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Payola - The Devil's Music | 2

Payola - The Devil's Music | 2

Tue, 30 Apr 2019 07:00

In 1959, rock 'n' roll is on the rise. But parents and politicians are alarmed by this rebellious new style of music and its powerful effect on America's youth. So when Congress learns that some rock records are getting on the radio thanks to a system of bribes and payoffs called payola, they decide to take action -- which spells trouble for rock's most vocal advocate, DJ Alan Freed.

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It's May 3rd 1958 and the arena in Boston, Massachusetts is packed with screaming young rock and roll fans. Alan Fried watches happily as Jerry Lee Lewis frantically pounds on his piano, bashing out his biggest hit, Great Walls of Fire. Based on the arena's scuffed parquet floor, the kids are dancing in the aisles, some of them knocking over folding chairs as they try to push closer to the stage. It's chaos, which is exactly what Fried wants this show to be. Fried is a radio DJ by trade, one of the nation's most popular, thanks to his association with rock and roll, which is now all the rage. To build up his name and earn extra money, he often hosts rock concerts like this one. Shortly despite their frenzied energy, Fried shows go off without a hitch, but here in Boston, that hasn't always been the case. Boston is a conservative staunchly Catholic town that doesn't take kindly to Fried's music or his young scruffy, racially mixed audiences. After Fried's last show here two years ago, Boston's mayor banned rock and roll shows entirely. But as soon as the band was lifted, Fried couldn't wait to come back. He loves these Boston kids as much as he hates the city's blue blood authorities. They deserve to see gerryly Lewis in action as much as anyone. Fried's marvelling at Lewis's manic energy when one of his assistants rushes over with a concerned look. He yells into Fried's ear over the music, Fried's in the darkness at the back of the arena and sees them, Boston cops, in their blue uniforms and peaked caps gathering in large numbers. He already have their billy clubs out. He realizes he has to take control of the situation. Fried runs onto the stage and snatches the microphone, staying next to Lewis's piano. Lewis and his band shamel to a halt. Fried flashes his best smile and tries to play cool. All right, listen, hold it, pull it. I have to stop the show for a minute kids. You all have to sit down. The show won't go on unless you get back in your seats. Reluctantly the crowd complies and the show resumes. But just minutes later the kids are back in the aisles. This time the police turn on the house lights. The booze get louder. Something lands on the stage with a dull thud, an empty wine bottle and a paper bag, and a beer can and another wine bottle. It takes several minutes but Fried finally manages to quiet the crowd. Everyone returns to their seats again. Chuck Berry comes out to begin his headlining set. As something's wrong, the house lights are still on. Fried turns to tell the stage manager to dim them but instead sees a Boston police sergeant an older cop with a ruddy face and a gray wall-riss mustache standing in the wings blocking anyone from getting near the lighting controls. Come on, the kids are in the seats. Dim the lights. No, they stay on for the rest of the show. You can't do that. These kids pay good money for the show. The lights are ruining it. But the police sergeant won't budge making Fried furious. He stomps back onto the stage and grabs the microphone again interrupting Chuck Berry mid-Lira. The kids, they won't let me turn off the lights. I guess the Boston police don't want you to have a good time. Now all hell breaks loose. Some kids on the floor stand in their seats, booing loudly. Other kids in the upper sections kick up their seats and toss them over to Rayland onto the floor ten people out. More objects rain down on the stage. Bottles, cans, empty candy boxes. Chuck Berry takes refuge behind the drum set, but his band keeps playing through the craziness. As soon as the show ends, Fried high-tails it out through a service entrance behind the stage. That one got a bit rough, but at least they were able to finish the show. He heads back to his hotel to get some much-needed sleep. He's got another show the next night in Montreal, Canada. To free the disturbances at the Boston concert were no big deal. Rock and Roll was supposed to get a little while. He seemed worse than a few thrown chairs. But the media doesn't see it that way. Within days, national headlines are calling the Boston concert a Rock and Roll riot. After the show on a nearby street, it was a stabbing. It's not clear whether a sale-inter victim were even at Fried's show, but it doesn't matter. In the New York Times, that becomes a rock and roll stabbing. Nearly every article about the so-called riot describes Fried as the instigator. And Fried's whether negative press before. One of his earliest concerts in Cleveland in 1952 was also described as a riot, but this feels different. Anti-rock and roll sentiment is reaching a fever pitch. Parents are terrified of this strange new music with its sexually charged backbeat. Much of the terror is from white parents, afraid that their children are in thrall of rocks charismatic performers, many of