06:49:12 am on
Sunday 21 Jul 2024

Jack Roberts, was 62
Claude Hall

Jack Roberts, editor and publisher of the Hollywood Hills, died about 10 p.m. March 7.  Cancer of the liver.  A good radio man of yore, a great blogger this past year or so.  We come, we do, we go.  Someone printed an item saying that he left no survivors.  I believe that Jack once mentioned in an email that he had an ex-wife and a couple of children.  If so, I hope the children received word of his death.  You cannot imagine how many times I’ve had children contact me to find out information about their fathers.

My son John, Esq., once picked Jack Roberts up and drove him to the Pasadena Swapmeet.  They had a good time.  Met Timmy Manocheo.  Intended to go again.  Don Whittemore would take him gourmet ice cream.  Deliver it himself.  Don Graham was his closest friend, but, then, Don has befriended so many of us over the years.  Myself included.  Going back to the mid-60s in my early days with Billboard magazine.  It was Don Graham who set up my first meeting with Bill Randle, later to become a great friend.

My commentaries started as diatribes I wrote and mailed to a few radio friends.  Two or three people did not enjoy my politics and asked to be removed from my email list.  Done.  Then Larry Shannon gave me a regular blogsite.  When Larry passed on, Jack Roberts gave me opportunity to continue my regular column.  Going to miss Jack.  God will be good to us all.  I have a hunch he will treat Jack Roberts as something special.

I think I’ll will more than likely go back to a diatribe, sent sporadically as inspired or as information warrants, to a few friends.  If you would like me to include a couple of your friends on my list, send me their email addresses.  If you don’t wish to receive my diatribes yourself, please let me know that, too.  If you have something you wish to say, also send that to me.  Just FYI: You do not have to agree with me.  Lots of people don’t agree with me.  I’m an old curmudgeon.  Call this the proverbial watering hole of radio people and intellectuals.  And old curmudgeons.

John Alexander Hall, Esq., will attend memorial services for Jack Roberts, 62.

Before a hacker hit a couple of years ago, I had an email list of about 1,500.  Now, I have slightly more than 500 people on my list.  But I’m rather proud to know these people.  My diatribes, however, will more than likely only be sent to about 200, starting with about half of that.  If I can do them at all.  You know laptops.  This one is cranky now and then.

I’m also a basketball aficionado.  I confess.  I had a key to the high school gym in Winters, TX, and me and some other kids practically lived in that gym.  Even when old gas heaters couldn’t really warm the place.  Our shot was the old one-hand push shot, one foot lifted, until we saw a film of Paul Arizin.  If you don’t know who that was, shame on you.  I think my first conversations with Johnny Holliday were about basketball, not radio.  He had organized a team at his radio station and they played throughout the city.  When he went to KYA in San Francisco, he organized a basketball team.  I recall that Rick Barry was sometimes a ringer at games.

I watched the recent Duke v. Maryland game on my Mitsubishi.  For some reason, Barbara and I have followed Duke since they lost to UNLV once.  We still follow J.J. Redick now that he’s with the Los Angeles Clippers.  We moan when he misses a shot.  And, of course, I still watch the Texas Longhorns play basketball.  Not football, though.  I think the university messed up when they literally pushed Mack Brown out the door.  Sad.

As most of you know, the voice of the Maryland Terps, football and basketball, is Johnny Holliday who has a book out titled “From Rock to Jock” that details his multiple careers.

After a recent Duke v. Maryland game, I emailed Johnny and got this back:

“Just walked in the door after our flight back from Durham.  I've done over 1,300 Maryland Football and basketball games and this one was one of the best … to lose like we did in the final seconds is nothing to be ashamed of … after all Duke is the 8th ranked team in the country.  Terps played their best game of the season ... coming from 10 down to lead by 3 with 2.30 to play … not bad for a team that’s been up and down all year … Maryland could have won and probably should have but as you know that’s basketball … good teams somehow find a way to win … so it's back to the drawing board … we play again Tuesday night at home against wake Forest.  If thou have Sirius XM, you can hear our broadcast … they carry the home announcers’ broadcast ... tip is 7 Eastern time.  Stay well … by the way when we go to Durham the team always stays at the Washington Duke Golf and Hotel … what a place … talk about getting spoiled.”

