1953-2017 Radio legend Red Robinson hangs up his microphone

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1953-2017 Radio legend Red Robinson hangs up his microphone

Postby radiofan » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:07 pm

This Week in History: 1953-2017 Radio legend Red Robinson hangs up his microphone
John Mackie
Published on: June 30, 2017 | Last Updated: June 30, 2017 2:08 PM PDT

Red Robinson has tried to retire a few times.

“I had big parties and everything — it was terrific,” he laughs.

“It became a thing with me. Maybe next year I can retire again.”

But each time the easy life beckoned, he missed the buzz of going on the radio. So the legendary disc jockey has remained on the air for 64 years.

For the last several years Robinson has held down a Sunday slot on CISL. He celebrated his 80th birthday on air March 30.

But CISL was recently sold and will be changing formats from oldies to sports in September. So this week, Red decided it was time to finally retire for good.

“I’ll tell ya what did it to me,” he said.

“My grandson is 14. He’s always bugging me, ‘Grandpa when are you going to retire?’ I knew what he meant — spend more time with him. A couple of weeks ago I said ‘Aden, I’m retiring.’

“He said, ‘Grandpa, you mean we can spend more time together?’ That got to me. It’s the right move. You’ve got to go sometime, right?”

His last day will be Aug. 27. This week, he started going through some of the boxes of memorabilia in his office. Going through a box filled with autographs Robinson came across something special — a Buddy Holly signature from his lone appearance here on Oct. 23, 1957.

For many rock and roll fans, a Buddy Holly autograph is the holy grail because they’re incredibly rare. The Lubbock, Texas native was killed in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959, when he was only 22 years old. Holly had been a star for less than two years when he died.

Holly was in town with the Show of Stars, a revue that featured eight acts now in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — Holly, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers, the Drifters, Eddie Cochran, Clyde McPhatter and LaVern Baker — as well as Frankie Lymon, Paul Anka, Jimmy Bowen and Buddy Knox.

“They each got to do two songs, and if they had a lot of applause they did one more,” said Robinson.

“It was put together by Irvin Feld, who owned Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus. I think he had watched (rock and roll DJ) Alan Freed in New York and decided to do his own (travelling show).”

Robinson interviewed Holly backstage.

“I’d run out, do an interview, then (go back onstage) and introduce the next act,” he recounts.

“In my interview with Buddy Holly I asked, ‘How long do you think rock and roll is going to last?’ He said, ‘Oh, I think ’til Christmas but not much later.’ Those were his exact words.”

Robinson also has an Elvis Presley autograph from when Elvis played Empire Stadium on Aug. 31, 1957. Red was emcee of the show, and there’s a great photo of Red and Elvis with a giant teddy bear that Elvis’s fans gave him, in honour of his hit Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear.

The teddy bear is now in Red’s office.

“It’s a panda,” said Robinson.

“I kept it, ’cause he didn’t want to take it on the train. But the vest rotted away. It’s stupid the stuff I’ve held onto in a way, but it meant something to me.”

Elvis’s teddy bear will probably wind up at the Museum of Vancouver, where Robinson is donating much of his collection.

“I may keep a few things that I think my kids might want,” he said.

“(But) they don’t want much. I understand that — they didn’t experience it.”

There is all sorts of cool stuff in his office — photos of Red with stars like Holly, Roy Orbison and Debbie Reynolds, Sun Records drink coasters, an ancient Sparton record player, and a wonderful 1958 poster for a “Skin Tight, Pin Striped Purple Pedal Pushers” contest.

“This is nothing compared to the locker I’ve got,” he said.

“There’s everything from the old Red Robinson Show Theatre, all the walls (of memorabilia), including the sign from the theatre.”

It’s a one-of-a-kind collection, from a one-of-a-kind Vancouverite.


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Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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Re: 1953-2017 Radio legend Red Robinson hangs up his microph

Postby Jim Walters » Sun Jul 02, 2017 2:15 pm

How many times does someone have to retire?

I've met Red a couple of times over the years, nice enough guy but highly over rated.

On his show today, I heard him play Dusty Springfield's Wishin' and Hopin'. On his extro, he claimed it was from her great album Duty In Memphis. Wrong Red. It was from 1964, her first big hit in North America. The Dusty In Memphis LP was from 1968 and the big hit from that was Son Of A Preacher Man. Check your facts before you lay down those voice tracks days before the show goes to air. It seems anytime I tune in for a short period of time I seem to catch mistakes like this.

Like they say, you can't believe everything you read on the internet. I guess the same goes for listening to information from DJs from yesteryear.
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Re: 1953-2017 Radio legend Red Robinson hangs up his microph

Postby jon » Sun Jul 02, 2017 3:49 pm

Beyond what is written in the article:

Red also spent a few years in the U.S. and is still revered as a Portland Radio Legend by many who listened to him (and even watched him) on KGW Radio and TV in the late 1950s.

The beginning of the end came when KJR Seattle hired Red. Before arriving for his first day of work, he was drafted, but still managed some work at KMBY Monterey, California, while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

When his military stint ended, he returned to CKWX Vancouver.

Asked about his move from CKWX to KGW, Red recently said it was about expanding his horizons to include television more than about the money.

On a personal note, I first heard Red in 1956 on an almost (sunny summer) daily basis on the car (convertibles) radios of a couple of kids on 15th Avenue in East Burnaby where I lived. He was still at CJOR back then. It was not until 1962 when he moved to CFUN as Program Director and DJ that I began listening to Red by choice.
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Re: 1953-2017 Radio legend Red Robinson hangs up his microph

Postby 45 RPM » Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:52 pm

I listened online for awhile yesterday. I too heard the Dusty Springfield mistake, Later there was another when he played Heart Full Of Soul by The Yardbirds. On his extro, he was talking about what a great band the Yardbirds were and that song, Tell Her No was one of his favorites. He made the Tell Her No reference several times. Maybe the time is right to walk away from the mic.

Are all his little mentions of White Spot and Triple O burgers paid for, or are these little bonuses he throws in to secure a spot for his yearly lunches?

I missed Red's early years on CKWX and CJOR but did catch him a fair bit on CFUN in the mid 60s when I was growing up out in Abbotsford. Enjoy your retirement Red.
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Re: 1953-2017 Radio legend Red Robinson hangs up his microph

Postby radiofan » Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:59 pm

Sunday August 27 will not only be the final Red Rock Diner on CISL, it will also be the end of CISL 650. Newcap hands over the keys to Rogers at Midnight.

No word yet as to what will happen at that time. Will 650 go silent for a few days or will Sportsnet 650 launch immediately.

Expect to hear the voices of many former CISL jocks in the finals days of CISL 650.
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