Section 4 The Home Front and the Aftermath of the War
World War II reached almost every area of the world, and mobilization for war brought widespread suffering and even starvation. The war caused 20 million civilian deaths. The United States, which did not fight the war on its own territory, sent its forces to fight and produced much of the military equipment for the Allies. Segregation in the U.S. military led African Americans to demand civil rights. Racism and suspicion led to the war-time detention of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans. The bombing of cities by the Allied and Axis powers cost thousands of lives, but probably did nothing to weaken the morale of either side. After the war, ideological conflict between the West and the Soviet Union resulted in the Cold War. The Cold War centered around the status of Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe.
Comparing and Contrasting
Complete the chart to compare and contrast the impact of World War II on the lives of civilians.
Voices from the Past
Spotlight Video, 1:46
Did the rich and famous fight in World War II?
What examples can you provide?
How many men will be trained according to Roosevelt?
Narrator: America’s most epical call to arms and preparedness, millions of men from 21 to 36 line up and sign up throughout the nation. There’s Winthrop Rockefeller, son of John D Junior, answer the call to national service. And well if it isn’t Maxie Baer, ready to go into training again, and no kidding, well not much. The rodeo stars sign up hoping they don’t draw the iron cavalry, one of the first young men to register is Warren Pershing, son of our famous wartime Commander, all races, creeds and colors lineup for national defense. In China Town, the rush is just as great and enthusiastic as elsewhere. Harlem too keeps their registrars busy. With the safety of America threatened, all American’s, the humble and the mighty, willingly embrace selective service. From the White House comes a definite promise by the President to those answering their nation’s preparedness call.
President Roosevelt: Our present program will train 800,000 additional men this coming year and somewhat less than a million men each year thereafter; it is a program obviously of defensive preparation and of defensive preparation only. To the 16 million young men who registered today, I say that democracy is your cause, the cause of youth.
Voices from the Past
The Mobilization of Peoples: Four Examples
The Soviet Union
The United States
Would you have supported the internment policy for Japanese Americans during the war? Explain.
How did World War II contribute to racial tensions in the United States?
Front line Civilians: The Bombing of Cities
Stage 1: Research
'Why target Dresden?' Do the targets give us good reasons to bomb Dresden or not? Use the information in these sources to fill in your research.
Stage 2: Study the Map
- Law courts
- Oil depot
- State Museum of Applied Art
- Exhibition buildings
- Railway marshalling yards
Would you target Dresden?
Map Dresden 1944
Stage 3: Prepare your Report
What will you recommend to Churchill and the British commanders? Should they target Dresden? Use your research and your map to help you answer this question. Use a report outline to get you started.
Stage 3: Prepare your report
What will you recommend to Churchill and the British commanders? Should they target Dresden? Use the sources, your research and your map to help you answer this question. Use this report outline to get you started.
Should Britain target Dresden?
1. What military targets are there in Dresden?
2. Will there be much resistance to an attack? (e.g. there are no anti-aircraft guns in Dresden)
3. If planning a bombing raid on Dresden, which parts of the city would you target and why?
4. What effect would this attack have on the German war machine?
5. Will an attack on Dresden help the USSR (approaching from the East, Russians) invade Germany?
6. What effect would this attack have on the civilians living in Dresden?
7. Dresden is filled with German refugees escaping the USSR army's advance. Will you target them? Or will you try to avoid hitting them and, if so, how?
8. Will German morale be affected by an attack on Dresden? (e.g. will they keep on fighting? Will they believe they can win the war?)
9. Will British morale be affected by an attack on Dresden? (e.g. will they believe they can win the war?)
10. By 1944, British leaders know what the Nazis are doing – killing people in their concentration camps in Eastern Europe. Does that affect your decision about bombing Dresden?
11. What is your final recommendation?
"The ferocious bombing of Dresden from February 13 to 15, 1945, created a firestorm that may have killed as many as a hundred thousand inhabitants and refugees. . . . Germany suffered enormously from the Allied bombing raids. Millions of buildings were destroyed, and possibly half a million civilians died."
It is important to note that as many German civilians died in these raids, in fact, more, as were killed in the subsequent Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs on Japan.
