Monday, May 29, 2006

Mad Daddy on WJW

Pete “Mad Daddy” Myers was in fact the DJ that took the place of Alan Freed's time slot when he left WJW in Cleveland for WINS and the big time in New York. The San Francisco–born Myers gained his first broadcasting experience in psychological warfare for the Army during the Korean War.

Pete "Mad Daddy" Myers was overshadowed by big names such as Alan Freed and Dick Biondi and unfortunately has been overlooked by most rock and roll history. He was one of the strangest DJs in the north-east during his time at WHKK-AM, WJW-AM and WHK-AM in cities like Akron Cleveland and Detroit in the mid 1950s. He had a frenetic, rapid-fire patter delivered usually in rhyme. He is the man who coined the 1960s phrases still used today such as "wavy gravy" "mellow jello". His playlist was an eclectic mixture of rock and roll and R&B numbers featuring such oddities as "The Greasy Chicken" "Ghost Satellite" ...and he even wrote his own rhyming advertisements.

In January 1958, Pete "Mad Daddy" Myers joined the station from WHK-AM 640 in Akron, his program was heard nightly from 8 p.m. to midnight. He left briefly for WJW-AM, lasting less than a year before he split for a gig at WHK-AM. At the time, WHK was establishing itself as the Top 40 powerhouse in Cleveland. Here's where you get a hint at how nutty the guy was. WJW-AM enforced a 90-day non-compete clause, (as is so damn common now) and "Mad Daddy" could not be heard on WHK until August 10. To get a little attention during the downtime, Maddaddy did a bit of a publicity stunt. He parachuting from a Piper Cub 2200 feet over Lake Erie, and composed a poem on his way down.

After he was fished out of the water he handed out copies of the 45 record "Zorro" to hundreds of fans who greeted him on shore. At the "peak of his popularity at WHK-AM he hosted record hops and live after-midnight shows dressed in Dracula costume. In the summer of 1959 he moved to WHK's sister station in New York, WNEW-AM 1130 AM, where "Mad Daddy" was not well received. So in New York he had to be Pete Myers and ditch the Dracula routine. He did not like the gig. That went on for three grueling years, until 1963, when he moved to WINS-AM and resumed the "Mad Daddy Show." This show was syndicated to other stations until WINS-AM flipped format to all-news in 1965. (FYI: still all news today) Mad Daddy hung his head and dragged his feet all the way back to WNEW-AM. Again, he became Pete Meyers, at least while on air. This went on for three more year, when on November 4, 1968, when he killed himself with a shotgun shortly after he had been let go at WNEW. Dead dog records carries a disc of some airchecks here.

Although Mad Daddy left us for the on-air studio in rock and roll heaven almost 40 years ago, his spirit lives on in Cleveland. On weekdays at 4 pm, listeners tuning in to 830 WKTX-AM, can hear the son of Mad Daddy, Waxin' Mad Daddy Jackson doing a show in Mad Daddy's character, playing the music from Mada daddy's peak era: early rock, R&B and "Wavy Gravy" hot rod, monster, novelty and instrumental songs.