On this day 23rd January 1956, Rock ‘n’ Roll fans in Cleveland aged under 18 were banned from dancing in public (unless accompanied by an adult), after Ohio Police introduced a law dating back to 1931.
A few months later in June Bill Haley and His Comets were denied permission to play at the Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City. A city ordnance was passed that read: “Rock and roll music encouraged juvenile delinquency and inspired young females in lewd bathing suits to perform obscene dances on the city’s beaches.”
It’s amazing now to look back at the early beginnings of the rock & roll movement and see how the media and authorities reacted to this new sensation. The younger generation were embracing this new phenomenon while the establishment were trying to do anything they could to halt these crazed young people!
Music historians tell us that the first rock ‘n’ roll song was the The Fat Man recorded in 1949 by Antoine “Fats” Domino, and when Bill Haley, formed the Comets in 1952, many considered them to be the first rock ‘n’ roll band.
Other innovations were instrumental in the development of rock ‘n’ roll, in 1954 all the record companies switched from 78’s to 45’s which came to symbolize a new era, and since 1951 the first juke-box machines that played 45 RPM records had begun to spread to every corner of the USA, in café bars and hotels, helping to spread the sound of rock ‘n’ roll.
In 1952 Gibson introduced its solid-body electric guitar, invented by Les Paul a few years earlier, and the following year Leo Fender introduced the Stratocaster guitar.
Rock Around The Clock was the first rock song used in a movie soundtrack when it was featured in “Blackboard Jungle”, reaching the masses and turning rock ‘n’ roll into a nation-wide phenomenon. The man who is commonly credited with inventing the term “rock ‘n’ roll” is disc-jockey, Alan Freed, who in 1951 started a radio program, “Moondog Rock ‘n’ Roll Party”, that broadcasted black music to an audience of white teenagers.
This music took hold of the younger North American generation who fell in love with this new rebellious, sexual energy they had never before encountered. Its initial appeal was to middle class white teenagers who parents hated this new music. New stars were launched – Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and a young handsome truck driver from Tupelo Mississippi called Elvis Presley. All these artists took this new style of music to another level it their own way.
On a lighter note, two years later, fans of rock & roll music were warned that tuning into music on the car radio could cost you more money. Researchers from the Esso gas company said the rhythm of rock & roll could cause the driver to be foot heavy on the pedal, making them waste fuel.
Rock ‘n’ roll was here to stay, and across the Atlantic thousands of young men had radio’s stuck to their ears in the hope of hearing their new idols. Record shops became meeting places to talk about and discover these new sounds. Young men like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and many more would all take rock ‘n’ roll to a new level.
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