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Reassessing 'the generation gap': Bill Haley's 1957 Tour of Britain, inter-generational relations and attitudes to rock 'n' roll in the late 1950s

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Abstract

This article explores the circumstances surrounding American rock ‘n’ roll singer Bill Haley’s much-anticipated first British tour of 1957 and considers their implications for historical understanding of such key themes as post-war British youth culture and inter-generational relations, the early impact of rock ‘n’ roll music in Britain and the extent of cultural Americanisation during the late 1950s. The article argues that Haley’s successful and peaceful tour curbed British fears concerning the disruptive potential of rock ‘n’ roll, not merely because the singer embodied a ‘safe’ sort of Americanism with which British audiences could feel comfortable but also because adults in general were actually considerably more attracted to, and tolerant of, rock ‘n’ roll music than has hitherto been noted. To examine Haley’s tour is, thus, to reassess many of the preconceptions concerning popular music, generational dynamics, and the reception of American culture in post-war Britain.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-605
Number of pages33
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Volume24
Issue number4
Early online date21 Jun 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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