The Info List - Alan Freed

--- Advertisement ---

(i) (i) (i) (i)

ALBERT JAMES "ALAN" FREED (December 15, 1921 – January 20, 1965) was an American disc jockey . He became internationally known for promoting the mix of blues , country , and rhythm and blues music on the radio in the United States and Europe under the name of rock and roll . His career was destroyed by the payola scandal that hit the broadcasting industry in the early 1960s.


* 1 Early years

* 2 Career

* 2.1 WAKR Akron * 2.2 WJW Cleveland * 2.3 WINS New York * 2.4 Film and television * 2.5 Legal trouble, payola scandal

* 3 Personal life * 4 Later years and death * 5 Legacy * 6 References * 7 Further reading * 8 External links


Freed was born to a Russian-Jewish immigrant father, Charles S. Freed, and Welsh-American mother, Maude Palmer, in Windber, Pennsylvania . In 1933, Freed's family moved to Salem, Ohio
Salem, Ohio
where Freed attended Salem High School , graduating in 1940. While Freed was in high school, he formed a band called the Sultans of Swing in which he played the trombone . Freed's initial ambition was to be a bandleader; however, an ear infection put an end to this dream.

While attending the Ohio State University
Ohio State University
, Freed became interested in radio. Freed served in the US Army during World War II
World War II
and worked as a DJ on Armed Forces Radio. Soon after World War II
World War II
, Freed landed broadcasting jobs at smaller radio stations, including WKST (New Castle, PA ); WKBN (Youngstown, OH ); and WAKR (Akron, OH ), where, in 1945, he became a local favorite for playing hot jazz and pop recordings. Freed enjoyed listening to these new styles because he liked the rhythms and tunes.


Freed is commonly referred to as the "father of rock \'n\' roll " due to his promotion of the style of music, and his introduction of the phrase "rock and roll", in reference to the musical genre , on mainstream radio in the early 1950s. He helped bridge the gap of segregation among young teenage Americans, presenting music by African-American artists (rather than cover versions by white artists) on his radio program, and arranging live concerts attended by racially mixed audiences. Freed appeared in several motion pictures as himself. In the 1956 film _Rock, Rock, Rock _, Freed tells the audience that "rock and roll is a river of music which has absorbed many streams: rhythm and blues, jazz, ragtime, cowboy songs, country songs, folk songs. All have contributed greatly to the big beat."


In 1945 Alan Freed joined WAKR and became a local favorite, playing hot jazz and pop recordings. The radio editor for the _Akron Beacon Journal _ followed Freed and his "Request Review" nightly program of dance. When he left the station, the non-compete clause in his contract limited his ability to find work elsewhere, and he was forced to take the graveyard shift at Cleveland's WJW radio where he eventually made history playing the music he called "Rock and Roll."


In the late 1940s, while working at WAKR (1590 AM) in Akron, Ohio
Akron, Ohio
, Freed met Cleveland record store owner Leo Mintz . Record Rendezvous was one of Cleveland's largest record stores, who had begun selling rhythm and blues records. Mintz told Freed that he had noticed increased interest in the records at his store, and encouraged him to play them on the radio. In 1951, Freed moved to Cleveland and, in April 1951, he was under a non-compete with WAKR. However, through the help of William Shipley the RCA distributor in Northern Ohio, he was released from his non-compete and joined WJW radio on a midnight radio program sponsored by Main Line, the RCA Distributor and Record Rendezvous. Freed peppered his speech with hipster language and with a rhythm and blues record called "Moondog" as his theme song, broadcast R&B hits into the night.

Mintz proposed buying airtime on Cleveland radio station WJW (850 AM) to be devoted entirely to R&B recordings, with Freed as host. On July 11, 1951, Freed started playing rhythm and blues records on WJW. Freed called his show "The Moondog
House" and billed himself as "The King of the Moondoggers". He had been inspired by an offbeat instrumental called " Moondog
Symphony" that had been recorded by New York street musician Louis T. Hardin, aka " Moondog
". Freed adopted the record as his show's theme music. His on-air manner was energetic, in contrast to many contemporary radio presenters of traditional pop music , who tended to sound more subdued and low-key in manner. He addressed his listeners as if they were all part of a make-believe kingdom of hipsters, united in their love for black music. He also began popularizing the phrase "rock and roll " to describe the music he played.