whom are black. Fried's Boston concert, with its racially mixed performers and audience, has become a flash point for their fears. But Fried has more to contend with than just sensationalize news reports and frighten parents. Other shows he's scheduled to MC are being canceled left and right. And then, on May 8th, just five days after the Boston concert, a hastily convening grand jury indites him for unlawful destruction of property. On May 9th, the next day, W-I-N-S radio in New York fires him. Suddenly unemployed, under indictment, and losing much needed income from his concerts, Fried hunkers down in his Connecticut mansion, wondering what to do next. He needs to get back on the air and fast, that's his first priority. Without a regular DJ job, he can't keep collecting the number one source of income that's keeping him afloat. Hey, hola. Record companies won't pay him to play their songs if he's got nowhere to play them. But Fried's got bigger problems than that. The Boston riot had made him the perfect scapegoat for the rock and roll backlash. When authorities begin looking into Alan Fried's activities, they're going to discover the perfect way to take him down. Peloton isn't just about bikes and treadmills. It's a team of instructors ready to motivate you 24-7. With Peloton, there are literally thousands of classes, ranging from strength training and yoga to running and boxing, which means Peloton is the perfect non-judgmental space to experiment with new types of movement at a level in pace that feel good for you. Super busy, it doesn't matter if you have five minutes or an hour. If you're an early riser or a fan of the evening burn, there's a Peloton class that fits into your day. Peloton is where you'll find what works for you on your schedule wherever you happen to be. At home, at the gym, or even outdoors. Motivation that moves you, anytime, anywhere. Try the Peloton bike or tread risk-free for 30 days. Learn more at New members only, terms apply. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together, and we'd love for you to join us. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts. I'm Wondering, I'm Lindy Graham, and this is American Scan. In the late 1950s, rock and roll is on the rise. This seems like every radio station in the country has abandoned their previous playlists of crooner hits and big band swing to play rock music every hour of the day. In Rock's leading advocates, radio DJ Alan Fried and TV host Dick Clark are becoming superstars as revered by teenagers as Marlon Brando and James Dean, but more accessible. The parents are worried. Rock music is rebellious, wild, rule-breaking, a bad influence on their kids, especially when the performers playing the wild music are black. When the press starts reporting that some rock music is getting on the airwaves thanks to a system of bribes and behind the scenes deals called peola, parents start demanding that the DJs playing this so-called music be held accountable. This is episode 2, The Devil's Music. It's July of 1958. On a muggy afternoon in West Philadelphia, hundreds of teenagers line up along the sidewalk in the shadow of the Market Street Elevated Train. The lucky ones will be part of today's studio audience for American Bandstand, the most popular rock and roll television show in America. Inside WFILTB Studios, American Bandstand's 28-year-old host Dick Clark strides confidently onto the set. He's an insolvent, relaxed, confident, looking dapper as always in a freshly pressed suit and perfectly styled hair. As becoming the host of Bandstand two years ago, he's taken it from a locally produced show to a nationally syndicated hit. Every weekday afternoon, more than 8 million American teenagers tune in to watch him introduce the hottest new rock and roll acts and chat with the studio audience. He begins the show as he usually does with a word from the sponsors. American Bandstand brought to you by Crystal Clear, sparkling 7-up. Fresh clean taste. Clark acts as a sort of on-camera DJ, playing records, reading ad-compie. The teen audience gets up and dances, and today is no different. Everything's humming along smoothly. But then Clark feels a tug on the back of his jacket. He turns around and sees an older guy holding out a 45 single. He yells to Clark over the loud music, I got a record here, you're gonna love it! Clark's annoyed but not surprised. Ever since Bandstand became a national hit, the offices of WFILTV have been crawling with record promo men, flogging their latest singles. Clark yells back, trying to be polite. I'll catch you when we get off the air. Now, if you don't mind, please get back behind the cameras. But the promo man won't budge. I was hoping you could play it right now. There's a hundred bucks in it for you. Well now Clark is pissed. Who is this guy think he is? Clark waves over the stage manager. Like this clown off my set. On camera, Dick Clark has carefully cultivated his image. Light, clean cut, totally non-threatening. To an image he feels he has to maintain for Bandstand to be a success. In Middle America, white middle class America, rock and roll is seen as threatening. People call it the devil's music. Half of them might never let their kids watch Bandstand if the host wasn't so well-manored. What off camera, Dick Clark is not to be trifled with. He's a tough-minded businessman. Some