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Moondog Coronation Ball -- Past and Present


The first Moondog Coronation Ball, held on March 21, 1952, was America's first rock concert. The event, conceived and promoted by DJ Alan Freed, was a bit of a disaster, with over 20,000 fans trying to squeeze into a 10,000-seat venue.

However, the concept survived and today Cleveland remembers the event with a new Moondog Coronation Ball and concert each March. The 2014 event will be held on March 29 at Quicken Loans Arena.

The First Moondog Coronation Ball:

The first Moondog Coronation Ball was held at the Cleveland Arena on March 21, 1952. The event was the brainchild of Cleveland DJ Alan Freed, the one who coined the phrase "Rock and Roll."

Freed was one of the first "non-R&B" DJs to play music by performers, such as Fats Domino and Little Richard. He called his listeners Moondogs and he would howl into the microphone.

Tickets to the concert, believed to be the first rock and roll concert, sold frantically--and the promoters kept printing them. It was estimated that 20,000 tickets were sold to the 10,000-seat venue. So hectic was the scene that the local authorities shut down the event after just the first song.

Moondog Today:

Today, the Moondog is a more controlled concert, but still evokes the spirit of the 1950s. Half a dozen vintage rock and roll performers entertain concert-goers and many of the attendees dress in classic 1950s-style. WMJI radio has sponsored the event for several years.


Scheduled to perform at the 2014 Moondog Coronation Ball will be the Steppenwolf, Peter Noone (of Herman's Hermits), Family Stone and Tommy James and the Shondells.

Tickets to the Moondog Coronation Ball:

Tickets to the 2014 Moondog Coronation Ball go on sale now. They are $67.75, $52.75, and $37.75 and are available by calling 888-894-9424 or at the Quicken Loans Arena Web site or box office.

The Moondog in Cleveland Culture:

In addition to being an annual concert, Moondog is the mascot of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team and a seasonal brew, crafted by Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewing Company.

(updated 1-31-14)

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