Legendary DJ Created Oldies but Goodies Format
By Shaunda Winters — October 11, 2022
Los Angeles Radio DJ Art Laboe, who spearheaded the Oldies but Goodies format and shared dedications on-air with listeners, passed away October 7, 2022 in Palm Springs, California.
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Art Laboe, who’s real name is Arthur Egnoian was the creator of the Original Sound record label and the host of the long-running syndicated radio program “Art Laboe Connection”. He was one of the pioneer DJs to add rock ‘n’ roll and R&B to West Coast radio stations.
Just last month, the radio DJ, born Aug. 7, 1925, celebrated 79-years as an active radio personality. His radio show aired in Los Angeles on KDAY-FM on Sunday nights, as well as other stations all around the Southwest. Laboe’s final broadcast aired Sunday night Oct. 9, after being recorded last week.
“My favorite place to be is behind that microphone,” Laboe mentioned at the time of the 79-year anniversary in September. “I have one of the best jobs in the world, playing the music, interacting with our listeners, doing their dedications and connecting them with their loved ones! Thank you to our dedicated fans that have listened through the decades and made ‘The Art Laboe Connection’ a family tradition,” he said.
The radio personality was an inductee into the National Radio Hall of Fame. He also has a permanent collection on exhibit at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He was famously known for taking calls from listeners who were looking to send out dedications to loved ones, and decades later created a sentimental connection not just with the reminiscence enthusiasts but a Latino fan base in particular.
Art was born in Salt Lake City, Utah where he started playing around with radios in his youth, and is told that he built his own station by the age of 12. The radio DJ attended high school in Los Angeles, then in September 1943 got his big break into the airwaves in San Francisco on radio station KSAN. According to Laboe history written by author Harvey Kubernik, Laboe was a Navy man during World War II and afterward worked in the Bay area, in 1950 he relocated to the Los Angeles’ KXLA-AM which the radio station later became KRLA.
Laboe “was the very first DJ to spin West Coast rock ’n’ roll, to merge race music under one broadcast,” Kubernik wrote in the book “Turn Up The Radio! Pop, Rock and Roll in Los Angeles 1956-1972.” “When Elvis Presley came to town in 1956 with manager Colonel Parker, their only interview granted was to Laboe. Art had been the first person to play the Sun Records of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. He introduced Ricky Nelson to the radio airwaves. Laboe hosted dances at the El Monte Legion Stadium; in 1960, he teamed with Dick Clark to stage an unprecedented rock ’n’ roll show at the Hollywood Bowl that sold 18,000 tickets.”
By 1958, “The Art Laboe Show” was a feature of radio station KPOP which is now KTNQ and his show began from the popular Scrivner’s Drive-In restaurant in Hollywood was seen on live TV on KTLA-TV. At that time, Laboe saw an opportunity to tap into nostalgia with compilation albums of early hits from the rock, R&B and doo-wop eras as a new generation of acts began to overshadow the 1940s and ’50s musical pioneers. Through his Original Sound Entertainment label, he released Oldies But Goodies and Dedicated to You collections that helped safeguard many West Coast one-hit wonders such as “Angel Baby” by Rosie and the Originals and the original “Earth Angel” by the Penguins.
Often times, Laboe was called on by Hollywood as a consultant and music producer. Art even worked with George Lucas on licensing tunes for the soundtrack of his 1973 smash hit “American Graffiti,” and Laboe was proud of ensuring that the artists got their due and their cut of licensing revenue. The radio DJ was also involved with music licensing for such films as “Dirty Dancing,” “La Bamba,” “Lethal Weapon,” Good Morning Vietnam” which were all released in 1987 and 1989’s “Born on the Fourth of July.” Original Sound Entertainment also represented songs for film and TV licensing by such notables as the Beach Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ritchie Valens, the Stylistics, the Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and the Isley Brothers.
Laboe became dedicated to philanthropic work through his Art Laboe Foundation, which he focused it on helping the underprivileged, animal charities and providing scholarship funds for high school students.
Art Laboe was married twice and divorced twice and has two sons, three sisters and one brother.
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