Friday, February 3, 2017

Jack Vincent Special Tribute – Swinging Sixties

Rock & Roll Heaven +2

As promised, below is BFYP’s Swinging Sixties tribute to Jack Vincent, KCBQ/San Diego DJ extraordinaire, who made his way to Rock & Roll Radio Heaven Sunday (January 29th). He was a feisty 99.

After the first tribute posted January 30th (1950s), it was learned he made the trip that day with Herb Oscar Anderson (88), a popular but reluctant Rock Radio DJ for WABC/New York. RIP, fellas.

Jack’s interview for the BFYP books (in Shotgun Tom Kelly’s infamous pool room) was rambling, but delightful. I hope you enjoy his excerpt from Book 2, The Swinging Sixties 1960-1969 (to publish in eBook format this month). Leaving legacy vignettes for pioneering Rock & Roll Radio DJs …

We’re playin’ the hits at BFYP-FM! As time goes by, no more kiss-is-just-a-kiss tunes, because frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn …
Let’s have Fun, Fun, Funoh no … daddy took the T-bird away … and … no! Not the transistor radio!
Jack Vincent
1917 ~ 2017
Best known at KCBQ/San Diego, California

Jack is the Daddy-O of the late night show. “I worked twenty-seven years there (1955-1982), during their ‘glory days,’” said Jack, “and on air most of that time (1955-1967).” Jack’s tenure at KCBQ is still an unbroken record.
For thirteen years on the night shift, Jack’s soft tones soothed your soul from midnight to six in the morning. As we’ve heard from a few other DJs, the night shift in a radio station can be verrrry interesting.
Jack didn’t broadcast from KCBQ’s famed 7th and Ash window studio —like, what’s the point—it’s dark. Secluded at its transmitter site in Santee, about ten miles east of San Diego, Jack has some great stories to share about our sexy, swingin’ Sixties.
Jack landed at KCBQ after he chose radio over construction in the 1950s. Suffering with a work-related back injury, he figured being a disc jockey was less dangerous.
Hired as an engineer, for a behind-the-scenes gig, he accidentally became a reluctant DJ and settled comfortably into KCBQ life.
The Clark Gable of the airwaves enjoyed his fortuitous career and a few perks along the way.
Forgive us as we chat randomly—stories may be a little out of chronological order. Our interview took place when Jack was ninety-one years old. Some dates are a little fuzzy, and I suspect some events happened earlier or later on the winding path of Memory Lane; but his stories are no less vibrant. We’ll just tell ‘em as they come …
[Image: The Big KCB ”Q” Survey for December 10, 1961, gave us seven handsome DJs and one … duck?! BFYP Collection]
“A situation developed when Elvis was in town,” began Jack. “San Diego used to have a big skating rink downtown and it was decided to have the Elvis show there. Elvis was to be at the rink by seven o’clock, so the station could broadcast him.
“The system [throughout the evening] was to keep hyping Elvis’ appearance and make you think he was going to be on ‘next’; but next was always some ‘Joe Blow’ performer. [So that’s where our network news television stations got the idea!]
“Finally at ten o’clock that night, Elvis went on, and the place just went wild. Girls were throwing their panties on stage, and screaming and hollering, and sailors were jackin’-off …” I took my eyes off my notepad and looked at Jack with a bit of disbelief at the last part, and he smiled impishly and nodded. “I got this story pretty damn straight from the guy who cleaned the floor the next day!”
Jack was a popular remote location disc jockey and spent many shifts at a hoppin' local hangout. “We had a lot of high-class people coming in at Pat’s Drive-In,” Jack mused. “I’d guide them down to us on El Cajon Boulevard [while they’re listening on their car radios]. We had a salesman from Hershey candy, so I’d have boxes of chocolates [to give away], and the beer man would leave a case. I never knew what I was going to end up with the next morning …” Love those leftovers!
Um, not sure where the beer man came from in a burgers and malts drive-in, and Jack didn’t elaborate; but anything was possible in the mid-Sixties. “It was kind of a fun life,” said Jack. His gently lined face lit up with a grin. “It never acted like a job. It seemed like I was on vacation all the time.”
Vacations in the Sixties, especially in San Diego—much like today—involved summer, alcohol, and skimpy swimsuit-clad bodies, all hours of the day and night. Bikinis became largely accepted in the early 1960s; and well … often swimsuits were optional.
[Image: Clark … I mean, Jack … flashes a randy smile as he spins the vinyls at KCBQ, c. 1963. Courtesy of Shotgun Tom Kelly.]

Betwixt and Bewitched in the Midnight Hour

As we sat together on a sofa at Shotgun Tom Kelly’s home in SoCal, Jack recalled one of his vacation-at-work nights. He’s on the air at KCBQ as usual …
“I never locked the door,” said Jack. “One night a girl knocked on the door and she said, ‘Jack, you sound real sexy on the air. I just wanted to see how sexy you are.’”
Now remember, this is the guy who could take on Clark Gable in a look-alike contest. Surely, she was smitten.
 “She’s got a fifth of whiskey and a bottle of chasers in her hand.” What could he do but invite her in?
“So I’m playin’ the records and I had a tape that I put on sometimes, if I want to take a break about two in the morning. Come two o’clock, I turn around—and I had a divan about like this in my studio—I turn around and there she was, laying without any clothes on.”
Yahoo for summer vacation! Ever the gentleman, the firmly married disc jockey politely invited her to leave.
[Image: What do you think of the resemblance in this cameo mashup?]
During his tenure at KCBQ, Jack’s taste in music ran the gamut from the Big Band Era through Elvis, The Beatles, and what he termed “the New York bunch.”
Though he favored the music of the 1930s, from his youth—something we all do—Rock and Roll had enough tunes that he liked, to make his job enjoyable.
“Early on we played a song with big band sound, like ‘Poor People of Paris,’” said Jack. The American instrumental version of the French song topped radio charts in 1956. It’s reported to be the last #1 chart hit before Elvis’s “Heartbreak Hotel” broke hearts and chart records.
Jack’s radio engineering school training served him well on both ends of his long career. As life does, his role at KCBQ changed around 1967, and he finished his “vacation” with them through 1982, as an engineer.
“When I was a kid Jack used to let me watch him on the air, reading the news and playing the hits on KCBQ.” Shotgun Tom Kelly (in tribute to Jack’s passing, five days earlier; Facebook, February 3, 2017.)
Highly respected in the broadcasting industry, Jack’s name joined other iconic DJs carved into the granite of the KCBQ “Top 40” monument, dedicated at the old transmitter site, in 2010.
Today: Jack shared a few more final words: “In 1982 management decided to drop the union, l
etting all the union men go. I was one … I was sixty-five years old, so it worked out perfect. I retired. Now I don’t do anything … just sit back and have fun.” He did that—complete with cigar, wine, and pool cue in hand, until eleven months shy of his 100th birthday.
He also had high praise for his best friend and once-coworker, Shotgun Tom Kelly. “Shotgun is the last of the good disc jockeys.” Takes one to know one!
[Image: Jack Vincent, left, Shotgun Tom Kelly, right, celebrating Jack’s 90th birthday in “Tonight Show” style, 2007. Courtesy of Shotgun Tom.]

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