What is a Disc Jockey ??

February 7, 2011

I’ve no idea if a “typical” DJ exists any more as the musical world has fragmented into so many different genres from club djs to old men like Brian Matthew still “spinning discs” on the BBC. In the USA in the early 1960s Ted Randall knew what a DJ was (although I’ve no idea who Ted Randall was). A DJ was someone who liked girls and comics and girls (as well as golf and his wife !!).

Ted Randall – What is a Disc Jockey?

My first exposure to American DJs were the “Cruisin'” series of LPs released in the early 1970s. I avidly collected these expensive imports. Each LP was devoted to a particular year (from at least 1955 to 1970) and featured a DJ who was associated with that time period playing a selection of hits from that year. I particularly liked the comic book styled covers which looked like Roy Lichtenstein versions of Romance comic panels. The LPs featured numerous loud characters with exotic names like Russ “Weird Beard” Knight, Jumpin’ George Oxford and Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsburg. I never worked out if these LPs featured actual radio shows, edits from a number of shows or if they had been re-created just for the LP. They sounded authentic enough with the period adverts and jingles and much use of the echo chamber by the DJs.

Wolfman Jack was another popular american DJ in the 1960s and early 1970s. I doubt I could have coped with listening to him every evening for five solid hours. He often left the microphone open so that he could shout over the top of the records he was playing. American DJs like the Wolfman had people phoning in years before it became (over)used in this country. Then the Wolfman could shout at them too.

Wolfman Jack on XERB Los Angeles – April 1967