even call him ruthless. He owns or has a stake in well over a dozen music-related companies and they've made him a wealthy man. He doesn't need some sleazy promo guys, $100 bill tucked inside a record sleeve. When the promo man's gone, Clark steps out from behind his podium to introduce the day's first live act. As the Bandstand kids dance to the twangy instrumental, Clark cracks his smile. He can tell this new Dwayne Eddie song is going to be a hit, which is great news for Clark who co-owns both Dwayne Eddie's record label and his management company. Dick Clark's various business ventures are all perfectly legal. His bosses at WFIL know he has a financial stake and many of the artists he brings on Bandstand. But they don't see it as a conflict of interest. In fact, Clark suspects they're probably happy he's making so much money on the side, because it means they don't have to up his salary. Clark doesn't want to be just a DJ or even a successful TV host. He wants to build an empire and he's convinced he can do it without getting his hands dirty. As far as Clark is concerned, none of his businesses have anything to do with Payle. They're all squeaky clean. Dwayne Eddie finishes his performance and Clark goes to shake his hand. Thank you, Dwayne. That song is really something. As Eddie beams back at him, Clark makes a mental note to check and see who owns the publishing on this kid's new single. Maybe he can get a percentage of that too. In September of 1958, at Alan Fried's Manhattan apartment, there's a knock on the door. It's Sam Weiss, owner of a record distribution company called Superior Record Sales. He's a slim, red-headed man, conservatively dressed. Except for his gold pinky ring, he could pass for a banker. For years, Sam and his brother, High, have been one of Fried's regular sources of Payola, and these days, he needs all the Payola he can get. Money seems to fly through his hands faster than he can collect it. He's twice divorced, paying Alimony and child support to both X-Wives. Then there's his mansion in Connecticut and what a boondoggle that was. He's still paying two mortgages on it and he doesn't even live there anymore. His X-Wife kept it in the divorce. Fried and Weiss sit down at the dining room table where Weiss reaches into his expensive black suit jacket and takes out a leather-bound checkbook and a gold pen. He makes out a check for $700, payable to cash, and hands it to Fried. Weiss and Fried have known each other for years, so Weiss tries to linger in chat, asking the DJ what new record he's into, but Fried doesn't know moot for small talk. You can let yourself out, he says. Weiss takes the hint and goes. He pours himself a drink and waits until he hears the elevator door in the hall open and close before he puts on his hat and coat. Then he takes the stairs two at a time down to the lobby where he practically runs out the door and hails a cab. He's got to get to the bank and cash this check as soon as possible. Because besides mortgages and Alimony payments, Fried's got rapidly mounting legal bills thanks to that so-called riot in Boston. Riot. It was just kids dancing in the aisles to Chuck Berry. Like the police hadn't stopped the show, everything would have been fine. The trial keeps getting postponed and with every delay, feels like Fried's lawyer is just soaking him for more money. Despite his success in fame, Fried feels under siege. He's feeling the full weight of the rock and roll backlash. He's heard stories that some DJs aren't just refusing to play rock records, they're smashing them on the air. Who does that? He genuinely can't understand why anyone would feel threatened by rock and roll. If such joyous, exuberant music, it makes people want to dance, it's breaking down racial barriers. Calling it the devil's music, that's just racist code for black music. These people who hate rock and roll, they're anti-black, anti-team, anti-fun. What's wrong with them? Even people who aren't openly against rock and roll are trying to sanitize it. Like that Dick Clark guy. Sure, he has black artists on American bandstand, but good luck finding a single black kid in that lily white studio audience of his. After dropping by the bank to cash Sam Weiss' check, Fried heads to W.N.E.W. studios, where every afternoon at 5 p.m., he hosts a local TV dance show called Alan Fried's Big Beat Party. Then because he needs the money, he has to rush over to his second job as DJ at W.A.B.C., the New York Radio affiliate of ABC, the same network that employs Dick Clark. At W.A.B.C. staff meetings, Fried has to sit and listen to everyone talk about how great American bandstand is doing. It is now ABC's top rated show with over 8 million viewers each day and it's infuriating. It's nearing showtime. Fried puts on his plaid jacket, adjusts his bow tie, and steps out of his dressing room to head for the stage. Do any W.T.V. puts on Big Beat Party at an old Broadway theater? The backstage areas are cramped and dark with long narrow hallways that today, for Fried, feel longer than usual. But when he steps out onto the stage and hears 600 teenagers squeal at his appearance, his old showman instincts kick in. And now America's number one vocal group, with two great record hits. Here are the platters! Behind the scenes, Alan Fried is a mess, with Handima microphone and he's still the king of rock and