Later that year, Freed promoted dances and concerts featuring the music he was playing on the radio. He was one of the organizers of a five-act show called "The Moondog
Coronation Ball " on March 21, 1952, at the Cleveland Arena . This event is known as the first rock and roll concert. Crowds attended in numbers far beyond the arena's capacity, and the concert was shut down early due to overcrowding and a near-riot. Freed gained a priceless notoriety from the incident. WJW immediately increased the airtime allotted to Freed's program, and his popularity soared.

In those days, Cleveland was considered by the music industry to be a "breakout" city, where national trends first appeared in a regional market. Freed's popularity made the pop music business take notice. Soon, tapes of Freed's program began to air in the New York City
New York City
area over station WNJR/1430 (now WNSW ) Newark, New Jersey.


In 1954, following his success on the air in Cleveland, Freed moved to WINS (1010 AM) in New York City
New York City
. Hardin, the original Moondog, later took a court action suit against WINS for damages against Freed for infringement in 1956, arguing prior claim to the name "Moondog", under which he had been composing since 1947. Hardin collected a $6,000 judgement from Freed, as well as an agreement to give up further usage of the name Moondog. WINS eventually became an around-the-clock Top 40 rock and roll radio station, and would remain so until April 19, 1965—long after Freed left and three months after he had died— when it became an all-news outlet.


Freed also appeared in a number of pioneering rock and roll motion pictures during this period. These films were often welcomed with tremendous enthusiasm by teenagers because they brought visual depictions of their favorite American acts to the big screen, years before music videos would present the same sort of image on the small television screen.

Freed appeared in several motion pictures that presented many of the big musical acts of his day, including:

* 1956: _Rock Around the Clock _ featuring Freed, Bill Haley "> Freed's gravestone in Cleveland

Because of the negative publicity from the payola scandal, no prestigious station would employ Freed, and he moved to the West Coast in 1960, where he worked at KDAY /1580 in Santa Monica , California. In 1962, after KDAY refused to allow him to promote "rock and roll" stage shows, Freed moved to WQAM in Miami , Florida, but that association lasted only two months. During 1964, he returned to the Los Angeles area and worked at KNOB /97.9.

Freed died in a Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs, California
hospital on January 20, 1965, from uremia and cirrhosis brought on by alcoholism ; he was 43 years old, and was initially interred in the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York . In March 2002, Judith Fisher Freed carried his ashes to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio . On August 1, 2014, the Hall of Fame asked Alan Freed's son, Lance Freed, to permanently remove the ashes, which he did. The Freed family later announced the ashes would be interred at Cleveland's Lake View Cemetery .


An archived sample of Freed's introduction on the Moondog
Show was used by Ian Hunter in the opening of the now-classic song "Cleveland Rocks ", from Hunter's 1979 album _You\'re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic _.

The 1978 motion picture _ American Hot Wax _ was inspired by Freed's contribution to the rock and roll scene. Although director Floyd Mutrux created a fictionalized account of Freed's last days in New York radio by utilizing real-life elements outside of their actual chronology, the film does accurately convey the fond relationship between Freed, the musicians he promoted, and the audiences who listened to them. The film starred Tim McIntire as Freed and included cameo appearances by Chuck Berry , Screamin\' Jay Hawkins , Frankie Ford and Jerry Lee Lewis , performing in the recording studio and concert sequences.

On January 23, 1986, Freed was part of the first group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. In 1988, he was also posthumously inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame . On December 10, 1991, Freed was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame . The VH1 series _ Behind The Music _ produced an episode on Freed featuring Roger Steffens . In 1998 The Official Website of Alan Freed went online with the jumpstart from Brian Levant and Michael Ochs archives as well as a home page biography written by Ben Fong-Torres . On February 26, 2002, Freed was honored at the Grammy Awards with the Trustees Award.

Freed was used as a character in Stephen King 's short story, "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band ", and was portrayed by Mitchell Butel in its television adaptation for the _Nightmares "> He was the subject of a 1999 television movie, _Mr. Rock 'n' Roll: The Alan Freed Story_, starring Judd Nelson and directed by Andy Wolk . The 1997 film _ Telling Lies in America _ stars Kevin Bacon as a disc jockey with a loose resemblance to Freed. The Cleveland Cavaliers ' mascot Moondog is named in honor of Freed.

