My birthday week continues with the memory of my 70th birthday party, which my daughters, Candis and Cami, organized and hosted at the Airport Hilton in my favorite city, San Diego.
The invites were going out to folks all over the country so we weren’t sure how many would be able to attend. (Candis and Cami pictured with me above)
Jeff ‘n Jer responded with a “Hell Yes,” and Delilah commented, “I’ve been waiting for my whole career to roast George Johns.” Candis even talked Hall 0f Famer, Ron Chapman, into being the Master of Ceremonies.
Ron was a perfect choice; he knew me well and has done a lot of MC work over the years. Hell, he even introduced Ronald Reagan to the Republicans gathered as their next President.
Surprisingly, Ron, seemed a little nervous when he said to me, “George, there’s nothing but legends here.” (Pictured above at the party, L-R, Nance Chapman, Ron, me, Linda Duffy, Cami, her friend Brynn, and sister Candis.)Looking as stunning as ever, Betsy Cameron said, “When George and I worked for Joe Amaturo, he ignored me.”
“Eventually,” she went on to say, “I confronted him and said, George, I’m a six-foot blonde lawyer who is not used to being ignored. She then claimed that I responded with, It’s just my way of hitting on you baby”.
Her husband, Barry Smith, remarked that he realized right away when he met me, that I would be an acquired taste. (Betsy and me pictured above.)
Gary and I go all the way back to when I first became a PD, and Gary became the first Dee-Jay I ever hired. (Gary pictured above with me at the party)Gary’s Brother, Chuck McCoy, another Canadian Hall of Famer was also in attendance and recalled the day we sat around my office at CKY in Winnipeg trying to come up with a new name for him.
Chuck was headed to Regina to become a top 40 Jock and we both agreed that Merv Vidler wasn’t gonna cut it.
At the time, the McCoys had a huge hit on the charts called “Hang On Sloopy, and because we both adored the talented Chuck Riley, it all came together nicely. Chuck also claimed that I told him that if he was gonna be a real rock jock, he needed a ragtop. He said he got one the very next day and has had one ever since.</em (Photo of me and Chuck above)Group Head Gary Miles, who graciously presented me with an old RCA mic, which I treasure, was another Canadian who made the trek down to San Diego from the frozen Tundra.
Gary recalled bringing me to Toronto to speak to his management group at Rogers Radio about how to motivate talent. After I finished speaking he said to me, “George, even though we didn’t pay you, I still feel like we overpaid.” (Gary pictured above)Ron Chapman claimed that even though I was his boss for over ten years, he doesn’t remember me ever giving him a direct order.
However, he went on to say, somehow though, we always did what George wanted.(Ron and me pictured above shortly after I had inducted him into his 3rd Hall Of Fame)A couple of great GMs honored me by showing up. Tom Hoyt brought my favorite wine with him, and Roy Laughlin brought his famous and beautiful wife Ellen K.
Ellen, of course, was and still is, tearing up morning radio in LA.(Tom Hoyt, pictured above with me) Bob Christy, who saw me playing with my band, The Jury in Grand Forks long before either of us got into radio made an appearance and brought along his scrumptious wife, Jan.
Janny Cakes gave me one of those full-body birthday hugs that she knows I love. ( (Jan and Bob pictured above) David Wolfe was the closest thing we had to a salesperson at the birthday bash.
David recalled the day we ran a 10K in Balboa Park. Unfortunately, when we finished the race, the brand new Mercedes David had borrowed from my brother Reg was gone. (David and me shown above, not yet aware that Reg’s Mercedes is no longer where we left it) Jim Hilliard reminisced about our long radio journey together, which began in 1963 and ended August 3rd, 1981 when he claims I screwed him. Somehow this story keeps coming up whenever we’re together, and he especially likes to tell it while introducing me to someone new.
Jim’s gorgeous wife, Barbara, who long ago decided that she was my adopted sister, was also there, and as usual, she scolded me for my choice of women. (Jim and Barbara pictured above.)My old radio partner Bill Yde also came to the party. Bill recently sold his company for enough cash that I’m spending most of my waking hours looking for some documents that still link us. (Bill pictured above.)Gordon Zlot was also there and he brought with him, Bobby Cole and Brent Farris, who flew from Santa Rosa with him in his personal jet.
Bobby claims that he had three great stories, but Ron rejected them as not being Daughter appropriate. Thanks, Ron.
Brent Farris brought along several bottles of Sonoma County’s finest wine, so he got to speak.(Shown above with me at our annual “Confab in the Desert” at Gordon’s home in Palm Springs) Hey, surprise, surprise, even the reclusive radio legend Jack McCoy showed up, and he wasn’t wearing black.
Jack wanted to know if anybody noticed what day it was that I had gone from being a very quiet, unassuming guy he first met in 1971 to the obnoxious angry person I am today? (Jack pictured above with me at the party)My good friend Reid Reker was there, but he declined to speak out of fear of retaliation. Oh yeah, and he’s the only person I can think of that’s not telling me that I should write a book. (Reid pictured above)
Candis explained that one of the painful lessons she’d learned early on was, “Never use the words her Dad told her she should, even if they seemed perfect for the situation at hand.”
She went on to explain that no matter how perfect the words appeared to be, as soon as she spoke them, it always turned out badly, and in fact, she’s still in therapy about it all.
Reid later told her he had complete sympathy for her because not only did things turn out badly for him whenever he used my words, people also started hitting him.(Candis pictured above with me in Burbank last year on our Birthdays)My Brother Reg brought along a few peeps, his computer genius partner Hamid Badiozamani, his CFO Barb Lovenguth, and sales guy Sam James.
When Reg spoke, he leaned into the mic and asked if the person who taught his Brother how to email was in the room? If so, could they please raise their hand because he’d like to kill them?</em(Reg and me pictured above)
Not only did their attendance tame things down, but it also forced the appearance of the other George Johns, the only one they know, the wimpy one. Most of the folks at the party said some very nice things, and I did feel the love in the room, but then again, these folks are professional actors, so I’m not turning my back on any of them.
I won’t go into all the drama that occurred as we were making our way to San Diego from West Palm Beach when Cami had to be taken off the plane in Dallas by the paramedics but that’s another story for another time.(Photo above is me and my Daughters thanking everyone for coming.)
Even though it’s the best party I’ve ever been to, I’m getting tired of celebrating birthdays; they just make me older.
Geo’s Media Blog is a politically incorrect inside look at Radio, TV, Music, Movies, Politics, and Life. For a sneak peek at some upcoming Blogs or to see some that you may have missed, go to Geo’s Media Blog @ GeorgeJohns.com.
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