roller still adored by his teenage fans. Dick Clark may be getting all the glory these days, but as far as Fried is concerned, Clark is just a Johnny cum lately, a flash in the pan getting by on his looks. He doesn't understand or care about the music the way Fried does. People like Dick Clark have no idea that rock and roll is here to stay, and so is Alan Fried. In October 1958, at the Philadelphia W.F.I.L. TV studios, Dick Clark arrives at the office that he shares with his American bandstand producer, Tony Memorella. It's a cramped, windowless room cluttered with stacks of 45 records and piles of fan mail. You'd never guess that this was the nerve center of a show that earns its host network ABC over $12 million a year, the equivalent of 100 million today. But this is the way Clark likes it. He's not flashy with his personal wealth and he tries to keep his workspace modest. He hunts through a pile of recently arrived 45s until he finds the new one from Dwayne Eddie, the 20-year-old guitar assigned to Jamie Records and SRO artists. SRO is Clark's label and Clark's management company. Eddie is scheduled to appear on Bandstand again in a few weeks and Clark is eager to hear the kid's latest. But Clark's not impressed. The song is way too slow. The kid will never dance to it and if the kids don't dance, he has no show. He lifts the needle off the record and makes a call to his business partner. When his partner picks up, Dick starts right in. He demands that Dwayne get back in the studio fast and cut something new, something up tempo, another rebel rouser. Dick gives them a week. He hangs up and wonders, do I have to do everything myself? Technically he can do everything himself. He owns not just record labels but song publishers, a management company and a record pressing plant. It's now possible for an artist to put out a record and have every step in the process, from recording to manufacturing to distribution to an appearance on Bandstand, all controlled by Dick Clark. To keep his empire running smoothly, Clark is now working 18-hour days. He doesn't mind, he's making a killing and unlike his biggest rival in rock and roll broadcasting, Alan Fried, he's doing it legitimately. Everyone in the business knows that Fried's up to his neck and payola, accepting cash and gifts from every label in town in exchange for playing their records. One record label boss even paid for Fried's swimming pool, but Dick Clark has never taken a dime of payola. A percentage of a new song's publishing rights, sure. But that's all legal and above board. He worked hard to get where he is and his hands and conscience are clean. At lunchtime, Clark heads down the block to an Irish bar called the Brown Jug. He eats here most days in a back room where he holds court with various record promoters. While most of his lunch mates drink beer and Irish whiskey, Clark steps a ginger ale. It's a sparsely decorated private dining room with faded green walls, a single round table and mismatched chairs. No one would ever guess that it's where some of the biggest deals in the record business get made. Today, Clark's company at the Brown Jug includes Harry Finfer, a veteran record promoter and one of Clark's partners in his label, Jamie Records. He's one of the business's old school hustlers with slick back hair and a pencil thin mustache that twitches when he gets excited. It was Finfer who introduced Clark to Dwayne Eddie. He also does promotion for several other labels and right now, his top priority, is a single called 16 Candles. He's heard the record, but thinks it's a stiff. Finfer is insistent. The label behind 16 Candles will do anything to make it a hit. What happens in the back room at the Brown Jug stays at the Brown Jug. But a few weeks later, the owner of the copyright on 16 Candles transfers 100% of the publishing rights to January music, yet another company owned by Dick Clark, through which he obtains the copyright to songs and collects on their royalties. And right after that, Clark starts playing 16 Candles on American Bandstand and playing it and playing it some more. Over the last two months of the year, Clark plays 16 Candles on his show more than 30 times and lo and behold, the song becomes a smash hit. It sells so many copies that it's first pressing sells out, so Dick Clark's pressing plant rushes some more copies into stores. Dick would never deny his vested interest in the success of 16 Candles, but he doesn't go around announcing it either. No one watching American Bandstand would ever know he has a financial stake in the song, not to mention dozens of other tunes in heavy bandstand rotation. It's all perfectly legal, but Clark is savvy enough to know that his show's viewers need to see him as a nice guy, a trusted friend, and a fan of music, not a KG businessman who's building a rock and roll empire on the backs of bandstand's guest performers, people like the crests, the duop group behind 16 Candles. Clark is right to be cautious. He doesn't know it, but the same anti-rock and roll backlash that's threatening Alan Fried's career is about to catch up to him too. And when it does, his nice guy image won't be enough to save him. On October 29, 1959, in his cramped, cluttered office in Midtown Manhattan, a 45-year-old songwriter named Burton Lane sits down at his roll top desk to write a letter. He hopes what