Radio Facts: tl_death_crocker.jpg (28 KB)
Frankie “Hollywood” Crocker (December 18, 1937, Buffalo, New York, USA – October 21, 2000, North Miami Beach, Florida) was a famous New York radio DJ. (Coined “Hollywood” for his keen sense of showmanship and self-marketing tactics.) According to popeducation.org, Crocker began his career in Buffalo at the AM Soul powerhouse WUFO (also the home to future greats Eddie O’Jay, Herb Hamlett, Gary Byrd and Chucky T) before moving to Manhattan, where he first worked for Soul station WWRL and later top-40 WMCA in 1969. He then worked for WBLS-FM as program director, taking that station to the top of the ratings during the late 1970s. He sometimes called himself the “Chief Rocker”, and he was as well known for his boastful on-air patter as for his off-air flamboyance.
When Studio 54 was at the height of its popularity, Crocker rode in through the front entrance on a white stallion. In the studio, before he left for the day, Crocker would light a candle and invite female listeners to enjoy a candlelight bath with him. He signed off the air each night to the tune “Moody’s Mood For Love” by vocalese crooner King Pleasure. Crocker, a native of Buffalo, coined the phrase “urban contemporary” in the 1970s, a label for the eclectic mix of songs that he played.
He was the master of ceremonies of shows at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and was one of the first V.J.’s on VH-1, the cable music video channel, in addition to hosting the TV series Solid Gold and NBC’s Friday Night Videos. As an actor, Crocker appeared in five films, including Cleopatra Jones, Five on the Black Hand Side, and Darktown Strutters.
He is credited with introducing as many as 30 new artist to the mainstream including Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa” to American audiences. While both Gary Byrd and Herb Hamlett were influenced by Crocker,it is only Hamlett that always attributes his success to his mentor in Buffalo, Frankie Crocker.
Frankie Crocker was inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2005.