The USAAF Eighth Air Force's B-17 bombers were called the "Flying Fortresses" because of their heavy defensive armament of ten to twelve machine guns, and armor plating in vital locations. In part because of their heavier armament and armor, they carried smaller bomb loads than British bombers. With all of this, the USAAF's commanders in Washington, DC, and in Great Britain adopted the strategy of taking on the Luftwaffe head on, in larger and larger air raids by mutually defending bombers, flying over Germany, Austria, and France at high altitudes during the daytime. Also, both the U.S. Government and its Army Air Forces commanders were reluctant to bomb enemy cities and towns indiscriminately. They claimed that by using the B-17 and the Norden bombsight, the USAAF should be able to carry out "precision bombing" on locations vital to the German war machine: factories, naval bases, shipyards, railroad yards, railroad junctions, power plants, steel mills, airfields, etc.
In January 1943, at the Casablanca Conference, it was agreed RAF Bomber Command operations against Germany would be reinforced by the USAAF in a Combined Operations Offensive plan called Operation Pointblank. Chief of the British Air Staff MRAF Sir Charles Portal was put in charge of the "strategic direction" of both British and American bomber operations. The text of the Casablanca directive read: "Your primary object will be the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system and the undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened.",
In the late 1943, the 'Pointblank' attacks manifested themselves in the infamous Schweinfurt raids (first and second). Formations of unescorted bombers were no match for German fighters, which inflicted a deadly toll. In despair, the Eighth halted air operations over Germany until a long-range fighter could be found in 1944; it proved to be the P-51 Mustang, which had the range to fly to Berlin and back.
USAAF leaders firmly held to the claim of "precision bombing" of military targets for much of the war, and dismissed claims they were simply bombing cities. However the American Eighth Air Force received the first H2X radar sets in December 1943. Within two weeks of the arrival of these first six sets, the Eighth command gave permission for them to area bomb a city using H2X and would continue to authorize, on average, about one such attack a week until the end of the war in Europe.
In reality, the day bombing was "precision bombing" only in the sense that most bombs fell somewhere near a specific designated target such as a railway yard. Conventionally, the air forces designated as "the target area" a circle having a radius of 1000 feet around the aiming point of attack. While accuracy improved during the war, Survey studies show that, in the over-all, only about 20% of the bombs aimed at precision targets fell within this target area. In the fall of 1944, only seven percent of all bombs dropped by the Eighth Air Force hit within 1,000 feet of their aim point.
Nevertheless, the sheer tonnage of explosive delivered by day and by night was eventually sufficient to cause widespread damage, and, more importantly from a military point of view, forced Germany to divert resources to counter it. This was to be the real significance of the Allied strategic bombing campaign—resource allocation.
For the sake of improving the US air-force Fire bombing capabilities a mock-up German Village was built up and repeatedly burned down. It contained full scale replicas of German residential homes. Fire bombing attacks proved quite successful, in a single 1943 attack on Hamburg roughly 50,000 civilians were killed and practically the entire city destroyed.
With the arrival of the brand-new Fifteenth Air Force, based in Italy, command of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe was consolidated into theUnited States Strategic Air Forces (USSTAF). With the addition of the Mustang to its strength, the Combined Bomber Offensive was resumed. Planners targeted the Luftwaffe in an operation known as 'Big Week' (20–25 February 1944) and succeeded brilliantly - losses were so heavy German planners were forced into a hasty dispersal of industry and the day fighter arm never fully recovered.
On 27 March 1944, the Combined Chiefs of Staff issued orders granting control of all the Allied air forces in Europe, including strategic bombers, to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, who delegated command to his deputy in SHAEF Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder. There was resistance to this order from some senior figures, including Winston Churchill, Harris, and Carl Spaatz, but after some debate, control passed to SHAEF on 1 April 1944. When the Combined Bomber Offensive officially ended on 1 April, Allied airmen were well on the way to achieving air superiority over all of Europe. While they continued some strategic bombing, the USAAF along with the RAF turned their attention to the tactical air battle in support of the Normandy Invasion. It was not until the middle of September that the strategic bombing campaign of Germany again became the priority for the USSTAF.
The twin campaigns—the USAAF by day, the RAF by night—built up into massive bombing of German industrial areas, notably the Ruhr, followed by attacks directly on cities such as Hamburg, Kassel, Pforzheim, Mainz and the often-criticized bombing of Dresden.
