Moondog Coronation Ball

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Concert poster

The Moondog Coronation Ball was a concert held at the Cleveland Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on March 21, 1952. It is generally accepted as the first major rock and roll concert.

The concert[edit]

At the time, its most remarkable feature was its mix of black and white[citation needed] performers, in a revue intended for a racially mixed audience, at a time when almost all performances, radio stations and record labels were segregated by race. One popular belief is that this fact predisposed the authorities to seek reasons to limit or bar the show.

The concert was organized by Alan Freed (a disc jockey considered to have coined the term "Rock and Roll" at WJW-Radio), along with Lew Platt, a local concert promoter, and Freed's sponsors, including Leo Mintz, owner of the Record Rendezvous store. More tickets were printed than the arena's actual capacity, in part due to counterfeiting, and a printing error[1] (tickets for a follow-up ball were sold with the same date printed after the first had sold out). With an estimated 20,000 individuals trying to crowd into an arena that held slightly more than half that — and worries that a riot might break out as people tried to crowd in — the fire authorities shut down the concert after the first song by opening act Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams ended. Freed made a public apology on WJW the next day.[2]

Contemporary revival[edit]

Cleveland rock radio station WMMS (100.7 FM) attempted to stage a revival of the concert in 1986 under the name "Moondog Coronation Ball II"; then-program director John Gorman had intended for the event to serve as an oldies rock and roll tribute concert – part of the campaign to bring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Cleveland. For legal reasons, the event never materialized. A few years later in 1992, Gorman, then at local oldies radio station WMJI (105.7 FM), successfully organized a 40th anniversary concert called "Moondog Coronation Ball '92". The concert has been held every year since, featuring oldies rock and roll acts, and sponsored by WMJI. In recent years, the event has been held at Quicken Loans Arena.[3][4]


  1. ^ Sheerin, Jude (March 20, 2012). "How the world's first rock concert ended in chaos". BBC News Magazine. Retrieved March 21, 2012. 
  2. ^ Alan Freed audio of apology. Retrieved 3 May 2013
  3. ^ "Omniamerica Group V. Street Gold Records, Ltd.". Retrieved 2014-02-13. 
  4. ^ "Majic 105.7 to Host the 2014 Moondog Coronation Ball :: Official Site of Quicken Loans Arena". 2014-01-24. Retrieved 2014-02-13. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Wolff, Carlo (2006). Cleveland Rock and Roll Memories. Cleveland, OH: Gray & Company, Publishers. ISBN 978-1-886228-99-3

External links[edit]