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Before Laurel Canyon: Jewish cultural influencers at the inception of 50s Rock and Roll

Submitted by guest writer Isaac Kudy

Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘N Roll. The words often used to describe the cultural influences that for the most part began in the 1960s and continued down until today. With the dawning of the internet and the opening up of knowledge resources not readily available to the public previously, many researchers have uncovered information that the revolutionary cultural changes that have occurred since the 1960s have not come about via grassroots movements but have been methodically planned and implemented by many dark organizations, institutes and personalities.

We are familiar with the late Dave McGowan’s writings and his book Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream  covering this subject. A 2013 paper by Joe Atwill and Jan Irvin “Manufacturing the Deadhead: A Product of Social Engineering…” also goes into great detail on this subject. And, of course many articles on this subject can be searched out on the Winter Watch site.

Laurel Canyon: Military Intelligence Family Backgrounds of the Iconic ’60s Counterculture Rock Stars

Robert Phoenix and Russ Winter Reveal the True Hidden History of Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll

Quoting from the Atwill/Irvin article:

“If one compares the culture of Woodstock and the music drug scene of the 1960s with that of America at the beginning of the century, a number of distinct differences are visible:

  1. Overt sexual images in the popular media (pornography)
    2. Wildly uninhibited dancing
    3. music idols
    4. feminism
    5. integration
    6. psychedelic drug use”

Here is a quote from the opening paragraph of cultural influencer and father of propaganda Edward Bernays’ book Propaganda:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

Though the six cultural differences listed above came to their fruition in the 1960s, is it possible that the roots of at least some of these changes trace back even further to the 1950s? And, were any of the “usual suspects” there to start the ball rolling?

In again quoting from the Atwill/Irvin article:

“It must be remembered that at the beginning of the twentieth century rock and roll was almost strictly African-American music. If [Edward] Bernays [who produced the first NAACP Atlanta, Georgian convention in 1920] saw that music as helping to release sexual restrictions, integration would have been useful. Moreover, since they were emerging from slavery, the culture of African Americans in the 19th century was much closer to the archaic revival promoted by the creators of the counterculture than that of white America. Thus, Bernays’ promotion of integration was likely an attempt to debase the culture of white America, rather than uplift African Americans.”

From that introduction we travel back to a chilly Friday night March 21, 1952 at the Cleveland, Ohio Arena. It was there that the very first rock and roll live concert event would take place, the Moondog Coronation Ball. A notable, and perhaps infamous event that would much later influence the building site of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to be located in Cleveland, Ohio. The two Jewish men responsible for staging the concert were Cleveland record store owner Leo Mintz and disc jockey/actor Alan Freed.

Following are quotes from a CJN newspaper article “Roots of Rock – The story of Leo Mintz.” I wonder if the article is soft-peddling something more well-planned and sinister.

“America’s popular music history was practically written by Jews…But in the history of rock, peculiarly, there are very few Jewish names…But wasn’t Alan Freed, the popular disc jockey who gave the music its very name, Jewish? Yes, he was Jewish in a pretty non-committed way. If you pressed him, he’d admit he was Jewish, but he didn’t wear it as a symbol of pride. So where is the Jewish connection to rock and roll? That connection resides in a man who was an active Jew right here in Cleveland – a man you probably never heard of, a man by the name of Leo Mintz. Leo Mintz…was simply a good Jewish merchant who owned the biggest record store in Cleveland, a place known far and wide as the Record Rendezvous [originally opened in 1939 to sell used 78 rpm jukebox records]. Most people called it the “Vous.” It was located in downtown Cleveland on busy Prospect Avenue [on the edge of the city’s black community], not far from Public Square…

…Leo was a big advertiser on the radio. Back in the ‘50s there were no FM stations, just AM. So Leo bought the low-powered, weak, black radio stations to advertise his black records and he bought the larger, more powerful, general-market stations to promote his white records. In those days black music was known as “race” music, and a white radio station simply did not play race music…

…In about 1950 Leo heard a DJ on an Akron radio station named Alan Freed. He liked him and he found out he was Jewish. At that time Jewish names were scarce on the airwaves, so he used his influence to get Alan a job on a big-time, powerful white radio station in Cleveland, WJW. One of the time slots he was assigned to, because he was the new guy, was at 11:15 p.m. after the news, to put on a show for night owls until 1 a.m.

At just about this same time, Leo noticed something strange going on in his store. White kids would travel down from the suburbs to spend and hour or so in the store listening to records…Leo as a creative businessman, was one of the first retailers to install listening booths [and record bins for customers to leaf through to find their own record choices]. So the kids would come down, listen to records of race music, dance and shimmy and shake [which some sources state that Mintz would encourage]. They were listening, but not buying records. This Leo did not like…So he took a few of the records that were popular with his black customers and told Alan Freed to play them on his show…So Freed played the music and little by little the word spread [and sales grew].

Freed’s program was called the Moondog show and it had all kinds of related sound effects, including an angry dog growling by Freed’s side as he introduced the music. Freed adopted a technique used by black DJs. He talked over the music. To add excitement to his show, he would urge the singer on by shouting over the record, “Yeah, man…that’s great…now tell me some more.” [Most blacks who later saw Freed at one of his live shows were shocked to find out he was “white”].”

