Haley’s Comets set for Ro-Na

Published 4:37 pm Thursday, September 18, 2014

For the Friends of Ironton the Bill Haley’s Comets concert on Oct. 2 signifies the beginning of a new era at the Ro-Na Theater.

“Hopefully Ironton can become a stop for live national bands,” Rick Jansen, Friends of Ironton president, said.

Friends of Ironton member Jane Griffith said booking Bill Haley’s Comets happened after speaking with John Griffiths, owner of Studimo Productions, about possible bands that might be interested in performing at the Ro-Na.

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“He suggested a few bands. We made the calls and now we have two national acts coming in October,” Griffith, who alluded to the Saving Abel concert on Oct. 9, said. “We are getting started doing what we intended to do (at the Ro-Na) and bring as many people downtown as we can.”

Bill Haley and His Comets are often credited with influencing music in the 1950s as much as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in the 1960s.

Now fronted by long-time Comet and lead vocalist Lenny Longo, Bill Haley’s Comets All-American Rock and Roll Show is described on the website www.50yearsrockintheworld.com/ as an “energetic, entertaining show featuring fun, comedy, dance and music that keeps the crowds laughing, clapping and singing along to all the oldies and classic rock favorites.”

Bill Haley and His Comets first burst onto the music scene in the early 1950s and is renown as one of the earliest groups of white musicians to bring rock ‘n’ roll to the attention of white America and the rest of the world.

In 1955, the group’s song “Rock Around The Clock” was featured in the movie “Blackboard Jungle,” catapulting it to No. 1.

The Comets themselves starred in two of the first movies about the rock music revolution titled “Rock Around The Clock” and “Don’t Knock The Rock.” In the 1950s and 1960s The Comets toured the world, performed for Queen Elizabeth II and were featured regularly on “Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.”

The Comets experienced resurgence in the 1970s when their music was featured prominently in the movie “American Graffiti” and the popular TV show “Happy Days.”

Nowadays, live performances feature the same high energy and raucous rockabilly sound. After Haley’s death in 1981 the band kept performing under the direction of Drummer John “Bam Bam” Lane.

Longo defined the group’s mission.

“(We want to) keep the Comets’ music and tradition alive with an enthusiasm that would have made Bill very proud of the current Bill Haley’s Comets,” he said. “As long as I can perform this band will be a living tribute to the true founder of the phenomenon known as rock ‘n’ roll.”

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at www.ro-natheater.com.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Show starts at 7:30 p.m.