He's been called “The Father of Rock 'n Roll,” “The Godfather of Rock 'n Roll,” “The Grandfather of Rock 'n Roll,” and it wouldn't surprise me if someone started calling Bill Haley “The Great-Grandfather of Rock 'n Roll”.

Whichever name you prefer, nobody can deny the fact that Bill's 1955 #1 hit “Rock Around The Clock” kicked off the craze that was called Rock & Roll. Craze? Fad? It's more than that, because it's still going strong into the 2000s.

Bill Haley was a born Michigander. He came into the world on July 6, 1925 in the Detroit suburb of Highland Park, where the family lived at 395 Florence Street (photos of his former home site are in the gallery below). In 1929 when Bill was four, an incompetent inner-ear operation resulted in a severed optic nerve which permanently blinded his left eye.

99.1 WFMK logo
Get our free mobile app

In the 1930s the Great Depression hit the Detroit area hard, and in 1932 when Bill was seven, his father moved the family to Pennsylvania. Bill's father was a musician, skilled at mandolin & banjo, while his mother was a classically-trained keyboardist. Their interest in music had an influence on young Bill, who made his own toy guitar out of cardboard. Inspired by this, his parents bought him a real one. It didn't take long. By 1938 Bill – now thirteen years old - played his first gig at a baseball team event.

“Rock Around The Clock” was written in 1952 and first recorded by Sonny Dae & His Knights. Bill tried to record the song but each time he brought the music sheets in, the studio producer kept ripping them up, forbidding him to do the song. Why? Evidently there was a feud going on between producer Dave Miller and the song's co-writer Jimmy Myers. After signing with a new record label, Decca, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded the song and history was made.

When the TV show Happy Days debuted in the 1970s, “Rock Around The Clock” was used as the theme for the first two years, causing the single to again hit the Top 40, nineteen years after it's first run. Since then, the single has sold over 30 million copies, Haley was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and “Rock Around The Clock” was inducted into the National Recording Registry, assuring it as a “culturally significant recording”. Not bad for a man who was born in Highland Park and blind in one eye. Bill Haley died in 1981 at the age of 55.

Now take a look at the gallery below and see where his Michigan childhood home was located...it was demolished and left without any kind of Historical Marker.
That needs to be rectified...

Bill Haley, The Father of Rock 'n Roll


Aretha Franklin's Childhood Michigan Home

Motown's Martha Reeves

The Michigan Home of the Man Who Gave Us “Mony Mony”

More From 99.1 WFMK