“Moon Dog” is a term that is steeped in rock ‘n roll tradition. Its meaning goes back to the days when rock ‘n roll was born.
In 1951, Alan Freed was a disc jockey at WJW in Cleveland, Ohio, playing hot jazz and pop records. He noticed that a large number of young people were buying rhythm and blues records, so he started playing these records on his show and his popularity soared. Due to the prejudices of the times, Freed began calling this music he played, “Rock ‘N Roll”. Ironically, the term Freed was using to make rhythm and blues more acceptable to a white audience was slang for “sex” in the black community.
Freed often credited himself with coining the term “Rock ‘N Roll”, although the term was first heard in the Dominoes hit song “Sixty Minute Man” in 1951. His genuine love for the music, combined with an exuberant sense of self-promotion, culminated in his title as “King of the Moondoggers”.
Freed named his radio show Moondog’s Rock ‘N Roll Party. The success and popularity of the show led to Freed’s Moondog Coronation Ball in Cleveland in March of 1952. Top rhythm and blues acts were booked for the show. The concert drew 25,000 fans to a hall that held 10,000. The show had to be cancelled, but it wasn’t the sheer numbers that upset the adults – it was the fact that the crowd was made up equally of blacks and whites. This event was so big that many consider it the birthday of “Rock ’N Roll”.