Jersey town claims role in rock's birth

June 21, 2007 at 2:39 PM
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GLOUCESTER CITY, N.J., June 21 (UPI) -- Britain may have given the rock 'n' roll world the British invasion but a New Jersey town says it gave the world rock 'n' roll.

The source for Gloucester City's claim -- it joins Wildwood, N.J.; Memphis; Cleveland; and Hattiesburg, Miss., in this assertion -- is Bill Haley, credited by many with first popularizing the genre in the mid-1950s.

On July 14, Gloucester City is throwing a free rockabilly concert outside Jack's Bar & Grill, to commemorate this community's role in rock's development, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday. During the concert, a plaque will be unveiled proclaiming the city's claim to fame.

In 1951 and 1952, Haley and his country band, the Saddlemen, played at Jack's when it was the Twin Bar, performing a country-rhythm-and-blues mix, according to the locals. A biography co-written by the Haley's son, John, noted that during the Twin Bar gigs, Haley's "version of 'We're Gonna Rock This Joint Tonight' would vibrate off the walls so hard you could feel the music!"

"Rock This Joint" brought about "Rock Around the Clock." The Saddlemen became the Comets. Haley, who died in 1981, was inducted posthumously in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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