38 user 11 critic

American Hot Wax (1978)

The story of Alan Freed, the pioneering disc jockey who was instrumental in introducing and popularizing rock 'n' roll in the 1950s.



(screenplay), (story) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Carl Weaver ...
Member of The Chesterfields (as Carl Earl Weaver)
Sam Harkness ...
Arnold McCuller ...
Moosie Drier ...
John Lehne ...
Jack Edward Ellis ...
Richard Forbes ...
Stephen Pearlman ...


This is the story loosely based on Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed, who introduced rock 'n' roll to teenage American radio audiences in the 1950s. Freed was a source of great controversy: criticized by conservatives for corrupting youth with the "devil's music"; hated by racists for promoting African American music for white consumption; persecuted by law enforcement officials and finally brought down by the "payola" scandals. Written by Martin Lewison <lewison+@pitt.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


1959. New York City. The battleground was Rock and Roll. It was the beginning of an era. You shoulda been there.


Drama | History | Music


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 March 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American Hot Wax - kuumaa vahaa  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


While the real Alan Freed was still working in Cleveland radio station WJW (850 AM). He was one of the organizers of a five-act show called "The Moondog Coronation Ball" on March 21, 1952 at the Cleveland Arena. This event is known as the first rock and roll concert. Crowds attended in numbers far beyond the arena's capacity, and the concert was shut down early due to overcrowding and a near-riot. Long before being accused of inciting a riot at the Boston Arena in 1958 that the movie depicts, which eventually led to him being fired from WINS (1010 AM) in New York City, and driving him into bankruptcy. See more »


About 7 minutes into the movie when La Bamba is playing, the kid's parents watching TV in the living room, you can see the studio lighting fixtures overhead. See more »


Teenage Louise: My life was nothing until I found the music.
See more »


Referenced in Cotton Candy (1978) See more »


Lavender Blue
Written by Larry Morey and Eliot Daniel
Performed by Sammy Turner
Courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

Rock and Roll will NEVER die!!
18 September 1999 | by (San Pablo, Ca) – See all my reviews

This movie has heart, soul and a passion for the music. A loving tribute to an exciting era. I grew up in Philadelphia, where guys doo-wopped in garages and on street corners, hoping Alan Freed would someday play their song. This movie successfully shows how important our new music was to us. Long Live Rock and Roll!

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