Albert James “Alan” Freed (December 15, 1921 – January 20, 1965) was an American disc jockey who produced and promoted large traveling concerts with ground-breaking acts, helping spread the importance of rock and roll music throughout North America and the world.

1921

Albert James Freed is born

on December 15, 1922, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Son of Charles Sidney Freed and Maude Palmer Freed. The elder Freed, a Russian Jewish immigrant, came to the U.S. at the age of 2. Freed’s mother came from a sturdy Welsh Protestant mining stock.

1939

In high school,

Alan Freed was introduced to the trombone. AF organized a band and named it the ‘Sultans of Swing’ after a famous Harlem orchestra of that name. AF played dance dates including blues and Dixieland.

1940

Freed enrolls at Ohio State

for a course in journalism, where he studied engineering. When he peered through the window of the campus radio and “he was gone.”

1940

September 20, 1940

Alan Freed was drafted and assigned to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, as a Signal Corps photographer. While in service, he came down with double mastoiditis. Alan Freed was given an Honorable Discharge.

1942

Alan Freed’s first big break

came when he landed a $17 a week job in May 1942 with WKST New Castle, Pennsylvania.