the first discarded and forgotten superstars of rock & roll

THE BURNING QUESTION on Quora today was “Who was the first rock & roll su­per­star to be dis­carded and for­gotten to time?” Of course, I couldn’t re­sist, al­though my an­swer may not have been ex­actly what the ques­tioner was looking for in for­gotten su­per­stars. But who knows—maybe this is ex­actly the kind of thinking-provoking an­swer the asker wanted?

The an­swer that I posted on Quora is be­tween the im­ages below. The stip­u­la­tions are im­por­tant: a number of black R&B artists of the early 1950s could have been in­cluded but that’s not the point I wanted to make.

I don’t re­call when the term su­per­star came into common usage, but it wasn’t hy­per­bol­i­cally bandied about in the ’50s or ’60s the way it has been since the ’70s.

Even given my con­di­tions (listed below), other artists could have been chosen — I just thought these three stood out and in need of the proper his­tor­ical con­sid­er­a­tion!

 

Medium TILIW ElvisBooneHaley Battlers magazine 500

Bill Haley, Pat Boone, and Elvis Presley were three of the most im­por­tant singers in the nascent years of rock & roll in helping to open up white Top 40 radio to black rhythm & blues music. In my decades of ar­guing with music fans, I have heard all three dis­missed and den­i­grated as mere “pop artists” by dif­ferent gen­er­a­tions of (usu­ally un­be­liev­ably ig­no­rant) young fans.

Under-appreciated by historians

Be­fore I say who I be­lieve was the first rock & roll su­per­star to be dis­carded and for­gotten to time, I want to point out four things:

1. Decades later, we have no uni­ver­sally agreed-upon de­f­i­n­i­tion of rock & roll.

2. Decades later, we have no uni­ver­sally agreed-upon de­f­i­n­i­tion of su­per­star.

3. No artist who has had even one hit single has been truly “forgotten”—at least not yet.

4. I am in­ter­preting “for­gotten to time” to mean “under-appreciated by today’s young fans and his­to­rians who did not have par­ents who grew up lis­tening to the rock & roll of the ′50s and ’60s or an oldies radio sta­tions that played rock & roll hits of the ’50s and ’60s in their re­gion while growing up.

With those caveats stip­u­lated, un­der­stood, and ac­cepted, then I offer these three artists (and the years in which they were ar­guably su­per­stars) as an­swers to the ques­tion:

 Bill Haley (1954–1956)
 Pat Boone (1955–1958)
 Connie Francis (1957–1962)

Fi­nally, for those readers in­ter­ested in more on Ms. Francis, check out “Should Connie Francis Be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

The first for­gotten rock & roll stars in­clude Bill Haley, Pat Boone, and Connie Francis. Click To Tweet

FEATURED IMAGE: When Elvis Presley met Bill Haley back­stage on Oc­tober 22, 1955, the for­mer’s star was in the as­cen­dancy while the lat­ter’s was al­ready dim­ming. By the end of the decade, Haley was al­ready ar­guably the first dis­carded and for­gotten su­per­star in rock & roll’s then very brief history—at least in his na­tive America. De­mand for his ap­pear­ances and his records con­tinued in Eu­rope into the ’70s.

 

 

 

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