The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is in Cleveland thanks in large part to Alan Freed.
But Freed is no longer welcome in the Rock Hall, according to his son, Lance Freed.
Lance Freed says he was told several months ago by Rock Hall President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Harris that he would have to "immediately" remove his father's ashes, which had been on display since 2002, from the building.
"He said, 'look Lance, there's something strange, people walk past the exhibit and your dad's ashes and they scratch their heads and can't figure out what this thing is, and we'd like you to come pick up the ashes."
Freed said he told Harris he would need some time to talk to his family and "think about where we're going to put my father. Six weeks ago I called him and said I would be up in July."
Harris, reached by cell phone as he was driving with his family in the mountains of Pennsylvania stressed that the Rock Hall still realizes the role Freed played both in rock 'n' roll and in the museum itself.
"First and foremost, not all of [Freed's artifacts] are being moved out of the museum,'' Harris said. "We are returning the ashes to his family.''
The display case which held Freed's ashes instead will include a pair of his iconic microphones, since he was, after all, a broadcaster, Harris said.
The call from Harris was a real blow to the family of the man who popularized the term "rock and roll" as a DJ in the 1950s and hosted what is considered the first rock 'n' roll concert, the Moondog Coronation Ball, in 1952 at the Cleveland Arena. His cremains were originally buried inside a wall at the Hall, but later moved to their public but low-key display at the request of the family.
Freed's remains had been brought to Cleveland from the Ferncliff Memorial Mausoleum in Hartsdale, N.Y., where they had been interred since his death at age 43 in 1965.
Following his time in Cleveland in the 1950s, Freed moved to New York, where he continued his rock 'n' roll DJ career. A payola scandal ended that career, with Freed pleading guilty to two counts of commercial bribery in 1962.
"After a lot of discussion with my family about putting the ashes on display in 2002, we thought, 'this is appropriate, my dad would gave been happy and amused by this because he's a public figure.'"
At the time, then Rock Hall CEO Terry Stewart told The Plain Dealer: "I'm sure some people will find it unusual and others might find it morbid. It's certainly appropriate in a rock 'n' roll sense to have his final resting place here."
Harris said that the original request to put the urn on view actually came from the Freed family.
"We planned on returning them all along,'' he said.
Lance Freed says he was told by Harris that the Freed exhibit, minus the urn, would be moved to the lower level Ahmet Ertegun hall as part of a chronological history of rock 'n' roll.
"It's pushing him to the side," says Freed, "It's making him part of the passing parade, rather than a place where people can say 'hey this is the guy who helped start it all.'"
But Harris said that the homage to Freed will remain as part of the museum's Pioneers of Rock exhibit. The urn, he said, is the only thing from the exhibit that will be removed.
Museums are at their best, Harris said, when the cultural story of an item can be put in context.
"Freed is incredibly important to us,'' he said. The museum continues carry the Freed name on its radio studio and displays that Moondog Coronation Ball plaque.
Harris also said that museums today are leaning away from displaying items like ashes and other things, unless there is a medical context.
Freed will pick up his father's ashes from the Rock Hall on Monday, without a ceremony like the one led by Rabbi Franklin Muller of Youngstown's Congregation Rodef Sholom that occurred when the ashes were brought to the Hall. They were taken off of display on Friday.
But Alan Freed is not leaving town again, says his son.
"We're looking for a Cleveland cemetery for his remains. Once we find one, then we'll have a public service. This is going to be my father's final resting place. I want to make sure in his death he gets the respect he deserves because he didn't in the last years of his life. I want to protect his legacy and memory."