What Hunter didn't mention on The Late Late Show
is that the song was released originally - with slightly different words - as "England Rocks
He has though gone on record stating: 'I originally wrote "Cleveland Rocks" for Cleveland. I changed it later to "England Rocks" because I thought it should be a single somewhere and Columbia wouldn't release it as a single in the US (too regional). "Cleveland Rocks" is Cleveland's song and that's the truth.'
As Hunter toured the States with Mott in the early '70s, his claim has the ring of truth. Indeed, he has never made any secret of looking back to what he sees as the golden age of rock 'n' roll, and rock 'n' roll can in some sense be said to have originated in Cleveland. The disk jockey Alan Freed (1921-65) was born in at Johnstown, Pennsylvania less than two hundred miles from Cleveland, and moved to the City in 1949 where in 1951 he began playing rhythm and blues records on his WJW radio show The Moondog House
. Freed became known as the father of rock and roll, because although he did not invent the phrase, he appears to have been the first person to use it on public radio.
Hunter's original recording of "Cleveland Rocks" begins with a sample of Freed introducing his show. In April 1983, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was founded in New York City, and in 1995, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors in downtown Cleveland. After his death, Alan Freed was cremated, and his ashes were interred at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, but in March 2002 they were moved to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.