BILL HALEY biography











William John Clifton Haley
Bill Haley
William John Clifton Haley was born 6th July 1925 at Highland Park, Michigan. His father, William Albert Haley was from Firebrick, Kentucky. His mother, Maude Green was English, she came from Ulverston in Lancashire and emigrated to the States during her teens. Later the family moved to Boothwyn, near the town of Chester, Pennsylvania.

At home, Bill was surrounded by music, his father played Banjo, his mother who had been classically trained, taught piano.

His first performances date from about 1938, when as a child he sang and played guitar at variety shows, put on by local children to raise money for local causes. Haley was a shy child, perhaps due to the fact that he had been blind in his left eye since infancy.  This made him extremely self conscious about his appearance.

In his late teens, Bill found work playing the local amusement parks, which featured live entertainment. His first break came when he signed on with 'Cousin Lee's Band' who had a popular radio show. Haley sang, played his guitar and yodelled. Because of his disability, he avoided being called into the armed forces in WWII. At this time a group called the 'Downhomers' were looking for a singing yodeller to replace their lead singer, who had been drafted in 1944. Haley joined the group and even at this early stage was talking about combining country and pop music. At the age of 22, Bill left the 'Downhomers', and returned to Chester to host a local radio programme on the newly formed station WPWA. At this time he also married his childhood sweetheart Dorothy Crowe a beautiful part American Indian girl.

the Four Aces of Western Swing
In 1948, Bill released his first records on the 'Cowboy' label with his backing group  the 'Four Aces of Western Swing', made up of  Al Constantine (Accordion), Barney Barnard (bass) and Tex King (guitar)

The Saddlemen
The Twin BarsThe 'Four Aces' disbanded in mid '49 and Haley formed a new band, 'The Saddlemen' which in turn was ultimately to become the very first rock and roll band in history, the 'Comets'. Al Rex on bass, Billy Williamson on steel guitar and  Johnny Grande played piano and accordion. Haley fronted this group wearing a ten-gallon stetson covering his trademark kiss-curl, a hair style he developed to take attention away from his blind eye. Bass player Al Rex would leave the group in 1951 to be replaced by 17 year old Marshall Lytle.

AudioClick HERE to hear Bill and Billy Williamson on the air at WPWA

Click HERE to read about how the Saddlemen became the Comets