Alan Freed

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Alan Freed, 1958

Alan Freed (born December 15, 1921 in Windber , Pennsylvania , † January 20, 1965 in Palm Springs , California ) was an American disc jockey .


For many, he's the epitome of rock 'n' roll DJs. He was one of the first to play rhythm and blues on his programs. However, he also stands for the corruption in this part of the music industry , because like many other DJs at the time he was paid for the presentation of pieces of music, for which he was convicted in the Payola scandal of 1959/60. In addition, he had himself registered as a co-composer of pieces of music, although he had no creative part in their creation ( cut in ).

He promoted rock 'n' roll in the 1950s. He is also credited with introducing the term "rock and roll" for this style of music. Because he generally promoted rock 'n' roll and especially black and white artists, he was strongly hostile. He succumbed to the lure of money and the Payola bribery scandal spelled the end of his life. Later charges of tax evasion resulted in his financial ruin. He died in 1965 as a result of years of alcohol abuse.

Moondog Coronation Ball concert poster

On March 21, 1952, Freed wanted to host the first major rock concert in history, the Moondog Coronation Ball , at the Cleveland Arena . The tickets were completely sold out on the first day. Due to a misprint on the cards, which were intended for the second day, which was added at short notice, 20,000 visitors appeared in the hall, which was designed for only 9,950 visitors on the first day of the event. The resulting chaos in front of and in the hall ensured that the concert was ended by the police during Paul Williams' first appearance after the first song.

Between 1956 and 1957 Freed took part in a few rock and roll films.

From 1957 to 1958 Freed hosted the weekly music program The Big Beat on ABC.

On January 20, 1965, he died in Palm Springs, California, of uremia and cirrhosis of the liver caused by his alcohol addiction .

In 1986 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Nonperformers).

In 1999 a television feature film was made under the title Mr. Rock 'n' Roll: The Alan Freed Story with Judd Nelson in the title role.



  • Carl Belz: The Story Of Rock. Harper & Row, New York City 1971, pp. 49-52.
  • Irwin Stambler: The Encyclopedia Of Pop, Rock And Soul. 3rd, revised edition. St. Martin's Press, New York City 1989, ISBN 0-312-02573-4 , pp. 242f.
  • John A. Jackson: Big Beat Heat: Alan Freed and the Early Years of Rock & Roll. Schirmer Books, 1991, ISBN 0-02-871155-6 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Peter Maxwill: How the rock got rolling . In: one day . March 21, 2012.
  3. ^ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees 1986