Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Real Don Steele

The Real Don Steele would have been 76 today. You've probably heard me talk of him before. He's one of my idols (American or otherwise).

He passed away on August 5, 1997. For thirty years The Real Don Steele ruled the Los Angeles airwaves, most notably on 93/KHJ “Boss Radio” in the 60’s and 70’s. Outrageous, electrifying, thrilling – that was Real on…and OFF the air. If you want to hear the greatest cookin’ jock to ever crack a mike in the heyday of top 40. You can check him out here.

Real also appeared in some highly prestigious films such as EATING RAOUL, DEATH RACE 2000 (starring Sylvester Stallone), ROCK N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, and Ron Howard’s first directing effort, GRAND THEFT AUTO. Television credits are equally as impressive: TALES FROM THE CRYPT and HERE COMES THE BRIDES.

I had the pleasure of working with him at two radio stations, K100 and TenQ in LA in the 70’s. He also fell off my couch stinking drunk one night and my wife still invited him to dinner again.

His catch phrase was “Tina Delgado is alive, ALIVE!” shouted by some unknown frenzied girl. No one ever knew the story behind it. Who Tina Degado was. How he came to use it. Even what the hell it meant. But it didn’t matter. It was all part of the excitement this larger-than-life personality created for “the magnificent megalopolis of Boss Angeles” three hours every day…and especially on “Fractious Fridays”.

Every year on his birthday, April 1st, I wish that maybe his passing is just an April’s Fool joke. That would be so like him. And at 3:00 I could turn on the radio, “Devil with a Blue Dress” by Mitch Ryder would come blazing out of my speaker and I would hear “The Real Don Steele is alive, ALIVE!”

He is in my heart. And always will be.


Anonymous said...

I was a kid back then, and RDS (and RWM) provided the soundtrack for my "wonder years." I haven't heard him in a loooooooing time, and my first reaction listening to him again in that link is amazement at what a powerful presence he was. Completely aces! Perfect timing!
When I was a kid, if I were patient, I'd get a new Beatles song, a new Doors hit, or a new James Taylor song, all introduced to me by the fucking Real Don Steele.
As an entertainment consumer, I had no IDEA what a spoiled rotten little fucker I was! Goddam, I had it good!
Thanks for the link, Ken! Real Don Steele FOREVER!!

benson said...

Tina Delgado is ALIVE!!!!

Ronny Bergman said...

Don't forget,mr.Steele was also the voice of "Rockin' Ricky Rialto" at the beginning of "Gremlins",leading into "Christmas" with the one and only Darlene there's a pre-credits scene to beat! Happy birthday Don Steele,wherever you are..

Jeff P said...

So glad I lived in LA and caught just about all of his shows..................
When he was on the air----it was an event!!!!!
Too bad radio isn't such a factor in people's lives any more.
"........Get it at Thrifty!"

---Jeff Prescott

Kurt said...

Ha! Just happened to watch Eating Raoul yesterday. What are the odds?

Pamela Atherton said...

I got hired to be his assistant at K-100 when I was in college. He was the kindest guy you ever knew! I would pull his "golds" for him and he would chastise me (gently) for making bad coffee. My greatest thrill was the day he let me write his Friday "-ay" bit.

And who followed The Real Don Steele on K-100? Beaver Cleaver... otherwise known as Ken Levine, our host of this blog.

Phillip B said...

Spent an hour on the internet catching up with what I had missed of Don Steele growing up in the midwest.

Especially interesting was his TV show from 1974 (featuring the Hues Corporation and Gary Glitter!)

Two hopes for the morning - 1) that eventually every memory can be revived on YouTube and 2) that each of us is remembered as fondly as you remember him!

jennifer J. said...

Thanks for keeping him the current memory bank. He was definitely one of those that made radio a huge part of SoCal life in the sixties beyond. Awesome.

YEKIMI said...

I think every city in the 60s and early 70s had their version of a Real Don Steele, I remember growing up in the Tampa Bay area in the 60s some of the ones on WLCY & WSUN. And then there is this "Tina Delgado song" which I stumbled across on Youtube:

Captain John said...

I had the privilege and pleasure of following RDS on-the-air at 93KHJ in the early 70's. At 6, he'd head straight next door to Nikodell's where he'd join RWM, after making me promise to join them when I finished at 9. I'd never had Flaming Chartreuse til then. Haven't had it since. Love live the King!

Lyle said...

Hi, Ken:

You've got me hooked. Proof is the fact that I just pulled an all-nighter, reading your blog. I started at blog #1 and I've just graduated to 2008. I jump back and forth to read up on all your archived copies . . . then back to the current blog to ensure I don't miss any late breaking news.

I don't have your email address or I'd send you a private note. Just wanted you to know you have a new follower and fan; love your stuff. Don't always agree with your analyses of shows/artists (I love Kellie Pickler. She's just the sweetest thang . . .)

I worked with Bobby Rich when he was at B100. I worked on the AM side as the traffic reporter (25 year radio vet . . currently publishe a weekly newspaper in North San Diego County).

Grabbed a couple hours sleep this morning and am not back reading your blog. In a week or two I will have caught up.

Keep up the great work! You make me grin, giggle, chortle, laugh, and occasional slap my thighs in glee. You also keep me up all night.

Love it!

lyle e davis

(If you want to respond privately, I'm at:

Lyle said...

Further proof I'm dead tired from being up all night. Didn't proof before I hit the send button.

"publish a weekly . . ." not "publishe,"


"am now . . ." not, "am not reading . . "

Also, your security feature to prevent 'bots' is really hard to read. So far it's working . . . but these ancient eyes are being tested.

Kirk said...

"DEATH RACE 2000 starring Sylvester Stallone"

It also starred David Carradine, who played the lead and got top billing. The then-unknown Stallone was the villion of the piece.

There's an episode of LOST where a meteor falls on Hurley's favorite chicken shack in a flashback and kills a TV reporter. Hurley goes home and and tells his mother, "Tina Delgado is dead!" I sensed it was an in-joke, but, as I don't live in LA, know what is was. Now I do, unless my memory's faulty and Hurley said something else.

Anonymous said...

I'm pushing 60, so Boss Radio was my radio. I loved Don Steele. Thanks for posting this.

Jeff Randall said...

RDS was one of the reasons as kid I wanted to be a "DeeJay"!! Who knew what a legendary time it was when I was listening to Los Angeles radio in the 60's. I am a proud member & contributor of Reel Radio - it is the place where RDS and all the other greats live on...even Beaver Cleaver on the New Ten-Q!!

Bill Rapada said...

ckzMeeting the Real Don Steele and watching him work at KRLA in the 80's is one of the highlights of my life.When I was introduced to him he looked at me with a wink and said"This punk kid is gonna steal my act and take it across town"!Ken,thanks for keeping the memories alive every April 1st.

Anonymous said...

The Real Don Steele! Boy that takes me back. He made radio fun. I loved the "Tina Delgado is alive! Alive!" What a guy!

hannah said...

I see entries here haven't been updated/replied to in some time. But since the owner of this blog loves Don I thought I'd share this.

I ran into a guy who used to work with Don back in the 1970s at Ten-Q. We just aired a show interviewing him (WMPG collage station in Portland, Maine which I occasionally co-host at) and talking about all the boss jocks from back in the day. Here's a link to the show. If you go to the 1.11.36 mark, we start talking (asking) him about his memories of the Tina Delgado phenomenon. His response sheds quite a new light on what you can typically and currently find on the internet regarding Tina.