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When is the 50th Anniversary of Rock & Roll?

One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock, rock!

As with any cultural phenomenon reasonable people can come to different conclusions about when rock and roll actually emerges. But the very nature of this celebration begs for such a definition, when are we supposed to celebrate?!

We decided we're just going to have to do some homework and come up with a reasonable answer to this question which might be debatable but at least is thoughtful and responsible.

Bobby Curtola photo
Rock legends Bobby Curtola and Bill Haley.
(used with permission of Bobby Curtola)

So we did a lot of historical research and determined that while it might be difficult to identify what might be the first actual rock and roll song it is clear that its significant cultural emergence occurred in the 1954-1955 time period. During this period we see what was to become rock and roll developing, virtually simultaneously, in Memphis via Sam Phillips and Sun Records, and in Chicago with Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry for Chess Music.

In the fall of 1954 Alan Freed officially attached a phrase he'd been using on his radio show for several years to a musical show he was producing, "The Rock & Roll Coronation Ball".

March 1955 saw the movie "Blackboard Jungle" released. The movie's opening scene features Bill Haley and the Comets performing "Rock Around The Clock" which then climbs to #1 on the charts and is generally credited as the first rock & roll song to hit #1. Whatever the previous history might have been this one event introduced rock & roll to millions and it never looked back.

So we're using the following as an official year-long celebration for rock and roll's 50th anniversary:

Starting Date: July 5, 2004 - 50 years to the day that Elvis Presley, in the studio at Sun Records in Memphis, records "That's Alright Mama".

Ending Date: July 5, 2005 - 50 years after "Rock Around the Clock" hits the top ten on the Billboard Charts firmly establishing rock & roll as an independent form of music as well as cultural phenomenon.