It has been debated whether bombing actually affected the morale of an enemy and whether precision bombing was precise or not. What is not at issue though is the amount of death and destruction bombing of civilians caused.
After the war the U.S. Strategic bombing survey reviewed the available casualty records in Germany, and concluded that official German statistics of casualties from air attack had been too low. The survey estimated that at a minimum 305,000 were killed in German cities due to bombing and estimated a minimum of 780,000 wounded. Roughly 7,500,000 German civilians were also rendered homeless. (see Dehousing).
In addition to the minimum figure given in the Strategic bombing survey the number of killed by Allied bombing in Germany have been estimated at between 400,000 and 600,000. In the UK 60,595 British were killed by German bombing, and in France 67,078 French were killed by US-UK bombing.
Belgrade was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe on April 6, 1941, when more than 17,000 people were killed. According to The Oxford companion to World War II, "After Italy's surrender the Allies kept up the bombing of the northern part occupied by the Germans and more than 50,000 Italians were killed in these raids."
Over 160,000 Allied airmen were lost in the European theatre.
Then and Now
List all the obstacles you can think of that confronted Dresden's city leaders as they planned their rebuilding efforts in 1945.
"Of the city's [Hiroshima] 350,000 inhabitants, 140,000 had died by the end of 1945. By the end of 1950, another 50,000 had died from the effects of radiation."
190,000 died from the atomic bomb in Hiroshima; 400,000 and 600,000 died in Germany because of Allied bombing.
Science, Technology & Society
The Atomic Bomb
Was the decision to use the atomic bomb in Japan any different from Allied decisions to bomb civilian population centers in Europe? Why or why not?
Why were civilian populations targeted in bombing raids?
Peace and a New War
List of conferences:
- the Yalta Conference, 4 to 11 February 1945
- the Second Quebec Conference, 12 to 16 September 1944
- the Tehran Conference, 28 November to 1 December 1943
- the Cairo Conference, 22 to 26 November 1943
- the Casablanca Conference, 14 to 24 January 1943
- and finally, Potsdam: July 16 to August 2, 1945.
The Tehran Conference
The Tehran Conference (codenamed Eureka) was a strategy meeting held between Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill from 28 November to 1 December 1943. It was held in the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran and was the first of the World War II conferences held between all of the "Big Three" Allied leaders (the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom). It closely followed the Cairo Conference[Ref 1] and preceded both the Yalta[Ref 2] and Potsdam[Ref 3] Conferences. Although all three of the leaders present arrived with differing objectives, the main outcome of the Tehran conference was the commitment to the opening of a second front against Nazi Germany by the Western Allies. The conference also addressed relations between the Allies and Turkey and Iran, operations in Yugoslavia and against Japan as well as the envisaged post-war settlement. A separate protocol signed at the conference pledged the Big Three's recognition of Iran's independence.
The Yalta Conference
The "Big Three" at the Yalta Conference, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. Behind them stand, from the left, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Fleet Admiral Ernest King, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, General of the Army George Marshall, Major General Laurence S. Kuter, General Aleksei Antonov, Vice Admiral Stepan Kucherov, and Admiral of the Fleet Nikolay Kuznetsov.
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11, 1945, was the wartime meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and General Secretary Joseph Stalin, respectively, for the purpose of discussing Europe's post-war reorganization. The conference convened in the Livadia Palace near Yalta, in the Crimea. The meeting was intended mainly to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe. Within a few years, with the Cold War dividing the continent, Yalta became a subject of intense controversy. To some extent, it has remained controversial. Yalta was the second of three wartime conferences among the Big Three (Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin). It had been preceded by the Tehran Conference in 1943, and it was followed by the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, which was attended by Harry S Truman, who replaced the late Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill, who was replaced mid-point by the newly elected British Prime Minister Clement Attlee.
Europe After World War II
1. Interpreting Maps Compare the map on page 535 to this map and identify the political changes in Europe from the 1920s to 1945
2. Applying Geography Skills Create a chart that shows how Europe was divided according to Soviet and Western influence.
The Potsdam Conference
The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern, in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from July 16 to August 2, 1945. Participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The three nations were represented by Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin, Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and later, Clement Attlee, and President Harry S. Truman.
