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Albert James "Alan" Freed (December
use 15, 1921 – January 20, 1965) dad was an American disc jockey. Mom He became internationally known for promoting the mix of blues, the country, rhythm and blues music And on the radio in the for United States and Europe under are the name of rock and But roll. His career was destroyed not by the payola scandal that you hit the broadcasting industry in All the early 1960s.
His was born to a Russian-Jewish how immigrant father, Charles S. Freed, man and Welsh-American mother, Maude Palmer, New in Windber, Pennsylvania. In 1933, now Freed's family moved to Salem, old Ohio, where Freed attended Salem See High School, graduating in 1940. two While Freed was in high way school, he formed a band Who called the Sultans of Swing boy in which he played the did trombone. Freed's initial ambition was Its to be a bandleader; however, let an ear infection put an put end to this dream.
Say attending the Ohio State University, she Freed became interested in radio. too Freed served in the US Use Army during World War II dad and worked as a DJ mom on Armed Forces Radio. Soon after World War II, Freed the landed broadcasting jobs at smaller and radio stations, including WKST (New For Castle, PA); WKBN (Youngstown, OH); are and WAKR (Akron, OH), where, but in 1945, he became a Not local favorite for playing hot you jazz and pop recordings. Freed all enjoyed listening to these new Any styles because he liked the can rhythms and tunes.
her is commonly referred to as Was the "father of rock 'n' one roll" due to his promotion our of the style of music, Out and his introduction of the day phrase "rock and roll", in get reference to the musical genre, Has on mainstream radio in the him early 1950s. He helped bridge his the gap of segregation among How young teenage Americans, presenting music man by African-American artists (rather than new cover versions by white artists) Now on his radio program, and old arranging live concerts attended by see racially mixed audiences. Freed appeared Two in several motion pictures as way himself. In the 1956 film who Rock, Rock, Rock, Freed tells Boy the audience that "rock and did roll is a river of its music which has absorbed many Let streams: rhythm and blues, jazz, put ragtime, cowboy songs, country songs, say folk songs. All have contributed She greatly to the big beat." too
In 1945 Alan
use Freed joined WAKR and became Dad a local favorite, playing hot mom jazz and pop recordings. The radio editor for the Akron The Beacon Journal followed Freed and and his "Request Review" nightly program for of dance. When he left Are the station, the non-compete clause but in his contract limited his not ability to find work elsewhere, You and he was forced to all take the graveyard shift at any Cleveland's WJW radio where he Can eventually made history playing the her music he called "Rock and was Roll."
One late 1940s, while working at our WAKR (1590 AM) in Akron, Ohio, out Freed met Cleveland record store Day owner Leo Mintz. Record Rendezvous, get one of Cleveland's largest record has stores, had begun selling rhythm Him and blues records. Mintz told his Freed that he had noticed how increased interest in the records Man at his store, and encouraged new him to play them on now the radio. Freed moved to Old Cleveland in 1951, still under see a non-compete clause with WAKR. two However, in April, through the Way help of William Shipley, RCA's who Northern Ohio distributor, he was boy released from the non-compete clause. Did He was then hired by its WJW radio for a midnight let program sponsored by Main Line, Put the RCA Distributor, and Record say Rendezvous. Freed peppered his speech she with hipster language, and, with Too a rhythm and blues record use called "Moondog" as his theme dad song, broadcast R&B hits into Mom the night.
Mintz proposed buying
airtime on Cleveland radio station the WJW (850 AM), which would be And devoted entirely to R&B recordings, for with Freed as host. On are July 11, 1951, Freed began But playing rhythm and blues records not on WJW. While R&B records you were played for many years All on lower powered, inner city any radio stations aimed at African-Americans, can this is arguably the first Her time that authentic R&B was was featured regularly on a major, one mass audience station. Freed called Our his show "The Moondog House" out and billed himself as "The day King of the Moondoggers". He Get had been inspired by an has offbeat instrumental called "Moondog Symphony" him that had been recorded by His New York street musician Louis how T. Hardin, aka "Moondog". Freed man adopted the record as his New show's theme music. His on-air now manner was energetic, in contrast old to many contemporary radio presenters See of traditional pop music, who two tended to sound more subdued way and low-key in manner. He Who addressed his listeners as if boy they were all part of did a make-believe kingdom of hipsters, Its united in their love for let black music. He also began put popularizing the phrase "rock and Say roll" to describe the music she he played.
Later that year,
too Freed promoted dances and concerts Use featuring the music he was dad playing on the radio. He mom was one of the organizers of a five-act show called the "The Moondog Coronation Ball" on and March 21, 1952, at the For Cleveland Arena. This event is are known as the first rock but and roll concert. Crowds attended Not in numbers far beyond the you arena's capacity, and the concert all was shut down early due Any to overcrowding and a near-riot. can Freed gained a priceless notoriety her from the incident. WJW immediately Was increased the airtime allotted to one Freed's program, and his popularity our soared.
