The founding father of rock 'n' roll lives on through his son Bill Hayley jnr who brings to life the original hits as they were meant to be performed.

In town this Saturday, Hayley Jnr and the Comets will take the Hawke's Bay Opera House Assembly Hall by storm, with a two-hour show featuring a five-piece band.

The Comets comprise multi-instrumentalist Bobby Michaels on saxophone, percussion and keyboard; nimble-fingered Mike Denaro on electric guitar; Christopher Davis Shannon on the upright bass; and Rich Flamini on drums.

They will roll out timeless classic 50s favourites such as Rock Around The Clock, See Ya Later Alligator, and Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On.


"We like to call it a rock 'n' roll history - all the music of Bill Hayley and the Comets - we do those songs with every authenticity, we dress the part, we do some of the familiar routines and jokes," Hayley Jnr says.

Having remained in the background for many years - listening, watching and absorbing - the legend's son only recently took to the stage.

"I would say I have been a student of my father's music and American music, but I really resisted getting up in front of an audience until the time was right, I played for friends but it's only in the last couple of years that we could go out and share this with the world."

The reaction has been phenomenal, with fans of all ages showing their support.

"I'm so pleased we get to still mix - from those who were teenagers when the music was popular to a whole new generation introduced to it through the TV show Happy Days and still younger ones."

While many of the songs were written nearly 60 years ago, they had not lost their appeal, with vibrant tunes getting audiences on their feet.

"I think it appeals to anyone, unless they have a prejudice towards old time music - the music is just so upbeat."

Not only was it important for Hayley jnr to bring his father's music to life, he also wanted to tell the story - which is equally compelling.


"I have been collecting information for a book, so I also drop some of that in depending on how the audience is reacting."

The New Zealand tour covers Timaru, Christchurch, Nelson, Wellington, Hastings, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Auckland, Tauranga, Rotorua and Hamilton.

"This is our first time in New Zealand, we have travelled pretty extensively in the US, but this is really exciting."

A book detailing the rise and fall of the Bill Hayley's career was 95 per cent complete and had been a "labour of love".

"This year is the 60th anniversary of Rock Around The Clock which is pretty historically significant.

"He started out playing high school assemblies - there were 132 schools they went into to test the music - he realised when they were clapping their hands, that they wanted music which was upbeat, with lyrics they can remember - that's still the same formula today."

Tickets start from $69, available from