The music industry spends millions trying to chart trends, isolate demographics and generally predict the necessary ingredients for a No. 1 single. But every now and then a song comes along that makes it all the way to the top end of the charts by sheer fluke.
6Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley
Rock Around the Clock (RATC), however, was the first-ever rock song to hit No. 1 on the pop charts, thus transforming rock from a mere novelty act to a dominant force of popular music and the No. 1 cause of boob autographs in Western culture.
Not always a good thing.
And it almost never happened. In fact, if it hadn't been for the musical taste of a single teenage boy, the song that made rock cool might have disappeared into obscurity, opening the door for popular music evolution to travel down a completely different path.
On second thought, we may be willing to risk it. Fire up the time machine.
When Haley recorded RATC, his producer insisted on slapping the song on the B side of the record. For anyone who doesn't know, the B side of a single was traditionally reserved for experimental songs, halfhearted instrumentals and that song the drummer wrote about his ex-girlfriend. In other words, it was filler.
Most animals couldn't be bothered to piss on a B side.
Selected for the A side was a song called Thirteen Women. Know it? Of course not -- no one does. Having spent most of their studio time on the A side, they were left with only 40 minutes to arrange and record RATC. Session guitarist Danny Cedrone just repeated a guitar solo he'd already used on previous records, and the band grinded out the legendary recording in two takes. Thirteen Women was released and barely touched the lower reaches of the charts before quickly disappearing from American culture. And that's where the story would have ended if one of the people who bought Thirteen Women hadn't been a boy named Peter Ford.
Gaze upon the face of white-hot teenage rebellion.
Peter's father, Glenn Ford, was about to star in a gritty film called Blackboard Jungle, a story about a teacher trying to cope with a classroom filled with a gang of juvenile delinquents lead by Sidney Poitier.
Ford and the producers, deciding that they needed some music in the film that represented what the kids were listening to, raided Peter's record collection. RATC fit the bill perfectly, and they set the opening and closing credits to the song.
The movie and the song were a huge success. Kids were coming to the theater just to hear RATC over the credits. Teenagers in England were actually rioting in the theaters. RATC and rock 'n' roll in general became indelibly associated with youth and rebellion.
And that's when hair got fucking real.
After it was hastily reissued it as an A side, the song went straight to No. 1 and stayed there for eight weeks. Since then it's sold an estimated 25 million copies, making it the fourth-best-selling record of all time, right behind Bing Crosby's Silent Night. He, of course, has the advantage of his song being a guaranteed inclusion on every single Christmas compilation album ever released till the end of time.