This blog, in my series on Pacific Northwest Music Legends, is the only one I will write featuring a person who is famous on the northwest music scene but not famous, specifically, as a musician. This man is a very important figure in northwest rock n' roll history. He was a star-maker during the 1950's, 1960's and into at least the 1970's. There is no question about it, he was the most famous, and powerful, disc jockey and radio professional, ever, in Washington State. I am talking Pat O' Day.
I lived on the west side of the mountains and grew up during the 1960's listening to AM Channel 95, KJR Seattle and Pat O' Day. If you have any interest in the formative years of rock music history, like crazy inside stories about early rock or radio, then Pat has written a book that you will love -- especially if you grew up listening to Pat. The cover from the book is below -- Pat with Jimi Hendrix on the cover.
Pat's story is interesting. As a youngster, relatively speaking, he worked as a deejay in Astoria, Oregon -- a small coastal town. Before long, he was hired at major market station, KJR, Seattle. This legendary radio station, under Pat's tutelage, become dominant in Seattle -- to this day no station has matched the audience share that KJR could deliver. Heck, I listened to it in Bellingham, 100 miles away. During Pat's reign, he developed some of the best air personalities of the rock era. Pat also broke regional songs, giving chart momentum to northwest artists. This man had power in the industry with the clout of KJR behind him. Pat also formed Concerts West. The firm promoted concerts for the most popular acts of that era. Jimi Hendrix was one of many performers contracted to Concerts West.
In Pat's book, "It Was All Just Rock n' Roll" he talked about meeting Jimi Hendrix for the first time. At the time, Pat was a KJR employee and also privately sponsoring teen dances in the Seattle area. There was a problem with amplifiers of that vintage. An amp would blow and it would create no end of problems for the bands who would then be down one instrument.
One day, a skinny kid at the dance told Pat that he had backup equipment in his car. If anything should happen during a concert, he would loan the band his backup equipment. The kid had one condition -- if that should ever happen, and they borrowed his gear, then he would get to "jam" with the band. The kid showed up at all the dances. One weekend, something met an untimely demise and this kid went out and brought in the backup equipment. As was agreed in advance, he was allowed to play along with the band.
Pat forgot all about that kid until, a few years later, he met the rising rock star Jimi Hendrix. Jimi, at that time, told Pat that he was that skinny kid from out of the past.
Pat is also famous for being an announcer of the unlimited hydroplane races in Seattle. To see a special on that 40 plus year career, along with footage dedicated to Pat's rock n' radio career, check out this video.
This will be an interesting tidbit for AR members: For several years now Pat has owned a real estate office in Friday Harbor on the gorgeous San Juan Islands. Here is his website and, if you have any inkling of interest in the formative years of rock n' roll or lived in the northwest during the glory days of KJR, read his book. I thought that it was great fun. And, of course, I was right!
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspections