Art Laboe Death and Obituary, American DJ Known for Playing “Oldies but Goodies,” Dies at 97, Cause of Death
The Art Laboe Connection Show was a bridge for communities, connecting us through music & culture and an important conduit for the families of incarcerated Californians who would feature as a large part of the dedications on his show. CA has lost an important voice.
Rabo was born on August 7, 1925 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and moved to Los Angeles for high school. He graduated from Washington High School at the age of 16. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Navy and was stationed at Treasure Island Naval Station in San Francisco Bay. He then attended Los Angeles City College, San Mateo Junior College and Stanford University to study radio engineering.
Rabo made his debut on KSAN Radio in San Francisco in 1943, when he was stationed at Treasure Island. The battle took away the technician’s place, and he had a wireless phone license. He pioneered the concept of request and dedication at KSAN, taking calls from listeners while playing big bands and jazz records late at night. At first, Laboe would announce the next segment every 15 minutes, but realized there was a gap between the last segment, which ended at 11:00 PM. As well as the station’s 00:00 offline time, he decided to use that time to play swing and jazz. What is unique about his directing shows is that he takes calls from listeners as they air. He repeated to the audience what the man on the phone had said because technology had not caught up to Rabo’s ambitions.
Laboe retired from his DJ job and served his country by transmitting Morse code and sending messages to ships sailing in the South Pacific.
When he returned to Southern California and started working at KCMJ in Palm Springs, he was the only broadcaster in town and often met his fans at bars after he signed. He later returned to Los Angeles and started his work at KPOP. While working at KPOP, Laboe had the idea to take his show to the streets and stream Cahuenga and Sunset live on the local Scrivner’s Drive-In.
Teenagers come to the drive-in theater and hang out, singing songs live. Laboe began compiling a list of the most popular songs. Often, someone who just broke up will call him to play a love song to help get their significant other back. As its popularity grew, Laboe found a promoter and ballroom east of Los Angeles, and as a result, El Monte Ballroom was established.
When the live radio show starts, he has a list of viewers and requests. He set out to turn the concept into an album called Oldies But Goodies, a term he registered.
In 1959, Laboe founded Original Sound Records to promote the new musical talent he discovered. In 1959, the label released two instrumental songs: “Teen Beat,” Sandy Nelson’s breakthrough hit, and Preston Epps’ “Bongo Rock.” Laboe also received writing for both songs.