While his legions of Southern California radio fans mourned his loss, flowers were on the Hollywood Walk of Fame star of pioneering Rock ‘n’ Roll deejay Art LaBoe on Tuesday, Oct. 11.
LaBoe, a radio legend whose career ran for nearly eight decades, died Friday at his Palm Springs home of pneumonia. He was 97.
LaBoe been on the air in Southern California since 1943, crafting his niche as the voice of Los Angeles’ 1950-60s-era popular music — keeping the imagery of car radios blasting early rock tunes while cruising city streets alive. He coined the phrase “oldies, but goodies” and is often credited as being the first DJ to take requests and song dedications on the air.
In recent years, Laboe’s radio home was at KDAY-FM/93.5 in Palm Springs, hosting The Art Laboe Connection, a show that featured Laboe doing the kind of now-vintage radio for which he first found fame in Los Angeles in the ’50s.
He is believed to be the first DJ to play rock ‘n roll tunes on Los Angeles radio. He was also among the first DJs to play music by both Black and white artists, and he built a majorfollowing among Latino communities across the region.
Laboe was also known for his live concerts that attracted top acts, but were beloved byaudiences simply for seeing the famed DJ in person.
Laboe began his career in San Francisco in the early 1940s, then bounced among a host of stations across the state, primarily in Southern California. But he started gracing the airwaves at age 13, when he started an amateur radio station from his bedroom.
By the mid-1950s, he was a staple on Los Angeles radio stations, broadcasting live from Scrivner’s Drive-In in Hollywood. Audience members would attend the shows in person to request songs and dedications. He later began hosting wildly popular dance shows in El Monte.
Over the years, his shows were heard on stations including KFWB, KXLA, KPOP, KDA, KPPC, KRTH, KRLA and KFI.
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He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2012.
“Art Laboe has fostered a rare relationship with his audience,” Josh Kun, a professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, said in a statement released by Laboe’s company. “He has always treated people with respect and taken them very seriously — not as a marketing demographic, not a source of potential advertising revenue, but he has taken them seriously as a community, and as individuals. When folks call in to his radio show, he listens to them. He doesn’t rush them off the air. Over theyears, people have come to trust Art, and he’s earned their trust, and that’s why he’s so central to so many people’s lives.”