"The Real Don Steele" (1936-1997) is the most air checked, most analyzed, most listened to jock, ever.
Steele made the music, it didn't make him. He was, as Carl de Suze said, "bigger than the music." He walked all over vocals. No one said, "Get out of the way."
Pacing was the strongest point in the work of Donald Steele Revert. At one with the music, spots and ids, he was never out of sync with the rhythm of the station. All the rudiments down pat, Steele hit vocal, at will, and often did just so you'd know. PM Drive never rolled smoother than when "The Real Don Steele" was in charge.
Although he and pal, Robert W. Morgan, walked out on KHJ, demanding more money, Steele, you can tell, was working for the intrinsic satisfaction of doing the best he could. This is what makes him, years after his passing, alive! Art endures, though the artist doesn't. Steele, the artist, is an infection, a high, you want to get and keep.
This air check shows the heart of the artist. After more than two years off air, Steele returned to KTNQ-AM -- 10Q, Thank You -- at 6:30 pm on 26 December 1977. He's better than 99.76% who ever tried to work a microphone. Staring slowly, Revert winds it up, like no one else. He's at one with the format. He stomps an "Abba" vocal and cleanly hits two others: a short, tricky one on "Play that Funky Music" and a longer one, requiring concentration, on "Taking It to the Street." Steele wants to ensure the competition he was no "over the hill" jock. Rusty, maybe, but on mark, always and forever.
Listen! to "The Real Don Steele," and give your heart a start. Know what was and is possible. "The Real Don Steele" is an alternative spelling for sui generis.
Book ending Steele on this air check are John M Discoll ("Johnny Discoll") and Beaver Cleaver (aka Ken Levine, who, today, does colour for the San Diego Padres). Out of the gate, the KTNQ line up also included Rich "Brother" Robin; Chuck Browning, at his best, and PD, Jimmy Fox, among others. For as long as the initial line up stayed in place, KTNQ was the best rock 'n' radio station, and not just of its time. The complete "KTNQ Birth Day" air check is available from The Air Check Factory.
Read more about "The Real Don Steele" in a brief bio by Shaun Steele. Hear more of Steele on Reel Radio, the official home of "The Real Don Steele." Tell everybody how you reacted to "The Real Don Steele."
Streeter Click is editor of GrubStreet.ca.
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