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'Oldies but Goodies': Long-time oldies DJ Art Laboe dies at 97 | Entertainment

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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) — Pioneering DJ Art Laboe, best known for helping end segregation in Southern California, has died. he was 97 years old.

Laboe died of pneumonia on Friday night, according to Joanna Morones, a spokeswoman for Laboe’s production company Dart Entertainment.

Laboe’s final show was produced last week and aired on Sunday night.

Laboe hosts live DJ shows at drive-in restaurants that dance to rock ‘n’ roll and shock an older generation still listening to Frank Sinatra and big band music, attracting whites, blacks and Latinos Known for helping end segregation in Southern California by doing

Laboe is also known for coining the term “oldies, but goodies”. He founded Original Sound Records in 1957, and in 1958 his compilation album Oldies But Goodies: Vol. 1 spent 183 weeks on Billboard’s Top 100 chart.

He later gained a strong following among Mexican-Americans for hosting the syndicated “The Art Laboe Connection Show.” His baritone voice invited listeners to dedicate and request 1950s rock and roll love his ballads and Alicia Keys rhythm and blues songs.

His radio show provided a platform to talk to families of loved ones incarcerated, especially by dedicating songs and sending heartfelt messages and updates.California and Arizona inmates sent their dedications and asked Laveau for updates from their families.

Laboe said it was an honor to play the role.

“I don’t judge,” Laboe said in a 2018 interview with AP at his Palm Springs studio. “I like people.”

He would often tell the story of a woman who came by the studio so her toddler could tell her father, who was serving time for violent crimes, “I love you, Daddy.”

“It was the first time I heard a baby’s voice,” said Laboe. “And this tough, hard-nosed man suddenly burst into tears.”

Anthony Macias, professor of ethnology at the University of California, Riverside, said the music Laboe performed was consistent with devotional music that reinforces the message. Songs like ‘m on the Outside (Looking In)’ and War’s ‘Don’t Let No One Get You Down’ talk about perseverance and the desire for acceptance.

Born Arthur Egnoian in Salt Lake City to an Armenian-American family, Laboe grew up in a Mormon household run by a single mother during the Great Depression. His sister sent him his first radio when he was eight years old. From there, his voice and stories enveloped him.

“I haven’t let it go since,” Laboe said.

He moved to California, attended Stanford University, and served in the US Navy during World War II. Eventually, he got a job as a radio announcer at his KSAN in San Francisco, and after his boss suggested he take his secretary’s surname to sound more American, he decided to take Art Laboe. adopted the name.

When the United States entered World War II, Laboe served in the Navy. He later returned to the Southern California area, but a radio station owner told an aspiring radio announcer that he should instead work on becoming a “radio personality”.As a DJ at Los Angeles’ KXLA , Laboe bought time for the station, hosting overnight live music shows at drive-ins and meeting underground rockabilly and R&B musicians. “I have my own research built in,” he says Laboe.

Laboe soon became one of the first DJs to play R&B and rock and roll in California. Teenage listeners immediately recognized Laboe’s voice as his scene in fledgling rock and roll. By 1956 Laboe had an afternoon show and was the city’s top radio show. A car blocked Sunset Boulevard where Laboe aired his show and advertisers jumped to get a piece of the action.

When Elvis Presley came to Hollywood, Laboe was one of the few people interviewed by the new rockabilly star.

The scene Laboe nurtured in California has become one of the most diverse in the nation. In places such as his stadium, much of the music that Laboe aired on radio shows, a new youth subculture was born.

Laboe maintained a strong following over the years, transforming into a promoter of a decrepit rock and roll act and an undiminished legacy of Mexican-American oldies fans. The exhibit is at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland.

In 2015, iHeartMedia’s KHHT-FM (92.3) canceled Laboe’s syndicated oldies show. This was because the station’s abrupt switch to a hip-hop format sparked angry protests in Los Angeles. Essayist Adam Vine wrote, “Without Art Laboe, I am so lonely I can cry.” Later that year, Laboe returned to Los Angeles Broadcasting Station on another station.

According to Lalo Alcaraz, a syndicated cartoonist and television writer who grew up listening to Art Laboe in San Diego, DJs always played Latino, white, and black artists together in their shows, and that’s why generations of Mexican musicians were there. It maintains a strong following among Americans of descent. According to Alcalaz, Laboe also did not appear to criticize his audience, who asked for devotion to loved ones in prison.

Alcaraz said, “He’s the one who gave us the most humble voice through music. He brought us together. That’s why we sought him out.”

Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the Los Angeles-based National Hispanic Media Coalition, said generations of Latinx fans will attend concerts hosted by Laboe, including Smokey Robinson, The Spinners, and Sunny. & The Sunliners, etc.

“You see some really tough guys in the crowd. I mean, they look scary,” Nogales said. “Then Art comes out and melts. They love him.”


Former Associated Press reporter Russell Contreras contributed biographical material to this report.