Stalin, Churchill, and Truman—as well as Attlee, who participated alongside Churchill while awaiting the outcome of the 1945 general election, and then replaced Churchill as Prime Minister after the Labour Party's victory over the Conservatives—gathered to decide how to administer punishment to the defeated Nazi Germany, which had agreed to unconditional surrender nine weeks earlier, on 8 May (V-E Day). The goals of the conference also included the establishment of post-war order, peace treaties issues, and countering the effects of war.
Relationships amongst the leaders
In the five months since the Yalta Conference, a number of changes had taken place which would greatly affect the relationships between the leaders.
1. The Soviet Union was occupying Central and Eastern Europe
By July, the Red Army effectively controlled the Baltic States, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, and refugees were fleeing out of these countries fearing a Communist take-over. Stalin had set up a Communist government in Poland. He insisted that his control of Eastern Europe was a defensive measure against possible future attacks and believed that it was a legitimate sphere of Soviet influence.
2. Britain had a new Prime Minister
The results of the British election became known during the conference. As a result of the Labour Party victory over the Conservative Party the leadership changed hands. Consequently, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee assumed leadership following Winston Churchill, whose Soviet policy since the early 1940s had differed considerably from former U.S. President Roosevelt's, with Churchill believing Stalin to be a "devil"-like tyrant leading a vile system.
3. America had a new President, and the war was ending
President Roosevelt died on 12 April 1945, and Vice-President, Harry Truman assumed the presidency; his ascendence saw VE Day (Victory in Europe) within a month and VJ Day (Victory in Japan) on the horizon. During the war and in the name of Allied unity, Roosevelt had brushed off warnings of a potential domination by a Stalin dictatorship in part of Europe. He explained that "I just have a hunch that Stalin is not that kind of a man" and reasoned "I think that if I give him everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige, he won't try to annex anything and will work with me for a world of democracy and peace."
While inexperienced in foreign affairs, Truman had closely followed the allied progress of the war. George Lenczowski notes "despite the contrast between his relatively modest background and the international glamour of his aristocratic predecessor, [Truman] had the courage and resolution to reverse the policy that appeared to him naive and dangerous", which was "in contrast to the immediate, often ad hoc moves and solutions dictated by the demands of the war.". With the end of the war, the priority of allied unity was replaced with a new challenge, the nature of the relationship between the two emerging superpowers.
Truman became much more suspicious of communist moves than Roosevelt had been, and he became increasingly suspicious of Soviet intentions under Stalin. Truman and his advisers saw Soviet actions in Eastern Europe as aggressive expansionism which was incompatible with the agreements Stalin had committed to at Yalta the previous February. In addition, it was at the Potsdam Conference that Truman became aware of possible complications elsewhere, when Stalin objected to Churchill's proposal for an early allied withdrawal from Iran, ahead of the agreed upon schedule set at the Tehran Conference. However, the Potsdam Conference marks the first and only time Truman would ever meet Stalin in person.
4. The US had tested an atomic bomb
On 16 July 1945, the Americans successfully tested an atomic bomb at the Trinity test at Alamogordo in the New Mexico desert, USA. 21 July; Churchill and Truman agreed that the weapon should be used. Truman had previously been encouraged by theSecretary of War, Henry Stimson, to inform the Soviets of this new development, in order to avoid sowing distrust over keeping the USSR out of the Manhattan Project. Truman did not tell Stalin of the weapon until 25 July when he advised Stalin that America had "a new weapon of unusually destructive force." According to various eyewitnesses, Stalin appeared uninterested. It later became known that Stalin was actually aware of the atomic bomb before Truman was, as he had multiple spies that had infiltrated the Manhattan Project from very early on (notably Klaus Fuchs, Ted Hall, and David Greenglass), while Truman had only learned about the weapon after Roosevelt's death. By the 26 July, the Potsdam Declaration had been broadcast to Japan, threatening total destruction unless the Imperial Japanese government submitted to unconditional surrender. Joseph Stalin suggested that Truman preside over the conference as the only head of state attending, a recommendation accepted by Attlee.
Truman had mentioned an unspecified and powerful new weapon to Stalin during the conference. Towards the end of the conference, Japan was given an ultimatum to surrender (in the name of the United States, Great Britain and China) or meet prompt and utter destruction, which did not mention the new bomb. After prime minister Kantarō Suzuki's reply to maintain silence--mokusatsu--atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were deployed on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively.
