Thursday, March 05, 2009
Soul on the Air #12: Richard Pegue, 1975 (RIP)
I hadn't planned to do a "Soul on the Air" feature so close to the installment featuring KCOH's Gladys "Gee Gee" Hill from a couple of weeks back, but I have just learned from Mary Mitchell's column in The Chicago Sun-Times that Richard Pegue (rhymes with "McGee"), one of the latter-day WVON "Good Guys" and Chicago soul musician, arranger and record label owner, has passed away at the age of 65. Pegue joined the WVON line-up at the end of the '60s, and his cool style and sharp wit, not to mention a few squeaks from what he called a "Dubber Ruckie," fit right in with the station's style. I'll defer to Pegue's Best Music of Your Life website bio page for a chronology of his radio career. I remember that when I moved to Chicago in 1997 he was doing his thing on WGCI-AM (the former WVON, at 1390 on the dial), which would eventually turn into a full-time gospel station (although during the early gospel days, Pegue got to keep a late-night soul show). Afterwards he could be heard both on the revived WVON (when 'VON moved to 1390 in the mid-'70s, Pervis Spann acquired rights to the 1450 frequency, where he ran WXOL until 'VON changed its calls to WGCI and Spann snapped up the legendary calls), holding down Spann's all-night slot a few nights a month, and on Kennedy-King College's WKKC-FM, all programs of which I always enjoyed. I'll stop writing a biography of Pegue here and refer you to this excellent 2004 episode of WHPK's Sitting in the Park in which host Bob Abrahamian interviews Pegue and features lots of his productions. (If you haven't been to the show's website, do go and enjoy interviews with many of the greats of Chicago soul!) I certainly enjoyed listening to Pegue when I lived in Chicago and enjoy records he had a hand in. May he rest in peace.
Today's selection is from June 9, 1975. Pegue plays a nice mixture of hits of the day and some soul from a few years earlier while laying down some nice cool patter and singing along with songs as they fade out. As Herb Kent mentioned in his excellent new autobiography, The Cool Gent: The Nine Lives of Radio Legend Herb Kent, which I heartily recommend to any R&B fan, radio fan or Herb Kent fan, by this time WVON had lost its ratings dominance due to the rise of FM radio and the "less talk, more music" trend in broadcasting (a trend that some of the "Good Guys" weren't able or willing to adapt to), but several, including Kent, Pegue and Cecil Hale (many thanks to the good Dr. Hale for recently commenting on an earlier "Soul on the Air" feature to answer a commenter's question) went along with the flow and kept the soul going for a few more years, as demonstrated here.