The song that inspired a movement and brought people together. At a time when society was divided, music was the only thing they had in common. The world looked entirely different, and Rock Around the Clock was largely responsible.
The song was a phenomenon. At a time,when American economy was booming, and the fruits of this prosperity were available to more people than ever before,the 1950s were also an era of great conflict. Marked by the nascent civil rights movement and the crusade against communism exposing the underlying divisions in American society—music was the only thing everyone had in common during this time period.
As the theme song for the film ‘Blackboard Jungle,’Rock around the Clock was one of the first records heard worldwide. Before it became a hit in summer 1955 – more than a year after it was recorded – rock ‘n’ roll was virtually an underground movement, something kids listened to on the sly,” wrote journalist Alex Frazer-Harrison. This changed after ‘Rock Around the Clock.’ The music was everywhere.
Blackboard Jungle is a social commentary film about teachers in an inter-racial inner-city school. In search of the kind of music teens like the film’s potential delinquents were listening to, director Richard Brooks,’ found the perfect theme song in ‘Rock around the Clock’– the first rock song ever used in a Hollywood feature. In addition to its innovative use of rock and roll in its soundtrack,the film is also remembered for the unusual breakout role of a black Bahamian-American cast member, future Oscar winner and star Sidney Poitier as a rebellious, yet musically talented student.
The film marked the rock and roll revolution as teens flocked to the film, dancing in theatre aisles as the song played over the opening credits. In some theaters, when the film was in first release, the song was not heard at all at the beginning of the film because rock and roll was considered a bad influence and screenings often lead to riots. Popularized by its use in the film, the song hit number one on the Billboard charts and remained there for eight weeks, eventually selling 25 million copies and becoming what Dick Clark called ‘The National Anthem of Rock’n’ Roll.’