Coming soon…. the NEW Comets DVD!

Marshall Lytle of the Comets

I recently completed one of the coolest video jobs I’ve had the privilege to work on. I just produced and directed a music concert DVD of the one of the true pioneers in the world of rock ‘n’ roll- Bill Haley’s Original Comets.

Even though Bill Haley died in 1981, his original bandmates are still carrying on, putting on a highly charged show, outstaging other musicians half their age. The concert for this upcoming DVD took place in San Francisco in 2004, featuring bandmembers Marshall Lytle, Joey Ambrose, Johnny Grande, Dick Richards, and Franny Beecher. With the exception of Franny, who joined the Comets in 1955, this was THE band that recorded “Rock Around the Clock” in 1954.

Over the years, the original members left Bill Haley, who hired an assortment of other musicians to become “The Comets.” By 1963, none of the original Comets were still in Bill Haley’s band. Marshall, Lytle, and Dick formed a new band known as “The Jodimars.” In 1958, some of the band members released a single under the unlikely group name of “The Kingsmen (??)” with song entitled “Week End” on the East-West label. Of course, this band had nothing to do with the other Kingsmen from Portland, Oregon, who would have a monster hit of their own five years later, thanks to a very catchy song written by Richard Berry.

As I mentioned in a previous posting, original keyboardist Johnny Grande recently died in June, making this upcoming DVD one of the very few releases to feature him in a prominent role.

Still rocking strong, the Comets are now peforming regularly at Dick Clark’s new American Bandstand theater in Branson, Missouri, along with Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers. If you haven’t seen this amazing band live, I would highly recommend a trek to Branson. Paul Revere also puts on highly entertaining show well worth seeing… but you probably knew that, right?

There aren’t too bands around that can legitimately claim they were the “originators of rock ‘n’ roll.” Certainly, no serious music historian can deny the impact of Joe Liggins & the Honeydrippers, Lonnie Johnson, Big Boy Crudup, Louis Jordan, Ike Turner, Big Joe Turner, Little Richard, and even that latecomer, Elvis Presley, who certainly opened some dooors to awaken many folks that would have otherwise ignored the calling of rhythm and blues music.

“Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets was the very first rock and roll record purchased by John Lennon. For a lot of people, this song was their very first exposure to rock music..

My friends Jim Dawson and Steve Propes wrote an excellent book on this very subject of the first rock record, entitled simply “What Was the First Rock ‘n’ Roll Record?” I’ve been told this book is out of print, and I hope it gets reprinted, as I consider it a mandatory reference for anyone doing any serious research on rock and roll history. As it turns out, Jim Dawson also put out on a book devoted strictly to the Comets’ most succcessful song. Rock Around the Clock: The Record that Started the Rock Revolution! is another book well worth owning. I’m not even going to mention Jim’s other wall-trembling, paint-peeling book.

I don’t have any specific information on how to order the upcoming DVD, but you can check in at the Original Comets webpage, or at Marshall Lytle‘s own “Crazy Man Crazy” blog for updated information about this, and other official Comets merchandise.

1 comment to Coming soon…. the NEW Comets DVD!

  • jon


    Was wondering if you knew whatever became of the DVD for Bill Haley’s Original Comets live show and, if possible, where I might purchase a copy. Have never seen it for sale anywhere, and now with Marshall Lytle gone, can’t find anyone else to ask.
    Any help appreciated!
    many thanks

    Jon from RI

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