Breathless promo on the local radio station. Tickets selling out in a single day. Thousands of teenagers, hours prior to show time, lining up external the greatest venue in town. The scene external the Cleveland Arena on a it will be cold Friday night in March much more than 50 years earlier would watch quite acquainted to anyone who has ever attended a major rock concert. Yet no one on this particular night had actually ever also heard that a “rock concert.” This, ~ all, was the night of an event now recognized as’s first major rock-and-roll show: the Moondog Coronation Ball, held in Cleveland on in march 21, 1952.

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The “Moondog” in question was the legend disk jockey Alan Freed, the self-styled “father of rock and also roll” that was then the host of the enormously renowned “Moondog Show” top top Cleveland to be radio terminal WJW. Freed had joined WJW in 1951 together the organize of a classical-music program, yet he take it up a various kind that music at the tip of Cleveland record-store owner Leo Mintz, that had noted with good interest the farming popularity, amongst young client of all races, the rhythm-and-blues documents by black color musicians. Mintz decided to sponsor three hours of late-night programming ~ above WJW to showcase rhythm-and-blues music, and also Alan Freed was installed as host. Freed quickly took come the task, adopting a new, i know good persona and vocabulary that consisted of liberal usage of the expression “rock and also roll” to explain the music the was currently promoting. Together the program prospered in popularity, Mintz and also Freed determined to perform something that had actually never to be done: host a live dance event featuring few of the artists whose records were appearing on Freed’s show. Dubbed “The Moondog Coronation Ball,” the occasion was to function headliners Paul Williams and his Hucklebuckers and also Tiny Grimes and the Rocking Highlanders (a black instrumental team that carry out in Scottish kilts). In the end, however, the significant popular demand for tickets verified to be the event’s undoing.

Helped follow me by huge ticket counterfeiting and possibly by overbooking top top the component of the event’s sponsors, an estimated 20,000-25,000 pan turned the end for an occasion being organized in one arena through a volume of only 10,000. Less than an hour right into the show, the massive overflow crowd broke through the gates that were maintaining them outside, and also police conveniently moved in to prevent the show almost as shortly as that began. Top top the radio the an extremely next evening, Alan Freed readily available an apology to listener who had tried to attend the canceled event.

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By way of explanation, Freed said: “If anyone…had told united state that some 20 or 25,000 people would shot to gain into a dance—I intend you would have been similar to me. Friend would have actually laughed and said they were crazy.”