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Chester, Pennsylvania: First King of Rock and Roll - Bill Haley

Bill Haley was a superstar in 1955. His hometown tribute is so obscure that most people don't even know that it's a tribute.

Crosby St., Chester, PA
I-95 exit 6. Turn east onto Chestnut St., drive until it ends, then turn right onto US 13/Morton Ave. After you cross 6th St. and the train tracks, immediately turn right onto 5th St. Drive three blocks and turn left onto Crosby St. The sidewalk is on the right, in front of the low brick wall.
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Sidewalk star.

Lonely Tribute to the First King of Rock and Roll

The man who had the first rock and roll mega-hit record was Bill Haley. His "Rock Around the Clock" was the No. 1 song of 1955, but Bill was already 30 years old and kind of roly-poly, and when Elvis came along Bill Haley was quickly upstaged, a music history footnote.

But not in Chester, Pennsylvania! Chester was where Bill had worked and recorded at a local radio station. In the sidewalk in front of the building, the Chester Water Authority inlaid rubberized musical notes and a star with motion lines, a tribute to Bill's backup group, The Comets. There may also have been a plaque, but it vanished when the radio station was later torn down for a parking lot. All that remains now are the anonymous inlays in the sidewalk, cracked with age. Guess they're footnotes after all...

We recall visiting in 1991. While we were snapping pictures, a battered pickup truck pulled up and a guy wearing a bandanna leaned out the window. "You want bricks?" he whispered. "I got bricks. From the old studio. They're pink. I got them authenticated."

Musical notes.

We declined then, but now we wish that we hadn't.

Maybe the brick peddler is still there, endlessly circling the block, waiting for the Bill Haley fans that he knows will eventually come and want a souvenir.

[ Team, 12/06/2009]

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