In Huddersfield, jazz had been established for some twenty years when rock and roll emerged in the 1950s. Generally, with the stationing of American troops in Britain during the Second World War, Britain was open to American cultural influences, particularly music which influenced rock and roll, such as boogie woogie and blues. From this emerged the skiffle craze of the late 1950s.
At the same time, British audiences were beginning to encounter American rock and roll. This was through films, including Blackboard Jungle (1955) and Rock Around the Clock (1955). Both films contained the Bill Haley & His Comets hit Rock Around the Clock and helped it to top the UK chart in 1955 and again in 1956.
In the 1950s, radio in the UK was almost exclusively in the hands of the BBC. Popular music was only played on the Light Programme, and the playing of records was heavily restricted. Nevertheless, American rock and roll acts became a major force in the UK charts. Elvis Presley reached number 2 in the UK chart with Heartbreak Hotel in 1956 and had nine more singles in the Top 30 that year.
As an industrial centre in the North, Huddersfield was well placed to experience many aspects of popular music through not only local, but also touring bands. Cinemas, nightclubs, pubs, and Huddersfield Town Hall all became popular venues for pop and rock.
Three notable examples, that have become part of the town’s popular culture mythology, are shown below.