bill Haley & His Comets: From The Original Master Tapes (CD Japan) Art-Nr.: CDWMC591

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(1990/MCA Japan) 20 trascks - mono masters. Collector's item, still factory sealed!
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Bill Haley & Friends, Vol.1 - Merry Christmas (CD) Bill Haley & Friends: Bill Haley & Friends, Vol.1 - Merry Christmas (CD) Art-Nr.: CDBCK27109

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(1998/Hydra) 18 tracks - Collection of unreleased sides and rare Single tracks plus a stunning 28 page booklet of fantastic photos The first Volume in the Bill Haley & Friends series brings you all the known Christmas recordings of Bill...
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Rock Around The Clock (CD) Bill Haley & The Comets: Rock Around The Clock (CD) Art-Nr.: CD112601

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​(2001/Universal/Rotation) 28 tracks
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20 Golden Pieces Haley, Bill & His Comets: 20 Golden Pieces Art-Nr.: BDL2002

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(1978/Bulldog) 20 tracks, 60s recordings for the Sonet and the Ember label!
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In Mexico - Twist Espanol (2-CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: In Mexico - Twist Espanol (2-CD) Art-Nr.: CDJAS800

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(2015/JASMINE) 47 tracks 1961-62
$19.04
Rock Around The Clock (Japan Vinyl-LP) Bill Haley & His Comets: Rock Around The Clock (Japan Vinyl-LP) Art-Nr.: LPP6208

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(Decca Records/Japan) 12 tracks
$28.03
Extended Play (25cm - EP - small center) Bill Haley & His Comets: Extended Play (25cm - EP - small center) Art-Nr.: BHEP0001

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​(1989/Sonet) 3 tracks, collector item
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Let The Good Times Roll Bill Haley & His Comets: Let The Good Times Roll Art-Nr.: CDLIV6725

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(2014/LiveItUp) 26 tracks (79:34) 1970-76 with 36 page booklet with tons of rare photos, recommended discography selection and a Comets member listing! Contains following material: 'Live In London '74' (1974), Rudy Pompilli And The...
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Otto Fuchs: Father Of Rock & Roll Bill Haley & His Comets: Otto Fuchs: Father Of Rock & Roll Art-Nr.: 0008086

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(Wagner) English, Paperback, 200x130 mm, 1070 pages, b&w photos.
$33.48
Otto Fuchs: Vater des Rock & Roll (Deutsch) Bill Haley & His Comets: Otto Fuchs: Vater des Rock & Roll (Deutsch) Art-Nr.: 0008087

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(2008/WAGNER) Deutsch, Kartoniert, 202x131 mm, 777 Seiten, s/w Fotos.
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Presenting...7inch, 45rpm, EP, PS Bill Haley & His Comets: Presenting...7inch, 45rpm, EP, PS Art-Nr.: EPPAMA4111

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Shake, Rattle & Roll - R-O-C-K 7inch, 45rpm Bill Haley & His Comets: Shake, Rattle & Roll - R-O-C-K 7inch, 45rpm Art-Nr.: MB45562

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$6.18
Greatest Hits Bill Haley & His Comets: Greatest Hits Art-Nr.: ASTLP2027

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(MCA/ASTOR AUS) 11 tracks Stereo
$15.17
Music Ages EP Series Bill Haley & His Comets: Music Ages EP Series Art-Nr.: CD34082

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(2009/MUSICAGES) 16 tracks, original recordings
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Star-Club präsentiert ... Bill Haley & His Comets: Star-Club präsentiert ... Art-Nr.: CD5312803

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(2008/UNIVERSAL) 28 tracks, recorded 1954-59
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Rock Around The Clock - Papersleeve Bill Haley & His Comets: Rock Around The Clock - Papersleeve Art-Nr.: CD3930611

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(2006/MAGIC) 24 tracks 1948-56 recorded for Essex, Transworld and Decca. 24bit-mastering
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The Story Rock Around The Clock   2-CD Bill Haley & Friends: The Story Rock Around The Clock 2-CD Art-Nr.: CDBCK27128

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(2006/HYDRA) 64 tracks with 48 page booklet - contains 31 different versions by Bill Haley 1954-2000 plus 33 cover versions by different artists - booklet with discographical files and rare photos.
$22.35
For Dancers Only (CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: For Dancers Only (CD) Art-Nr.: CDREV95

