Alan Freed and The Camel Rock n’ Roll Dance Party – CBS Radio – August 14, 1956 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Taking a slight detour to the 50s tonight with an episode from the sadly short-lived series produced for CBS Radio featuring Alan Freed along with The Cleftones, The Four Fellows, Ann Cole and the “Alan Freed Orchestra” led by Sam “The Man” Taylor.
Admittedly, it was ahead of its time, only in the sense that most CBS affiliates recorded the show for later broadcast, mostly very late at night because Rock n’ Roll was just getting started and met with a lot of resistance from the older demographic who listened to Network radio the most. Also, the show was outright banned for broadcast by CBS stations in the South because of the heavily segregated atmosphere, even in radio, at the time.
So the program lasted for only about a year before it sailed off into the sunset. But by the time that happened, a wave of independent stations adopted a new format, later known as “top-40” and that proved to be one of the major factors in the downfall of network radio at the time. Although there were other attempts at introducing rock n’ roll on a national level via radio, including ABC Radio which broadcast a series of programs live from the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, that show was very short lived and as far as I know, no examples of it seem to exist.
But this was an experiment that was tried in 1956, and was bankrolled by Camel Cigarettes, featuring Alan Freed who was a very prominent figure in early rock n’ roll – long before the days of the FCC ban on cigarette advertising and long before the days where cigarette companies were accused of promoting their wares to a teenage audience.
This should give you some idea of what the atmosphere was like at the time, how tame it is by comparison to how it eventually became and certainly during a period of time where people smoked a lot.
It’s okay to dance – honest.
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