Alan Freed
January 20, 1922 - January 20, 1965

Alan Freed was born in Ohio on January 20, 1922. He is credited with coining the term "rock 'n' roll." Alan grew up in Salem, Ohio, where his father was a clothing store clerk and a composer and band leader specializing in swing music.

During the two years he spent at Ohio State University, Alan played the trombone and led the Sultans of Swing, a band named after the one in Harlem. After two years in the Army he started his radio career in New Castle, Pennsylvania at a station that featured classical music. Alan was a musician and started working at WINS-New York in the summer of 1954.

On WINS he called himself "King of the Moon Doggers" and stayed there until 1958. He also worked at WABC and WNEW/TV in New York. His abuses and notoriety were ultimately his downfall in the wake of a national payola scandal. Alan took the brunt of punishment for hundreds of gift - and money-accepting djs. He was charged with having taken bribes totaling $30,650 from six record companies for playing and plugging their releases on his radio program. In 1959 Alan pleaded guilty to part of the charge and received a six-month sentence, which was suspended, and a $300 fine. At the height of his career he made as much as $200,000 a year, according to Time Magazine. His popularity over the air was matched on stage during school holidays, when he took over large New York’s Paramount Theater and presented rock 'n roll performers to mobs of youngsters. A critic once said that attending an Alan Freed stage show was "like having an aisle seat for the San Francisco earthquake. When he entered the stage in his checkered sport jacket, he was accorded the same shrieking welcome as the performers."

In the wake of the payola probe, Alan arrived at KDAY on May 16, 1960, from WABC-New York. His contract, which became public, was for exclusive radio services and guaranteed him $25,000 per year. A clause in his contract was about the selection of disks. On his hiring, KDAY gm Irving Phillips said, "We feel he's a dynamic radio personality and any problems he may have had are a thing of the past. We did not do this to flaunt the Commission. Freed has full knowledge of the way we operate and will abide by our restrictions." Eventually he was let go from KDAY for plugging local concerts, which was in conflict with station policy. He had roles in several motion pictures with such titles as Don't Knock the Rock and composed two extremely successful songs, Sincerely and Maybeline. Alan died January 20, 1965, of uremia at the age of 43. Alan was elected to the Emerson Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.


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