Donato Joseph "Danny" Cedrone (June 20, 1920 – June 17, 1954) was an American guitarist and bandleader, best known for his work with Bill Haley & His Comets on their epochal "Rock Around the Clock" in 1954.
1952 recording of "Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie" released as a Rainbow Records 78, 200.
Cedrone was born in Jamesville, New York. Cedrone's musical career began 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, Cedrone played lead on their recording of "Rocket 88" which is considered one of the first acknowledged rock and roll recordings.
At around this time, Cedrone formed his own group, The Esquire Boys and this is believed to be one of the reasons he never joined Haley's group as a full-time member. In 1952, Cedrone 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. (Haley's piano player, Johnny Grande, later described this solo as a "gimmick" that Cedrone often used.)
Cedrone's involvement with the Esquire Boys kept him off of Haley's recording schedule for most of 1952 and 1953 (noted jazz guitarist Art Ryerson replaced him). During this time, Cedrone made a number of recordings with the Esquires, most notably two versions of the Bill Haley composition, "Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie", several years before Haley would record it himself. The first version was released in December, 1952 on Rainbow Records as 200. The Esquire Boys recorded a second version of "Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie" in 1954 released as Guyden 705-A, which reached no. 42 on the Cashbox pop singles chart on October 30, 1954.
"Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie" would also be recorded by Bill Haley and the Comets in 1955 on Decca, Buddy Morrow on Mercury, Johnny Curtis with the Toppers on Tops, Gabe Drake and his Rockets with the Orchestra under Maury Laws on Prom 1135, Willie Restum and His Music on Capitol, the Deep River Boys on HMV in 1956, Ivor and the Basil Kirchin Band in the UK, Artie Malvin and the Rhythm Rockets on Waldorf Music Hall Records MH 33 149 in 1955 on the Rock and Roll album, Artie Malvin with the Deerhill Dudes on the Waldorf 33 BU 2 Rock 'N Roll Jamboree album in 1958, The Treniers on Okeh 7023, Truck Stop in 1973, Omar Lamparter, The Original Band, The Danish Sharks, The Jodimars in 1955 for Capitol which was unissued, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra in 2000.
Cedrone returned to work 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 12, 1954 when they recorded "Rock Around the Clock" in New York City.
According to the book Rock Around the Clock by Jim Dawson, Cedrone had been unable to attend the session rehearsal and was uncertain what to play for the first instrumental break in the song. One of the Comets (accounts differ as to exactly who) suggested Cedrone repeat the solo he'd played on "Rock the Joint". Although Danny's wife Millie and daughter Marie recall an informal rehearsal at their home in South Philadelphia after dinner where the two men ran through a few solos, and the Rock The Joint break was one of them. The resulting solo, which was smoother than the previous recorded version, is widely considered one of the greatest rock and roll guitar solos of all time.
Cedrone 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. Cedrone would also play on the June 7, 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, ten days after this session, Cedrone died of a broken neck after falling down a staircase (some sources say he died of a heart attack). His place as session musician in the Comets was taken by Franny Beecher, who would later graduate to full Comets member.
Eight months after Cedrone's death, "Rock Around the Clock" was included on the opening credits of the film Blackboard Jungle and became the first rock and roll recording to hit the top of the American charts. Subsequently the song was performed on TV many times by Haley and the Comets; on several occasions (depending upon the demands of the program) the band would lip-synch to the 1954 recording. As a result, footage exists of both Bill Haley (on The Milton Berle Show) and Franny Beecher (American Bandstand and the 1956 film, Rock Around the Clock) miming to Cedrone's original solo. Beecher, himself an acclaimed and respected guitarist, did not begin to actually emulate Cedrone's solo until as late as the 1980s. Up until that point, Beecher replaced the down-scale run that Cedrone used to conclude his "Clock" guitar solo with a series of fast arpeggios.