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(2005/REV-OLA) 25 tracks
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Live At The Birmingham Odeon 1979 (0) Bill Haley & His Comets: Live At The Birmingham Odeon 1979 (0) Art-Nr.: DVDMRA0666

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(2005/MRA) PAL, 12 tracks - bescheidene Qualität ! Bill Haley & The Comets - one of the pioneers of Rock 'N' Roll had enjoyed numerous Rockabilly revivals by the time they recorded this gig at the Brimingham Odeon in the UK in 1979. The...
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Bill Haley - Bill  Rocks Bill Haley & His Comets: Bill Haley - Bill Rocks Art-Nr.: BCD16807

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1-CD-Album DigiPac (6-seitig) with 32-page booklet, 31 tracks, playing time 79:48 minutes. The hoopla surrounding the purported fiftieth anniversary of rock 'n' roll in 2004 didn't quite ring true. Yes, Elvis made his first record in...
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Rock’n’Roll Arrives… The Real Birth Of Rock’n’Roll 1946-1954 (5-CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: Rock’n’Roll Arrives… The Real Birth Of... Art-Nr.: BCD16509

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5-CD box (LP-size) with 100-page hardcover book, 113 tracks. Playing time 287:22 mns For the first and only time…absolutely all of Bill Haley ’s pre-Decca recordings. Other companies have tried to gather Bill Haley’s groundbreaking early...
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Rip It Up Rock & Roll Bill Haley & His Comets: Rip It Up Rock & Roll Art-Nr.: LPVSOP116

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(1988/MCA) 24 tracks, original Decca recordings! Great sound! Linernotes are by Tom Ingram!
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Birth Of A Legend...plus Bill Haley & His Comets: Birth Of A Legend...plus Art-Nr.: CD3930401

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(2004/MAGIC) 24 tracks 1949-1974 - 24 Bit mastering Digipack with 8 page booklet Rock 'N' Roll Jubilee by Jacques Barsamian & Martial Matinay 50th Anniversary Original versions restored & remastered include booklet with french & english...
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Rock Around The Clock...plus Bill Haley & His Comets: Rock Around The Clock...plus Art-Nr.: CDDECCA1705

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(2004/UNIVERSAL) 15 tracks
$14.49
The Legendary Cowboy Recordings Bill Haley & Friends: The Legendary Cowboy Recordings Art-Nr.: CDBCK27120

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(2003/HYDRA) 29 tracks/36 page booklet (And Friends Vol.2); Die CD bietet neben einem reich bebildertem und informativen Booklet eine Werkschau des Cowboy Record Labels aus Philadelphia, das von 1945 bis 1950 existierte. Country &...
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Vive la Rock & Roll - Paris 1958 Bill Haley & His Comets: Vive la Rock & Roll - Paris 1958 Art-Nr.: CDBBR00073

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Digipac with 12 page booklet - recorded at the Olympia, October 1958 - back in stock / wieder lieferbar! Killer live album in very good quality! Hear the complete concert incl. speeches to the crowds (goin' wild) rocks - highly...
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On The Air Bill Haley & His Comets: On The Air Art-Nr.: CDBCK27112

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Rare recordings & jingles - with 32 page booklet!
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Classic Bill Haley & His Comets: Classic Art-Nr.: CD112174

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CD on MCA RECORDS by Bill Haley & His Comets - Classic
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Best Bill Haley & His Comets: Best Art-Nr.: CDHMN043

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(1999/UNIVERSAL UK) 28 tracks (Decca) 61:43
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The Warner Brothers Years And More (6-CD) Bill Haley & His Comets: The Warner Brothers Years And More (6-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD16157

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6-CD box (LP-format) with 40-page book, 158 tracks. Playing time approx. 415 mns. BCD 16157-EI BILL HALEY : THE WARNER BROTHERS YEARS AND MORE INTRODUCTION Anyone reading this, particularly if they already own the previous Bear Family...
$112.28 $123.51
On Screen Bill Haley & His Comets: On Screen Art-Nr.: CDBCK27107

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Die Film und Fernsehaufnahmen aus New York (Alan Freed Show), Berlin und Hollywood und drei Titel für die Wochenschau aus der Grugahalle in Essen von 1958 ! 28 seitiges Booklet mit vielen raren Fotos! The movie and TV-appereances from...
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