It was at a Ball at the Trocadero in August 1955, sixty years ago this month, that I first heard it live; ‘Rock Around the Clock’ changed everything.
The film Blackboard Jungle starring Glenn Ford was playing at the St James Theatre; ‘Rock Around the Clock’ was its soundtrack theme. But hearing it live was terrific. The smart crowd in their evening wear simply wouldn’t leave the dance floor. The Trocadero band, a fine swing band, had to play ‘Rock Around the Clock’ four times in a row. Music had changed forever in just one song.
Rock ‘n Roll really arrived in that track by Bill Haley and His Comets, a blending of Country music with Rhythm & Blues. The next big R’nR hits came along in the following year with The Platters ‘The Great Pretender’ and Elvis, already a huge star, with ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. Romantic hits continued to come from Frank Sinatra and Doris Day. Movie versions of Oklahoma and Guys and Dolls also premiered in 1955. Haley and His Comets toured Australia in early 1957. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were nearly a decade away.
In the meantime Sydney was changing also; the St James Theatre closed in the late sixties along with the other picture palaces, the Prince Edward and Regent, although the State hung on to become ‘heritage’. But rock ‘n roll wasn’t to blame for any of that. Sadly the Trocadero closed in February 1971 but the world was rocking on and still is.
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