There’s no doubt Rick Dees, as he is popularly known worldwide is a major figure on radio, both local and international. His voice has been in ‘our faces’ since back in the day when his Weekly Top 40 used to air on Kisementi based Capital Radio every Sunday. It is also said that Capital FM listeners used to storm Capital FM to be able to have a glimpse of this radio legend. Currently Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 plays on 95.9 Touch FM every Sunday from midday to 2pm.
Today Xclusive UG profiles the radio legend.
Rigdon Osmond “Rick” Dees III (born March 14, 1950) is an American comedic performer, entertainer, and radio personality, best known for his internationally syndicated radio show The Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 Countdown and for the 1976 novelty song “Disco Duck”. He is a People’s Choice Award recipient, a Grammy-nominated performing artist, and Broadcast Hall of Fame inductee. He wrote two songs that appear in the film Saturday Night Fever, plus performed the title song for the film Meatballs. Dees is also co-founder of the E. W. Scripps television network, Fine Living Network, and has been the host of the Rick Dees in the Morning show at Hot 92.3 in Los Angeles, CA as well as his own syndicated daily radio show The Daily Dees.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Dees was raised in Greensboro, North Carolina. He graduated from Greensboro’s Grimsley High School, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
Dees began his radio career at WGBG, a Greensboro radio station, while still in high school. He worked in various radio stations throughout the southeastern United States, including WXYC in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, WSGN in Birmingham, Alabama, and WKIX in Raleigh, North Carolina.
His introduction to the international entertainment arena began while working at WMPS AM 680 (“The Great 68”) in Memphis, Tennessee, during the disco craze of the late 1970s, when he wrote and recorded “Disco Duck”, the award-winning hit that sold more than six million copies. The song can be heard in the movie Saturday Night Fever, in a brief scene in which a group of older people were learning to “move their feet to the disco beat”. While this platinum recording earned him a People’s Choice Award, and the BMI Award for record sales in one year, Dees was expressly forbidden from playing the song on the air by station management (rival stations refused to play it for fear of promoting their competition). Dees was fired from WMPS when he mentioned that his song, “Disco Duck” was almost #1 and his own radio station would not let him play it. The station manager said it was a conflict of interest. Dees did not perform the actual duck vocals on the song since he could not “talk like a duck.” The duck vocals were recorded at Shoestring Productions in Memphis, TN by Ken Pruitt. Pruitt moved away before the song became popular and the vocals for the duck were done by Michael Chesney of Memphis for the concert tour. Chesney had done some comedic voices for Dees prior to Disco Duck. The tour went from Disney World to New York, NY billed as Rick Dees and The Cast of Idiots.”
After a 45-day non-compete clause in his contract was satisfied, Dees was hired by RKO Radio to do the morning show at WHBQ AM 560 in Memphis.
The success of Dees at their Memphis radio station, combined with his TV appearances and hit music, motivated station owner RKO General to offer Rick the morning radio show in Los Angeles at 93KHJ AM. Dees helped their ratings, but AM music radio was rapidly losing ground to FM. When KHJ switched to country music, Rick Dees left KHJ, taking a morning position at KIIS-FM in July 1981. In a short time, he turned KIIS-FM into the #1 revenue-generating radio station in America, with an asset value approaching half a billion dollars. Dees garnered many accolades, including Billboard Radio Personality of the Year for ten years in a row.
He began his Weekly Top 40 countdown program, still currently in syndication, in September 1983; the show was created after Dees’ station, KIIS, lost American Top 40 to a rival station over the playing of network commercials. The Weekly Top 40 has been heard each weekend in over 200 cities worldwide and theArmed Forces Radio Network. It is distributed domestically by Dial Global and internationally by Dees Entertainment International (through Radio Express). In December 2008, the Weekly Top 40 became the first English-speaking radio show to air in China. The Countdown is available in two different versions: Hit Radio (for contemporary hit radio stations), and Hot Adult (hot adult contemporary radio stations), both of which are accessible for online streaming on his official website, RICK.COM.
After 23 years on radio station KIIS-FM, Dees left in 2004 because of a contract dispute, and he was replaced by Ryan Seacrest. Dees returned to Los Angeles radio in August 2006 on KMVN, Movin 93.9, hosting the morning show along with Patti “Long Legs” Lopez and Mark Wong. On April 15, 2009, Movin 93.9 changed format, dismissing its radio personalities and changing the format to Spanish Contemporary or Spanish Hits. Dees has continued his Weekly Top 40 show each week and has hosted The Daily Dees, a four-hour midday show, Monday through Friday on stations across the United States. From May 4, 2011, until July 6, 2012, Dees hosted the morning show at R&B oldies station (and sister station of KIIS-FM) KHHT, “Hot 92.3” in Los Angeles, as well as his national daily program “The Daily Dees” syndicated by Dial Global.
Throughout his long career, Dees has garnered many accolades, including the Marconi Award, the National Radio Hall of Fame, and his induction into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall Of Fame. In 1984, he received a Grammy Award nomination for his comedy album Hurt Me Baby – Make Me Write Bad Checks and has since received the Grammy Governor’s Award. His other comedy albums – I’m Not Crazy, Rick Dees’ Greatest Hit (The White Album), and Put It Where The Moon Don’t Shine have also enjoyed worldwide success. He is an inductee in the North Carolina Broadcast Hall Of Fame, has received the People’s Choice Award and has been awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Rick Dees is also on the nominating committee of the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
Movies And Television
In television, Dees hosted his own late-night show on the ABC television network in the early 1990s, Into the Night Starring Rick Dees, which only lasted one season and was canceled because of low ratings. He has guest-starred on Roseanne, Married… with Children, Cheers, Diagnosis: Murder and many other hit shows. In addition, Dees hosted the popular syndicated series, Solid Gold, from Paramount Television, and his voice has been enjoyed on numerous animated features, including The Flintstones, where he starred as Rock Dees, and Jetsons: The Movie, where he played Rocket Rick. In feature films, Rick Dees had a minor role in La Bamba, portraying Ted Quillin, the Los Angeles disc jockey who helped launch Ritchie Valens’s career.
Outside of his radio career Dees has become a businessman and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of the now defunct Fine Living Network, the lifestyle cable and television satellite network in partnership with E. W. Scripps Networks. He is also the founder of DDN – The Dees Digital Network. Dees is a farmer, raising both crops and cattle in central Kentucky. He loves water skiing and golf. He even caddied at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, for Mark O’Meara. Rick is also an ardent pastry chef, who loves to bake anything with chocolate.
Dees is active in Young Life, a Christian organization serving areas that have limited or no Christian influence. Dees is also a participant in the Boy Scouts of America, having earned the rank of Eagle Scout himself at age 15. Dees currently resides in Los Angeles with his comedienne/impressionist wife, Julie McWhirter. Rick and Julie have a son, Kevin (who is also the segment co-host of the Weekly Top 40 show).
In 1984, Dees (and his record company) made a request of Marvin Fisher, the owner of the copyright in the music of the song “When Sunny Gets Blue”, for permission to use the song in a parody of the performance by Johnny Mathis. Fisher refused to grant permission for the use. Dees decided to go ahead and do a parody even without the permission of the copyright holder, using about 29 seconds of the song in a parody album titled Put It Where the Moon Don’t Shine. The trial court found that the parody song, titled “When Sonny Sniffs Glue,” was clearly intended to “poke fun” at the style of singing for which Johnny Mathis was well known, and thus was not infringing. The decision was upheld on appeal, in Fisher v. Dees 794 F.2d 432 (9th Cir. 1986).