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The Comets Timeline

1920

Danny Cedrone, session guitarist for Bill Haley and His Comets, is born in Jamesville, NY.

1921

Ralph Jones, drummer for Bill Haley and His Comets, is born in Pennsylvania.

1921

Fran Beecher, session guitarist for Bill Haley and His Comets, is born in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

1924

Dick Richards (birth name: Dick Boccelli), drummer for Bill Haley and His Comets, is born in Yeadon, Pennsylvania.

1924

Rudy Pompilli, saxophonist for Bill Haley and His Comets, is born in Chester, Pennsylvania.

1925

Billy Williamson, steel guitar player for Bill Haley and His Comets, is born in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

1928

Al Rex (birth name: Albert Piccirilli), bassist for Bill Haley and His Comets, is born in New York City.

1930

Johnny Grande, pianist for Bill Haley and His Comets, is born in Philadelphia.

1933

Marshall Lytle, bassist for Bill Haley and His Comets, is born in Old Fort, North Carolina.

1934

Joey D’Ambrosio (a.k.a. Joey Ambrose), saxophonist for Bill Haley and His Comets, is born in Philadelphia.

1951

Bill Haley records a cover of Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88,” possibly qualifying it as the first rock and roll record by a white artist.

1952

Bill Haley records a rocking version of Jimmy Preston’s R&B song “Rock the Joint.” The guitar solo by Danny Cedrone is very similar to the one he will play on “Rock Around the Clock.”

1953

Bill Haley records “Crazy, Man, Crazy,” a slang-filled song that will reach #12 and is considered by some to be the first rock and roll record.

1954

Bill Haley and His Comets record “Rock Around the Clock” at Pythian Temple, a New York studio.

1954

“Rock Around the Clock” debuts as the B side of “Thirteen Women,” reaching #56.

1954

Danny Cedrone, session guitarist for Bill Haley and His Comets, dies in South Philadelphia from injuries suffered in a fall. He is thirty-three years old.

1954

“Shake, Rattle and Roll,” Bill Haley and His Comets’ cover of Big Joe Turner’s R&B hit, reaches #7.

1955

Blackboard Jungle - a drama about high-school delinquency that uses “Rock Around the Clock,” by Bill Haley and His Comets, in its soundtrack – is released.

1955

“Rock Around the Clock,” by Bill Haley and His Comets, reaches Number One for the first of eight weeks.

1955

Joey Ambrose, Dick Richards and Marshall Lytle leave Bill Haley and His Comets and form the Jodimars.

1955

Elvis Presley and Bill Haley and His Comets share a bill at a high school in Cleveland, Ohio.

1955

Bill Haley and His Comets record “See You Later, Alligator.” It will enter the Top Forty in January 1956 and peak at #6.

1956

Rock Around the Clock, a rock and roll film starring Bill Haley and His Comets – who performs nine songs – is released.

1956

Bill Haley and His Comets, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, and the Platters embark on rock and roll’s first package tour, dubbed “Galaxy of the Stars.”

1974

A reissued “Rock Around the Clock,” by Bill Haley and His Comets, cracks the Top Forty for one week nineteen years after it topped the chart.

1976

Rudy Pompilli, saxophonist for Bill Haley and His Comets, dies of lung cancer in Philadelphia. He is fifty-one years old.

1996

Billy Williamson, steel guitar player for Bill Haley and His Comets, dies of cancer in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. He is seventy-one years old.

2000

Ralph Jones, drummer for Bill Haley and His Comets, dies in Chester, Pennsylvania. He is seventy-nine years old.

2006

Johnny Grande, pianist for Bill Haley and His Comets, dies of cancer in Clarkesville, Tennessee. He is seventy-six years old.

2012

The Comets are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the 27th annual induction dinner. Smokey Robinson is their presenter.