Longtime oldies DJ Art Laboe dies



Art Laboe, the pioneering DJ credited with serving to finish segregation in Southern California, has died. He was 97.

Laboe died Friday night time after catching pneumonia, stated Joanna Morones, a spokesperson for Laboe’s manufacturing firm, Dart Entertainment.

Laboe’s final present was produced final week and broadcast Sunday night time.

Laboe is credited with serving to finish segregation in Southern California by organizing reside DJ reveals at drive-in eateries that attracted whites, Blacks and Latinos who danced to rock-n-roll and shocked an older era nonetheless listening to Frank Sinatra and Big Band music.

Laboe can also be credited with coining the “oldies, however goodies” phrase. In 1957, he began Original Sound Record, Inc. and in 1958, launched the compilation album “Oldies But Goodies: Vol. 1,” which stayed on the Billboard’s Top 100 chart for 183 weeks.

He later developed a robust following amongst Mexican Americans for internet hosting the syndicated “The Art Laboe Connection Show.” His baritone voice invited listeners to name in dedications and request a Fifties-era rock-n-roll love ballad or a rhythm and blues tune from Alicia Keys.

His radio reveals gave the households of incarcerated family members, particularly, a platform to talk to their relations by dedicating songs and sending heartfelt messages and updates. California and Arizona inmates would ship in their very own dedications and ask Laboe for updates from household.

It’s a job Laboe stated he felt honoured to play.

“I do not decide,” Laboe stated in a 2018 interview with The Associated Press at his Palm Springs studio. “I like folks.”

He typically informed a narrative a few girl who got here by the studio so her toddler may inform her father, who was serving time for a violent crime, “Daddy, I really like you.”

“It was the primary time he had heard his child’s voice,” Laboe stated. “And this robust, hard-nosed man burst into tears.”

Anthony Macias, a University of California, Riverside ethnic research professor, stated the music Laboe performed went with the dedications enhancing the messages. For instance, songs like Little Anthony & the Imperials’ “I’m on the Outside (Looking In)” and War’s “Don’t Let No One Get You Down” spoke of perseverance and want to be accepted.

Born Arthur Egnoian in Salt Lake City to an Armenian-American household, Laboe grew up throughout the Great Depression in a Mormon family run by a single mother. His sister despatched him his first radio when he was 8 years previous. The voices and tales that got here from it enveloped him.

“And I have never let go since,” Laboe stated.

He moved to California, attended Stanford University and served within the U.S. Navy throughout World War II. Eventually, he landed a job as a radio announcer at KSAN in San Francisco and adopted the title Art Laboe after a boss prompt he take the final title of a secretary to sound extra American.

When the United States entered World War II, Laboe served within the Navy. He later returned to Southern California space, however a radio station proprietor informed the aspiring radio announcer he ought to work on turning into a “radio character” as a substitute. As a DJ for KXLA in Los Angeles, Laboe purchased station time and hosted reside in a single day music reveals from drive-ins the place he’d meet underground rockabilly and R&B musicians. “I received my very own built-in analysis,” Laboe stated.

Laboe quickly turned one of many first DJs to play R&B and rock-n-roll in California. Teen listeners quickly recognized Laboe’s voice with the fledgling rock-n-roll scene. By 1956, Laboe had a day present and have become town’s prime radio program. Cars jammed Sunset Boulevard the place Laboe broadcast his present and advertisers jumped to get a bit of the motion.

When Elvis Presley got here to Hollywood, Laboe was one of many few to get an interview with the brand new rockabilly star.

The scene that Laboe helped harvest in California turned of the nation’s most numerous. Places such because the El Monte’s American Legion Stadium performed a lot of the music Laboe aired on his radio present, giving beginning to a brand new youth subculture.

Laboe maintained a robust following all through the years and reworked right into a promoter of getting old rock-n-roll acts who by no means light from Mexican-American followers of oldies. A everlasting show of Laboe’s contributions resides in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland.

In 2015, iHeartworkMedia’s KHHT-FM (92.3) dropped Laboe’s syndicated oldies present after the station abruptly switched to a hip-hop format sparking indignant protests in Los Angeles. “Without Art Laboe, I’m So Lonely I Could Cry,” wrote essayist Adam Vine. Later that yr, Laboe returned to the Los Angeles airwaves on one other station.

Lalo Alcaraz, a syndicated cartoonist and tv author who grew up listening to Art Laboe in San Diego, stated the DJ maintained a robust following amongst Mexican Americans for generations as a result of he all the time performed Latino, white and Black artists collectively on his reveals. Laboe additionally did not seem to evaluate his listeners who requested for dedications for family members in jail, Alcaraz stated.

“Here is somebody who gave a voice to essentially the most humble of us all via music,” Alcaraz stated. “He introduced us collectively. That’s why we sought him out.”

Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the Los Angeles-based National Hispanic Media Coalition, stated generations of Latino followers attended Laboe-sponsored live shows to listen to the likes of Smokey Robinson, The Spinners or Sunny & The Sunliners.

“I see these actually robust wanting guys within the crowd. I imply, they give the impression of being scary,” Nogales stated. “Then Art comes out they usually simply soften. They love him.”


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