Monday, December 9, 2013

R.I.P.: NOLA Radio Host Larry McKinley

Larry McKinley
Larry McKinley, an influential radio personality, music promoter and pivotal figure in the history of the city’s rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll scene, as well as the longtime voice of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, has died.

He was 85, according to

His daughter, advertising and public relations executive Glenda McKinley English, said in a statement that her father died of complications from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

McKinley had been a fixture on New Orleans radio waves as far back as 1953, on WMRY, which later became WYLD-AM.  He was also the co-founder of Minit Records, which produced many hits in the golden era of New Orleans early rhythm and blues.

The label came about when promoter Joe Banashak approached McKinley, who was managing singer Ernie K-Doe at the time, and was looking for a record deal for his young client.  He joined Banashak to form Minit in 1959, and soon the duo had signed a young man named Allen Toussaint as a songwriter, producer and arranger.

From then, Minit’s string of 1960s hits grew and grew.  Its biggest was Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother-in-Law,” which went to number one on the charts in 1961 and spawned a string of popular K-Doe songs.  Other hits included Jessie Hill’s “Ooh Poo Pah Doo,” Irma Thomas’ “It’s Raining” and “Ruler of My Heart” as well as Benny Spellman’s “Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette)” and “Fortune Teller,” among dozens of local and regional favorites.

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