the hippest cat in hollywood

Chuck Niles -- the voice of Jazz in Los Angeles passed away at the age of 76. He spent over 50 years on-air and was beloved by all, earning him countless affectionate nicknames-- Bob Florence called him "Bebop Charlie"; the Latin Jazz world knew him as "Carlitos Neelace"; and Horace Silver dubbed him the "Hippest Cat in Hollywood."

He remains the only Jazz Disc Jockey with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The King of Jazz Radio, Chuck Niles. June 24, 1927 - March 15, 2004.

chuck is gone man
that's what the l.a. hipsters said
when he was the first real jazz dj in town
50 years ago
back in the day for real
when there were dark smoky
after hours clubs
with people like parker
and baker gigging
just like scenes from
james ellroy novels
of badass 50's l.a.
i love jazz because of chuck niles
in '77 i was just another
17 year old
los angeles
punk rock kid
riding in hollywood
with friend corby smith
corby put on a station called KKGO
and i started laughing
what the hell is this?
then i heard the voice
it was chuck's gnarly
(even 25 years ago)
chuck was introducing a song called
take five
i dug it
i still dig it
when the tune was over it was followed
by several other cool & quirky pieces
blowing into hollywood balm
through the coolest waves of radio
i'd ever heard
friend corby explained
west coast cool school v.s. east coast bop
then the music was gone
and chuck was back
chuck talked to me
about the music i had just heard
and he did it in a way
no rock dj ever had
he told me
the first tune we heard
was take five
by dave brubeck's quartet
he told me
the song was written by
the altoist of the quartet
and brubeck's most important tool
paul desmond
then chuck told me who played
each instrument on that particular
of that particular song
he went on to describe the
tunes that had followed brubeck
in the same way
name, rank, file
down to the record label
and sometimes with interesting
stories behind the tune or player
chuck talked to me like this for
another 25 years
if a hornman blew it
chuck knew it
if a hepcat made
chuck played it
this man taught me just about everything
i know about jazz
he even taught me HOW to listen to it
i'd never even seen the man's face
until yesterday
but i wish i had known that voice
for the first 25 years as well as the last
it's time for chuck to take five now
he's a real gone cat man, real gone
but he's with friends
and i'll bet they are JAZZED!

© Gato Clemente