Growing up in the early and mid Eighties, there was no internet (obviously) and there were significantly fewer outlets with which to experience music, compared to now at least. Up until high school, everything I liked, I liked because my family liked it, or I heard it on the radio, or I saw it on TV (network TV, for the most part. I didn’t watch MTV or VH-1 with any regularity until I was over 18.)¹
Casey Kasem, who died Sunday at the age of 82, was a constant presence on TV-I was glued to the tube on Saturdays at noon (usually) for “America’s Top Ten” as well as on radio, as I was also usually glued to a radio on Sunday mornings listening to him count down the American Top 40. I’ve read articles that have described him as a surrogate father of sorts to people who came up as music obsessives, and Kasem’s calm, reassuring voice certainly had a paternal element to it. From a musical perspective, he was certainly as (probably more) influential as/than any member of my family. Come to think of it, he might be the single biggest non-performing influence on my life as a professional music geek.²
Reading a lot of the tributes that have poured in since his passing, it’s been comforting and illuminating to realize that I wasn’t the only person his presence impacted enough that they followed the charts religiously, created their own charts, or both. Anyone who obsessively tracks music or has done so in the past very likely has Mr. Kasem to thank. Even if you grew up to be a too-cool-for-school music critic or record store clerk/employee, it’s very likely that at some point in your maturation you, too, counted down the hits with Casey. Today, my job grants me a subscription to Billboard magazine, and even though I’m more out-of-touch with mainstream pop music than I’ve been at any other point in my life, I still flip to the Hot 100 singles chart…and I read it backwards. That’s what Casey taught me.
The older I get, the more easily I can pinpoint the people, places and things that were influential in shaping the adult I became. It also stands to reason that the older I get, the more frequently these people pass away. You read this site (or at least I hope you do) and I’d imagine if you come back to it, there’s something you like. Between the musical OCD and the list-making OCD, Casey Kasem’s a big reason that Popblerd even exists. May he rest in peace.
¹-Long story, maybe I’ll tell you one day.
²-In order? Casey, Don Cornelius, Frankie Crocker, Donnie Simpson & Dick Clark.