This I Have Learned: Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Here to Stay!

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

Quick! Who is the first Rock ‘n’ Roll artist from your teenage years you can think of? Elvis? Chuck Berry? The Everly Brothers? The Platters? This question must bring a smile to your face remembering those thrilling days of yesteryear! But what, exactly, is Rock ‘n’ Roll?

The term Rock ‘n’ Roll is a type (genre) of music that evolved principally in the United States and, believe it or not, in the late 1940s.

It morphed from African-American music, such as rhythm and blues, gospel, boogie-woogie, jazz, and jump blues. It also emanated from country music.

According to Wikipedia, Rock ‘n’ Roll’s early and formative elements are heard in blues records from the 1920s and, as well, in the country records recorded during the 1930s. However, the term Rock ‘n’ Roll did not come into vogue until 1954.

Here are some Rock ‘n’ Roll trivia questions that set the stage for the era that launched thousands of Rock ‘n’ Roll careers:

Who first coined the term “Rock ‘n’ Roll”?

A: In 1942 Maurie Orodenker, a magazine columnist, first used the term “Rock ‘n’ Roll” to describe records that were upbeat.

In what year was the first Rock ‘n’ Roll record released?

A: The record Rocket “88” was released in 1951.

When was the first Rock ‘n’ Roll concert held?

A: It was held on March 21, 1952, produced and organized by Alan Freed.

Where was the first Rock ‘n’ Roll concert held?

A: It was held in Cleveland, and it was called The Moondog Coronation Ball. At the end of the ball, chaos ensued, which prompted people to associate Rock ’n’ Roll with the rebellious era of music.

In what year did the genre classification Rock ‘n’ Roll emerge?

A: 1954

The actual genesis of Rock ‘n’ Roll is attributed to Mr. Alan Freed, an American disc jockey. From the early 1950s until the early 1960s, Freed would organize and promote traveling concerts throughout North America. He was hoping that these concerts would further the popularity of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

But with his fame came his downfall, as he eventually admitted to taking payola, the practice of accepting money in exchange for playing certain records for certain performers. This was controversial at the time. Payola became illegal in 1960, and in 1962 Freed was charged with commercial bribery.

Freed also had taken some credit for co-writing some Rock ‘n’ Roll songs, which would pay him royalties. In addition, Freed had financial problems, including tax evasion.

The man who advanced Rock ‘n’ Roll became an alcoholic. Heavy drinking took its toll on Freed, and he died on Jan. 20, 1965, at age 43, from cirrhosis and uremia due to his alcoholism. Freed was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Friday, July 7, 2023, is International Rock ‘n’ Roll Day.