Craig Allen’s Fun Facts: “Rock On” by David Essex
Fun Fact #1: David Essex wrote this "rocker" to play at the end of the 1973 movie "That'll Be The Day."
Born David Albert Cook, in London in 1947, "Essex" loved playing soccer as a kid...and even dreamed of becoming a pro player. In his teens, he discovered music...playing drums in a local band before becoming a singer.
He put out his first single, "As The Tears Came Tumbling Down," on the Fontana label in 1965 (note that you can find the song online, but I am unable to include it here).
For the next two years, he toured England with the band "David Essex And The Mood Indigo." And, he released 7 more singles in his native UK, before 1970!
Essex also started honing his acting skills, grabbing small parts in small movies...and notably, he won the lead role in the London stage version of "Godspell" in 1971.
This brings us (back) to "Rock On."
His "Godspell" acclaim led Essex to being cast in "That'll Be The Day," with Ringo Starr and Keith Moon!!
Essex's movie character was a working class, aspiring rocker in pre-Beatles England...
He asked producer David Puttnam if he could write the movie's ending song...and Puttnam said....sure.
"Rock On" addresses the restless nature of his film character...a rock artist-wannabe, going through tough times.
The song is also a tribute to the early days of Rock 'N' Roll...making mention of Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Summertime Blues" by Eddie Cochran!
Puttnam listened to the finished song, and decided not to use it for the film...saying that it was 'too weird"!
David Essex used "Rock On" to secure a recording deal with the CBS Records.
"Rock On" would be his first single on the CBS label.
And, FINALLY, everything came together for our singer/actor!
The song rejected for the movie as being "too weird" was an international hit: landing at #3 on the "Hot 100" here in New Jersey...it was a #5 chart hit in England in 1973!
Here are even more Fun Facts:
Essex wrote "Rock On" on his bass guitar...which helped to give it a more "menacing" tone. He wanted a different sound, and got it.
The song's bass line is played by Herbie Flowers, who played on several hit recordings for 70's hit maker Harry Nilsson...and for David Bowie!
The oft-repeated line "hey kids, rock and roll, rock on" is something that Essex dreamed up. He wanted the phrase to act as a mantra.
On this side of the pond, "Rock On" sold over a million copies, and was awarded a "Gold Disc" by the R.I.A.A in March 1974.
It was also nominated for a Grammy.
And, while "Rock On" would be Essex's only major U.S. hit ("Lamplight" landed at #71 in NJ in 1974)...David Essex would have 8 more Top-10 hits in England.
He became a '70s British teen heartthrob...the reaction from the young girls at some of his concerts in England was said to be rather reminiscent of "Beatlemania!"
On the acting side..."That'll Be The Day" (the movie) did well in England...with Essex reprising the role in the 1974 sequel "Stardust."
And, this time, the song he wrote ("Stardust") was used in the film! Of course.
To the present day, David Essex remains active.
He tours England, yearly, and puts out new music through his website.
Check out the latest David Essex news and happenings at his official website, here!
You want MORE?
"Rock On" was "covered" by musician turned actor turned musician (sound familiar?) Michael Damian in 1989.
Damian grew up loving the song...and when he got a chance, he recorded this "fave" for himself. Damian's record label passed on the song.
Michael Damian's "Rock On" ended up on the soundtrack for the 1989 movie "Dream A Little Dream."
It was released as a single...and it ROCKED up the charts to #1!
Yes...David Essex approved.
"Hey kids...rock and roll...rock on" with New Jersey 101.5 and nj1015.com!