Competition winner 20 December 2012

Another winner at Midnight Rock!

Another great night at Midnight Rock last night and the prize was won by someone whose name I didn't get, but he will be back this week to redeem his winnings, so I'll let you know.

The question was who is credited with coming up with the term 'Rock & Roll' first?

And the answer which came out from the audience almost immediately, (after shouts of Chuck Berry and Bill Haley) is: Alan Freed.


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 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 1958, Freed faced controversy in Boston when he told the audience, "The police don't want you to have fun." As a result, Freed was arrested and charged with inciting to riot.

Freed's career ended when it was shown that he had accepted payola (payments from record companies to play specific records), a practice that was highly controversial at the time. There was also a conflict of interest, that he had taken songwriting co-credits (most notably on Chuck Berry's "Maybellene"), which entitled him to receive part of a song's royalties, which he could help increase by heavily promoting the record on his own program. However, Harvey Fuqua of The Moonglows insisted Freed co-wrote "Sincerely".

Freed lost his own show on the radio station WABC; then he was fired from the station altogether on November 21, 1959. He also was fired from his television show (which for a time continued with a different host). In 1960, payola was made illegal. In 1962, Freed pleaded guilty to two charges of commercial bribery, for which he received a fine and a suspended sentence.

Payola was a common practice at the time and it was not uncommon for disc jockeys to receive payola. However, Freed was the scapegoat for the entire payola scandal because his music was directed toward a primarily black audience. Other radio and television personalities were not penalized as harshly as Freed because they would either "whiten" their broadcasts or direct their broadcasts to a white audience all together.


Freed's punishment from the payola scandal was severe. The side effects of negative publicity were such that no prestigious station would employ him, and he moved to the West Coast in 1960, where he worked at KDAY-AM 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 two months. During 1964, he returned to the Los Angeles area and worked at KNOB-FM.

He died in a Palm Springs, California hospital on January 20, 1965 from uremia and cirrhosis brought on by alcoholism.


Remember, every week Roadslut and Midnight Rock are giving away 500 pesos just to answer one question.

See you next week.

Leave a comment

Add comment