Voice of Jammin’ Jai Rich silent
FM radio pioneer dies
Funeral services will be held Saturday, Nov. 10, at 10:30 a.m. at Ward A.M.E. Church, 1177 W. 25th St., Los Angeles, for “The-e-e. Jammin’ Jai Rich,” whose sonorous voice and lively mixture of Jazz, Gospel as well as R&B helped formulate the background music for Black Los Angeles from the 1960s to the 1970s.
Rich died Wednesday. He was 78 years old.
In an autobiography written for radio station KJAZZ, where he had returned to radio in 2007, after a 23-year hiatus, James Roy “Jai Rich” Richardson talked about a childhood fascination with the broadcast industry at a time when all Black music on the radio was lumped together into the category “race music.”
That stricture aside, Rich gained an opportunity at an early age to appear on a local show called Blues at Sundown that aired from 3-6 p.m. on a station emanating from Fort Worth, Texas.
He was only 9 years old.
Rich was born Aug.15, 1934 to Rozenia Brockington Richardson and Ocie B. Richardson in Marlin, Texas. He was raised and educated in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, graduating from Booker T. Washington High School in 1952.
After that early radio experience, Rich said he was hooked. After serving in the Marine Crops as a radio-telephone operator and receiving commendations for outstanding service, he went on to complete formal broadcast training at the Don Martin School of Radio and Television Science, which also produced such graduates as “The Real Don Steele” and Bob Eubanks.
Rich would become one of the first African Americans to obtain a FCC first-class radio telephone operators license in Southern California.
“My career began in 1960 in Los Angeles when FM radio was in its infancy. Those were pioneer days in FM broadcasting,” writes Rich in his autobiography. “It was gratifying and rewarding, because you learned all sides of the business: sales, programming, production; You name it, you did it.
“It was small market radio in a major market. We purchased time from the radio station, and then sought local advertisers in order to cover the cost.
“The local African American community was the hotbed for Jazz and Blues, and a natural supporter in advertising sales.
“My first music promotion was at an after-hours Jazz concert hall called “Jazz at the Metro,” which featured such superstars as Lou Rawls, the Jazz Crusaders, The Gerald Wilson Big Band . . . just a few of the local standouts.”
“During my career, I have enjoyed the pleasure of sharing the stage with some of Jazz’s best and greatest.”
The early stations Rich worked for included legendary Jazz KBCA from 1969-72
Rich was also part of the founding crew of DJs that created the sound of KJLH radio station—Kindness Love Joy and Happiness. The mantra in the early days was they played the music the people wanted to hear.
Among the phrases Rich created were “music designed with you in mind;” “this is the lion’s den, suite 910, welcome my friend to the melodical, lyrical, powerful sounds of Jazz,” and closing his show as “Rozenia’s little boy,” saying “bye-bye, ta, ta, I’m gonna see you later, and tutaonana.”
Moving from a a garage in Long Beach to 39th and Crenshaw in Los Angeles, the station would soon bec-ome the place to be in L.A. and drew celebrities of all statures to their studios. Radios throughout neighborhoods were tuned in, creating a simulcast feeling, and Rich was one of those right in the middle of the action.
As a broadcaster, Rich was a voice for the disenfranchised and formed an association with the Nation of Islam, the US Organization under the leadership of Dr. Maulana Karenga, and co-founded the African-American Music Society.
He joined the staff of KGFJ-AM as local sales manager and helped establish many local businesses throughout his broadcast career, including coining the phrase for Mr. Jim’s Barbecue: “You need no teeth to eat my beef.”
After leaving radio, Rich exploited the business side of his talents by becoming the marketing manager at Roscoe’s’ House of Chicken and Waffles and eventually full manager of the South Los Angeles store.
He returned to the radio airwaves in Spring 2007 on all-Jazz KJAZZ (88.1 FM) where held down his favorite shift, midnight to 6 a.m.
Rich is survived by Amy, his wife of 28 years; eight children—Paula, Kandis, Rozonna, Dewayne, Rory, Debbie, Lisa, and Jai (Torrey); grandchildren Myisha, Christopher, Keyon, and Brandi; godchildren Terry and Gerald.
The WE CAN Foundation will host the Allensworth “Scat to Rap” Family Music Festival celebrating all the genres of Black music and African rhythms, including Blues, Gospel, Jazz, BeBop, DooWop, R&B and conscious Hip Hop. The festival will be held on Saturday, Sept. 10, and activities will begin at 11 a.m. at the Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park in Tulare County.
Funeral services will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles for Lois Bernardine Murray, wife of former FAME pastor the Rev. Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray.
She died April 27 from complications of a stroke. Murray was 83.
Entombment will take place at Inglewood Park Cemetery, 720 E. Florence Ave., Inglewood, and the repast will follow at the church, 2270 S. Harvard Blvd., Los Angeles.
CHICAGO—First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Chicago to attend the funeral service for 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton
The King College Prep student was shot and killed just a week after performing at events for President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
On Jan. 29, students were let out of King College Prep early after taking exams. Hadiya and about 10 people were hanging out, huddling under a canopy in nearby Harsh Park near 45th and Oakenwald to avoid the rain.
When the church doors open at the First African American Episcopal church in Los Angeles—known simply as FAME—many in the congregation will delight in a desired change. Gone will be their former pastor for the past eight years, the Rev. John J. Hunter.
CULVER CITY, Calif.—Political leaders from throughout California are expected to attend funeral services today for Mervyn Dymally, a former congressman, state senator and assemblyman who was the state's only Black lieutenant governor.
Dymally died Oct. 7 in Los Angeles at age 86.