1993 Bill Haley
- Honors the “Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll”
- Part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues set of the Legends of American Music Series
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Set: Legends of American Music (Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues)
Value: 29c, First-Class rate
First Day of Issue: June 16, 1993
First Day City: No official First Day city. Both Cleveland, Ohio and Santa Monica, California held cancellation ceremonies, but release was nationwide on the First Day of Issue.
Quantity Issued: 14,285,715
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Format: Semi-jumbo sheet stamp; printed in panes of 35 with six other stamps; 5 columns across and 7 rows down.
Why the stamp was issued: The Bill Haley stamp was issued as part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues se-tenant set of seven. This was the first full set in the Legends of American Music Series. Haley joined Elvis, Ritchie Valens, Dinah Washington, Otis Redding, Clyde McPhatter, and Buddy Holly, each real stars in their musical genre.
About the stamp design: The designer of the Bill Haley stamp was Mark Stutzman, with art direction by Howard Paine. Calligrapher Julien Waters did the typography (lettering) on the sheet’s top selvage. The selvage lettering includes the full name of the Legends of American Music Series in small upper-case letters. The Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues lettering is in an edgy, exciting typeface befitting the legends of two important musical styles.
Special design details: All seven stamps on the Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Bluessheet, including Bill Haley, have some design differences from their booklet-formatted stamps issued the same day. There is no thin frame line around the images on the sheet stamps, while there is one on the booklet stamps. The line of type that runs up the left side of the sheet stamps is longer on the sheet stamps than on the booklet stamps. Some colors on the sheet stamp are less vibrant as well.
First Day Ceremonies: First Day ceremonies were held inCleveland, Ohio (site of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame) and at the Santa Monica Pier in California with Dick Clark, former host of American Bandstand as the emcee. These weren’t official First Day Cities because the stamps went on sale nationwide on the same day.
About the set: TheLegends of American Music Series debuted on January 8, 1993 and ran until 1999. More than 70 artists are represented from all styles of music: rock and roll, rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and pop, opera and classical, gospel and folk. In addition to individual singers and Broadway musicals, subjects include bandleaders, classical composers, Hollywood songwriters and composers, plus conductors and lyricists.
The Legends of American Music Set was a huge advancement for diversity because it honored so many Black and female artists.
The 29c “young Elvis” – #2721, kicked off the series in a big and very public way. Its design was voted on by over one million Americans, about 75% of whom favored the young Elvis over the “old Elvis” version.
History the stamp represents: William John Clifton Haley was born on July 6, 1925, in Highland Park, Michigan. Called the “father of the rock revolution,” Haley and his band, the Comets, are credited with recording some of the first rock ‘n’ roll hits.
In 1929, Haley underwent an operation on his inner ear. A mistake was made that severed an optic nerve and left him blind in his left eye. Haley’s parents were both musicians – his father played the banjo and mandolin, and his mother played the keyboard. Haley said that as a child he made his own guitar out of cardboard, leading his parents to buy him a real one.
During the Depression, the Haley family moved to Bethel, Pennsylvania. Haley had one of his first stage appearances there when he was 13, playing guitar at an event for the Bethel Junior baseball team. Haley left home when he was 15 in search of fame and fortune. He sang and yodeled with several different bands. He was considered one of the country’s best yodelers and was called “Silver Yodeling Bill Haley.” He performed with the Down Homers and the Four Aces of Western Swing before starting his own country band, The Saddlemen, with which he was called “The Rambling Yodeler.”
The Saddlemen played dances, school events, and clubs around Philadelphia. Although they had their beginnings in the country music field, Haley and his band soon began adding Dixie, rhythm & blues, and pop – helping to create a whole new sound known as rock ‘n’ roll. The band changed its name during Labor Day weekend, 1952, to Bill Haley with Haley’s Comets, inspired by Halley’s Comet.
In 1953, Haley wrote and his band recorded “Crazy Man, Crazy,” which is considered the first rock and roll song to make it onto the American music charts, reaching #15 on Billboard. Shortly after, the band became Bill Haley & His Comets.
The band recorded Joe Turner’s hit “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” in 1954. It became a number-one best seller and placed Bill Haley and His Comets in the spotlight. A year later, his original composition “Rock Around the Clock” became one of the biggest selling singles in the world, reaching number one on the pop charts for seven weeks in a row. Featured as the theme song in the movie Blackboard Jungle, Haley’s song gave teenagers a music all their own. Haley’s appearances on Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater and the Ed Sullivan Show in 1955 marked some of the first nationally televised rock ‘n’ roll performances, helping to bring the new musical genre into people’s homes.
“Rock Around the Clock” is widely considered to mark the start of the age of rock music. It was also the first record to sell more than one million copies in Britain and Germany. Haley went on to become the first major American rock singer to tour Europe. And in 1956, he starred in the first rock and roll musical films, Rock Around the Clock and Don’t Knock the Rock.
Blazing new trails in both the US and Europe, Haley’s success laid the groundwork for Elvis and other rising rock stars of the 1950s. Though their successes soon surpassed his, Haley continued to have hits, such as “See You Later, Alligator.” Haley remained popular through much of the sixties and performed for Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Performance in 1979.
Haley had struggled with alcohol throughout his life and his behavior became increasingly erratic in the final years before his death on February 9, 1981. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and the National Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame in 2017. In 2006, an asteroid was named Billhaley to mark the 25th anniversary of the star’s death.