Born in 1937 in Abilene, Texas, USA, Gary Perkins (July 14, 1937 - June 28, 1991) was a radio DJ who began his radio career in 1957 at Midland Texas' KCRS where Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly used to drop their records off. After joining the army, where he served in the National Security Agency as well as in Armed Forces Radio, he moved to El Paso Texas and joined KHEY radio in the 1960s.
Publishing his own magazine for the station, Gary quickly built a rapport with the artists he interviewed (which led to a stint as drummer for Lefty Frizzell's band). He became friends with the likes of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams Jr., Glen Campbell and Buck Owens. He was always asked to MC their shows and by the time he moved to San Diego California's KSON radio station, he was becoming more popular than some of the artists themselves as noted by an article in the June 1971 issue of TV & Radio Mirror:
Whenever Gary Perkins is emceeing a country music show, the autograph-seekers run right past Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and Glen Campbell. Pens poised in mid-air, they pass up their national singing idols and rush up to the 6'1", blue-eyed, blond-haired San Diego favorite who simply plays their music. When this happens he usually replies, "I'm not one of the stars, I'm just the deejay." Ask anyone who listens to his show and they'll tell you differently. They'll tell you that his warm, personable approach is helpful in getting through the day.
Consistently rated number 1 with females 25 to 49 in the broadcast industry ratings for his market, Gary later rose to fame in the early to mid-1970s for changing the face of country music by playing the likes of Paul McCartney, Elton John and The Eagles alongside the country standards, leading to the cross-over trend of Country rock and pop. This earned him the reputation as a daring, often iconoclastic, music director.
In the 1980s he moved back to El Paso and to his home station of KHEY radio. On June 7, 1990, Gary Perkins was honored with an award at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee for 35 years of service in broadcasting. The award was presented to Gary by legendary crooner Tom T. Hall.
Gary had also become a notable writer for the El Paso Times often writing about politics, humor or his bout with pancreatic cancer. Gary Perkins died June 28, 1991, one year after he first learned he had cancer of the pancreas. Gary is survived by his sons Craig Anthony Perkins of industrial band cell:burn and jido-genshi and Todd Perkins.
- Radio & TV Mirror - June 1971
- El Paso Times - June 7, 1990