On Air with Jazzbo Collins and Yoshi's Jon Hammond Band Feb. 9, 1994 - Preston pretty much kicked ass on this gig! --
Oakland CA -- original Yoshi's Oakland Gig Feb. 9th 1994, just after being on-the-air with Al "Jazzbo" Collins - watching the film now, sounds real good - Jon Hammond / Jon Hammond
Band (quartet) - thanks Jason Olaine for the hit - James Preston drums (R.I.P.) Bennett Friedman tenor, Barry Finnerty gtr., Jon Hammond Organ Group http://www.jonhammondband.com all original music ©JON
HAMMOND International Member ASCAP - AFM Local 6 - Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 AFM
Yoshi's Oakland didn't have any decent lights in those days! Jon Hammond - *Note: Broadcasting Legend Al Jazzbeaux
Collins opens this film at KCSM 91.1FM, greatly missed!! - Jon Hammond Organ Group #HammondOrgan
Albert Richard "Jazzbo" Collins (January 4, 1919 – September 30, 1997) was an American disc jockey, radio personality
and recording artist who was briefly the host of NBC television's Tonight show in 1957.
Al "Jazzbo" Collins
Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins
Born Albert Richard Collins
January 4, 1919
Rochester, New York
Died September 30, 1997 (aged 78)
Marin County, California
Born in Rochester, New York in 1919, Collins grew up on Long Island, New York. In 1941, while attending the
University of Miami in Florida, he substituted as the announcer on his English teacher's campus radio program, and decided he wanted to be in radio. Collins began his professional career
as the disc jockey at a bluegrass station in Logan, West Virginia; by 1943, he was at WKPA in Pittsburgh, moving in 1945 to WIND in Chicago and in 1946 to Salt Lake City's KNAK. In 1950,
he relocated to New York where he joined the staff of WNEW and became one of the "communicators" on NBC's Monitor when it began in 1955.
Collins made several appearances on The Tonight Show with Steve Allen in the early 50s (and even briefly took over the
show after Allen's departure; see below). In 1953, Allen adapted several nursery rhymes (including Little Red Riding Hood) into jazz-flavoured recitations, with Collins on vocals and Lou
Stein on piano.
The name "Jazzbo" derived from a product Collins had seen, a clip-on bowtie named Jazzbows. Just as Martin Block
created the illusion that he was speaking from the Make Believe Ballroom, Collins claimed to be broadcasting from his inner sanctum, a place known as the Purple Grotto, an imaginary
setting suggested by radio station WNEW's interior design, as Collins explained:
I started my broadcast in Studio One which was painted all kinds of tints and shades of purple on huge polycylindricals
which were vertically placed around the walls of the room to deflect the sound. It just happened to be that way. And with the turntables and desk and console and the lights turned down
low, it had a very cavelike appearance to my imagination. So I got on the air, and the first thing I said was, "Hi, it's Jazzbo in the Purple Grotto." You never know where your thoughts
are coming from, but the way it came out was that I was in a grotto, in this atmosphere with stalagtites and a lake and no telephones. I was using Nat Cole underneath me with "Easy
Listening Blues" playing piano in the background.
The Tonight Show and later work
In 1957, NBC-TV installed him for five weeks as the host of the Tonight show when it was known as Tonight! America
After Dark in the period between hosts Steve Allen and Jack Paar.
Also in 1957, Collins starred in (as himself) an episode of NBC radio's science fiction radio series X Minus One. By
1959, he was with KSFO in San Francisco, hanging out with the beatnik hipsters in North Beach. On-air, Jazzbo would say that he was broadcasting "from the purpleness of the Grotto", often
mentioning his assistant "Harrison, the long-tailed purple Tasmanian owl". On the TV side, Collins hosted "The Al Collins Show," that aired mornings on KGO-TV. The format included light
talk and guest appearances by local celebrities such as Moe Howard of The Three Stooges. Later in the 1960s, he was the host of Jazz for the Asking (VOA), and he worked with several Los
Angeles stations during the late in the decade: KMET (1966), KFI (1967) and KGBS (1968).
He officially changed the spelling of his name to Jazzbeaux when he went to Pittsburgh's WTAE in 1969. He moved to WIXZ
in Pittsburgh (1973) before heading back to the West Coast three years later. While in Pittsburgh, he briefly hosted a late night television show entitled "Jazzbeauxz (with a 'z')
Rehearsal", an eclectic sampling of anything that caught Collins' interest at the time, including a long-running hard-boiled-egg spinning contest. He conducted the program from a barber
chair, as he had on a previous TV show.
A popular segment on his show was the "no stinkin' badges" routine, a play on the famous exchange in the 1948 film The
Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Al would politely request that the main guest for that day don a Mexican bandit costume, complete with ammo belts crossing the chest, six-guns in holsters, a
huge sombrero and large fake mustache. The guest then had to pose in front of cameras and for the TV audience. With pistols pointing at the camera lens the guest had to say (with
emphasis) "I don't got to show you no stinkin' badges." If the guest did not say it with sufficient sinister tone Collins made him or her repeat it until in Al's opinion the guest got it
1970s and beyond
In 1976 Al Collins returned to San Francisco, working at KMPX, followed by a three-year all-night run at KGO which drew
callers throughout the West Coast; he always opened his program with Count Basie's "Blues in Hoss Flat". He also worked a late night shift at KKIS AM (in Pittsburg, California,
ironically) in 1980. After a stint in New York and WNEW (1981), Jazzbo was back in San Francisco at KSFO (1983) and KFRC (1986). Then came one more run at WNEW (1986–90), then KAPX (Marin
County, California) in 1990, and finally a weekly jazz show at KCSM (College of San Mateo, California) from 1993 to his death.
Al Collins died on September 30, 1997, at the age of 78, from pancreatic cancer.
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