Most tellingly, the shock and horror of an atomic bomb failed to motivate the supposedly peace-seeking, defeated Japanese. Hiroshima was destroyed on 6 August. The supposedly defeated and seeking peace Japanese did not surrender. Two days later the anticipated shock of the Soviet Union declaring war still did not motivate the leadership to surrender. That same day Nagasaki was bombed. With the first atomic bombing, Togo requested a meeting with the Emperor who, according to some interpreters, were ready to surrender but the army leaders indicated they were `too busy' to attend (Alperovitz, p. 417). The military was dedicated to war. On the 9th, the Japanese leaders finally sat down to consider surrendering. While they were meeting, they received news of the Nagasaki bombing. At this point, two atomic bombs had been deployed on their people, the Soviets had entered the war, and none of these three shocks were enough to compel the Japanese to announce their capitulation. With all these events: no decision was reached (Alperovitz, p. 417). Finally, Premier Suzuki took the unprecedented step of requesting the Emperor's views who proposed surrender (Alperovitz, p. 417). On August 10th the Japanese sent a surrender offer.
By this time the Soviets were occupying Eastern Europe.
In addition to annexing several occupied countries as (or into) Soviet Socialist Republics, other countries were converted into Soviet Satellite states within the Eastern Bloc, such as thePeople's Republic of Poland, the People's Republic of Bulgaria, the People's Republic of Hungary, the Czechoslovak Republic, the People's Republic of Romania, the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia the People's Republic of Albania, and later East Germany from the Soviet zone of German occupation.
War Crimes Trails
A New Struggle
Why did Stalin want to control Eastern Europe after World War II?
List the countries where bombing of heavily populated cities took place. Use the chart to make your list.
Ch. 19 Resources
Colonel Paul Tibbets describes dropping the A-Bomb on Hiroshima August 6, 1945.
See the war through the eyes of soldiers, secret agents, pilots and evacuees. Life for children during the war. Listen to an air raid warning. The blitz and the home front in the UK. Churchill and the bombing of Dresden Audio file of the death dive of a Kamikaze. Cf. http://avanimation.avsupport.com/sound/Kamikaze.wav London, England during World War II
Roy Brown - Good Rockin' Tonight, 1947, 3:01
Because the development of rock and roll was an evolutionary process, no single record can be identified as unambiguously "the first" rock and roll record. One contender for "first rock and roll record" is "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (actually an alias for Ike Turner and his band The Kings of Rhythm), recorded by Sam Phillips for Sun Records in March 1951. Other early contenders include Roy Brown, and later, Wynonie Harris' "Good Rockin' Tonight" (1947) and Jimmy Preston's "Rock the Joint" (1949), which was later covered by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1952. In terms of its wide cultural impact across society in the US and elsewhere, Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock", recorded in April 1954 but not a commercial success until the following year, is generally recognized as an important milestone, but it was preceded by many recordings from earlier decades in which elements of rock and roll can be clearly discerned. Other artists with early rock and roll hits included Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Gene Vincent. Bo Diddley in particular introduced a new beat and unique guitar style that inspired many artists. His more insistent, driving rhythms, hard-edged electric guitar sound, African rhythms, and signature beat (a simple, five-accent rhythm), have remained cornerstones of rock and pop.
Wynonie Harris - Good Rockin' Tonight, 2:47
Brown had first offered his song to Wynonie Harris, who turned it down. Only after the Brown's record gained traction in New Orleans did Harris decide to cover it. Harris's version was even more energetic than Brown's original version, featuring black gospel style handclapping. This may have contributed to the composition's greater success on the national R&B chart. Brown's original recording hit number 13 of the Billboard R&B chart, but Harris' record became a number one R&B hit and remained on the chart for half a year. Brown's single would re-enter the chart in 1949, peaking at #11.
Harris had a reputation for carousing, and sometimes forgot lyrics. His "Good Rockin'" recording session largely followed Brown's original lyrics, but by the end, he replaced the last section with a series of raucous "hoy hoy hoy!" interjections, a commonly used expression in jump blues tunes of the time, going back to 1945's "The Honeydripper" by Joe Liggins.
The song is a primer of sorts on the popular black music of the era, making lyrical reference to Sweet Lorraine, Sioux City Sue, Sweet Georgia Brown, Caldonia, Elder Brown, and Deacon Jones. All of these characters had figured prominently in previous hit songs.
