Pioneering DJ Artwork Laboe, who coined ‘oldies however goodies,’ dies at 97 : NPR

DJ Artwork Laboe sits in his studio and talks about his 75 years within the radio enterprise in 2018, in Palm Springs, Calif. Laboe, a pioneering disc jockey who hosted a syndicated oldies present for many years, died on Friday.

Russell Contreras/AP

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Russell Contreras/AP

DJ Artwork Laboe sits in his studio and talks about his 75 years within the radio enterprise in 2018, in Palm Springs, Calif. Laboe, a pioneering disc jockey who hosted a syndicated oldies present for many years, died on Friday.

Russell Contreras/AP

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Artwork Laboe, the pioneering DJ credited with serving to finish segregation in Southern California, has died. He was 97.

Laboe died Friday evening after catching pneumonia, mentioned Joanna Morones, a spokesperson for Laboe’s manufacturing firm, Dart Leisure.

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

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

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

He later developed a powerful following amongst Mexican Individuals for internet hosting the syndicated “The Artwork Laboe Connection Present.” 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 exhibits gave the households of incarcerated family members, specifically, a platform to talk to their family 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 is a function Laboe mentioned he felt honored to play.

“I do not decide,” Laboe mentioned in a 2018 interview with The Related Press at his Palm Springs studio. “I like individuals.”

He usually advised a narrative a couple of lady who got here by the studio so her toddler may inform her father, who was serving time for a violent crime, “Daddy, I like you.”

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

Anthony Macias, a College of California, Riverside ethnic research professor, mentioned the music Laboe performed went with the dedications enhancing the messages. For instance, songs like Little Anthony & the Imperials’ “I am on the Outdoors (Wanting In)” and Battle’s “Do not Let No One Get You Down” spoke of perseverance and need to be accepted.

Born Arthur Egnoian in Salt Lake Metropolis to an Armenian-American household, Laboe grew up through the Nice Melancholy 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 not let go since,” Laboe mentioned.

He moved to California, attended Stanford College and served within the U.S. Navy throughout World Battle II. Finally, he landed a job as a radio announcer at KSAN in San Francisco and adopted the identify Artwork Laboe after a boss urged he take the final identify of a secretary to sound extra American.

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

He was one of many first DJs to play rock-n-roll in California

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 high radio program. Automobiles jammed Sundown 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 domesticate in California turned of the nation’s most various. Locations 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 powerful following all through the years and reworked right into a promoter of growing older rock-n-roll acts who by no means pale from Mexican American followers of oldies. A everlasting show of Laboe’s contributions resides in The Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame Museum in Cleveland.

In 2015, iHeartMedia’s KHHT-FM (92.3) dropped Laboe’s syndicated oldies present after the station abruptly switched to a hip-hop format sparking offended protests in Los Angeles. “With out Artwork Laboe, I am So Lonely I Might 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 Artwork Laboe in San Diego, mentioned the DJ maintained a powerful following amongst Mexican Individuals for generations as a result of he all the time performed Latino, white and Black artists collectively on his exhibits. Laboe additionally did not seem to guage his listeners who requested for dedications for family members in jail, Alcaraz mentioned.

“Right here is somebody who gave a voice to probably the most humble of us all via music,” Alcaraz mentioned. “He introduced us collectively. That is why we sought him out.”

Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Nationwide Hispanic Media Coalition, mentioned 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 trying guys within the crowd. I imply, they appear scary,” Nogales mentioned. “Then Artwork comes out they usually simply soften. They love him.”

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