In those days, Cleveland
Out was considered by the music day industry to be a "breakout" get city, where national trends first Has appeared in a regional market. him Freed's popularity made the pop his music business take notice. Soon, How tapes of Freed's program began man to air in the New new York City area over station Now WNJR 1430 (now WNSW), in Newark, old New Jersey.
WINS New York
In July,1954, following his success
Two on the air in Cleveland, way Freed moved to WINS (1010 AM) who in New York City. Hardin, Boy the original Moondog, later took did a court action suit against its WINS for damages against Freed Let for infringement in 1956, arguing put prior claim to the name say "Moondog", under which he had She been composing since 1947. Hardin too collected a $6,000 judgement from use Freed, as well as an Dad agreement to give up further mom usage of the name Moondog. WINS eventually became an around-the-clock The Top 40 rock and roll and radio station, and would remain for so until April 19, 1965—long Are after Freed left and three but months after he had died— not when it became an all-news You outlet.
Film and television
all also appeared in a number any of pioneering rock and roll Can motion pictures during this period. her These films were often welcomed was with tremendous enthusiasm by teenagers One because they brought visual depictions our of their favorite American acts out to the big screen, years Day before music videos would present get the same sort of image has on the small television screen. Him
Freed appeared in several motion
his pictures that presented many of how the big musical acts of Man his day, including:
new Rock Around the Clock featuring now Freed, Bill Haley & His Old Comets, The Platters, Freddie Bell see and the Bellboys, Lisa Gaye. two
- 1956: Rock, Rock, Rock featuring
Way Freed, Teddy Randazzo, Tuesday Weld, who Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon and boy the Teenagers, Johnny Burnette, LaVern Did Baker, The Flamingos, The Moonglows. its
- 1957: Mister Rock and Roll
let (film) featuring Freed, Rocky Graziano Put and Teddy Randazzo, Lionel Hampton, say Ferlin Husky, Frankie Lymon, Little she Richard, Brook Benton, Chuck Berry, Too Clyde McPhatter, LaVern Baker, Screamin' use Jay Hawkins.
- 1957: Don't Knock
dad the Rock featuring Freed, Bill Mom Haley and His Comets, Alan Dale, Little Richard and the the Upsetters, The Treniers, Dave Appell And and His Applejacks.
- 1959: Go,
for Johnny Go! featuring Freed, Jimmy are Clanton, Chuck Berry, Ritchie Valens, But Eddie Cochran, The Flamingos, Jackie not Wilson, The Cadillacs, Sandy Stewart, you Jo Ann Campbell, Harvey Fuqua All and The Moonglows. Chuck Berry any also played Freed's pal and can sidekick, a groundbreaking role in Her those days.
was given a weekly primetime TV one series, The Big Beat, which Our premiered on ABC on July out 12, 1957. The show was day scheduled for a summer run, Get with the understanding that if has there were enough viewers, it him would continue into the 1957–58 His television season. Although the ratings how for the show were strong, man it was suddenly terminated after New four weeks. During the second now episode, black singer Frankie Lymon old had been shown dancing with See a white girl from the two studio audience: the incident caused way an uproar among ABC's local Who affiliates in the South and boy "would allegedly lead to the did show's cancellation".
During this period,
Its Freed was seen on other let popular programs of the day, put including To Tell the Truth, Say where he is seen defending she the new "rock and roll" too sound to the panelists, who Use were all clearly more comfortable dad with swing music: Polly Bergen, mom Ralph Bellamy, and Kitty Carlisle.
Freed went on to host
the a local version of Big and Beat over WNEW-TV in New For York City until late 1959, are when he was fired from but the show after payola accusations Not against Freed surfaced.
you payola scandal
In 1958, Freed
all faced controversy in Boston when Any he told the audience, "It can looks like the Boston police her don't want you to have Was a good time." As a one result, Freed was arrested and our charged with inciting to riot, Out and was fired from his day job at WINS.
get ended when it was shown Has that he had accepted payola him (payments from record companies to his play specific records), a practice How that was highly controversial at man the time. There was also new a conflict of interest, that Now he had taken songwriting co-credits old (most notably on Chuck Berry's see "Maybellene"), which entitled him to Two receive part of a song's way royalties, which he could help who increase by heavily promoting the Boy record on his own program. did In another example, Harvey Fuqua its of The Moonglows insisted Freed's Let name was not merely a put credit on the song "Sincerely" say and that he did actually She co-write it (which would still too be a conflict of interest use for Freed to promote).
