George Carlin-A Tribute
George Carlin who was a KCAC and Phoenix favorite early in his post-Ed Sullivan show, comic-in-a-suit career, has died, reportedly of sudden heart failure yesterday in California. He was 71.
George Carlin played to sold out concerts in large part due to KCAC and KDKB program director Bill Compton. Like many of you, I first heard George Carlin's comedy on KCAC (and later on KDKB) on Bill Compton's show. Who knew it would be the last of our stations then that weren't cowed out of having a totally unique radio identity? Thank goodness Phoenix now has Radio Free Phoenix, a gem that honors the KCAC tradition of uninhibited, community based 'real radio' freedom.
Many of us remember Carlin's "hippy dippy weatherman," first from the Valley's beloved, groundbreaking KCAC format (or 'for-not') and soon after when Carlin appeared in the early 1970's at the legendary Buster Bonoff's Celebrity Theatre. At the first George Carlin show I attended, he joked about the revolving stage and thrilled us with unparalled wit. Carlin dared to satirize the absurd power of words, most famously in his biting, uncomfortable and hilarious “Seven Words You Can Never Use on Television.” This American treasure who seemed to revel in making audiences squirm as much as making us laugh, danced himself off the Celebrity stage with an Irish Jig.
Upon learning of Carlin's death a couple of hours ago, I got the same feeling as when decades ago I found out that John Lennon had been brutally murdered. Someone came running into our band practice room to tell us. We insisted that it wasn't true. Sports Announcer Howard Cossell, broadcasting the breaking news of John Lennon's murder with an authentically shocked, somber tone, broke the veil of denial, while we stood in front of the tv, muted, as shock and grief stopped time for a few days.
With the death of George Carlin, who like John Lennon was a visionary friend of our decade, we've again lost a kindred soul, a spokesman of our time. George Carlin is suddenly and inexplicably gone, and many of us will cry our hearts out like we did for John Lennon. But with George Carlin's death, tears seem out of tune with what he was all about. I can picture Carlin shaking his head at millions of fans as we wipe away the tears and imagine him in Heaven, beaming down rational thought laced with humor, something we sometimes seem to be lacking in this decade.
Thanks George! I hope you wound up somewhere besides where the missing socks from the clothes drier go!