Rhino Factoids: Alan Freed’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Dance Party
60 years ago today, the first regularly-scheduled, nationally-broadcast rock ‘n’ roll radio show premiered on the CBS Radio Network. If that’s not an anniversary worth celebrating, what is?
The reputation of disc jockey Alan Freed may have been sullied somewhat by the payola scandal that ran rampant through the broadcasting industry in the early 1960s, but if there’s one thing that’s never been in question, it’s that the man appreciated the merits of rock ‘n’ roll and was one of the genre’s major proponents as it was taking off around America in the ‘50s.
To borrow a concept from Danny and the Juniors, the creation of Rock ‘n’ Roll Dance Party was a sure sign that rock ‘n’ roll was here to stay – as the magazine Downbeat wrote at the time, “the fan mail we get from all around the country is…a true barometer for the new and exciting beat that has swept the country” – but were it not for the Armed Forces Radio Service, music historians would be out of luck if they wanted to revisit these radio shows. Episodes of the show were recorded for airing on the American Forces Network so that US soldiers stationed overseas could enjoy the latest tunes, and those episodes are the only ones that have survived.
We’ve put together a playlist featuring some of the artists and songs that Freed played during the course of various episodes of his Dance Party. Give it a spin and learn what real rock ‘n’ roll sounds like.