he's about to write will change his industry for the better, and he's in a position of power that might get him his wish. Lane is the president of the American Guild of Authors and Composers, a trade group that protects the rights of his fellow songwriters. And right now, Lane wants to protect them from the scourge of rock and roll peyola. In the 1951 film Royal Wedding, Fred Astaire danced on the ceiling to a Burton Lane tune. But since then, he hasn't had a hit. Even in Hollywood, once his bread and butter, he can barely find work. These days, nearly every so-called movie musical just features a bunch of kids dancing on the beach to rock music. When Lane learned the truth that rock and roll was being driven by peyola, he was livid, and Lane isn't alone. Every day, he hears complaints from his fellow guild members about lack of work and shrinking royalty checks. The American Guild of Authors and Composers mostly represents old school songwriters. The so-called Composers of this new rock music have their own rights organization, broadcast music incorporated, or BMI. It was formed by the radio industry, further proof as far as Lane is concerned that radio and rock musicians are conspiring to keep real songwriters like him off the air. Since becoming Guild President two years ago, Lane has been collecting articles from trade magazines like Billboard and Variety that describe various peyola practices. He's forwarded them to the FCC begging them to investigate. So far no response. But recently, he discovered Congress has a special committee that just concluded a sweeping investigation of TV quiz shows which they discovered were rigged. Lane wants the committee to do for radio what it did for television. Lane writes his letter out longhand in flowing script. His penmanship is impeccable from years of writing at lyrics and musical notations. There is no doubt that commercial bribery has become a prime factor in determining what music has played on many broadcast programs and what musical records the public is surreptitiously induced to buy. Lane slips his letter into a large brown envelope, along with clippings of some of the articles about peyola he's collected. A small portion of the entire sorted story as he describes them in his letter. He addresses the letter to the Congressional Committee's General Counsel, a man named Robert Lishman. Then he puts on his coat and steps out into the crisp autumn air to walk to the nearest post office to send his letter via registered mail. On his way, he passes a row of unassuming brownstones that bear the names of long gone businesses like Whitney Warner Music and Leo Feist Music Publishing. This is Tin Pan Alley, where Lane got his start more than 20 years ago writing out sheet music for his mentor George Gershwin. A decade ago, this street was the songwriter's capital of the world. From every brownstone a cacophony of pianos rang out as dozens of composers tried to write the next hit for Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, or Frank Sinatra. Now it's virtually silent. Burton Lane knows that his letter to Congress can't bring back Tin Pan Alley. Most of these brownstones have long since been rented out to other businesses, but he hopes it can bring back real music. Maybe by ridding his industry of Peola, he can ridden of rock and roll too. Hello, I'm Florence Given, the best selling author of the book Women Don't Are You Pretty and Girl Crush, and this is my podcast exactly. Join me as I connect with fascinating guests from authors, cultural commentators, doctors, thought leaders to psychologist celebrities and comedians. And guess what? We're back to do it all again in season two with the likes of the holistic psychologist, Victoria Skohn and Iona David to name a few. Season two of exactly podcast out now wherever you get your podcasts. On November 3rd, 1959 in Washington, D.C., attorney Robert Lishman walks briskly down a long hallway carrying a briefcase and puffing a pipe. He's on his way to see his boss, Arkansas Congressman Orrin Harris. And he's pretty sure that what he's got in his briefcase is going to make Congressman Harris very happy. Orrin Harris is the chair of the House Special Subcommittee on Legislative Oversight. And Bob Lishman is the Subcommittee's general counsel. When Lishman's friends outside government ask him to translate all that, he just usually tells them, I catch bad guys in television and radio. And recently, Lishman nabbed some of his biggest bad guys yet. The Subcommittee is wrapping up hearings on the rigging of TV game shows or quiz shows as they're usually called. In the Senate hearing room, the dramatic climax of the probe of fixed and rigged quiz shows, Charles Vendorin's wife and father, poet Mark Vendorin, under the audience. And now, Lishman's got a case that could be even more dramatic than the quiz shows. He can't wait to see Congressman Harris' face when he tells him. Bob Lishman and Orrin Harris make an unlikely team. Lishman is a Harvard educated new Englander. And Harris is a scrappy Southern farmer's son. But the men share a fierce moral code and a love of legal theatrics. No witness stands a chance when the two of them takes turns grilling them. In Harris's office, Lishman opens his briefcase and takes out a letter from Burton Lane, president of the American Guild of Authors and Composers. He hands it to