Bill Haley's Comets, of
"Rock Around The Clock" fame,
tour with Band Leader Al Rappa, "The Original Walking Bass Man."
Al has been a member of the band since
1956, and can be seen in films and heard on record albums with
Audiences go wild over Al’s musical
antics as he sings and plays right to the crowd.
|Bandleader Al Rappa in a recent concert.
In a typical
show, spectators are on their feet, singing, dancing
and chasing after the band leader.
“He is adored everywhere we go. This man is rock and roll,”
relates John Melinchock, lead guitarist and singer, who is one of Al’s sidemen.
“He goes out into the
audience when we do ‘Saints Rock and Roll,’ and the crowd
follows him in a line around the theater.”
Al Rappa sang and played bass, organ and trumpet with many notable
Philadelphia bands before joining the Comets. He also appeared
as a one-man show.
Bill Haley called on Al to play bass on an
instrumental album for Decca in 1956. Two cuts
— "Joey's Song" and "Skokiaan" — became hits, and Al began his
long association with Bill Haley’s Comets.
As Bill Haley's Comets toured through England, Germany, Sweden, Mexico
and Canada, Al created his famous upright bass act.
Audiences delighted in seeing him climb up the neck of the
instrument, throw it around and take the sax player for a ride
on it — all without missing a note.
Spectators said he didn’t just stand on the bass, he
would climb onto tables, bars, anything in sight, and set the
bass on it.
Then he would walk up the bass to the top and pretend to fall, but stand straight up
and casually comb his hair instead. Finally, he would swing the
bass over his head as he jumped to the floor.
Europe, the band shared the stage with the fledgling Beatles.
During the 1960s and ‘70s, Al played on Bill Haley albums
recorded on the Decca, Warner Bros., Apt, Nicetown and Music
City labels. Throughout Mexico, and most of the Spanish-speaking world, Bill Haley was known
as the King of the Twist. Al Rappa was involved in
recordings on the Orfeon Label at that time.
In the ‘80s, Al gained legal rights to the name
“Bill Haley's Comets” and continued touring the world.
Bill Haley's Comets have performed on the bill with other rock’n’roll
legends including The Drifters, The Coasters, Joey Dee, The Del
Vikings, The Shirelles, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Rydell,
Johnny Tillotson and Freddy Cannon.
Bill Haley's Comets appeared in seven movies, including "Rock
Around The Clock," "Don’t Knock the Rock" and "Let the Good
Times Roll." Since 1952, they have sold more than 120 million
records for labels such as Decca, MCA, Warner Brothers, Sonet,
and Essex. Click here for Greatest Hits