The birth of Rock ‘n Roll in the 50’s forever shaped the
music industry, and there are countless musicians who contributed to this historic
event. For this reason, I believe that it is incorrect to credit any single one
of them with the creation of the genre. Rock n’ Roll’s sound evolved from a mix
of blues, folk, and country music, and its success is due to the popularization
of these (traditionally black) genres of music with white audiences. For this
reason, I believe that the true fathers of Rock n’ Roll are those who helped bring
“black music” to mainstream audiences. One person who played a major role in
this was the disc jockey, Alan Freed.

            In the early 50’s, Freed realized that there was a growing
interest in Rhythm and Blues music with white teenagers, so he began to play this
emerging genre on his radio show. This fresh new music, which Freed dubbed “Rock
‘n’ Roll” was extremely popular and became his focus throughout the remainder
of his career (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,
By playing Rock ‘n’ Roll music made by both black and white musicians with no distinction,
Freed helped to shatter the barrier between a person’s skin colour and the
music they listened to, while simultaneously bringing this new genre of music
to widespread commercial success.

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not only played Rock ‘n’ Roll music on his show, he also helped create and
promote the first ever Rock ‘n’ Roll concerts (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, n.d.). This was important for
two reasons. First, the success of Rock ‘n’ Roll with the younger demographic
was largely due to the passion and energy in the music that was completely different
to anything that came before it. Live performances where audiences could not
just hear the passion and energy, but also see it, helped to build even more
excitement around individual performers and the genre as a whole. Second, the chance
for fans to see artists perform live allowed everyone to see that most popular
musicians at the time were black. This again helped to break down the barriers
between black and white music. Freed then went on to bring musicians on tour, helping
to further increase the popularity of Rock ‘n’ Roll throughout America.  

            Rock ‘n’ Roll was brought into existence
by the evolution and combination of genres of music that came before it, and
was as impactful as it was due to the fact that it was popular with both black
people and white people. While there were obviously many musicians who were
important to the birth and success of Rock ‘n’ Roll, it was Alan Freed, and
people like him, that were able to bring the emerging genre across the nation. By
being open-minded during an oppressive time and recognizing the growing popularity
of “black music” with American youth, Freed was a major player in breaking down
the barrier between black and white music, thereby turning a fresh, emerging genre
into Rock ‘n’ Roll, and bringing it its widespread success.


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