Each Friday, Edgar B. Herwick III takes us back in time for a look at the week in Massachusetts history. This week, we go back to 1958 for the largely forgotten tale about the day the music died in Boston.

"It was like Happy Days when I was in high school."

That’s Stoughton native Albert Raggiani.

"In Stoughton, there was a diner and we'd all go up there and meet. The guys would drive up in their hot rods and everything else. We'd all be listening to music and singing along with them and stuff. Bill Haley and the Comets, Little Richard, The Cadillacs, Chuck Berry, Bo Didley, I could go on. I think mainly because the parents didn't like it everybody really went for it." 

An essential reason for rock and roll's soaring popularity among the teenage set in the late 1950s was the man credited with coining the term, syndicated disc jockey Alan Freed, who cut his teeth on the Cleveland airwaves.   

"He was like the guru of rock 'n' roll," Raggiani said. 

Freed also took his show on the road. In May of 1958, his "Big Beat” concert came to the Boston Arena, known today as Northeastern’s Matthews Arena. Among the dozen or so acts on the bill were Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. 

Albert Raggiani, then 19, and his friends were among the 6,000 fans who packed the place that Saturday night.

"It was really a good show. Everybody was really into it. What a crowd! We were up in the balcony so we could have a good view of the stage and everything going on." 

What was going on was customary for an Alan Freed concert, kids packed into the aisles, singing along and dancing, but things started to get a little out of hand. A few bottles were broken. A scuffle broke out.

"All of a sudden the lights go on in the whole place and you see all the aisles, you just see rows of cops running down the aisles," Raggiani said.

The show was stopped. Neither the crowd, nor the concert organizer was happy. 

"Alan Freed come out and he said, 'I guess the Boston police don't want you kids to have any fun.'"

Six thousand unsatisfied fans – young and energized - poured onto St. Botolph Street. That’s when things went from bad to worse. Raggiani was separated from his friends in the swell.

"All of a sudden there's a guy in front of me. His eyes looked kind of glassy. So, I figured now he's either on drugs or drunk, and then the next thing I get hit in the back of the head."

And he went down. Dazed, Raggiani said he could now see that the glassy eyed kid was not alone. Raggiani was surrounded.

"They really worked me over. Whacking me from all over, people screaming, fists, a knife coming at me, I could hardly put my arm up to defend myself."

All told, 15  people were beaten and robbed in the streets outside the show. Raggiani was the most critically injured. Stabbed three times, he spent two weeks in the hospital recovering.  

Many, including Raggiani, believed that the violence outside the show was the work of neighborhood ne’er-do-wells, opportunists who were not even at the concert. 

But city officials had a different take. None of the perpetrators were ever caught. The only arrest made following the melee was Alan Freed, who was charged with inciting a riot. Raggiani was hauled from his hospital bed to the courthouse to testify.

"They bring me in the grand jury and they ask me just one question, that always sticks in my mind, did Alan Freed say this? I said, 'yes, he did.'"

Two days later, then Boston Mayor John B. Hynes banned rock and roll shows in the city of Boston.

“Those so called rock 'n' roll musical programs are a disgrace and must be stopped. As far as I'm concerned Boston has seen the last of them,” Hynes told reporters.

A bill was even introduced on Beacon Hill that would have banned rock and roll from all state owned buildings. 

Bu things eventually settled. Freed’s case never went to trial, but the episode was the beginning of the end for him. Cities along the east coast canceled their shows. The next year, his career was essentially ended amidst a host of controversies. Raggiani said that the incident changed his life in a host of imperceptible ways, but he never soured on the music.

As for rock 'n' roll, I think we all know what happened there. In the decades that followed it would became such a fundamental part of American life and culture today it’s laughable to imagine that it ever caused such a fuss. 

In fact, the signature act at this year’s First Night celebration here in the city of Boston was rock 'n' roll Hall of Famer Patti Smith and her band, live, at– you guessed it – the John B. Hynes convention center.

May 5, 1958, the day that Boston banned rock 'n' roll, 56 years ago this week.