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The Summer of Kristin: Happy Birthday, Rock & Roll!

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This weekend marks the 57th anniversary of the “birth of rock and roll,” according to Wildwood folklore.

Wildwood Retro Hotel Casa Bahama

During the 1950s — about 40 years after Wildwood had been incorporated as a city, development of the resort town truly “boomed,” which was spurred by the construction of the Garden State Parkway. During the 1950s and 1960s, known as the “Doo-Wop era,” 200 motels built in a space-age architectural style, similar to landmarks in Las Vegas. Two of those hotels, the Caribbean Motel in Wildwood Crest and the Chateau Bleu in North Wildwood, are on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2006, Wildwood’s Doo-Wop hotels were placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual Eleven Most Endangered List.

Caribbean Motel Doo Wop Wildwood Historic Place

One of the most well-known hotels in the Doo-Wop style is the Starlux Hotel, which is quite a sight to see.

Wildwood Starlux Hotel Doo Wop

Wildwood is now home to a Doo-Wop museum, which houses furniture and neon signs from Doo-Wop hotels that have been demolished to make way for condos and other development. It is interesting to note, however, that several businesses have been built in the Doo-Wop style in recent years, including a Wawa convenience store and Acme grocery store. The Acme looks like it has been transplanted from the ’50s.

Doo Wop Wawa Wildwood New Jersey
In the midst of this Doo-Wop building boom, Bill Haley & the Comets performed at the HofBrau Hotel on Memorial Day weekend, 1954. One of the songs they sang was “Rock Around the Clock,” which is considered the first rock and roll song…which is why Wildwood has ever since claimed to be the “birthplace of rock and roll.” That rock and roll song was the first to hit #1 on the Billboard charts and sold 40 million copies.

Every year, Wildwood enjoys its status as the “birthplace of rock and roll” by hosting the Fabulous ’50s Weekend in October, as well as numerous ’50s- and ’60s-era music concerts throughout the summer.

Editor’s note: For the record, Cleveland also claims to be the “birthplace of rock and roll” (Alan Freed reportedly coined that phrase there in 1951), Rolling Stone has declared Hattiesburg, MS as the birthplace (claiming that the Mississippi Jook Band recorded two rock and roll songs there in 1936), and Memphis wants to be the official birthplace (because it is home to Sun Studio, where Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others recorded their music).

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