Wanted to make sure you saw my Sunday story about former DJ Jim LaBarbara and his new autobiography. It’s filled with great stories about the greatest rock n rollers, and some of your favorite Cincinnati icons — from Ray Charles and the Rolling Stones, to Neil Diamond and James Brown, Don McLean to Bill Haley, to best friend Johnny Bench (best man at his wedding), Sparky Anderson, Bob Trumpy and Marty Brennaman.
He’ll be signing “Jim LaBarbara, The Music Professor: A Life Amplified Through Radio & Rock ‘n’ Roll” ($28; Little Miami Publishing) at Books by the Banks Saturday at the Duke Energy Convention Center downtown.
My favorite story is his revelation that feds investigated him for payola in the early 1970s. They thought they had him nailed for WLW-AM playing the Sesame Street “Rubber Duckie” song mulitple times every day — until he pointed out that it was during the simulcast “Bob Braun Show” between noon-1;30 p.m., when Rob Reider would sing it repeatedly to upset Braun!
Here are a couple of outtakes that didn’t make my story:
Roy Orbison on the Beatles: When Beatlemania hit in 1964, LaBarbara recalled how Roy Orbison predicted their U.S. stardom. Orbison, who was touring England in 1963, had said back then that if the Beatles “kept their hair like it was… and did a show like the ‘Ed Sullivan Show,’ then they would be as big here as they were in England.”
Jerry Lee Lewis on love: When Jerry Lee Lewis was playing the Beverly Hills Supper Club in 1974, backstage he cried and confessed he still loved his ex-wife Myra Brown, his first cousin once removed who was 13 when she married him. Lewis told him: “Jimmy, she wasn’t 13 – she was closer to 14.”
Sparky Anderson’s advice: LaBarbara writes that he got relationship advice from Sparky Anderson. During spring training in 1974 in tampa, Anderson told him over dinner to stop running around with all these ladies and settle down with Sally Suttle, the woman he had been dating. Spark told him: “You should marry that pretty girl, and when you do, I’ll be at your wedding.” And he was there, along with Bench, his best man, and Bob Braun.
The book includes LaBarbara’s stories about Animals, Beach Boys, James Brown, Tony Bennett, Marty Brennaman, Ray Charles, Dick Clark, John Denver, Neil Diamond, Dion, Bill Haley, Kenny Loggins, Joe Morgan, Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits), Little Richard, Don McLean, the Monkees, Mike Reid, Rolling Stones, Neal Sedaka, Paul Simon, Sonny & Cher, Ed Sullivan, Supremes, Pete Rose, Bob Trumpy, Andy Williams, Jackie Wilson, former Beatles drummer Pete Best, Cash D. Amburgy and Elvis. To name a few dozen.