Bill Haley's Comets: Al Rappa, Band Leader

Haley's Comets

Band Leader, Al Rappa

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Al Rappa:
Touring with Bill Haley


♫♪Bio♪♫ | NEWS

Al Rappa in concert with Bill Haley's Comets 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 Bill Haley.

Audiences go wild over Al’s musical antics as he sings and plays right to the crowd.

Bandleader Al Rappa in 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.

Bandleader Al Rappa

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.

In 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


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