RADIO LEGEND CASEY KASEM DIES AT 82
Kemal Amin “Casey” Kasem (April 27, 1932 – June 15, 2014) was an American disc jockey, music historian, radio personality and actor, best known for being the host of the music radio programs American Top 40, American Top 20, and American Top 10 from 1970 until his retirement in 2009, and for providing the voice of Norville “Shaggy” Rogers in the Scooby-Doo franchise from 1969 to 1997, and again from 2002 until 2009.
Kasem founded the American Top 40 franchise in 1970, along with Don Bustany, Tom Rounds and Ron Jacobs, and hosted it from 1970 to 1988 and from 1998 to 2004. Between January 1989 and early 1998, he was the host of Casey’s Top 40, Casey’s Hot 20, and Casey’s Countdown. From 1998 to 2009, Kasem hosted two adult contemporary spin-offs of American Top 40: American Top 20 and American Top 10.
In addition to his radio shows, Kasem provided the voice of many commercials; performed many voices for Sesame Street; provided the character voice of Peter Cottontail in the Rankin/Bass production of Here Comes Peter Cottontail; was the voice of NBC; helped out with the annual Jerry Lewis telethon; and provided the cartoon voices of Robin in Super Friends, Mark on Battle of the Planets, and a number of characters for the Transformers cartoon series of the 1980s. In 2008, he was the voice of Out of Sight Retro Night which aired on WGN America, but was replaced by rival Rick Dees. After 40 years, Kasem retired from his role of voicing Shaggy in 2009, although he did voice Shaggy’s father in the 2010 TV series, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
Kasem was born in Detroit, Michigan, on April 27, 1932, to Lebanese Druze immigrant parents. They settled in Michigan, where they worked as grocers.
In the 1940s, “Make Believe Ballroom” reportedly inspired Kasem to follow a career in radio and later host a national radio hits countdown show.
Kasem was a graduate of Northwestern High School in Detroit and Wayne State University.
Kasem was best known as a music historian and disc jockey, most notably as host of the weekly American Top 40 radio program from July 4, 1970 through 1988, and again from March 1998 until January 10, 2004, when Ryan Seacrest succeeded him. During Kasem’s original run (1970–88), his show featured certain songs in addition to the countdown, such as a “long distance dedication” from one listener to another; or, the song of a “spotlight artist.” On the July 4 weekend of each year, the show’s anniversary, Kasem often featured a special countdown of particular songs from a certain era, genre or artist. The Moody Blues were the only artist to appear in both Kasem’s first countdown on July 4, 1970, and his last on August 6, 1988. Michael Jackson appeared in both countdowns, as part of The Jackson Five in 1970 and as a solo artist in 1988. Kasem hosted the spin-off television series America’s Top 10 for most of the 1980s. For a period in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Kasem was the staff announcer for the NBC television network. He later appeared in infomercials, marketing CD music compilations. Kasem received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 27, 1981 (his 49th birthday) and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1992. When he was hosting American Top 40, Kasem would often include trivia facts about songs he played and artists whose work he showcased. Frequently, he would mention a trivia fact about an unnamed singer before a commercial break, then provide the name of the singer after returning from the break. This technique, called a tease, later also made its way into America’s Top 10, where viewers would submit trivia questions for him to answer. In 1971, he provided the character voice of Peter Cottontail in the Rankin/Bass production of Here Comes Peter Cottontail opposite Vincent Price providing the voice of the villainous Iron Tail. Kasem would end both his radio and television broadcasts with his signature sign-off, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”
In 1972, Kasem appeared in the low-budget film The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant, which also starred Bruce Dern. In 1984, Kasem made a cameo in Ghostbusters, reprising his role as the host of American Top 40.
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JIMMY SCOTT, JAZZMAN WITH ETHEREAL VOICE, DIES
By Ken Ritter | Associated Press
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jimmy Scott, a jazzman with an ethereal man-child voice who found success late in life with the Grammy-nominated album “All the Way,” has died. He was 88.
Scott died in his sleep Thursday at his Las Vegas home, said his wife, Jeanie Scott.
He had battled health problems stemming from a genetic hormone deficiency and had been under the care of a home nurse, she said.
His 1992 comeback album “All the Way” sold only 49,000 copies in the U.S. but earned him cult-like popularity in Europe and Asia, particularly Japan, where he often sold out performances.
