Camel Rock n’ Roll Dance Party with Alan Freed – CBS Radio – April 28, 1956 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
And as an adjunct to the previous post (featuring the Crew Cuts), the same radio network a little over 6 months after the Miller program comes Alan Freed and the Camel Rock n’ Roll Dance Party. A weekly live program (later taped) which featured Alan Freed and a host of new talent, most of whom weren’t on any of the major labels, but who represented that growing cottage industry; the small independent record label. The program was sponsored by Camel Cigarettes, who saw the Youth market as enormous and largely untapped, as well as a perfect fit with their regular sponsorship of sports programming.
Clearly a signal that Rock n’ Roll wasn’t a passing fad, that it was going to be around and that the audience was growing. By 1956, this genre of music, formerly relegated to “race stations” and “specialized record stores” was now breaking into the open. The audience was growing. Radio stations were dropping old formats and adapting to this new and increasingly popular music, ushering in Top-40 and breaking color lines.
This episode of Alan Freed’s Rock n’ Roll Dance party features Count Basie with Joe Williams, Sam “The Man” Taylor, Oscar McLollie and The Jacks (aka: The Cadets). A serious dose of R&B to a mainstream audience. It was popular, but not with Southern CBS Radio affiliates who refused to air it. Sadly the series lasted a little less than a year before it was cancelled and Freed continued on New York Radio.
But in that time the impression was made and Teenagers all over the country were flocking to their local radio stations and record stores, demanding the likes of Chuck Berry and Little Richard.
The Crew Cuts still had their audience, and they would continue until the early 1960s, but the audience was discovering the real thing and there was no going back; the genie had escaped from the bottle.
Here’s that episode of Alan Freed’s Rock n’ Roll Dance Party from April 28, 1956 as broadcast over CBS Radio.