ABOVE: Bill Haley & His Comets in 1956, with guitarist Franny Beecher, who replaced the late Danny Cedrone.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Guitarist Danny Cedrone was born on this date (June 20) in 1920. Whether you realize it or not, you’re familiar with his work.
Even in these post-Van Halen, post-Yngwie Malmsteen, post-everything times, Cedrone’s guitar solo on Bill Haley & His Comets’ 1955 hit “Rock Around the Clock” is still a certified jaw-dropper.
Cedrone—a Philadelphia session guitarist who used a 1946 Gibson ES-300 and a 1×12 Gibson BR-1 combo for the legendary track—opens with a furiously picked line, then suddenly works in some tangy half-step bends and slick, jazzy phrases and caps it off with an insanely fast chromatic flurry that encompasses all six strings. Cedrone was paid $21 for the solo. A little over two months later, he died after falling down a staircase. He never knew the impact his solo had on the world. He was soon replaced by guitarist Franny Beecher (pictured above), who had played sessions with Haley before Cedrone’s tragic death.
Below, we’ve rounded up some vintage footage of Haley and the Comets lip-synching to the song on a TV show in the Fifties after Cedrone’s death; note that the camera operator knew the guitar solo was worthy of its own closeup. Below that, check out a fine lesson—by the fleet-fingered David Escobar—dedicated to the legendary solo. Best of all, it includes its own tab.
Cedrone and Cliff Gallup—Gene Vincent’s lead guitarist for a brief spell—were simply ahead of their time; they played a huge part in the birth of the guitar hero and the evolution of rock and roll guitar.