Freed is mentioned in The Ramones ' song "Do You Remember Rock \'n\' Roll Radio? " as one of the band's idols. Other songs that reference Freed include "The King of Rock 'n Roll" by Terry Cashman and Tommy West , "Ballrooms of Mars" by Marc Bolan , "They Used to Call it Dope" by Public Enemy , " Payola Blues" by Neil Young , "Done Too Soon" by Neil Diamond , and "The Ballad of Dick Clark" by Skip Battin , a member of the Byrds .


* ^ Obituary _Variety _, January 27, 1965, page 54. * ^ Larkin, Colin. "Freed, Alan". _Encyclopedia of Popular Music_ (4th ed.). * ^ James, p. 59. * ^ Jude Sheerin (20 March 2012). "How the world\'s first rock concert ended in chaos". BBC News. * ^ _A_ _B_ "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Rock\'n\'Roll". Retrieved 6 November 2014. * ^ Jackson, p. 35. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Miller, pp. 57-61. * ^ Bordowitz, p. 63. * ^ _A_ _B_ Sheerin, Jude (March 21, 2012). "How the world\'s first rock concert ended in chaos". BBC News. Retrieved March 12, 2014. * ^ Scotto, Robert _Moondog, The Viking of 6th Avenue: The Authorized Biography_ Process Music edition (22 November 2007) ISBN 0-9760822-8-4 ISBN 978-0-9760822-8-6 (Preface by Philip Glass) * ^ Brooks & Marsh, p. 136. * ^ Jackson, p. 168. * ^ Guralnick, p. 235. * ^ Curtis, p. 37. * ^ Jackson, p. 214. * ^ Los Angeles Radio People, Where are They Now? – F, retrieved 2012-03-06. * ^ AlanFreed.Com: death certificate, retrieved 2012-03-06. * ^ Vigil, Vicki Blum (2007). _Cemeteries of Northeast Ohio: Stones, Symbols & Stories_. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-59851-025-6 * ^ Alan Duke, CNN (3 August 2014). " Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to remove Alan Freed\'s ashes - CNN.com". _CNN_. Retrieved 6 November 2014. * ^ Roger Friedman. "Rock Hall Gets Burned For Removing Famed DJ’s Ashes From Exhibit". _Showbiz411_. Retrieved 6 November 2014. * ^ 19 Action News Digital Team (August 13, 2014). " Alan Freed may have left the Rock and Roll hall of Fame, but he\'s staying in Cleveland for good". Cleveland, Ohio: WOIO . * ^ " Alan Freed – 1986 – Category:Non-Performer". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 2017. Retrieved January 5, 2017. * ^ "Alan Freed". National Radio Hall Of Fame. 2017. Retrieved January 5, 2017. * ^ "Alan Freed". _Walkoffame.com_. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. 2017. Retrieved January 5, 2017. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Danesi, p. 121. * ^ Weinraub, Bernard (October 14, 1999). "The Man Who Knew It Wasn\'t Only Rock \'n\' Roll". _The New York Times_. Retrieved January 5, 2017. * ^ Holden, Stephen (October 9, 1997). "60\'s Payola Is His First Taste of America". _The New York Times_. Retrieved January 5, 2017.


* Bordowitz, Hank (2004). _Turning Points in Rock and Roll_. New York, New York: Citadel Press. ISBN 978-0-8065-2631-7 . * Brooks, Tim ; Marsh, Earle F. (2009). _The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946–Present_. Random House. ISBN 0307483207 . * Curtis, James M. (1987-06-15). _Rock eras: interpretations of music and society, 1954–1984_. Popular Press. ISBN 978-0-87972-369-9 . Retrieved 20 November 2011. * Danesi, Marcel (2016). _Concise Dictionary of Popular Culture_. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 1442253126 . * Guralnick, Peter (2005). _Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke_. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-37794-5 . * Jackson, John A. (1991). _Big Beat Heat: Alan Freed and the Early Years of Rock & Roll_. Schirmer. ISBN 0-02-871155-6 . * James, David E. (2015). _Rock 'N' Film: Cinema's Dance With Popular Music_. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199387621 . * Miller, James (1999). _Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll, 1947–1977_. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80873-0 .


* Wolff, Carlo (2006). _ Cleveland Rock and Roll Memories_. Cleveland: Gray border:solid #aaa 1px">

* Biography portal

* Official website * DVD review of Mr. Rock \'n Roll * Alan Freed at Find a Grave – regarding the original burial * Alan Freed at Find a Grave – regarding a re-burial and present location of Freed's ashes * The Alan Freed Tribute Page

* v * t * e

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 1986