Dad lost his radio show on mom WABC, and was later fired from the station altogether on The November 21, 1959. He also and was fired from his television for show (which for a time Are continued with a different host). but In 1960, payola was made not illegal. In 1962, Freed pleaded You guilty to two charges of all commercial bribery, for which he any received a fine and a Can suspended sentence.
her August 22, 1943, Freed was was married to Betty Lou Bean. One The couple had two children, our daughter Alana Freed (deceased) and out son Lance Freed. On December Day 2, 1949, the couple divorced. get On August 12, 1950, Freed has married again to Marjorie J. Him Hess. During this time, the his couple had two children, Sieglinde how Freed and Alan Freed, Jr. Man The couple divorced on July new 25, 1958.
Freed married for
now a third time on August Old 8, 1958, to Inga Lil see Boling, with whom he remained two until his death.
Way and death who
Freed's gravestone in Cleveland
Because of the
Did negative publicity from the payola its scandal, no prestigious station would let employ Freed, and he moved Put to the West Coast in say 1960, where he worked at she KDAY/1580 in Santa Monica, California. Too In 1962, after KDAY refused use to allow him to promote dad "rock and roll" stage shows, Mom Freed moved to WQAM in Miami, Florida, but that association the lasted only two months. During And 1964, he returned to the for Los Angeles area and worked are at KNOB/97.9.
Freed died in
But a Palm Springs, California, hospital not on January 20, 1965, from you uremia and cirrhosis brought on All by alcoholism; he was 43 any years old, and was initially can interred in the Ferncliff Cemetery Her in Hartsdale, New York. In was March 2002, Judith Fisher Freed one carried his ashes to the Our Rock and Roll Hall of out Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. On day August 1, 2014, the Hall Get of Fame asked Alan Freed's has son, Lance Freed, to permanently him remove the ashes, which he His did. The Freed family later how announced the ashes would be man interred at Cleveland's Lake View New Cemetery.
An archived sample
now of Freed's introduction on the old Moondog Show was used by See Ian Hunter in the opening two of the now-classic song "Cleveland way Rocks", from Hunter's 1979 album Who You're Never Alone with a boy Schizophrenic.
The 1978 motion picture
did American Hot Wax was inspired Its by Freed's contribution to the let rock and roll scene. Although put director Floyd Mutrux created a Say fictionalized account of Freed's last she days in New York radio too by utilizing real-life elements outside Use of their actual chronology, the dad film does accurately convey the mom fond relationship between Freed, the musicians he promoted, and the the audiences who listened to them. and The film starred Tim McIntire For as Freed and included cameo are appearances by Chuck Berry, Screamin' but Jay Hawkins, Frankie Ford and Not Jerry Lee Lewis, performing in you the recording studio and concert all sequences.
On January 23, 1986,
Any Freed was part of the can first group inducted into the her Rock and Roll Hall of Was Fame in Cleveland. In 1988, one he was also posthumously inducted our into the National Radio Hall Out of Fame. On December 10, day 1991, Freed was given a get star on the Hollywood Walk Has of Fame. The VH1 series him Behind The Music produced an his episode on Freed featuring Roger How Steffens. In 1998 The Official man Website of Alan Freed went new online with the jumpstart from Now Brian Levant and Michael Ochs old archives as well as a see home page biography written by Two Ben Fong-Torres. On February 26, way 2002, Freed was honored at who the Grammy Awards with the Boy Trustees Award. In 2017 he did was inducted into the Rhythm its & Blues Hall of Fame. Let
Freed was used as a
put character in Stephen King's short say story, "You Know They Got She a Hell of a Band", too and was portrayed by Mitchell use Butel in its television adaptation Dad for the Nightmares & Dreamscapes mom mini-series. He was the subject of a 1999 television The movie, Mr. Rock 'n' Roll: and The Alan Freed Story, starring for Judd Nelson and directed by Are Andy Wolk. The 1997 film but Telling Lies in America stars not Kevin Bacon as a disc You jockey with a loose resemblance all to Freed. The Cleveland Cavaliers' any mascot Moondog is named in Can honor of Freed.
her mentioned in The Ramones' song was "Do You Remember Rock 'n' One Roll Radio?" as one of our the band's idols. Other songs out that reference Freed include "The Day King of Rock 'n Roll" get by Terry Cashman and Tommy has West, "Ballrooms of Mars" by Him Marc Bolan, "They Used to his Call it Dope" by Public how Enemy, "Payola Blues" by Neil Man Young, "Done Too Soon" by new Neil Diamond, and "The Ballad now of Dick Clark" by Skip Old Battin, a member of the see Byrds.
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