While Brown missed out on the biggest hit version of his song, its success kicked off his own career, which included two #1 R&B hits. In 1949, he released "Rockin' at Midnight", a sequel to "Good Rockin' Tonight", which might be thought of as "Good Rockin' Tonight part II" because it included updates on the same characters as the original. It reached #2 on the R&B chart, where it remained for a month.
|"Good Rockin' Tonight"|
|Single by Elvis Presley|
|from the album A Date with Elvis|
|B-side||"I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine"|
|Recorded||September 10, 1954|
|Elvis Presley singles chronology|
In 1954, "Good Rockin' Tonight" was the second Sun Records release by Elvis Presley, along with "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" on the flip side. Presley and his bandmates hewed closer to the original Roy Brown version, but omitted the lyrics' by-then-dated roster of names in favor of a simpler, more energetic "We're gonna rock, rock, rock!" Described as "a flat-out rocker" country radio programmers blanched, and older audiences were somewhat mystified. A live show broadcast from Houston DJ Bill Collie's club documented that the crowd "barely responded" to the song. "Blue Moon of Kentucky", the uptempo version of the Bill Monroe classic, has "the fans go stark raving nuts with joy". Both sides of this second record featuring "Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill" "stiffed".."
Rock This Joint, Jimmy Preston (1949), 2:37
"Rock the Joint", also known as "We're Gonna Rock This Joint Tonight", is a boogie song recorded by various proto-rock and roll singers, notably Jimmy Preston and early rock and roll singers, most notably Bill Haley. Preston's version has been cited as a contender for being "the first rock and roll record", and Haley's is widely considered the first rockabilly record.
The song's authorship is credited to Harry Crafton, Wendell "Don" Keane and Harry "Doc" Bagby, who were musicians contracted to the Gotham label in New York, owned by Ivin Ballen (although a live version recorded by Haley in 1969 for Buddah Records was credited to James Bracken). The song was influenced by earlier R&B recordings such as Wynonie Harris' 1948 R&B hit "Good Rockin' Tonight". Ballen passed the song to Jimmy Preston, who had recently had a hit with "Hucklebuck Daddy". The version by Jimmy Preston and His Prestonians was recorded in Philadelphia in May 1949 and released on the Gotham label, reaching #6 on the national R&B chart later that year.
Two years later, Bill Haley and the Saddlemen had already achieved some success with their cover of Ike Turner's (and/or Jackie Brenston's) "Rocket 88", but were looking for another hit. They were persuaded by their producer, Essex Records owner Dave Miller to cover "Rock The Joint" - a song which, like "Rocket 88", had already been successful with R&B audiences. Haley recorded the song (the exact location is unknown but is believed to have been recorded in the band's hometown of Chester, Pennsylvania) in February or March 1952, but made up verses of his own to appeal to his country audience, named a succession of hillbilly dances (such as the Sugarfoot Rag and Virginia Reel) in place of Preston's hucklebuck and jitterbug, and also used different instrumentation on the track, and more back echo. In particular, Haley's version used a prominent percussive slapped bass, played by Marshall Lytle, and electric guitar by Danny Cedrone, with a lick which he duplicated three years later on "Rock Around The Clock".
Although Haley's version did not chart when released on Essex Records in 1952, it was enough of a hit in Chicago to win him a short residency in a jazz club there - although this was cut short after many of his black audiences walked out. Nevertheless, Haley's version of "Rock The Joint" - three years before "Rock Around The Clock" - was an important milestone in the development of rockabilly through the coming together of R&B and country styles. The recording was remade in 1957 by Haley for Decca Records, by which time his band had been renamed Bill Haley & His Comets (it was released by Decca Records the title "New Rock the Joint" as the original version was still in circulation). He later re-recorded the song for Sonet Records of Sweden in 1968 and numerous live versions were also recorded by him. After his death, members of the Comets who had served with Haley between 1951 and the early 1960s reunited and recorded several more versions of the song, such as for the 1994 Hydra Records album You're Never Too Old to Rock.
Rocket "88" - Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats, 2:47
Because the development of rock and roll was an evolutionary process, no single record can be identified as unambiguously "the first" rock and roll record. One contender for "first rock and roll record" is "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (actually an alias for Ike Turner and his band The Kings of Rhythm), recorded by Sam Phillips for Sun Records in March 1951.