Scandal!!!! Freed, Payola and The End of Innocence?

Posted by on May 3, 2008

Hi all,

Geez…sorry for the late post today, but life sometimes just doesn’t work the way we want it to.  Thank you for still stopping by the blog, subscribing and reading!  If you like my stuff, feel free to pass it on to someone you know if you have a moment!


I was listening to some streaming Fifties music today, I think it was Bill Haley and the Comets, which in turn started me thinking about Alan Freed and how music changed in the Fifties from the “hot” swing bands of the Thirties and Forties, to the individual entertainers and Rock-n-Roll era.  I’ve talked about the Wolfman, so I think Freed would be a worthy topic as well…..


Working his way through various radio stations after World War II, Freed is given credit for introducing rock and roll to mainstream America.  With a progressive radio show, distinctive personality and the driving force of the new music, he became his own cultural icon and helped to make everyday names of entertainers such as:




Nicknamed “The Moondog”,  Alan Freed also did non-radio appearances, venturing into  movies and other forms of broadcast.  In the movie,  Rock, Rock, Rock from 1956,  we see Alan again advancing the cause of modern rock, much to the consternation of the “establishment”, who in the same year in San Antonio:

“…rock ‘n’ roll was banned from city swimming-pool jukeboxes because, said the city council, its primitive beat attracted “undesirable elements” given to practicing their spastic gyrations in abbreviated bathing suits….” (4)

However, his celebrity was not without controversy, especially in the sense of “payola”.  In general terms, this means record companies would pay the disc jockey to play their particular records, thereby pumping up the sales volume.  He was accused of this, which effectively broadsided his career as the trumpeter of rock.   Says Life magazine for December 1959:

“…Freed denied taking any payola, but admitted getting checks for “services rendered” as a consultant to record companies….”

It’s easy to see Freed and dismiss him, but you might benefit by taking a closer look, especially at the influence he had on other radio jockeys as well as entertainers.

I’ve assembled some links if you want to take a closer look.

Have a great day, see you Monday…


Official Freed Website

Alan Freed: Wikipedia

Rock Hall of Fame entry for Freed


(1-3) Rock, Rock, Rock, (1956)

(4)Time Archives

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