Harris summing up the contents. According to Lane, a widespread practice of commercial bribery called Peola has corrupted hundreds, possibly thousands of radio DJs who are all accepting cash and gifts in exchange for playing certain records on the air. And the worst offender says Lane, are the rock and roll DJs. It's this last part that interests Harris. Like most Southern politicians of his era, he's a staunch segregationist. And to his ears, rock and roll means black music. He's troubled by how white teenagers seem to be eating it up. He always wondered how such trash made it onto the radio, and maybe this is the explanation. Harris tells Lishman to look into it. He's got a lot of bad news. He's got a lot of bad news. On November 16th, Alan Fried is sitting alone in his apartment drinking. It's been less than two weeks since Congress announced its investigation into Peola, and the entire industry is in a panic. Alan knows several DJs who have already been fired. Now his Peola sources have disappeared. Sam and High-Wise stopped returning his calls. And his old friend Morris Levy has dropped off the face of the era. He finishes his scotch and looks bailfully at the envelope on his dining room table. As an affidavit, his employers at WABC sent to all DJs and broadcasters on staff, a legal declaration drawn up by their fancy lawyers that everyone's supposed to sign, pledging that they've never taken Peola. Alan had his own lawyer take a look to translate. It turns out that their definition of Peola is so broad, you couldn't even let a record promoter buy you a cup of coffee without being considered in breach and taking a bribe. Of course, he's not going to sign it. It'll blow over. They're just doing it to cover their asses. Fried startled. That phone hasn't rung in weeks. Maybe it's Levy, one of the wise brothers. What was your affidavit, Alan? It's his WABC station manager, Ben Hoberman. He's the last person Fried wants to talk to. Ben is a busybody with a broomstick up his ass. You didn't get it yet? Must have got lost in the mail. Come on, Alan. Everyone's signing it. It's just a formality. Just drop it by my office when you come in to do your show tonight. I can't do it, Ben, and you know it. The way the thing is worded, I'd be purging myself. Well, that's a little melodramatic, don't you think? No, it's true. This part here about financial interest directly affected by the broadcast of music, WABC knew when they hired me that I'm not just a DJ, I'm a concert promoter, a songwriter. I just can't lie and pretend none of that exists. No one's asking you to lie, Alan. If you wanted to disclose that stuff, go right ahead. So you can fire me? No thanks. They go around in circles for almost an hour. Finally, in exasperation, Alan comes out with a question he actually wants answered. Look, just tell me one thing. Has Dick Clark signed it? Show me Clark's signature and I'll sign it too. I have no idea whether Dick signed it. That's not our department. Cut the crap over him. You can find out when Clark signs, I sign. Freed hangs up, pours himself another scotch, says the silent prayer at the end to this madness is soon. That afternoon back in Philadelphia, Dick Clark arrives at WFILTV studios for his taping of American bandstand. But for the first time, he feels unsettled. His longtime producer Tony Mairella quit the show rather than sign ABC's affidavit. Clark knew Tony was into some payilla, but was careful not to ask about the details. He figures if Tony quit, he must have been in pretty deep. Clark refused to sign the affidavit too, but the decision wasn't hard. Unlike the papers they sent to Alan Freed and Tony, ABC gave their star TV host a way out. They agreed to let Clark's lawyer draw up his own version of the affidavit, one that included a much more narrow definition of payilla. And this version, Clark could sign in good conscience. His lawyer filed it just this morning, so he's off the hook, at least for anything that might get him in trouble with the law. But he still got troubles. As part of the ABC deal, Clark had to agree to divest himself of all his music related businesses, and he was doing it fast. With rock and roll in the crosshairs of the press, the media is having a field day with all the bandstand Golden Boy's alleged conflicts of interest. His lawyer and business partners have already started the process. By the time he's done taping today's bandstand, Dick Clark is going to be a lot less rich. Dick Clark may still have a job, but six days later, Alan Freed does not. But Saturday, he learns that WABC has fired him for refusing to sign the affidavit. On Monday, November 23rd, Alan Freed is called into the corporate offices of his other employer, WNEW TV, his only employer now. It's been two days since WABC fired him, and he assumes the station wants to discuss the situation. But he brings his lawyer along just in case. To his shock, he's fired on the spot. The station's general manager, Bennett Corn, puts a hand on Freed's slump shoulder. We wanted to do it nicely, you know, face to face, no? Let's go downstairs, and we've got to press conference schedule. In the lobby of the building, Freed stands blanking at the camera flashes, as Corn explains that Freed and WNEW are parkingways by mutual consent. Freed can't believe what he's hearing. He wants to tell them he had no intention of