John Melinchock has been the lead guitar player and lead vocalist with Bill Haley's Comets from 1988 through 2010. That puts him third in line for longevity in the band next to Rudy Pompilli, 25 years, and Al Rappa who has been there since 1956. John has certainly done his homework. He has studied all the great Comets guitarists that have gone before him: Danny Cedrone, Franny Beecher, Nick Masters, Bill Turner and all the rest. He says "When I started with the band I copied the guitar solos note for note. I would sit and listen to live recordings for hours at a time and decide which solo I would do on what song from which player. I never, at that time, considered adding anything of my own. Then, one day on stage, I started to add my own thoughts to the songs. I don't know why it just happened. Eventually people noticed and I was really surprised at the positive response. Since then I have attempted to add my own distinctive musical voice to the music that changed the world. Which, I hope, is evident in this recording. You can't get any better than the original recordings. I know that. I'm just trying to add a little of this and a little of that. It isn't 1955 anymore it's 2010. A lot has happened musically since these songs were first recorded. I hope, when you listen to these recordings, you hear a little bit of what I'm talking about. Don't get me wrong, I still play the Rock Around The Clock solo note for note like Danny Cedrone. It's too perfect to add or subtract from." He adds, "Being accepted as a Comet by the fans has been a great joy of my life. I feel a responsibility to the music every time I get on stage. It was truly a project of love to sit down and re-learn the songs and try different musical approaches to each and every one. The 10 songs that were finally settled on are definitely from Bill Haley's greatest American recordings. He recorded so many songs with so many different musicians but, as far as I'm concerned, always staying true to his roots. Of all the truly great musicians that Bill Haley worked with in this band over the years I personally want to thank Al Rappa, The Original Walking Bass Man from Bill Haley and His Comets for making this all possible. Rockin' out on stage with a true rock and roll legend with THE FIRST AND STILL THE GREATEST ROCK AND ROLL BAND OF ALL TIME just made the music pour out from all the love in the world that was showered on this band. I can only hope a little of that rubbed off in this recording. Long live Rock and Roll. Long live Al Rappa. Long live Bill Haley's Comets."
Comets bring back rockin’ Peninsula memories
Aug. 1, 2007, Door County Advocate, Fish Creek, Wisc.
By Joe Knaapen, assistant editor
After Bill Haley’s Comets intoned their anthem —“1-2-3 o’clock, 4 o’clock rock”— enough people danced in the aisles of Door Community Auditorium to sell out the next segment in the 2007 summer version of the roots of Rock ‘n Roll.
The Comets, founded in the 1950s by the late Haley, put on a solid show of ’50s hits July 25 at DCA.
The founding father, Haley, died in 1981, but his legacy is carried on by Rappa, the bass player with an inimitable style who started touring with the band in 1956.
Rappa acquired the rights to the name and continues to play the hits that made Haley — and his contemporaries from Elvis to Little Richard — great. Rappa is celebrating his 52nd year touring as many as five nights a week across the U.S.
While Rappa is the man with the credentials that make him a grandfather of rock, his sidemen make the music come to life.
John Melinchock does more than yeoman work as lead guitarist — looked like he borrowed licks from everybody; Les Paul to Stevie Ray Vaughan.