Wednesday, June 24, 2009

if you look up sidekick in the dictionary...

When Johnny Carson retired, Ed McMahon still had to work. Some of that may have been for the money but much of it was for the love of doing it. With Johnny stepping out of the limelight, Ed had a chance to be the center of attention as host of "Star Search," a show he tirelessly promoted.

Ed's financial problems and health problems inspired me to express my best wishes for him in previous blog entries. Now that he has passed away at age 86, I am again filled with thoughts of the good times he brought to us at KROQ in the '90s.

In those days at KROQ, we had the chance to feature a few entertainers who didn't fit the format. Johnny Cash got some attention from the alternative rock audience when he came by to plug "American Recordings." The lineup for the 1993 Acoustic Christmas concert included Tony Bennett. Six months later, we invited Ed McMahon to the 1994 Weenie Roast concert. We asked Ed to dress in the grunge attire of the day and come onstage to introduce Rollins Band.

Ed had been a morning show guest enough times that we could ask him to do almost anything. I could pick up the phone and call him or his wife Pam to see if he was available. I will always remember walking into Ed's house with a digital tape recorder and having him record the intro to Kevin & Bean's Christmas cassette in his memorabilia-filled study. Another time we needed him dressed in a suit on the beach for a video shoot with Jenny McCarthy. She wore a bikini.

After doing all these favors for us, Ed still felt like doing more. He invited Kevin & Bean to appear on "Star Search" as guest announcers. The show was recorded at Walt Disney World. They flew several of us and our wives to Florida to do the morning radio show before the TV taping later that day. After the show, Ed took us all out to dinner with that week's celebrity judges. My wife and I sat at a table with Martha Quinn and "Weird Al" Yankovic.

My wife and I had the chance to sit at the same table with Ed and Pam at another event. We were all guests at Kevin Ryder's wedding. I think that was the same year that Ed invited us to his birthday party. To this day, I still regret being so sick with flu-like symptoms that I had to stay in bed and miss Ed's party. It was a milestone year for him. As I recall, he had reached the age at which his father died and was thankful to still be around. We would have all been thankful to have him around even longer.

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