ever leaving rock and roll, but he's too stunned to speak. Mr. Corn, does this have anything to do with congressional pay-over investigation? No, not at all. And no time have we suspected Mr. Freed of any wrongdoing. Then why is he getting canned? It's a contractual dispute and internal matter. Alan, Alan, any comment? Freed steps up to the cluster of news microphones. He looks dazed. I don't think of it as them firing me. We discussed this several weeks ago. Freed's lawyer leads his client to a waiting town car through a scrum of shouting reporters and flashing cameras, free ducts in the back seat, and slams the door. That afternoon, back at his apartment, Freed is drinking heavily. He feels alone and trapped. The more he thinks about that press conference at WNEW, the angrier he gets. Why didn't anyone give him a chance to tell his side of the story, and why is he being targeted? It doesn't seem fair. So when a New York Post reporter shows up on his doorstep, Freed can't let him in fast enough. Over more whiskey, Freed's side of the story comes spilling out. Drunkenly, Freed declares that he knows plenty of big wigs in broadcasting who are on the take. And if he goes down, he'll start naming names. He says what he's done is no better or worse than what anyone else in the business is doing. He says he's never accepted or requested a cash bribe. But like every other DJ, he's not above the occasional gift. The reporter presses him for an example. If someone sent Freed a Cadillac, would he send it back? Freed replies, no, it would depend on the color. Freed says he's being unfairly scapegoated. If he's being investigated, he says, then Dick Clark should be investigated too. Later that night, through the haze of alcohol, Freed hears his phone ringing. It's his old friend Morris Levy, about time, Freed thinks. Levy tells him he saw the evening edition of the post. The entire city is talking about his interview. Freed can hear the real concern in his old friend's gravely voice as he asks him, Alan, what the hell are you thinking? The next day, a Tuesday, Freed gets a call from his lawyer with more bad news. IRS agents came to WABC and WNEU and seized Alan's final paychecks. Apparently he's under investigation for tax evasion now too. Friday morning, he served with a subpoena demanding his financial records. But by now, he's past caring. All he cares about is his show on WNEW TV that night. It's been told it will be his last. On Friday, November 27, 1959, at 5pm, Alan Freed walks onto the stage of his WNEW Big Beat party for the last time. It's an emotional moment. When he squins past the glare of the stage lights, he's startled to see some of the kids crying. The group of record distributors presents Alan with a scroll of appreciation. Sam and high-wice are among them, hovering quietly in the background. Morris Levy is a no-show. As he's signing off, Alan can't resist one last parting shot. Saying direct camera, pale and may stink, but it's here and I didn't start it. On his way out of the studio, he's cornered by two men in trench coats, more federal agents serving him with yet another subpoena. He's startled by Alan's reaction when he tells them, I'll just add it to the pile, boys. With that, Alan Freed's reign as the king of rock and rollers is over. But his troubles and the pay-alloo investigation are just getting started. On Tuesday, December 1, 1959, Congressional General Counsel Robert Lishman arrives at the New York District Attorney's office in Lower Manhattan. He's there to meet with an assistant DA named Joseph Stone, who's opened his own pay-all investigation. Stone is a pugnacious prosecutor with a lifelong New Yorker's tough no-nonsense demeanor. Lishman also worked with him on the quiz show investigations, and he admires his tenacity. Stone has already convened a grand jury and started subpoenaing witnesses, as well as the financial records of over 50 record companies. The New York DA's office has an advantage over the feds. New York State has some of the nation's broadest laws regarding commercial bribery, and in New York, pay-all-of-fals well within the definition of what it means to take a bribe. At the federal level, the law is a little less clear. Its unlikely Lishman will be able to indict anyone, but Stone's office can. In fact, Stone has already set his sights on one of the pay-all-investigations biggest targets, Alan Freed. It will take cooperation between State and federal law enforcement, sharing of witness testimony and subpoena documents, choosing who to prosecute and who should be granted immunity. But Bob Lishman thinks that with Stone's help, he can not only expose pay-all-of-fals, he can put some people behind bars. On February 5, 1960, Morris Levy arrives at a New York courthouse to testify before Joseph Stone's grand jury. The grand jury is just a fact-finding body, no one called before it is accused of anything. Yet. But Levy hates courtrooms, and he arrives spoiling for a fight, ready to defend himself in the people he works with. As far as Levy's concern, the DA's investigation so far is pure harassment. They send agents to roulette records headquarters to seize their books. They subpoenaed all of Levy's employees, even some of his artists. But Levy is resolute. If they're trying to intimidate him, or hoping he'll slip up and somehow incriminate himself, it will not