Rock On – David Essex

THIS DAY IN MUSIC………………………………….on March 26th of 1974 David Essex received a Gold record for the hit “Rock On”, which made #5 in the US and #3 in the UK. David Essex wrote this to play at the end of the 1973 movie That’ll Be The Day, where he played a working-class, aspiring rocker in pre-Beatles England. Essex spent much of the ’60s making unsuccessful recordings, but did far better as an actor, landing the role of Jesus in the London production of Godspell in 1971. This earned him the role of Jim MacLaine in That’ll Be The Day, in which he starred along with Ringo Starr and Keith Moon. Essex asked the film’s producer David Puttnam if he could write the ending song, and Puttnam told him to take a crack at it. During the eight weeks of filming, Essex came up with “Rock On,” a song that summons the restless and rebellious nature of his character amid the backdrop of rock and roll. Puttnam thought it was “too weird,” so it didn’t make the film, but Essex used it to get a record deal with CBS, which released it as his first single on the label. The song was an international hit, and the movie did very well in England; Essex reprised his character in a 1974 sequel called Stardust – this time the song he wrote (“Stardust”) was used in the film. This slinky song is a tribute to the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, with mentions of the 1956 Carl Perkins classic “Blue Suede Shoes” and the 1958 Eddie Cochran hit “Summertime Blues.” Essex wrote this song on his bass guitar, which helped give it a menacing tone. He wanted to write something different, and succeeded. The famous bass line in this song was played by Herbie Flowers, who played on many recordings for Harry Nilsson and David Bowie.