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MINTZ, LEO

MINTZ, LEO (1911-4 Nov. 1976) was instrumental in the development of ROCK 'N' ROLL with Alan Freed and making Cleveland the "capital of Rock 'n' Roll." Mintz founded Record Rendezvous in 1938 at 214 Prospect Avenue and moved to 300 Prospect Ave. in 1945. He was one of the first record merchants in the country to bring records out from behind the counter into bins so his customers could browse through them. His store was also one of the first sites of record store listening booths and in-store promotional appearances by recording artists.

In the late 1940s, Mintz saw the decrease in sales of JAZZ and big band records. He realized that his young customers would dance around his store when a rhythm & blues record was played. To break the taboo of white people listening to black music, he called it "rock 'n' roll," borrowing a term from old blues lyrics. He convinced a young WAKR-AM disc jockey, ALAN FREED, to play a rock 'n' roll record as a novelty song on his program in 1949. Mintz was Freed's supporter, helping him to get jobs in Cleveland at WXEL-TV and WJW-AM in 1951. Record Rendezvous sponsored all of Freed's concerts including The Moondog Coronation Ball at the CLEVELAND ARENA on 21 March 1952, the first rock concert. Freed left Cleveland for New York City in 1954, taking with him the credit for starting rock 'n' roll. Mintz operated his popular record store until six months before his death in 1976. In those years he regaled his customers with tales of inventing rock 'n' roll.

Mintz married Betty Kulkin in 1936. They were survived by three children: Stuart, Lesley Trattner, and Sherri Kowit. Mintz was a member of the Men's Club and B'NAI B'RITH at the Temple on the Heights (see B'NAI JESHURUN CONGREGATION), and the Hawthorne Valley Country Club. He is buried in the Mount Olive Cemetery.