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 THE DISC JOCKEYS


Paul 'Fat Daddy' Johnson
 

Of all the major cities in the USA who spawned great black disk jockeys, Baltimore perhaps produced more than any other. Maurice 'Hot Rod' Hulbert, Chuck Leonard, Kelson 'Chop Chop' Fisher, Fred 'Rockin' Robin' Robinson, Larry Dean and Jocko Henderson are several that immediately come to mind. And then, there was Fat Daddy. Paul 'Fat Daddy' Johnson' was born in Baltimore in 1938 and raised near the city's famed Pennsylvania Avenue district. Which made sense because Johnson was seemingly born to be a star. He graduated from Douglass High School, where he was sports editor of the school paper, and later received a bachelor's degree in journalism and communications from the University of Maryland, College Park. While in college, he began working as a disc jockey at the new Albert Ballroom in the 1200 block of Pennsylvania Ave. and the Royal Theater and was influenced by the flamboyant style of another local deejay, Kelson "Chop Chop" Fisher. Fat Daddy got his first gig in Danville, Virginia and then came back to Baltimore in the late 50's where he would stay for the next decade. Johnson handled mornings for a time at WSID. According to an article provided by 60's Baltimore R&B Jam and written by Baltimore Sun reporter Fred Rasmussen, 'Standing like a general before a battle, Fat Daddy stood before a studio console where his show took to the airwaves, somehow arising out of an organized chaos of records, commercials and his endless patter. Here's how the Sun Magazine described the scene in a story in 1966:"Fat Daddy bobbing rhythmically in a constant wash of sound from the speaker on the wall is manipulating this equipment with a great deal of flair, snapping cartridges into the tapecasters, slapping 45's on the turntables, delivering finger-jabbing commercials, fiddling with a row of dials, answering the telephone, calling up for the weather report, stringing it all together with this supersonic, rhyming delivery and all the while maintaining a running conversation with whomever happens to be in the room." Johnson added, "I programmed my show for the Negro originally. Rhythm and blues used to be race music. But Fat Daddy has become such a large character with everybody that now I program for white and black both. Music brings people closer together." Allegedly, Johnson got the heave-ho from WWIN for making a rhythmic yet somewhat salacious comment while announcing a record by the Supremes. Even so, Fat Daddy's 300 pounds of sound were without a doubt already enshrined in Baltimore radio lore. In 1971, Fat Daddy left Baltimore to do national promotions for record companies, working for Motown, Atlantic, and Capitol Records. He was 40 when he died of heart failure in Los Angeles in 1978. Esquire, Cashbox, and Billboard have acclaimed him as one of the top five R&B disc jockeys in America, while Record World magazine called him simply the No. 1 soul man in the nation.

  

 
     

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