Arnie Weissmann My colleague and friend Alan Fredericks will be inducted into the Travel Industry Association (TIA) Hall of Leaders in October. As you can read in our news pages [TIA to honor Fredericks, Norman], he is being honored for his 40 years of influence in the travel industry, accomplished in part during his 30-plus years as editor in chief of Travel Weekly.

Though I have come to rely on his counsel for matters both industry-related and journalistic, Alan did not start his career in the travel industry. Nor, for the first decade of his working life, was he a journalist.

I found this out about 10 years ago when I rented a car at LaGuardia Airport and headed towards Westchester County. I didnt know Alan then; I had met him once or twice, had been reading his column for about 10 years and had seen him moderate sessions at industry events from time to time.

As I turned the car north, I hunted for a radio station. I heard a voice say, This is Alan Fredericks, sitting in for ... The voice was unmistakable. I listened a while longer. There was no doubt: Travel Weeklys Alan Fredericks was hosting a doo-wop radio program.

When I got to know him better, I asked what that was all about. It turns out that travel is Alans second love. His first is rock n roll. He had become a disk jockey in 1954, the year rock was born, and was soon hosting record hops in high school gyms on Long Island.

He once introduced a local band called the Bell Notes, and they sang an original song called Ive Had It. Alan recalls that it was silly but catchy -- catchy enough that he thought it might be a hit.

He signed the group to a management contract, bought studio time and produced a demo. He gave it out to the reps of record companies who had come to his station to give him records to play. Eventually one label decided to take a chance on it.

It sold 500,000 copies. The Bell Notes were hot -they went on the road, opening for Bobby Darin and Frankie Avalon. But the label took over the groups management, and Alan was out. (And so, it turns out, were the Bell Notes -- without Alan at the console using reverb to mask the fact they couldnt sing on key, they never produced another hit.)

Alan, however -- now the proud owner of a brand new 1961 Pontiac Catalina convertible -- decided he had the Midas touch and started looking for more talent.

Someone told him to listen to a folk singer named Peter Yarrow in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse. Alan thought the guy was extremely talented and asked if he would like to sing rock n roll. The guy said sure, hed give it a try. But Alan never found the right material for him.

After six months, Alan released him from the contract, and Peter resumed singing folk songs. It wasnt too long before Peter hooked up with two other folk singers, one named Paul, and the other named Mary.

Turns out Alan had the right guy, just the wrong genre.

In 1966, the station where he was spinning records became Spanish-only, and he decided it was time for a career change. While, selfishly, Im glad that he did -- his next full-time job turned out to be at Travel Weekly -- I feel certain that, had he stayed with music, right about now hed be inducted into another hall of honor.

That one, I have a feeling, would be the one in Cleveland.


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