By John Mattingly
“My-my, hey-hey, rock and roll is here to stay…”
Because a lot of the great rock music is now regarded as classic or oldies, Neil Young may be right; that rock will always be with us, though it may elevate to a truly classic status, in which the great rock and roll of Mayall, Cream, Stones, Beatles, ZZ Top, Hendrix, Doors, and a host of others will rise to the same historical atmosphere as Mozart, Chopin, Schubert, Bach, and Britten.
The term rock and roll gained wide popularity from a Cleveland-based disc jockey, Albert Alan James “Moondog” Freed in the 1940s who played a blend of country, rhythm and blues, and “race music” from black artists. Freed’s sponsor, Leo Mintz, encouraged him to call his show The Moondog Rock & Roll House Party in an effort to spread race music to a wider, whiter audience. In the late ‘20s and 30s, black artists had produced a host of popular songs, including the titles Rockin’ Rollin’ Mama and Rock and Roll. Freed and Mintz were instrumental in re-branding race music as rhythm and blues that eventually became rock and roll.