I thought I’d try to drum up some stories for Jack Roberts with the Hills because, hey, I do know where some stories are!  A few are with Jay Lawrence about his early days in Top 40.  The late David Moorhead told me some of them.  So, I wrote Jay.

Jay Lawrence:  “Claude, how good to hear from you.  I have finally left the air to run for office.  I am running for the House of Representatives in AZ legislative district 23.  It is challenging and fun.  I have a great campaign manager and many volunteers, 6 people running for the office, 2 openings.  Now then, I really don't remember any of the promotions that I did.  I did so many.  The prune parade probably the biggest, but the bowling against the dolphins at Seaworld was fun.  I vaguely remember refusing to air jump into anything ever.”

Moorhead had mentioned to me of having the radio personalities at the station parachute into a Mexican bullring.  Lawrence had flatly refused.  And he now refuses to talk much about those days in rock.  But not Frank Jolley.

Frank Jolley:  On April first 1967 KVIL in Dallas, TX, changed from its Beautiful music format that featured such orchestras as Lawrence Welk, Montovani and Guy Lombardo to TOP 40.  Jolley was hired as the morning man on the air from 6 to 9 a.m.  "I remember it as if it were yesterday, " says Jolley.  "I opened the mike and said ‘Good morning Dallas this is Frank Jolley and I have an idea’, and he played ‘Lets Spend the Night Together’ by the Rolling Stones.  The switchboard was closed so it wasn't until after Jolley was off the air that the calls started. Doctor’s, dentist’s and lawyer’s offices were calling to lodge their complaints. The switchboard was inundated with angry callers. The station had been the source of elevator background music for years and was heard mostly in the professional offices of Dallas. In your imagination just think how it would be if you turned on your favorite station and went to make the coffee in your office and a screamer came on inviting you to spend the night with him. An outrage! Threats, profanity, and worst the words ‘I'll never listen to your station again’.  KVIL was in a battle "they thought" with KLIF the originator of Top 40 radio.  Jolley had left KBOX in Dallas when it was announced that the station was going to change to a country and western format, which it did on 1 April 1967.”

I thank you, Frank.  Just FYI, we’d originally intended this bit above for the Hollywood Hills published by the late Jack Roberts.

Report from Robert Weisbuch, author of the coming “Hitbound.”  Actually, this was sent to Lee Baby Simms, Woody Roberts, and me.  I’m glad to be in the loop I usually call the Three Mesquiteers.

Robert Weisbuch:  “We are in Naples and went to terrific huge art show in Miami.  Wynwood art exhibit … huge exhibit hall and street art for blocks. Ate at Joe's Stone Crab last year -- this time an outdoor Mexican joint, both excellent. This time I actually liked Miami, it felt alive, diverse, even experimental.  Now to work.  Skidmore board retreat begins tonight and I give 90-minute talk to fellow trustees on state of the humanities tomorrow -- but will make them do most of talking. I begin by leading a discussion of a Shakespeare sonnet, "that time of year thou may'st in me behold" so that before we get to issues they will remember how much fun it is to read and interpret great lit with a group of friends.  Live long and prosper, Lee Baby, and Woody and Claude.  Your doctore.”

You noted, I’m sure, the news about the new Joey Reynolds show in The Hills the past few days.  When “Hitbound” gets near, I wonder if we can talk Joey into featuring the doctor, Woody, and Lee Baby Simms on the show?  Lord, what a show that would be!

Lee Baby Simms (just FYI, “dearest one” refers to Lee Baby’s daughter and this letter is also part of the Three Mesquiteers loop): “’Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators’ an article by Megan McArdle in the Atlantic.  Doctor. writer, recluse ...  Dearest One … you know who you are.  Tis I, a would-be procrastinator.   Don`t miss the above piece.  It is so right.   Writers are procrastinators because they can be.  They can take their time to, well, take their time.  A part of me thinks that that extra  'Time to consider' is a luxury that I would like to have had.   Another, larger part of me is damn glad I didn`t.   The record is ending, do something!  Right Now! was my mandate.

