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Rock On

by

David Essex



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was written for the movie That'll Be The Day, starring Ringo Starr... and David Essex. Ringo was a musician who sometimes acted. Essex was an actor who was sometimes a musician. It didn't make it on to the movie. (thanks, Brad Wind - Miami, FL)
The lyrics are a tribute to the early days of Rock 'n' Roll.
This was a US #1 hit for Michael Damian in 1989. Like David Essex, Damian was also an actor. He was on the soap opera The Young And The Restless.
Damian's version was used in the Corey Feldman movie Dream A Little Dream.
This was Essex' only hit in the US, but he had several more in England.
The trippy rhythm made this a popular drug song.
This is the opening song for the 2000 movie Sunset Strip. (thanks, Shari - Port Townsend, WA)
Def Leppard covered this song for their 2006 CD Yeah! The CD is a tribute to influential '60s and '70s Rock bands. (thanks, Adolfo - Mission, TX)
David Essex
More David Essex songs
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Comments (32):

Paul Marlton, I've been saying the same thing for a long time. It's a nostalgia song, and it's full of those questions. The word Kid or Kids never shows up. Listen to the Def Leppard version and you'll see they tried to split the difference. You are absolutely right. Not a single lyric database that I can find gets it right. This is the only way it makes sense.

"The posted lyrics to this song say, "Hey kid rack & roll...". I used to think that way also but, in listening to the song recently (repeatedly), I think the lyrics are "Hey did ya rock & roll? Rock on. Hey did ya boogie too, did ya?". I have no proof of this - any comments?
- Paul, Marlton, NJ"
- Dylan, Boca Raton, FL
To finish my post 2 spots below: I still think the bassy voice that says 'James Dean' was doing it to make sure no one thought Essex was singing about the guy who sold sausage and played a billionaire in 'Diamonds Are Forever.'
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
Has anyone else noticed the similarities between this and Betty Davis' "I Will Take That Ride"? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0SGPhX4TQ4 musically her song is much the same, yet slowed down.. I think they both came out in 1974... question is.. who was inspired by who?
- Adele, Glendale, CA
When I was a kid, I thought the two spots with no sound before "Jimmy Dean" (near the end) were deleted expletives.

I still think the bassy voice saying â
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
I've always especially loved those opening bass notes
- Cyberpope, Richmond, Canada
Funny how the Aussie ad for an American company & American song managed to sneak in a plug to an era Aussie band ("Men At Work")
- Cyberpope, Richmond, Canada
I'm not sure where Archie from N.C. got his info. but it's totally incorrect. As someone else stated it was David Essex who wrote "Rock On" and performed the original version. Also, he's not from the Ohio Valley, he was born in England. "Rock On" peaked at #5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop-music chart and was never at #1. It only reached #3 on the UK singles chart. I think Archie was just having a little fun with us.
- Bill, Frankfort, IL
AnnaBelle Yes Jimmy Dean and James Dean in the song is the same person. Jimmy Dean was a nickname people called James Dean. There is also a Jimmy Dean sausage. This song however is talking about James Dean nicknamed Jimmy Dean. Cause James Dean was cool and sexy. Like rock and roll.
- constance, dallas, TX
The posted lyrics to this song say, "Hey kid rack & roll...". I used to think that way also but, in listening to the song recently (repeatedly), I think the lyrics are "Hey did ya rock & roll? Rock on. Hey did ya boogie too, did ya?". I have no proof of this - any comments?
- Paul, Marlton, NJ
This song was also covered by Toni Basil on her 1982 album, 'Word Of Mouth'.
- Joe, Chicago, IL
Yeah...absolutely a great song. It's yet another gem from my "'74 Senior Year." I've always been intriqued by the James Dean callouts, as he AND the song have a real, sauve coolness about them.
- Don, Indianapolis, IN
re The McDonalds TV commercial featuring this song , here's the link...it is great


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-VDzQjzDU4
- pete, nowra, Australia
The Def Leppard version sounds way different live than the studio version. Both are great, but different. The original is a great song in it's own right.
- Brendan, Easton, CT
The song was written in Virginia, and the first gold record was given to a secret writer that signed the song over in a contract at 14 years old. The band that played the song in the original recording was a band from the Ohio Valley, close to where David Essics lived, and still does. He has a son named David Essics Jr. The song was number one 3 weeks in a row, holding Micheal Jacksons song Rockin Robin back from the number one slot.
- Archie, Asheboro, NC
Chris-David Essex WAS the original. His version came out in 1974-Michael Damian's came out in 1989. I realize this is written years after the fact, but I had to get it in.
- Betsi, Nashville, TN
In the '80s, a group/singer by the name of 'Bambi' did a decent cover of the origional...with a similar, vaguely creepy vibe. The Essex version has that orchestral sound, redolent of some very early rock 'n' roll stuff. This is one of the best songs ever, along with BOC's "Don't Fear the Reaper"...

ACS
- Adam, Calgary, Canada
Another classic . One of the best of that era
- Mike, Hueytown , AL
Gary...they're not saying Jimmy B. They're saying Jimmy Dean...referring to James Dean.
- Mary, Phoenix, AZ
One other comment....

This the kinda song that folks go....

Where *did* you come up with this......?

And ya just grin..........

Kinda like Winwood's Gimme Some Lovin.....
They've heard it, but it don't get play....
- Gary, Milwaukee, WI
Anybody know who "Jimmy B" is at the end....?
- Gary, Milwaukee, WI
A pop classic,it will be remembered for generations.
Julie UK
- julie, coventry, England
Rock On tells about the very early hard rock groupies.....something like the New York Dolls in the early 70's!
- billy, ny, NY
James Dean was a young actor (Rebel Without a Cause etc) who died in a car accident in the 1950's.

Jimmy Dean is a country singer who has a line of sausages named after himself.

To whom the song refers...? Probably the actor. He was the essence of coolness in the early days of rock 'n roll, even though he was not a musician.
- R, Seattle, WA
Is James Dean the same guy as Jimmy Dean?
- Annabelle, Eugene, OR
This sounds like a mix of David Bowie and Genesis (Peter Gabriel & Phil Collins). It doesn't seem to be about early days of rock n' roll, it has a very trippy beat.
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
The part I remember the most is where a bass voice sings "James Dean."
- Howard, St. Louis Park, MN
Def Leppard covered this song on their album "Yeah!" to be released late 2005/early 2006
- Ryan, Tucson, AZ
Most recently used in Rob Zombie's new movie "The Devil's Rejects"
- james, richmond, VA
I heard that the sax was played by David Bowie on this song.
Also read in the liner notes on The Small Faces LP "OGDON'S CELEBRATED NUTGONE FLAKE TOBACCCO" that David Essex loaned talent to that project including the saga of "Happiness Stan" and "ichicoo Park"
- James, Ragin' Rochester, NY
David Played the lead in Godspell in 1971...
- Brian, Grand Forks, ND
I love this song - BUT there is nothing like the original. Michael Damian, the wuss from a soap opera, butchered the hell out of this song. I saw Michael Damian performing HIS version of the song on TV - all that exaggerated posturing and pouty pinup boy faces he made. *gag* He took a classic and turned it into a joke.
- Chris, Hull, MA
this song was used in a McDonalds TV commercial at least in Australia, it featured a James Dean look alike walking down George St Sydney, the setting was the 50's, I was told the look alike was actually a McDonalds store manager from Canada, it was an excellent commercial
- pete, nowra, Australia
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