Albert James “Alan” Freed, also known as Moondog, was an American disc-jockey. He became internationally known for promoting African-American 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.
Freed was born to a Jewish father, Charles S. Freed, and Welsh mother, Maude Palmer, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. In 1933, Freed’s family moved to 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 in college, Freed became interested in radio. Freed served in the Army during World War II and worked as a DJ on Armed Forces Radio. Soon after World War II, Freed landed broadcasting jobs at smaller radio stations, including WKST ; WKBN ; and WAKR, where, in 1945, he became a local favorite for playing hot jazz and pop recordings.
Freed, a well-known disc jockey was commonly referred to as the “father of rock and roll.? He was given this title because he was the first to coin the phrase,? rock and roll? on public radio. The term rock and roll was used in songs by other famous artists; however, he is credited with popularizing the term “rock and roll” to describe the genre of music style. While the term “rock and roll” goes back as far as Trixie Smith’s 1923 recording of “My Man Rocks Me ? her song?s meaning is a ?double entendre? referring to dance and sex. Also another song by The Boswell Sisters’ a 1934 pop hit “Rock and Roll,” was referring to the motion of a ship on the sea. Alan Freed is one of several key individuals who helped bridge the gap of segregation among young teenage Americans. Alan Freed made it possible for white audiences to hear African-American music stylings. He arranged live concerts and played “black” music on his radio station. He chose to play original songs by black artists rather than cover versions by white artists. Freed was instrumental in introducing this new style of music ?rock and roll? to a teenage audience who were ready to have their own type of music unlike the musical taste of their parents. Alan Freed appeared in several motion pictures in which he played a part as himself. In the 1956 film, ?? Rock, Rock, Rock”, Freed tells the audience that “rock and roll” is a river of music that has absorbed many streams: rhythm and blues, jazz, rag time, cowboy songs, country songs, folk songs. All have contributed to the big beat.”
In the late 1940s, while working at WAKR in Akron, Ohio, Freed met Leo Mintz, the owner of the Record Rendezvous, 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 1949, Freed moved to Cleveland and, in April 1950, he joined WXEL-TV as the afternoon movie show host. The next year, he got a job playing classical music on Cleveland radio station WJW.