Hunter Hancock

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Hunter Hancock (1916 – August 4, 2004) was a white American disc jockey regarded as the first in the Western United States to play rhythm and blues records on the radio, and among the first to broadcast rock and roll.

He was born in Uvalde, Texas, and raised 90 miles (140 km) away in San Antonio. After school, he took on many jobs, including singing in a vaudeville troupe and a stint at a Massachusetts burlesque club. After moving to Los Angeles in the early 1940s he entered radio and was heard on the following stations there: KFVD (1947–1951), KFOX (1951–1954), KFVD/KPOP (1954–1957) and KGFJ (1957–1966).[1] Inspired by local black record store owner John Dolphin of Dolphin's Of Hollywood record shop he called himself "Ol' H.H." He hosted several shows on different stations, often at the same time, including Harlem Holiday, Harlematinee, Huntin' With Hunter and the gospel show Songs of Soul and Spirit.

Hancock also appeared briefly on the L.A. CBS TV station, KNXT in 1955 with the Friday night show "Rhythm and Bluesville", interviewing such musicians as Duke Ellington, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Gene & Eunice and The Platters.

For several years, the Pulse survey rated Hancock's shows No. 1 among black listeners in Southern California. In 1950, the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper rated Hancock the most popular DJ in Los Angeles among blacks. He was also one of the first DJs to play rock and roll music, and landed a cameo spot in a 1957 British rock and roll film called Rock Around the World.

A recreated example of Mr. Hancock's program on Los Angeles' former R&B radio station KGFJ can be found on Ron Jacobs' "Cruisin' 1959" (Increase Records INCR 5-2004). This recreation includes several classic R&B songs of that era, contemporary commercials (e.g., Champion spark plugs, the Saturday Evening Post, and others), and DJ patter.

He was convicted in 1962 and sentenced to probation for failing to report $18,000 income on tax forms for 1956–1958. Allegedly, the money was payola from record companies. He thought the money had been given as gifts.

Hancock died August 4, 2004, of natural causes in a retirement home in Claremont, California.

In popular culture[edit]

Hancock is referenced in Season 2, Episode 14 of The Rockford Files, "The Hammer of C Block". Isaac Hayes's character, Gandolph Fitch, while searching for a radio station says, "Nobody's playing music anymore? Where's Huggy Boy or Hunter Hancock?" In Stan Freberg's song "Rock Around Stephen Foster" the record producer threatens "You want me to tear up your autographed pictures of Hunter Hancock?".


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