Frankie Crocker

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Frankie "Hollywood" Crocker (December 18, 1937, Buffalo, New York – October 21, 2000, aged 62 North Miami Beach, Florida) was an American, New York radio DJ.[1]

Early soul radio[edit]

According to popeducation.org, Crocker began his career in Buffalo at the AM Soul powerhouse WUFO (also the home to future greats Gerry Bledsoe,[2] Eddie O'Jay,[3] Herb Hamlett, Gary Byrd and Chucky T) before moving to Manhattan, where he first worked for Soul station WWRL and later top-40 WMCA in 1969. He then worked for WBLS-FM as program director, taking that station to the top of the ratings during the late 1970s and pioneering the radio format now known as urban contemporary. He sometimes called himself the "Chief Rocker", and he was as well known for his boastful on-air patter as for his off-air flamboyance.

"Moody's Mood for Love"[edit]

When Studio 54 was at the height of its popularity, Crocker rode in through the front entrance on a white stallion. In the studio, before he left for the day, Crocker would light a candle and invite female listeners to enjoy a candlelight bath with him. He signed off the air each night to the tune "Moody's Mood For Love" by vocalese crooner King Pleasure. Crocker, a native of Buffalo, coined the phrase "urban contemporary" in the 1970s, a label for the eclectic mix of songs that he played.[4]

He’d been the program director at WWRL-AM and felt held back by what he considered to be the narrow perspective of the station.[5]

WBLS-FM broke Blondie, Madonna, Shannon, D Train, all Arthur Baker records, The System, Colonel Abrams, Alicia Myers and supermodel Grace Jones. He made, "Love is the Message" by MSFB NYC’s unofficial anthem on the radio. WBLS airplay made "Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now" by McFadden and Whitehead a favorite cookout, church, wedding and graduation song. "The Magnificent Seven" by the Clash became a hot song in the Black Community. He gave America exposure to an obscure genre called "Reggae" and a little known Jamaican rocker named Bob Marley.[6] Fatback Band frontman Bill Curtis credited Crocker with breaking the group in New York.[7]

TV and film career[edit]

Crocker was the master of ceremonies of shows at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and was one of the first VJs on VH-1, the cable music video channel, in addition to hosting the TV series Solid Gold and NBC's Friday Night Videos. As an actor, Crocker appeared in five films, including Cleopatra Jones (1973), Five on the Black Hand Side (1973), and Darktown Strutters (Get Down and Boogie) (1975).[8]

He is credited with introducing as many as 30 new artists to the mainstream, including Manu Dibango's "Soul Makossa" to American audiences. While both Gary Byrd and Herb Hamlett were influenced by Crocker, it is only Hamlett who always attributes his success to his mentor in Buffalo, Frankie Crocker.

Frankie Crocker was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2000,[9] and the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2005.[10]

Controversies[edit]

Crocker was indicted in a 1976 payola investigation which was later overturned.[11] The station dropped him, and he moved to L.A., returning to school. He was charged in 1983 with hitting Penthouse Pet Carmela Pope; the charges were later dropped. He also was mentioned as a paramour of, and suspect in the murder of, young Hollywood starlet Christa Helm.[12][13] After the payola charges were overturned he returned to New York radio in 1979 as DJ and Program Director on WBLS-FM at the end of the disco era. His career in radio ended by 1985, moving to MTV as a VJ on cable channel VH-1.[14]

Death[edit]

In October 2000, Crocker went into a Miami area hospital for several weeks. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and kept the illness a secret from his friends and even from his mother. He died on October 21, 2000.[15] His friend and former boss Bob Law, a onetime program director of WWRL, said of Crocker, "He encompassed all of the urban sophistication. He appreciated the culture, the whole urban experience, and he wove it together. That's missing now, even in black radio."[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Photographic image of Frankie Crocker" (PNG). 4.bp.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2016-12-12. 
  2. ^ "REELRADIO – The Rob Frankel Collection – Gerry Bledsoe, WWRL New York, NY, January 1, 1977". 
  3. ^ Hinckley, David (1998-05-07). "Remembering O'Jay, A Good Soul". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2016-12-12. 
  4. ^ "News". Behind the Music On the Set. 
  5. ^ "The Boss Picked Hits". Insideplaya. March 9, 2009. 
  6. ^ "The Long Kiss Goodbye: How Fear Of A Black Planet Killed A Black Radio Station, 98.7 Kiss FM In Depth". News One. 1981-08-01. Retrieved 2016-12-12. 
  7. ^ Ma, David (6 July 2016). "The Fatback Band: 'Everything was just raw energy'". theguardian.com. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  8. ^ "Darktown Strutters (Get Down and Boogie) (1975)". IMDb.com. Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  9. ^ "The Buffalo Broadcasters: Broadcasting Hall of Fame – 2002 Inductees". Archived from the original on 27 March 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "Hall of Fame: 2005 Inductees: Frankie Crocker". NYSBroadcasters.org. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  11. ^ https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/568/1049/288359/
  12. ^ "48 Hours Mystery: "The Last Take"". TVGuide. April 26, 2008. Retrieved July 11, 2011. 
  13. ^ "The Last Take". CBS News. Retrieved July 16, 2011. 
  14. ^ "The Boss Picked Hits". Insideplaya. March 9, 2003. 
  15. ^ a b Hinckley, David (23 October 2000). "FRANKIE CROCKER DIES: Deejay helped create 'urban contemporary'". New York Daily News. 

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