work. In front of the grand jury, Joseph Stone hammers Levy, questioning him about various payments and loans roulette records made over the years to various DJ's, but especially Alan Fried. One payment in particular for $10,000 stands out. It was listed on roulette's books as a promotion fee, then alone, then changed back to a promotion fee. Levy tries to wave it off as a personal matter. Alan and I had an argument in February, so I said to my com troll or screw him, I'm going to make him pay it. Then about four months later, I got over it and said, uh, take it off. What Stone is relentless, he doesn't care whether the $10,000 was a loan or a gift. He wants to know what Levy got in return. Finally, under Stone's heavy questioning, Levy lets it slip that yes, he and Fried had a tacit understanding. In return for the 10 grand and various other payments, Fried would favor releases by roulette records. Levy realizes he slipped up. When Stone tries to dismiss him, he refuses to leave the witness stand. He turns boastful, trying to save face. Alan and I make $250,000 a year on rock and roll shows. If I give him $10,000 or even $20,000, watch the big deal. That's peanuts to us, it's nothing. But Stone has gotten what he needs. Thank you, Mr. Levy. You can leave now. The night after Morris Levy tells a grand jury a little too much, Alan Fried walks through the stage door entrance of the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem. He's haggard, his face puffy from drinking. The scars from his car accident many years go stand out against his blotchy skin. You'd never guess looking at him that he's only 38 years old. Fried doesn't want to be here. He doesn't want to be anywhere except home alone with a bottle. What he's got a show to do. He'd has many fond memories of the Apollo. He was the scene of one of his greatest concerts, 1955 Halloween party featuring his star act, The Moon Glows. Now it's the scene of his last stand. He's broke and still out of work. No one in radio will give him the time of day. If this show isn't a hit, he's done for. Backstage Fried goes through the motions, greeting the performers, telling them what a great show it's going to be. But when he walks into the wings and peers out at the audience, he can see that half the seats are empty. He tells himself it's still early that the place will fill up, but he can't quite convince himself it's true. Morris Levy is a no-show, as are most of Fried's old friends from the industry. But at least one friend has come to show his support, Hal Jackson. Jackson is still the city's most popular black DJ and is especially beloved here in Harlem. It was Jackson who called in a few favors to help Fried book this show. The two old friends greet each other warmly. Jackson asks how Alan's holding up. Fried gives a meager smile and says, I'm fine, how you know me. I never let the bastards get me down. Fried is proud to have the support of people like Hal Jackson. And even if the seats aren't filled, he's proud to look out at the Apollo audience and see black and white kids all sitting mixed together side by side, ready to cheer on the same acts, regardless of race. That's his legacy, Fried thinks, not this payola crap. That's what they'll remember him for. As he hears the drum roll signaling his entrance, Fried adjusts his bow tie and plasters a crooked smile across his face, takes a deep breath, bounds out onto the stage, into the glare of the spotlight. But as Fried introduces the first act, you can feel something unfamiliar, dripping down the back of his shirt collar, flop sweat. You can already feel it in his bones, this show is going to be a bust. Hours later, after the crowd is gone, the acts have been paid and the Apollo's owner has taken his hefty cut. Alan Fried steps out onto the Harlem sidewalk to have a cigarette before calling it a night. His damp collar feels clammy against his neck in the cold night air. In his pockets are his night's earnings, a couple hundred bucks. He could have been worse, he tells himself. At least the show didn't lose money. He looks up at the Apollo's famous marquee, now dark, and he tries to convince himself he'll be back. What he won't be. This is the last concert he'll ever host in New York. Right now, Alan Fried has only got one thing going for him. He told that New York Post reporter that if he went down, he would take a lot of people with him. And he's about to make good on that promise. No wonder he, this is episode two of six of Peola for American Scandal. On the next episode, as congressional Peola hearings make national headlines, Alan Fried and Dick Clark are called to testify. And in New York, Hal Jackson finds himself at the center of the district attorney's campaign to put Peola takers behind bars. If you'd like to learn more about Peola, we recommend the book Big Beat Heat, Alan Fried and the early years of rock and roll by John A. Jackson. This episode contains reenactments and traumatized details. While in most cases we can't know exactly what was said, all our johnmitizations are based on historical research. American Scandal is hosted, edited and executed produced by me, Lindsey Graham for Airship, sound designed by Derek Barrett. This episode is written by Andy Herman, edited by Casey Meiner, executive producers of our Stephanie Gens, Jenny Lauer Beckman and her non-lopus for wandering.