Alan Freed was the Cleveland disc jockey who named the riotous new art form known as "rock'n'roll"--then, 50 years ago this month, fell sharply from grace when he was charged with taking "payola" bribes. British R&B scholar Bill Millar told Freed's rollercoaster story in 1982.--Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages
Alan Freed, the man responsible for giving rock'n'roll its name, was many things to many people. To some, he was the original Mr Clean, an innocent "good guy," who opened up hitherto-segregated airwaves and made an unparalleled contribution to the advancement of black popular music.
This was the sympathetic impression conveyed by the Floyd Mutrux 1978 bio-pic, American Hot Wax. "He brought us rock'n'roll," said Mutrux. "I didn't want to say bad things about a guy who started all that." To others like Alexander Walker, the London Evening Standard film critic who met the volatile disc jockey during his heyday, Freed was a pathetic figure, an ignorant crook whoRead More »from The Rock’s Backpages Flashback: The Man Who Named “Rock’n'Roll”