“Good, Bad or Indifferent an event must take place ... right now.  No time to take one`s time.  I have wondered, once or twice, what would have become of me had the record never ended.  I would probably still be standing there before The Board, trying to come up with something to say about something.  It’s not my fault!  The Records made me do it!  They ended!

“I would write more right now, but I have a few other things on my agenda at the moment.  I`ll continue later.  What's my deadline these days?  Do I have one?  I won`t think about that today, I`ll think about that tomorrow.  I will procrastinate today … the Music plays on.  withakiss.”    

Just FYI, it has come to light that Woody Roberts is a writer.  Fiction.  I’m trying now to persuade him to publish a book of his work with Kindle Books. 

I sometimes get involved too much in me.  Suddenly, it occurs that I haven’t touched bases with someone such as Don Whittemore.  Huge mistake!  I have very fond memories going back to the early 70s of Don and Jan Basham, Edna Collison, and the others.

Don Whittemore:  “Claudius, thanks for inquiring ... am fine.  Radiation and chemo worked.  Now, I'm in recovery – sleeping when I should be working.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  (Heard that before?)  Godfrey Daniel!  I read one of your posts about your condition within the last ten days taking more pills for more ailments than is healthy -- irony in my opinion.  Sounds like that Jimmy Reed blues plaint, ‘you got me up, you got me down, Dr. what'cha want me to do?’  We just old, that's all ... those of us that can still wheeze at the world.  Your weekly ‘column’ is still the one to read to stay informed -- that's why it's on top of Jack's totem pole.  Gotta laugh at OJ Simpson and his latest problem re depression in the Nevada cross bar hotel.  Maybe, getting older is alright with the keener perspective.  Always thinking of you with fond thoughts.”

If you’re on the internet, you “float” by an enormous surge of emails.  Often, from people you don’t know (or at least don’t remember at the moment).  For example, John Ryman of Gun Barrel, TX, sent me a link and the original source may have been Bill Mack?  For there was this email address:  bmac230@gmail.com.

I don’t believe I’ve ever been in Gun Barrel, TX.  Spent quite a while in the Ryman in Nashville, though, in the long ago.  I loved going backstage.

And the note:  “Old rock and rollers don't just fade away, they just go to Sam's.  Remember this song in the top 10 in 1964 or 5, â¨when I first started on the radio at KOLE in Port Arthur.”


The song link was J. Frank Wilson with “Last Kiss.”

Bob Wilson:  “Claude ... it's been a while, so while reading Hollywood Hills today I thought I would forge through the snow and ice to send you a shout from Pennsylvania ... and a question or two.  When you were in New Orleans did you ever come across a democratic publicity man named Charles 'Bud' Hebert (pronounced a-bare)?  Bud and I were partners in an act while in the USAF that entertained the troops in Tripoli, Casablanca, Wiesbaden, Mainz, Iceland & Florida.  After my discharge I spent 12 years in Omaha until John Rook brought me to Pittsburgh ... where Bud found me and called from New Orleans in 1974 and asked if I would record a few commercials for the Democratic Party.  Some years later, with David Moorhead in Austin & Dallas (1988), I met a jazz expert (also a shrink) from New Orleans.  I asked him if he had ever met Bud and was shocked when he replied that Bud had died in a fire some years prior.  I've never been able to bring up anything about Bud or the fire or what year it happened.  Again, excuse the 'caps' but my diminishing sight makes them almost necessary.”

As you can see, I dropped the caps (an easy thing to do on a laptop), but sadly had to tell Bob that I didn’t know Hebert.  I was, however, able to send his message on to the daughter of Bill Stewart, who works for the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.  She might be able to lift Hebert’s obit from the morgue (the traditional file of clippings maintained by most newspapers).  Somewhere I have a picture of Bill’s daughter and his grandson and grand daughter.  I was honored that Sharon brought them by so I could talk to them about their grandfather.

Claude Hall is the author of a dozen novels.

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