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19 May: It isn’t goodnight for Alan Freed; it’s a long, painful goodbye

Alan Freed, near the height of his career, circa 1955-56. (Photo: WINS.)

Alan Freed, near the height of his career, circa 1955-56. (Photo: WINS.)

He coined the term “rock and roll” (perhaps inspired by the use of the phrase in Billy Ward and the Dominos’ suggestive rhythm and blues hit “Sixty Minute Man”) and he was often considered its father. And yet there have been those who have pondered whether Alan Freed came to it at first for love or for the cash register. Nelson George, in his remarkable The Death of Rhythm & Blues (New York: Pantheon, 1988), isolated that thought among others:

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28 November: It STILL isn’t the mayor of Anaheim, Asuza, and Cucamonga, kiddies . . .

I know this all has nothing to do with Fred Allen specifically, but I couldn't think of a better picture to post here . . . (Photo: NBC.)

I know this all has nothing to do with Fred Allen specifically, but I couldn’t think of a better picture to post here . . . (Photo: NBC.)

Those who discover these gentle offerings ask now and again what provoked the interest, the love, that led to them in the first place. Sometimes I think I’ve had a proper answer, other times I’ve reflected that perhaps I haven’t.

Over two years ago, when I opened this journal after having done similar elsewhere, I published an update of my original manifesto. And like many if not most writers confronted with an earlier exercise, I find it only slightly less comfortable to read now than I would to find myself undergoing root canal.

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