March 21, 2007 marked the 55th anniversary of the Moondog Coronation Ball - the original rock concert produced by DJ Alan Freed that put Cleveland on the map as an innovative music town and brought the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum to town. Since then, Cleveland has seen its share of musical success, earning a reputation as a town with good local radio stations that were powerful enough to "break" new acts. National acts started in Cleveland as well, but they had a bit more of a challenge.
In honor of the anniversary of the first Moondog Coronation Ball, WKSU's Vivian Goodman took a look at a rock history that included WMMS, Sonny Geraci and the Raspberries, and a memorable Bruce Springsteen concert, as well as the current rock scene being perpetuated by today's youth. Listen to her story and find extended interviews, photos, and links below.
Northeast Ohio's Rock past is also the subject of a new Grey & Co. book, "Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories" by Carlo Wolff. WKSU created an exclusive Rock Memories quiz: Kathleen Hogan, Steve Allen, Jo Dorado, Craig Thompson and Josie Smith had the most answers correct and will each receive a prize pack that includes a copy of the book and two passes to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum.
A Look at Cleveland's Rock Scene, past and present, on the
55th Anniversary of the Moondog Coronation Ball
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
WKSU's Vivian Goodman reports:
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Read the full story transcript
Alan Freed and The Moondog Coronation Ball
Alan Freed, the disc jockey credited with coining the term "rock and roll", came to prominence
at WAKR in Akron and WJW in Cleveland.
The Moondog Coronation Ball, held on March 21, 1952 at the Cleveland Arena, is
considered to be the first large scale rock concert. More than 20,000 fans crashed the
gates of the venue, causing the event to be canceled. In September of 1954 Freed moved
to WINS in New York City, where he hosted a number of legendary stage shows, and starred
in several major motion pictures. Freed's career was derailed by the payola scandal of the
late '50s, but his legacy lives on. In 1986 Freed was among the original inductees to the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
Alan Freed Aircheck - March 22, 1952, WJW
In this aircheck from March 22, 1954 - the day after the landmark Moondog Coronation Ball -
Freed talks unapologetically about the event, and pledges to continue pleasing his fans.
Murray Saul Gets Down
Hear the 'Get Down' for October 10th, 1975
In the hearts and minds of many who grew up listening to WMMS in the '70s, Murray Saul is the "Get Down" man. Saul's wild counterculture rants each Friday signified the beginning of the weekend, and they were followed each Friday by Bruce Springsteen's anthem "Born to Run." Saul's weekend salutes were filled with tirades against the establishment (or "slave driver"), amusing drug references, political rants, and yowls of "Friday! Friday! Friday!"
Drummer Jimmy Fox was one of the founding members of the James Gang, one of the
finest American power trios. The group, with guitarist Joe Walsh and bassist Dale Peters,
wrote some of classic rock's favorite anthems. Walsh went on to join the Eagles, but the
James Gang regrouped for a reunion tour last year.
From 1961 through 1965 Bocky and the Visions were arguably Northeast Ohio's most popular
local band. At Cleveland Public Hall the group opened for the Rolling Stones, the Beach
Boys, the Dave Clark Five, Chuck Berry and others. Drummer Buddy Maver went on to perform
with several other Cleveland bands, before becoming the talent booker at the Cleveland