Robert O. Smith: Nov 27th, 1942 - May 30th, 2010

Stories and info about those no longer involved in the industry

Robert O. Smith: Nov 27th, 1942 - May 30th, 2010

Postby Glen Livingstone » Fri May 29, 2015 10:43 am

Five Years Gone ... Robert O. Smith: November 27th, 1942 - May 30th, 2010

What can I say about Robert O. Smith?

He was the hipster saint who loved to paint, draw cartoons or just plain doodle, Daddy!

He was an actor, reactor, a man of a thousand voices and multiple choices.

He lifted weights, lifted spirits, and dared to be himself; the jovial rotund peg in a square, square hole.

For many years he toiled in the radio trenches, spinning the platters that mattered on a dozen radio stations in the U.S. and Canada.

And just for kicks, he cut a few of his own, Jack. Platters, I mean.

"Ballad of Walter Wart (Brrriggett)" Bob's biggest "hit" and a favorite of the great Dr. Demento who spun it often over the years on his syndicated radio show.

And let's not forget "Lonely Bull(Frog)," "Sleepy Stonewell's Brotherhood Boogie," "Sinister Lunchmeat" and "Lenny Frog."

Yeah, "Lenny Frog," AKA Lenny Bruce, one of Bob's heroes:

"Who, killed Lenny Frog, who kicked him and beat him and treat him like a dog?" That's what Bob wanted to know. Lenny, who paved the way for all who came after him and paid dearly for the privilege.

Some of Robo's other comedic influences were Jonathan Winters, Lord Buckley, Ernie Kovacs and Spike Jones. Ya dig? Bob did.

Rubbertoe was a damn fine disc jockey; smart and funny with a talent for mimicry. His Rod Serling out-Serlinged the man himself.

But Bob soon learned as he criss-crossed the radio airwaves from city to city, that inevitably, the suits, the people in grey who ran the radio stations would begin to grumble.

"As soon as I got here they said, 'Ahhh, you didn't sound that animated down there. Could you be kinda calmer? Just don't be so far out, please.' I said 'You want me to be like the guy you just got rid of?' 'Well, kinda.'"

Yep, oftentimes, Bob was a little too hip for the room.

The Control Room that is.

This re-worked quote by Hunter S. Thompson sums it up rather neatly:

"The radio business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."

"Yeah," as a famous Televisionary once avowed, "That's the ticket."

Robert O. loved playing with words. Like a mad scientist stirring a steaming cauldron of alphabet soup, Bob's fractured take on the English language was legendary.

"Voice at Large," trumpeted (or should that read "bongoed?") his business card.

Memories of time spent with Bob keep popping into my head like some kind of a whack-a-molean tableau on overdrive.

Like the time in the early '70's when my friend Ted and I took the bus from Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle and phoned Bob, living in Des Moines at the time (halfway between Tacoma and Seattle), who had promised to come fetch us.

"It's gonna take me a little longer than expected to get there," said Mr. Smith. "Something's wrong with the transmission on the car so I'm gonna have to drive into Seattle in reverse."

Or the time when he took me to a place called the Java Jive for lunch. The joint was in the shape of a giant coffee pot, and the stools at the front counter were covered in a faux leopardskin.

Bob circled the place for fifteen minutes before parking. He was worried that I would start laughing once we got inside and not be able to stop.

Pretty fine memories from a great friend.

I was fortunate enough to breath the rarified air of the Robert Ozone for over thirty years.

But sadly, after 67 years of bouncing around God's Golfball, it was time for Bob to exit the funhouse.

I'll never forget him.

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Re: Robert O. Smith: Nov 27th, 1942 - May 30th, 2010

Postby radiofan » Fri May 29, 2015 11:24 am

From early 1967, while Robert O was working at KMBY in Monterey, CA he hit the charts with "Walter Wart" .. (It peaked at #28 on the C-FUNtastic 50 on March 25th) ...
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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