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FREED, ALAN

FREED, ALAN (15 Dec. 1922-20 Jan. 1965) played a critical role in the popularization of ROCK 'N' ROLL. He was born to Charles and Maud Freed in Johnstown, Penn. The family moved to Salem, Ohio, in 1924 where Alan graduated from Salem High School. Freed attended Ohio State University for two quarters and then enlisted in the army in 1941.

After attending broadcasting classes at Youngstown's WKBN-AM, he worked as a news and sports announcer at WKST-AM in New Castle, and then at WKBN. In Jan. 1945, he started at WAKR-AM in Akron as a play-by-play announcer for Akron University's basketball games, a news reporter, and then as the afternoon disc jockey.

Freed met LEO MINTZ† in 1948 and saw how Mintz's customers at Cleveland's Record Rendezvous enjoyed Rhythm & Blues records. Mintz and Freed called the music Rock'n'Roll. Soon after, Freed started playing a rock'n'roll tune as a novelty record on his afternoon show at WAKR. He left WAKR in Dec. 1949 and started in the Cleveland market on WXEL-TV (Channel 9) in April as the afternoon movie show host.

With Mintz's sponsorship, Freed started in July 1951, at WJW-AM (850) with a late night radio show called "The Moondog Rock & Roll House Party." Later that year, Freed promoted dances/concerts featuring the music he was playing on the radio. With Lew Platt, of Akron, Freed promoted a large, five-act concert at the CLEVELAND ARENA on 21 Mar. 1952 called the Moondog Coronation Ball which is considered to have been the first rock'n'roll concert.

After the Moondog Ball, Freed's radio program was syndicated in 8 markets and on the Armed Forces Network in Europe. Freed moved to WINS-AM in New York City in 1954.

Freed's TV show on WNEW-TV, his five movies, and his records on his label, End Records, made him a world-wide personality. He promoted successful concerts and toured throughout the eastern states.

On 3 May 1958, Freed resigned from WINS after a riot at a dance in Boston featuring Jerry Lee Lewis. Freed immediately began work at rival WABC-AM. He was fired from WABC on 21 Nov. 1959 when he refused to sign a FCC statement that he never received funds or gifts for playing records on the air. Freed's refusal and his high profile made him the main scapegoat at the FTC congressional hearings concerning payola in the record industry. Freed's radio career and concert business was over after the payola hearings. He was blackballed from the music business.

After a short stint at WQAM-AM in Miami, Freed moved to Palm Springs where he died of kidney failure. He was survived by his four children, Sieglinde, Alana, Alan Jr., and Lance.