born on 26/10/1919
died on 10/5/2001
Alias James E. Myers
James E. Myers
James E. Myers (October 26, 1919 – May 10, 2001) was an American songwriter, actor, producer, and raconteur.
Myers is best known as the credited co-writer of "Rock Around the Clock" for which he used the pseudonym "Jimmy DeKnight". Myers co-wrote the song with Max C. Freedman, though doubt has been cast as to whether Myers actually participated in the writing of the song.
"Rock Around the Clock" was published in early 1953. Although Bill Haley & His Comets were supposed to be the first to record it, a dispute between Myers and Dave Miller, Haley's producer for Essex Records prevented Haley from doing so (though Haley later claimed he tried several times to record it at Essex). The first recording of the song was made by an Italian-American band, Sonny Dae & His Knights; Haley finally recorded it in 1954 for Decca Records and in 1955, the song became the first No. 1 record of the Rock and Roll era.
Myers' songwriting career dated back to the 1940s, and his DeKnight moniker appears on several country and western recordings made by Haley in the 1949-51 era. Myers formed Myers Music to publish songs, and oversaw many of his own compositions as well as a number of Haley originals such as "Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie". It is also believed that Myers played drums on an early recording by Haley's pre-Comets group, the Saddlemen, though this has yet to be definitively confirmed. A later claim by Myers (cited in John Swenson's biography Bill Haley: The Daddy of Rock and Roll) that he played drums on "Rock Around the Clock" has been debunked by the existence of an official recording session document indicating the drummer was Billy Gussak.
The relationship between Myers and Haley collapsed in 1955-56 when Myers began providing songs to The Jodimars, a group made up of former Comets.
In later years, Myers turned to acting, appearing in small roles in a number of films such as The China Syndrome; he also directed at least two films under his Jimmy DeKnight nom de plume. He also wrote an autobiography based upon his experiences in World War II entitled Hell in a Foxhole, and opened a museum in his home dedicated to "Rock Around the Clock".
- James E. Myers at the Internet Movie Database
- Rockabilly Hall of Fame tribute page including interview
- Webpage on the history of "Rock Around the Clock"