He's often credited with coining the phrase "rock ‘n' roll" and he played host to what's considered the first rock concert.
Alan Freed started his broadcasting career at a small station in Pennsylvania in 1942. But he was bound for bigger things. He became a DJ at Akron's WAKR in 1945 and was a local celebrity before moving on to WJW radio.
Freed would make frequent trips to Leo Mintz's Record Rendezvous, which sold rhythm and blues records, and was inspired to create a new name for the music to mask racial tensions. His Moondog radio show was such a hit, Freed decided to host a dance at the Cleveland Arena featuring some R&B acts. It was a sold-out show at the 10,000 capacity venue with another 20,000 people who tried to crash the gates.
In 1954, he joined WINS in New York and ditched the Moondog name for legal reasons. Freed went on to host a weekly music TV show on ABC and even did a segment for a British pirate radio station.
Freed was indicted on several counts related to the payola scandal that rocked the music world in the early 1960s. While he fought most of the charges, Freed was so slammed with income tax evasion. He eventually died of kidney failure at the age of 43.