Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A tale of two DJS

In the mid fifties there were two very mighty DJs. Thsi was a world long before MTV or VJs and as entertainers went... without being a rockstar they were as big as big got.

I'm talking about Dick Clark and Alan Freed.

I mentioned Mr. Moondong himself in my poston the Sony Paola scandal and later thought I was unfair. I threw his name out ther ewithout any backstory at all. Most of us are vaguely aware of the story, vaguely aware that hew was bribed. Nobody sems to know by whom, for what record or for how much.... So let me put it in prespective.

This was an era where there were no Federal payola laws. NONE. So these were violations only of state law. A lot of equity trading law, and related contract law has changed since then too so please, really listen to this one.

In 1957 Alan Freed got a show on WABC-AM new york. He'd come over from WINS-AM and had to for legal reasons related to a vagrant musician had to change his DJ name and his show name. Never mind that his PIA would forbid this today but just know that he was at WABC at this point, his new show was "Big Beat" and that Dick Clark by all reports hated his guts.

So Alan takes a bribe, and then a couple more. Later on he would he would put the tally in court documents at about $30,650 from seven record labels. Just previousto this WABC asked all staff to sign contracts stating that they had never taken bribes and never would. Alan refused. It made him a target and it was a poor choice. But it might have been unavoidable. The State of New York fined him $300.
Regardless. He was out at WABC after the arrest came down. He moved to KDAY in Los Angeles. Three years later he was busted again for taking $2,700 in payola from Sun records among others. The bust sent him to WQAM in Miami... and onward.

Dick Clark was running American Bandstand at this point. He signed the contract. Dick claimed to have never taken payola. Tuth told, he probably hadn't. Instead he held stock in 33 music companies. In court he admitted that these "investments" were making him $500,000 a year. On his show he frequenty played songs by bands wherein he held label intrest or publishing monies.

For example. He owned a peice of Duane Eddy. So Duane got played more than say... The Beatles. This went on until WABC pressured him to divest the "questionable conflicts." Dick didnt exactly take payola since he would only have to bribe himself.

Alan Freed: under $35,000
Dick Clark: over $10,000,000 (probably more)

But Dick played the game and American rascist politics was pretty mad at Alan for refusing to play the lame-ass WHITE VERSIONS of black R&B hits. Dick Played Pat Boone versions. Alan played the original singles when they orignially came out. He was spinning cuts by by Joe Turner, Little Richard and Fats Domino. Thats why there were congressional hearings. It was not about the damn 30 grand.