Something strange happened when the coronavirus hit. People stopped listening to the radio. I found out about this when I had to make a trip in the car the other day and heard the guy on the radio lamenting, “No one is listening anymore.”
I guess that made sense. People mostly listen to the radio while they’re in the car. Quarantined at home they watch TV, listen to music or check out the Internet.
That’s sad, and it brought to mind Jazzbo Collins. I used to listen to Jazzbo when I was an art student in Kansas City. He was on the air from midnight to 4 am, which was perfect because neither I nor any other art student ever went to bed before three.
His real name was Al, but he went by Jazzbo, a moniker he assumed from an ad for clip-on bow ties called Jazzbows. It was pure coincidence that his favorite music was jazz.
It was his love of jazz that put him on the late night slot on WNEW in New York. He was originally hired as an afternoon disk jockey to play the top popular tunes, music that Jazzbo despised.
For several days Jazzbo played nothing but jazz on the show. Management then ordered him to play top hits and nothing but top hits. To comply, Jazzbo Collins played that week’s number one hit, “Mr. Sandman” for a full hour and a half. The next day Collins was banished to the midnight hours, a show he called the Milkman’s Matinee.
Not only did Jazzbo play nothing but jazz, he talked nothing but jive. Everything was cool, gone, wild, crazy and hip, language he used in several bedtime stories he made up. In Little Red Riding Hood, Red set off to make the scene at Grandma’s pad. “Wild,” said the wolf. “Crazy,” said Red. In Jack and the Beanstalk, the cow’s name was Spigot and the Giant ran a cool jazz club. The laziest of the Three Little Pigs built his pad out of used clarinet reeds and Scotch tape.
Collins was born in 1919 in Rochester, NY and died in 1997 at the age of 78. His music and memory, however, will make it with the Forever Scene.