The Sound of the Counter Culture, Jim Ladd

     Legendary FM Radio disc jokey Jim Ladd is about to become the stuff of legend. In other words, he’s been fired. Getting fired is a frequent side effect of being in radio and usually merits little or no attention but Ladd is considered to be the last of his breed, a DJ that plays the music he chooses. I choose to believe this is yet another temporary situation and he’ll soon appear again on the airwaves of L.A., but if he doesn’t his disappearance is to Rock & Roll what losing the Rodeo would be to the Old West. Although Rodeo can be appreciated for what it is, what it has evolved to, it is in essence the Wild West Show first created by Buffalo Bill Cody to show Europeans and Easterners what the West was like. Ladd is rock music’s Buffalo Bill. His is the only remaining example of the free form FM music show of the late Sixties and one of the pillars of the counter culture that is quickly fading into the mists of time. Although some may argue that his style is now out of style and that the market dictates the survival of the fittest, Ladd’s show was not only a good time capsule example of music history but was just plain entertaining. An evolving and engaging beginning, middle and end of a program that is virtually nonexistent in the scatter shot hodgepodge of modern rock radio. Where else can you put on some headphones, lower the lights and be taken deep within your own imagination for an hour, late at night on a Wednesday?
    I’ve had the opportunity to meet Jim Ladd twice; once when he was doing a remote broadcast from a  local car dealership and again when when he helped initiate the members of The Doors onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Both times I gave him The Tooners’ Rocktasia CD hoping he’d play it on the air but really more just to ingratiate myself into his sphere of influence. A piece of me is in Jim Ladd’s world, even if he isn’t consciously aware of it, at least I am. That’s important to me because he represents a place and a time and a state of mind that I can only visit occasionally. He is like the tour guide who is your conduit to this other world in which he lives on our behalf. Because of him we can visit when we like and be refreshed by the energy of a gestalt which used to be our world too but have felt forced to forsake because of family, responsibilities, age and the distractions of an ever changing culture. Without Jim Ladd we can always play the music ourselves, in our rooms by ourselves, but the experience of knowing we’re sharing those moments with other travelers will be sorely missed.

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