Eventually, he performed with the likes of Elton John, Lou Reed, Michael Stipe and Sting. He also appeared in the series finale of “Twin Peaks,” singing the song “Sycamore Trees,” co-written by the TV show’s creator David Lynch.
“I love show business,” Scott told The Associated Press in 2004. “It’s my life, honey, and I try to enjoy it.”
His signature high voice came from Kallmann’s syndrome, which kept him from experiencing puberty and stunted his growth. He stood just under 5 feet — and his voice did not change. At age 37, he grew another 8 inches to the height of 5 feet, 7 inches.
Although that trait ultimately helped Scott stand out as a singer, he also suffered from congestive heart failure and had a lifestyle that included heavy drinking and smoking.
Despite his youthful sound, Scott brought heavy emotion to his delivery, often dramatically drawing out lyrics and singing far behind the beat.
The technique won praise from Billie Holiday, Nancy Wilson and Madonna, who after seeing him perform in 1994 told The New York Times that Scott was the only singer who ever made her cry.
“Jimmy had soul way back when people weren’t using the word,” Ray Charles once said in a PBS documentary on the history of jazz.
A record label dispute prevented Scott from making an album in the 1950s produced by Charles. Scott’s previous record company, Savoy Records, said it had an exclusive, lifetime contract with him, and the company blocked Scott’s efforts to release new records for nearly 20 years.
Savoy Records dropped the matter in the 1970s. By that time, Scott had returned to Cleveland, where he worked as a hotel clerk and nursing home aide before returning to the stage in 1985 and resuming his recording career in 1990.
Scott was born in Cleveland on July 17, 1925. He had a difficult childhood in East Cleveland, losing his mother, who cultivated his passion for music, in a traffic accident at age 13.
His first claim to fame came in 1949 when he recorded the vocals as “Little Jimmy Scott” for the Lionel Hampton Band’s “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool.” His name never appeared on the record, and he never received royalties from the jukebox hit.
He was roommates with Quincy Jones as the band traveled the world.
“I am so deeply saddened at the news that my friend and brother Jimmy Scott has left us,” Jones said in a written statement. “If you don’t believe that Jimmy was one of the most influential jazz singers of his day, all you have to do is listen to his recordings ‘Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool’ and ‘Why Was I Born.'”
At age 67, Scott was rediscovered by a Warner Bros. Records executive who heard him sing at a friend’s funeral, and the result was “All the Way.” He went on to release several more recordings, including the jazz-gospel album “Heaven,” for the Sire and Milestone labels, and appeared on Reed’s 1992 recording “Magic and Loss.” He was also the subject of a documentary film “Jimmy Scott: If You Only Knew” and a biography “Faith In Time: The Life of Jimmy Scott.”
In 2007, he received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award, the nation’s highest jazz honor.
In a 2007 interview with the NEA, Scott discussed what makes a great vocalist: “There’s times, in certain songs, that I might be in my own world and who cares about who’s out there, you know? You have a job to do so you do that job of singing that song or telling that story because that’s what you’re doing. If you’re singing, you’re telling a story. So to tell it and tell it right, that’s it.”
He married Jeanie Scott 10 years ago.
“He was an Earth angel,” she said. “He was different from any person I ever met. He was kind, humble. Everyone he met he made them feel special. He had a hard life, but he didn’t hold any resentment.”
Scott stopped touring two years ago but continued recording until about a month before his death, his wife said. He is expected to be buried in Cleveland.
Biographical material in this story was written by former AP writer Joe Milicia in Cleveland.
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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
15th: Casey Kasem, 82, American radio personality (American Top 40) and voice actor (Shaggy Rogers), Lewy body dementia.
13th: Tadahiko Hirano, 76, Japanese baritone, heart attack; Jim Keays, 67, Australian rock musician (The Masters Apprentices), pneumonia as a complication of multiple myeloma; Kefee Obareki Don Momoh, Nigerian gospel singer, lung failure.
12th: Khagen Mahanta, 71, Indian folk singer, cardiac ailment; Jonny Morelli, 30, Italian metal drummer, traffic collision; Jimmy Scott, 88, American jazz singer.
11th: Ruby Dee, 91, American Emmy Award-winning actress (Decoration Day), Grammy Award-winner (2007) and civil rights activist, National Medal of Arts laureate (1995); Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, 80, Spanish conductor and composer, cancer.