I’ve meant to write about Bill Buckley and Hal Riney, both of whom I held in fond regard. Now I just learned about Darian O’Toole, who was a standout disk jockey in San Francisco and elsewhere. Bill and Hal had full and long lives. Darian didn’t. Sad news.
Here’s her now-ghostly blog, last updated two years ago. Here’s Big Rick on the subject. Been too long since I’ve visited Rick’s blog, or Brad Kava‘s. Reading around Brad’s blog I also learned that Sean Costello, a fine young blues talent, died in an Atlanta hotel room.
Holy shit, I wandered around the Radio-Info message board for San Francisco, where there is this notice about another death: Jack Armstrong, late of KFRC. A detail… Extremely saddening news… I hoped I never had to write… Our extremely amazing Dad and your friend Jack Armstrong aka John C. Larsh passed away yesterday March 22, 2008 at his home in North Carolina.
John Larsh? Could this be the same John Larsh I knew back at Guilford College? Sure enough: Larsh used to work at 1320 WCOG radio here in Greensboro and his dad was a professor at the Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. John Larsh briefly attended Guilford College.
Jeez. He was a kid, a couple years older than me, who still hung out at Guilford even though he wasn’t going there any more at the time.
The big kahuna at ‘COG then was John Coffman, or “Johnny C”. On Saturday nights, all the local teenagers went cruising up and down Walker and West Market Streets, threading through the parking lot of the Boar and Castle, a legendary run-down car hop place with a famous sauce. Johnny and WCOG played from every radio in every car. I can still hear “A Lovers Concerto” by the Toys and “One Two Three” by Len Barry over the low thrum of “glass pack” mufflers on souped up cars creeping along at two miles an hour. I knew Johnny too, though not from radio. Johnny had a side business selling cookware, and for awhile I made a bit of money working for him. John died of cancer not too many years after that.
But my reeling mind is still flashed back to 1965, when Johnny wasn’t budging from his night slot at ‘COG, and John Larsh was a way-better jock than Johnny anyway. So John headed off to Cleveland, where he worked for what was then WKYC/1100, one of the original (literal) clear channel stations. It boomed into Greensboro every night. I remember how John stirred up some controversy by saying that the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields” wasn’t music. Guess he changed that tune, because here’s this story, at that same link, about how John, now Jack Armstrong, prevented 35,000 Beatles fans from rushing the stage in Cleveland when the Fab Four played there. John/Jack went on to work everywhere, it seems. Funny, I always wondered what happened to him. Now I know.
John was 62. Now, as then, two years older than me.
At the end of every show back then, John used to say “Remember, when you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot, hang on and swing”.
Still swinging, John.
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