Doug Trattner, Mintz’s grandson, boldly states “My grandfather coined the phrase ‘rock ’n’ roll.”  However, The Rock Hall defines the original term as “African American slang dating back to the early 20th Century” (politely leaving out the fact that it was slang for dancing and sex). Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum says: “These [R&B] songs were filled with double entendres, lyrics like, ‘she just loved my 10-inch record of the blues.’” In order to make black R&B music palatable to a white audience, Mintz’s breakthrough thought was to use the ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ phrase as a new name for ’50s R&B and would encourage Alan Freed to continually repeat the phrase during his radio show.

It should be noted that many Christian black families as well as white families did not like  this music being played for their children, but when Mintz and others in the music business listened to the raucous sound, they heard the future [I’m sure they did].

In researching the Record Rendezvous store history it was mentioned that Ahmet Ertegun, the co-founder of Atlantic Records, would travel to Cleveland in the ‘50s to supply sample 78s R&B discs by black artists to Leo Mintz. Ahmet was born 1923 in Istanbul of the then Ottoman Empire to a wealthy Turkish Muslim family. His mother was an accomplished musician and his father became the US Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey after the family moved to Washington, D.C. It was his older brother Neshui who introduced him to jazz music at an early age. His love of jazz and R&B music led him to gain close ties to the Washington, D.C. black community. He would say “I began to discover a little bit about the situation of black people in America and experienced immediate empathy with the victims of such senseless discrimination, because, although Turks were never slaves, they were regarded as enemies within Europe because of their Muslim beliefs.”

He appears to have been a typical rich, anti-white, liberal. And, look what has happened to the Europe of today with the rampant invasion of foreign invaders, many of whom are Muslim.

In 1946, Ertegun became friends with Herb Abramson. Abramson, a dental student and A&R man for National Records, was born in 1916 to a Jewish family in Brooklyn. He and Ertegun decided to start a new independent record label for gospel, jazz, and R&B music. Financed by family dentist Dr. Vahdi Sabit, they formed Atlantic Records in September 1947 in New York City with Abramson as acting president, Ertegun as vice president and Abramson’s wife Miriam handling the company finances.

Mintz and Abramson weren’t the only Jews pushing R&B black music to young white audiences in the 1950s.

The Bihari brothers, Lester, Jules, Saul and Joe, were American businessmen of Hungarian Jewish origins. They were the founders of Modern Records in Los Angeles and its subsidiaries, such as Meteor Records, based in Memphis. The Bihari brothers were significant figures in the process that transformed rhythm and blues into rock and roll, which appealed to white audiences in the 1950s.

Chess Records was an American record company established in 1950 in Chicago, specializing in blues and rhythm and blues. It was the successor to Aristocrat Records, founded in 1947. It expanded into soul music, gospel music, early rock and roll, and jazz and comedy recordings, released on the Chess and its subsidiary labels Checker and Argo/Cadet. The Chess catalog is owned by Universal Music Group and managed by Geffen Records and Universal Music Enterprises. Established and run by two Jewish immigrant brothers from what was then Poland, Leonard and Phil Chess, the company produced and released many singles and albums regarded as central to the rock music canon.

The previously quoted newspaper article stating that there were very few Jewish names in rock and roll history appears to be misleading. It is clear that during the ‘50s Jews were moving into the music industry in key metropolitan areas of the US with a mission to push black “race” music to young white audiences, thus helping to put in motion the debasement of white American culture that would later accelerate in the ‘60s and following decades..

So what is the story surrounding the 1952 Moondog Coronation Ball, considered to be the first live rock and roll concert, and how could what took place that evening be considered a foreshadowing of young black “teen” behavior that is so common in today’s America?

Alan Freed’s son Lance states “By the end of 1951 and into the winter of ‘52, my dad held a series of dances at small local venues where he played R&B records that were featured on his show. They were called record hops. By February 1952, he and Mintz – along with Mintz’s associate, Milton Kulkin – planned a large dance and concert.”

Cleveland concert promoter Lew Platt provided funding for the concert. This would be much bigger than the smaller R&B shows that had previously taken place in Los Angeles, California and Cleveland, Ohio. The Moondog Coronation Ball would take place at the Cleveland Arena with a planned audience of 8,600 people.

The lineup was to feature Paul Williams and His Hucklebuckers, Tiny Grims and His Rockin’ Highlanders, the Dominoes, Danny Cobb and Varetta Dillard. The event was scheduled to take place between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. at $1.50 a ticket.

5 Comments on Before Laurel Canyon: Jewish cultural influencers at the inception of 50s Rock and Roll

  1. Rock n Roll was definitely born in the 50s with Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis & Buddy Holly as top billed performers. I oughta know-I was born in ’51.

  2. Thank you for this post! Being an author of novels themed on rock music (The Prodigal Band Trilogy), this was an eye-opener…I always thought rock music started with Billy Haley/Comets and then really took off with the Beatles/British Invasion. Inspired of course by that “Cross Roads” dude Robert Johnson (who “sold his soul to the devil”) and other blacks of the day. Being born in 1952 I really didn’t get into rock until the Beatles and the rest, but Del Shannon (“Runaway”) was a start.

    • Alan Freed was cast as himself in the Billy Haley and His Comets 1956 film Rock Around the Clock. He also was cast in three other Rock ‘N Roll films.

  3. The ish have composed as well as promoted (in ‘musicals’ as well as early 20th century cornball, jazz, big band & all categories of rocknroll & pop to this day) their millennia-long mission to disconnect the hated Caucasians from their creator, brother, friend, savior & king Jesus the Christ.

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