Best known for his radio work in Ohio during the 1940s and ’50s, disc jockey Alan Freed has been credited with introducing the world to the term “rock n roll.” In an attempt to break down the racial barriers between black R&B and a white audience, it has been said that Freed began using “rock n roll” to describe the up-tempo, soul music that became popular during the late ’40s.
Noticing a shift in record sales amongst the white teenage community, the Ohio DJ realized that times were changing and the tastes of music’s primary consumer were changing with them. After adopting the moniker Moondog, and experiencing wide success with his radio show Moondog’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Party, Freed became widely embraced as an unofficial promoter of the rock n roll genre.
After years of success in the music industry as well as the fight to end racism, Alan “Moondog” Freed became one of the primary DJs cited in the payola scandal of the early 1960s. With 29 counts of commercial bribery against him, Freed pleaded guilty. Though he received minimal punishment for his crimes, his career endured a massive blow and never truly recovered.
Alan Freed died in 1965 at the age of 43. In 1986 he was one of the first people to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1991 he received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. While his career ended on a low note, his influence on the music industry was powerful and continues to be felt today.