Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
Sixty years ago Wednesday, the first rock and roll concert happened in Cleveland.
The promotional poster for the Moondog Coronation Ball, the world's first rock and roll concert. Source: Wikipedia
The Moondog Coronation Ball was kind of a disaster. It ended in a riot. One person was stabbed. But it was also the first public indication of how hot this new rock and roll trend had become. Organizers originally hoped for about 10,000 people. Twice that number showed up.
The Ball was the idea of Alan Freed, the Cleveland disc jockey who first coined the phrase “rock and roll.” He’s the reason Cleveland is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. And every time you find yourself in a packed concert venue, listening to music that’s a little too loud and a little too fast, you’re taking part in a tradition that began in Cleveland at the Moondog Coronation Ball.
Officially, the anniversary was on Wednesday. But the Ball was held on a Friday, and right now it’s almost quittin time across the Midwest.
The plan was initiated by mayor Frank Jackson, and it covers 90 acres, including the existing Cleveland Browns football stadium and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It calls for new pedestrian walkways, a marina, tree-lined boulevards and up to two million square feet for retail, restaurant and hotel development. And it opens up more of the lakefront to the public.
The mayor’s chief of regional development told the Cleveland Plain Dealer last year that total private investment in the project could reach $2 billion by the time it’s done.
If you’re waiting for the catch, here it comes: None of that $2 billion in investment has been locked-in yet. Continue reading →