June 17, 1954 – Donato Joseph “Danny” Cedrone was born on June 20th 1920 Born in Jamesville, New York. He began his musical career in the 1940s, but he came into his own in the early 1950s, first as a session guitarist hired by what was then a country and western musical group based out of Chester, Pennsylvania called Bill Haley and His Saddlemen.
In 1951, Danny played lead on their recording of “Rocket 88” which is considered one of the first acknowledged rock and roll recordings. At this time he also formed his own group, The Esquire Boys recording hits such as “Rock-a-Beatin’ Boogie”.
He never joined Haley’s group as a full-time member. In 1952, he played lead guitar on Haley’s version of “Rock the Joint”, and his swift guitar solo, which combined a jazz-influenced first half followed by a lightning-fast down-scale run, was a highlight of the recording. He worked with Haley’s group in 1954, by which time it had been renamed The Comets.
He played a key role in the band’s first recording session for Decca Records on April 12th 1954 when they recorded “Rock Around the Clock” in New York City. Rock Around The Clock was not released until after he died, and did not become a hit until 1955. Rock Around The Clock was the first monster hit of rock & roll, and the biggest selling Rock & Roll record of all time. Danny Cedrone was the very first lead guitarist of that genre of music. He was the first to bring a structured solo into the recording studio and basically take over a song with a fiery guitar lead.
Danny was paid only $21 for his work on the session, as at that time Haley chose not to hire a full-time guitarist for his group. He also played on the June 7th 1954 recording session for Haley’s version of “Shake, Rattle and Roll” although he was not allotted the chance for another notable guitar solo.
On June 17, 1954 Danny tragically died of a broken neck after falling down a staircase in The 819 Bar in South Philly, which had its dining room on the second floor. He was just 3 days away from his 34th birthday.