Tag Archives: history

Then, Now and In Between

On September 11, 1956, the movie Rock Around the Clock opened in London. And after the showing at the Trocadero there was a bit of a kerfuffle with teens gone rowdy. This resulted in other theaters in England cancelling their showing of the movie.

To which I can only think “Huh?”

Fred F. Sears directed the film, which was shot in January 1956. This was near the end of Sears’ career, as he died of a heart attack, age 44, in November 1957. It is worth noting that 16 movies Sears directed were released between Rock Around the Clock and shortly after his demise, with the five subsequent to Rock being Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, The Werewolf, Miami Expose, Cha-Cha-Boom! and Don’t Knock the Rock. (In all, he directed 60 films—which is all the more remarkable when you know that he didn’t start until 1946.)

Which pretty much gives you a sense of (a) Sears’ oeuvre and (b) the types of movies that were being released back then. Things change.

The plot of Rock Around the Clock was essentially about the discovery and launch of rock and roll. The band that launched a thousand AM radio stations was, of course, Bill Haley & the Comets, the band that had release the single “Rock Around the Clock” in early 1954.

It was actually the second time the tune had been released, with the first being by Sonny Dae and His Knights, in 1953. Sonny Dae & His Radio Raskals were performers on the “WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance,” which also featured Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Carter Family. Which pretty much gives you a sense of (a) how musical performances were taken much less seriously back then and (b) that musical performers, like the Carter Family, are the stuff of Ken Burns’ documentaries today.

When you read the date in the first sentence of this you probably thought back to last Saturday, September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the day that irrevocably changed America.

On that day in 2001 Jake Brown posted this on Glorious Noise:

Please stop flying into buildings

God help us. I get into work today to find a group of people staring at the television. Just as I realize that the smoking building is the World Trade Center, I see a plane fly right into the second tower and explode. Live on tv.

All the major news websites are totally down right now. Either overwhelmed or just plain off. This is fucked up.

It was fucked up.

Continue reading Then, Now and In Between

Massive Historical Musical Stash Hidden in Michigan

As someone who loves old stuff, especially old musical instruments, this is hard to read:

A massive cache of musical treasures that’s grown to include a fragile harp-piano, the pioneering Moog synthesizer and the theremin used for “The Green Hornet” radio show has been shuffled over the years from a theater to an unheated barn and now languish, rarely seen or heard, in a Michigan storage vault.

That’s the lede to a story detailing the fate of the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments. Donated to the University of Michigan in the 1890s, $25 million collection has gone from “baking to death” in the lobby of Hill Auditorium to an unheated barn to a storage unit off-campus where it sits, unseen and unheard.

Donated to U of M by Detroit businessman Frederick Stearns with explicit instructions that they be “be immediately housed and installed,” the collection is yet another victim of shrinking budgets and changing priorities on American college campuses. The collection seems to have grown over the years as it reportedly includes an early Moog Synthesizer and a Theremin.

Given how this country values history, I don’t have high hopes that this collection will eventually see the light but maybe we could pool our vast GLONO funds to mount a stealth operation to set some of that stuff free!