CLEVELAND -- The ashes of Alan Freed, who coined the term "rock 'n' roll," were removed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at 11:30 a.m. Monday.
WKYC's Kris Pickel talked with the Freed family about this change.
The idea once seemed like a match made in heaven. A founder of rock & roll as part of the The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum.
Why move someone from their final resting place? That is the question haunting the family of Alan Freed.
Lance Freed was told to pick up his father's urn which, for more than a decade, has been part of what was supposed to be a permanent display .
The importance of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to Cleveland's reputation can't be ignored and neither can Alan Freed's importance to the history of rock 'n' roll.
A few key points of Alan Freed's life and career:
- He's credited with coining the term "rock 'n' roll" while a DJ in Cleveland in the 1950's
- Freed is considered a founder of the genre
- Freed emceed the Moondog Coronation Ball at Cleveland Arena in 1952. The event is widely considered the first rock 'n' roll concert. It ended in a riot, due to a huge turnout
- He moved from Cleveland to New York and was considered one of the most influential DJ 's in the industry
- He was persecuted by religious groups for supporting rock 'n' roll which many considered to be immoral
- In 1957-58, ABC cancelled Freed's television dance party show after an interracial couple was seen dancing together
- One of the most influential DJs in the industry, Freed was fired after the government targeted him for payola
- In 1965, Freed died at the age of 42 from medical problems brought on by stress of the legal issues and alcohol abuse
- In 1986, Freed was in the first class inducted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum. Other inductees that year included Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, James Brown, Ray Charles and Sam Cooke
- Movies and books have been made on his life
- Freed received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Rolling Stone magazine included Alan Freed in an article on men who had a major impact on rock and roll.
"DJ Alan Freed was one of rock and roll's first heroes — and villains. He played black R&B records for white teenagers as early as 1951 on his "Moondog Rock 'N' Roll Party' on Cleveland's WJW and presented integrated concert bills. Later, as a DJ in New York, he spread the rock gospel via television, films and his all-star shows at Brooklyn's Paramount Theater. But as a result of payola scandals, he was blackballed within the business. He died a broken man in 1965."
Alan Freed's family hoped his memory would be treated better than the man was treated in life. The Rock Hall seemed like the perfect resting place -- his urn under a spotlight surrounded by fans of rock and roll.
"It feels strange to me that the man who is most responsible for the museum being there is being pushed out. I don't know their motivation," says Lance Freed.
Lance was contacted late last year and told to come pick up his father's urn.
Lance questions the reason he was given -- that the urn confused visitors.
The president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Greg Harris, says the Rock Hall is not an appropriate place for human remains.
"It's universal. Museums now a days do not do this. It's very unusual to have human remains in a museum. We believe Freed's legacy is incredibly important and we are respecting Freed by not having him on display."
Harris says Freed's exhibit is going to remain in place and points out that more museum space is dedicated to Freed than to the Beatles.
Lance Freed hopes the Rock Hall isn't losing its way.
"Rock and roll is not an institution," says Lance. "Rock and roll is freedom of expression. The Rock Hall is a business so maybe the Hall is becoming less fun and more institution. Rock and roll is fun. Maybe they are not having fun anymore."
Alan Freed will stay in Cleveland.
"Cleveland was the best years of his life." says Lance.
Freed's children agree that Cleveland was a high point in their father's life. It wasn't just his popularity. It was the love of the music, the excitement, and the support.
Cleveland was and is rock and roll .
"He was a champion of the music. He loved the kids. He belongs in a place where he birthed rock and roll. It just feels right," Lance said.
Freed's remains will be kept temporally in a secured location until a decision is made on a proper and permanent resting place. The family hopes it will be a place where fans of rock and roll can still visit.
The family is looking for suggestions on a way to permanently memorialize Freed. Share your suggestions HERE.
It should be noted that the original plan was never to put Freed's urn on display at the Rock Hall. His original resting place was a mausoleum in New York but the cold marble environment where wall-after-wall looked the same didn't seem like a good fit.
The original idea was to bury the urn under the large plaza in front of the rock hall with a simple marker.
Once the urn was brought to Cleveland, it was discovered that a city ordinance would not allow for human remains to be buried in the public area. Eventually, the urn was put on display with a timeline of Freed's career and his importance to rock and roll.
Follow WKYC's Kris Pickel on Twitter: @KrisPickelNews