Parthenogenesis is a fantasy situation or rather a religious terminology.
This terminology, of course, has nothing to do with mortals, so in order to create something new, one must “step” on something old.
More correctly, however, it comes from the union of two seemingly different things.
And in this it always needs a catalyst, to be able to combine them, in one act… Rocking & Rolling.
The catalyst in the case of music is usually a specific person.
After all, history is made by people and history is people.
Surely the real pioneers are “burned “and their ashes are scattered in a fantastic land of oblivion.
The only thing a searcher can do is compromise with the registered names.
It took almost three decades from the first mention of a Rock’N’Roll song in 1922 to its formalization.
Not any decades, but the most important from a historical and social point of view.
The huge socio-political rearrangements also create fertile ground for new musical approaches.
Apart from the same artists, who have already started to generate new ideas, someone had to be found to baptize them, but also to make them known.
His name… Alan Freed!
Who was Alan Freed?
Outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, there is a sign that says:
When radio station WJW disc jockey Alan Freed (1921-1965) used the term “rock and roll” to describe the uptempo black rhythm and blues records he played beginning in 1951, he named a new genre of popular music that appealed to audiences on both sides of 1950s American racial boundaries–and dominated American culture for the rest of the 20th century…
This sign essentially formalizes this radio producer as the godfather of the largest and always evolving musical genre.
So, as I said, people are history, so a basic reference to some is necessary.
Albert James “Alan” Freed, as his full name is, was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
His parents were Russian-Jewish immigrant Charles S. Freed and Welsh-American Maude Palmer.
He was born a year before the term Rock “N” Roll was used in a song in December 1921.
His “multinational” origin is not just a formal reference, as this mixture significantly influenced him in his own musical mixtures.
In 1933 his family moved to Salem, Ohio, where he graduated from Salem High School in 1940.
In this school, he creates a band called “Sultans of Swing” (!!!), in which he played the trombone.
His desire to be the absolute leader of the band is not fulfilled, as an infection in his ear deprives it.
Fate eventually had other plans for him. Even bigger!
At the University he attends, the spark for his later involvement with radio lights up.
This flirtation takes shape during his military service in the Second World War, where he is a DJ on “WKBN Armed Forces Radio“.
The army was the beginning, as there he now decides to pursue a career in radio.
His first steps are in small local radios such as: “WKST” of New Castle, “WKBN” of Youngstown, and “WAKR” of Akron.
In the last one, he begins to display his musical preferences in:
- Rhythm and Blues,
- Folk, etc.
Quite innovative genres for the radio of that time, but that made him popular.
Paulo Coelho’s phrase “life is a set of mysterious encounters” is fully applicable in the case of Alan Freed.
The path to … “glory”
While still working at WAKR in Akron, Ohio, he meets Leo Mintz, owner of one of Cleveland’s largest record stores, Record Rendezvous.
And all this just before the end of the bloodiest decade in the history of human civilization with racism still at its zenith in America.
In 1951 he moved to Cleveland.
With the support of Mintz and William Shipley, RCA distributor in northern Ohio, he undertakes a midnight show on “WJW”.
His show is called “The Moondog House” and he calls himself “The King of the Moondoggers“.
He uses an African-American accent and calls it Moondog by the nickname of avant-garde composer and poet Louis Thomas Hardin.
But where there is light, there is also shadow …
His first litigation is seemingly insignificant when Hardin sues WINS radio.
The authentic Moondog seeks monetary compensation from Freed for the illegal use of his name.
The court’s decision in favor of the musician awards the sum of 6000 dollars.
Freed pays for it and gets “in exchange” the license to use the name in return.
The innovative Freed…
In addition to broadcasting Rhythm and Blues songs, Alan Freed also innovates in the way he speaks on the radio.
He becomes the first to have contact with the listeners, but his utterances also have energy, in contrast to the hypotonic way of other producers.
Alan Freed has set a goal to change the music landscape in America initially.
So, a year later he organizes “The Moondog Coronation Ball“.
The event takes place at the Cleveland Arena and is officially considered the first Rock “N” Roll Concert.
This is not a live concert but a DJ Set, which has a huge response, although it is interrupted awkwardly due to overcrowding.
However, the reputation of the radio producer is skyrocketing!
“WJW” gives him even more radio time, but also more freedom.
The entire music industry, thanks to Alan Freed, sees Cleveland as “the city of the new music revolution.”
Now the local musical character of the city is spreading all over America!
Freed appeared in a series of groundbreaking Rock “N” Roll movies during this period.
These films have had a huge impact on young audiences.
Perhaps the most important was “Rock Around the Clock” in 1956.
This is the first depiction of how Rock and Roll was discovered, invested with their music:
- Bill Haley and His Comets
- The Platters,
- Tony Martinez and His Band and
- Freddie Bell and His Bellboys.
Alan Freed’s contribution to the spread of Rock “N” Roll in Europe was achieved through his show “Jamboree” on Radio Luxembourg.
Freed gave a boost to this music and managed to make it dominant throughout the western world.
However, his career was ruined by the Payola scandal.
(In the next article we will deal in detail, as this is a very important part of Rock history and is ignored by the majority).
Certainly, Alan Freed’s biography is not complete, but it is another reason for a personal search.
This pioneering radio producer lived the life of a Rock Star and this resulted in his untimely death in 1965.
As the Canadian philosopher, Marshall McLuhan prophetically said: “The message is the means“…
And Alan Freed proved the exact meaning of this phrase…