Art Laboe, Beloved DJ Who Coined ‘Oldies but Goodies’ Phrase, Dead at 97
Art Laboe, a radio pioneer credited for a number of firsts including coining the phrase “oldies but goodies,” has died. He was 97.
Joanna Morones — a spokesperson for Dart Entertainment, Laboe’s production company — confirmed news of Laboe’s death, saying in a statement that he died on Friday night after a short case of pneumonia.
His death was confirmed too via a statement posted on his official Facebook page on Monday, where it was revealed “he died peacefully at his home in Palm Springs, California.”
Laboe hosted a nightly request and dedication syndicated radio show called The Art Laboe Connection. His last show aired in Los Angeles Sunday night on KDAY-FM.
The late DJ’s 79 years on air earned him a spot in the record books as “the longest continuous period of broadcasting service,” according to his Facebook page.
Born Arthur Egnoian in Salt Lake City to an Armenian-American family, Laboe first moved to California to attend Stanford University before serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He later landed one of his first jobs in radio at KSAN in San Francisco and started to use his stage name Art Laboe to sound more American.
Besides being one of the first DJs to play R&B and rock ‘n’ roll on West Coast radio, Laboe has also been praised as helping end segregation in Southern California by organizing live DJ shows at drive-in diners drawing listeners from different backgrounds including white, Black, and Latino.
Laboe started his own label called Original Sound in 1957. He released the top-charting compilation album titled Oldies But Goodies: Vol. 1 in 1958 and famously secured one of the very few interviews with Elvis Presley during the singer’s trip to Hollywood.
The Art Laboe Connection Show launched in 1991. Despite his death, the show will continue to be produced, his team said, out of celebration for his legacy.