Pop Archives

Vic Sabrino With Red Perksey And His Orchestra - (We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock (1955)

(Jimmy De Knight [James Myers] - Max Freedman)
Australia Australia

78 rpm record on Pacific, B-side of The Magic Of Love.

For an exclusive biography of French jazz musician and composer Red Perksey see (A Little Boy Called) Smiley.

This may have been Australia’s first recording of a classic rock’n’roll song. Some have speculated that those involved had not heard Bill Haley’s hit version but worked from sheet music.

The recording seems to have been released in August 1955, the month Bill Haley’s version entered the Sydney charts. It was mentioned in a record review column in The Adelaide Advertiser on 3 September 1955:

Vic Sabrino with chorus and orchestra conducted by Red Perskey features “Rock Around the Clock” on a Pacific standard 78. The coupling, an Australian number, should also be popular.

Vic Sabrino was George Assang (1927-1997), Thursday Island-born jazz singer and actor who appeared, for example, in Barrier Reef and Number 96. See his filmography at the Internet Movie Database.

Vic Sabrino also ventured into current rock styles – specifically skiffle – with Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O!/John Henry, and Woody Guthrie’s Gamblin’ Man/Skiffle Board Blues, recordings made with Graeme Bell & His Skiffle Gang (1957).

References: 1. “Discovered: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Scratchy Start”, The Age, Melbourne, 4 June 2005. This includes a discussion of the dating of the record. 2. Screensound Australia’s First Wave discography (.pdf) and notes. 3. Harold Tiddeman, POPULAR, record review column, Adelaide Advertiser, 3 September 1955 (thanks to Christopher Smith). 4. Liner notes to ScreenSound Australia’s CD Jukebox Bop (AGPS, 1988) which has the Vic Sabrino-Ray Perksey versions of “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Heartbreak Hotel” from 1956.

Thanks to John Pear for pointing out Vic Sabrino’s wider discography; and to Christopher Smith for locating the Advertiser review.

Sonny Dae & His Knights - (We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock (1954)

(Jimmy De Knight [James Myers] - Max Freedman)
Original version

Release on 78rpm disc, also on 45rpm single. March 1954, on Philadelphia label Arcade. Sonny Dae: country artist born Paschal Vennitti.

Also recorded by Spade Cooley as an instrumental.

Further reading: 1. Obituary of co-writer James Myers/Jimmy De Knight at Rockabilly Hall of Fame. 2. Sonny Dae page at Rockin’ Country Style. 3. Song history at The Originals by Arnold Rypens.

Bill Haley & His Comets - (We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock (1954)

(Jimmy De Knight [James Myers] - Max Freedman)
Influential version
#1 USA #1 UK #1 Sydney #4 Perth

78 rpm disc on Decca, also on 45 rpm single, released May 1954, B-side of Thirteen Women (And Only One Man). Charted from May 1955 in the USA. In the UK it initially charted in January 1955 for two weeks, #17.

This recording by rockabilly singer and rock’n’roll pioneer Bill Haley (1925-1981) became one of the most popular and influential records of early rock’n’roll after it was heard in the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle and became the first international rock’n’roll hit.

Recharted in the USA 1974 #39.
Recharted in the UK several times, including 1956 #7, !968 #20, 1974 #12
Recharted in Australia 1964 (10th anniversary of the original release): #3 Sydney, #1 Melbourne, #1 Brisbane, #3 Adelaide.

Thanks to Tony Watson for clarification.

Johnny Cooper [NZ] - (We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock (1955)

(Jimmy De Knight [James Myers] - Max Freedman)
New Zealand New Zealand

78 rpm record on His Master’s Voice (NZ), considered to be New Zealand’s first rock’n’roll record, by country singer-songwriter and promoter Johnny Cooper (1929-2014), also known as Johnny Tahu Cooper, The Māori Cowboy. Recorded with Ken Avery And His Rockin’ Rhythm.

As Jason Ankeny tells it at AllMusic: In mid-1955, Cooper was summoned to HMV’s offices, where he was given a copy of Bill Haley’s smash Rock Around the Clock and told that a cover version was to be his next record; baffled by the lyrics as well as the sound of the new music dubbed rock & roll, Cooper nevertheless approximated Haley’s style as closely as possible, and backed by a local jazz group called Ken Avery and His Rockin’ Rhythm, he cut New Zealand’s very first rock record (probably also the first ever cut outside of the U.S.).

Not to be confused with… This is not Johnny Cooper the Australian singer from the 1960s: see his Farmer John (1965).

Further reading1. The Birth of Kiwi Rock ‘n’ Roll at NZ History Online. 2. Excellent Johnny Cooper profile by Chris Bourke at Audio Culture.
Thanks to Terry Stacey for the version alert.

Hal Singer And His Orchestra - Rock Around The Clock (1950)

(Hal Singer - Sam Theard)
Red herring


78 rpm disc on Mercury by jazz-r&b saxophonist (1919-2020) from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who settled permanently in France in the 1960s.