Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Moondog Ball Turns 60 Today

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Alan Freed, King of the Moondoggers
  • Alan Freed, King of the Moondoggers

The tenuous claim Cleveland has often made for being the “birthplace of rock and roll” is that the “first rock concert” took place here. That event, known as the Moondog Coronation Ball, after the local radio show of DJ Alan Freed who promoted it, took place on March 21, 1952 at the long-demolished Cleveland Arena at E. 36th and Euclid.

That concert, featuring a multi-act lineup of black rhythm & blues acts, probably wouldn’t fit anyone’s definition of a “rock concert” today. But at the time, it was unusual to have such a large white crowd — the building was oversold to twice its capacity — converge to hear black acts. That was due to Freed’s exposure of those acts on his show, with its heavy white teenage listenership.

In recent years, Live Nation and WMJI-FM 105.7 have sponsored an annual Moondog Coronation Ball concert sometime in March in tribute to the 1952 event. This year’s concert on Saturday, March 31 at Quicken Loans Arena features Creedence Clearwater Revisited, KC & the Sunshine Band, Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees, and Sam Moore of Sam & Dave. That mostly white pop lineup is a far cry from the original Moondog Ball. But then, today's Moondog audience is a far cry from the exuberant teenagers who forced the show's shutdown. — Anastasia Pantsios

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 9, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation