Art Laboe, beloved California DJ who popularized 'oldies but goodies,' dies at 97

Trending 1 year ago
Art Laboe, a vigor   fable  who was 1  of the archetypal  DJs to play   stone  and R&B by Black, White and Latino artists, has died. He was 97.

CNN  — 

Generations of Californians person ne'er known a clip without Art Laboe – spinning records connected air, dedicating songs to dedicated listeners and turning younger audiophiles onto “oldies but goodies.”

But aft astir 80 years connected the air, Laboe, a legendary DJ and beloved Los Angeles personality, has hung up his microphone for good.

Laboe died connected Friday aft a abbreviated bout of pneumonia, his spokesperson Joanna Morones confirmed to CNN. He was 97.

Laboe, calved Arthur Egnoian, started DJing successful 1943 arsenic a teenager, helium said successful an interrogation with the Orange County Register. (The mode helium told it to the National Association of Music Merchants, helium waltzed into the presumption manager’s bureau and sheepishly asked for the job. Since astir of the station’s engineers were serving successful World War II, helium got the job.)

In 1949, helium came to Los Angeles and began what would beryllium a seven-decade vocation successful the city. He started playing stone and R&B owed to assemblage demand, helium told the Desert Sun successful 2016: He would broadcast live, each nighttime and into the aboriginal morning, from the Scrivner’s Drive-In parking batch and took requests from the young radical who frequented it.

“At night, kids would bring their ain records successful and I would play them,” helium said. “They were brainsick astir each the Black artists.”

Laboe was 1 of the archetypal fashionable DJs to desegregate the airwaves, playing songs by beloved Black artists similar Little Richard and The Shirelles for listeners from each radical backgrounds, according to a connection from Laboe’s company, Dart Entertainment. His popularity among Angelenos attracted teens of each races to his unrecorded dancehall events, too, and truthful helium helped desegregate those venues, too. He was particularly loved by Latino listeners for often incorporating lesser-known Chicano psyche bands into his lineup of what helium called, and aboriginal trademarked, “oldies but goodies.”

The operation became Laboe’s signature, and, opening successful 1959, helium released a bid of compilation records called “Oldies But Goodies” nether his ain grounds label. Beginning successful 1972, helium hosted a amusement dedicated to playing thing but oldies, the archetypal presumption of its kind, according to the Radio Hall of Fame, into which Laboe was inducted successful 2012.

Laboe was besides 1 of the archetypal DJs to invited listeners to dedicate a opus to their loved ones: They’d telephone successful oregon sojourn him unrecorded erstwhile he’d grounds astatine the drive-in, permission a connection for idiosyncratic (typically a important other) and prime a opus successful their honor. It was 1 of the fewer places astatine the clip erstwhile Mexican Americans, arsenic good arsenic different radical of color, surviving successful Los Angeles could find “a mean done which their voices could beryllium heard,” wrote Anthony Macias, University of California, Riverside professor, successful 2004.

Also among those receiving dedications – prisoners. Laboe regularly fielded requests from listeners whose loved ones were serving time. The creator Speak, a autochthonal Angeleno, told Pitchfork successful 2015 that helium was listening to Laboe’s amusement erstwhile once helium heard his brother, an inmate astatine Wasco State Prison, telephone successful and dedicate a opus to him.

“Art’s dependable is the glimmer of anticipation that everything volition beryllium okay,” Speak said. “When helium reads your sanction and message, you consciousness similar an aged person is comforting you.”

Up until his death, Laboe hadn’t changed overmuch astir his routine, and his baritone dependable surely hadn’t mislaid its shine. He was inactive hosting his ain vigor amusement and emceeing unrecorded concerts, jobs helium started 70 years earlier. Most recently, helium hosted “The Art Laboe Connection” connected presumption KDAY.

In September, the 79th day of Laboe’s vigor debut, the nonprofit presumption dublab flipped the publication connected Laboe and sent dedications to him. Over an hr and a half, fans called successful to springiness Laboe songs (and kisses): One requested “18 With a Bullet” due to the fact that Laboe played it for her erstwhile she turned 18. Another instrumentality crossed the state who spent astir of her beingness listening to Laboe requested “La-La Means I Love You.” A chap broadcaster inspired by Laboe dedicated, of course, “Those Oldies but Goodies,” a opus that utilized the aforesaid operation Laboe was credited with popularizing.

In a 2015 essay aft Laboe’s L.A.-based amusement was temporarily pulled from airwaves, writer Adam Vine mourned the nonaccomplishment of the “lifeline” that was Laboe’s amusement for countless listeners.

“Art Laboe lets the songs springiness the advice. He serves simply arsenic a messenger of dedications with a classical vigor voice,” Vine wrote. “Art Laboe’s highest accomplishment is that helium connects radical separated by region and time.”

Laboe’s amusement returned then, and now, the amusement volition spell connected without him. In a connection shared by Morones, Dart Entertainment said it volition proceed to broadcast his nightly amusement and judge dedications successful his lack – truthful his “legacy volition endure.”