Joseph Deighton Gibson Jr.
Joseph Deighton Gibson Jr.
May 13, 1920
|Died||January 30, 2000 (aged 79)|
|Education||B.A. Science (1942)|
|Alma mater||Lincoln University|
|Occupation||Actor, Disc Jockey, Rapper|
|The Family Affair Black Radio Announcers Convention|
Joseph Deighton Gibson Jr. (May 13, 1920 - January 30, 2000) was an American radio Disc Jockey and actor. He attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo. from 1940-42 and received a bachelor's degree in science. He was married to Sadye Gibson for 47 years and together they have two children. She passed in 1990. His second wife, Elsie Harris-Gibson lives in Las Vegas. He is the father of the Black appeal radio format.
To his radio buddies his nickname was "jockey jack" but he achieved notoriety for his annual black radio convention where he was Jack the Rapper, for an all-inclusive black/urban music showcase and convention that came to epitomize Hip-Hop. He is in the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. In 1989 he was inducted in the Black Radio Hall of Fame.
Benson, The 'old swingmaster' (born Arthur Bernard Leaner, Jackson, Miss. 1910) as he was known, had come to radio in 1943 as a pastor but was not allowed to sell airtime, so he switched to become a secular DJ, and mentored some of the black DJ's at WGES and WJJD. He rapidly rose to fame in Chicago playing swing and Be-Bop jazz. His phenomenal appeal was due to the black jive talk he peppered between the music. He was the first DJ to speak with a black southern accent and frequently used 'street slang'. He came to this by way of his previous employment with the Works Progress Administration as an interviewer. He was - his bond with the black migrants to northern cities was from his 'mushmouth', the first black radio 'personality jock'. He was the first to play hit urban blues records on air and with success at selling airtime the station was immensely popular. When Jack Gibson went to work for him at WJJD a bell rang, and thus was born the idea of Black appeal radio. 'Jockey Jack' was born here, gibson was pictured straddling the mic and turntable in jockey outfits in publicity stills and gained a following playing to a black audience.
in 1949 Gibson left WJJD and became a founder of a new station, WERD in Atlanta. WERD was the first radio station owned by a black person, and the first voice heard on it was 'Jockey Jack'. He and Jesse Blayton, Jr. flipped the switch on a money losing top-40 station. The station played the new R & B, a mix of gospel vocal styles, swing-band instrumentals and electrified urban blues which Benson popularized after WWII. R & B was outselling jazz in the black music market, but had little traction on air as DJ's (there were other black themed stations) did not play it, preferring the big-band format which was popular. The use of 'down back home' street patter and the R&B music was popular with the youth culture and was considered 'gangsta' and a bit obscene. Along with other Benson inspired DJ's a new wave of rhyming and signifying African-Americans hit American urban centers on air, with boastful patter, the 'dozens' and rhyming at the end of sentences which became de-jure. The first to do that was a former Negro League baseball announcer named Lavada Durst, known as Doctor Hep Cat, who spieled rhyme that wasn't obscene and was the pre-courser to today's rap and hip-hop. There was also Holmes (Daddy-O) Daylie the rapping bartender, who did his entire show in rhyme. Daddy-O was responsible for the Be-bop revolt in jazz vernacular, creating a hipster idiom that be-bop artist Dizzy Gillespie credits him for making it popular with modern jazz lovers in the 50's and 60's.
Durst published a pamphlet called "The Jives of Doctor Hep Cat" which had his radio rhymes and a dictionary of "jive talk". For much of the 50's and well into the 60's Doctor Hep Cat ruled the late-night in Austin. These DJ's did not assimilate the culture, they were populists, putting on the airwaves music and speech black folk used in the street. They set the stage for the birth of Black appeal radio stations in the post war era of swing and Be-Bop. When Hal Jackson (Inner City Broadcasting Corporation head) entered mass market radio he put his own stamp on black radio, one that eschewed the fast talking jive, and with WWRL he found greater audiences broadcasting the smoother patter of the inner city. When his station WLIB purchased WBLS and the FM radio audiences came to understand there was more to music than top-40, disc jockeys like Frankie Crocker and his urban contemporary cohorts, Johnny 'The Duke' Allen, Vaughn 'Quiet Storm' Harper and Ken 'Spider' Webb went from just some 'jive turkeys' to number one in their market; then to number one radio station in the country.
Gibson was part of a generation of radio personalities that talked "jive" or the hip-speak of the day, lending colorful, jargon-filled and often-rhymed commentaries to the listening audience in-between record spins. They had names like Tommy "Dr. Jive" Smalls, "Genial" Gene Potts, John "Honey Boy" Hardy and "Long Tall Lanky Larry Dean." He would go on the air in his 'Jockey Jack' persona, wearing real silks, playing bugle calls from the track Kentucky derby style, talking about 'riding the hits'. (During 1951-1953, both Gibson and Dean were working at WLOU Louisville, KY, the home of the Kentucky Derby.) 1953 found him as program director at WMBM and then at WFEC. The following year he was back at WERD. WERD had its studios in the same building as the famed Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When Dr. King wanted to alert the masses about an upcoming rally, he would bang on the ceiling of his office, which was directly under WERD's air studio. Responding to Dr. King's signal, Jack would lower his microphone through the studio window, down one flight to the SCLC window, where Dr. King would grab the mic to announce his calls to protest.
In 1955 Gibson founded the National Association of Radio Announcers for Black DJs. In the 60's it was renamed the National Association of Television and Radio Announcers (NATRA). Bringing together the disparate elements of Black Appeal Radio under one body placed Gibson at the head of the table and as the father he declared, "I slapped this baby's bottom and brought it to life!"
In 1963 he went on the staff of Motown records as a public relations specialist manager. There he mentored the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson Five and Stevie Wonder. As Director of International P.R. he often did their first introductions to the public on stage. In 1969 he moved to STAX records and stayed until 1972. In 1976 he began the publication of a 2 sided trade pamphlet called 'Mellow Yellow' about the radio industry.
He recounts in his autobiography, "When we went to get it copied, the man told us he could give us a good deal if we used this goldenrod paper stock, which was a sunshine-yellow. Guess he was overstocked with that color. I didn't mind, because, if nothing else, that wild color would get the newsletter noticed."
"Jack the Rapper's Mello Yello", is the oldest and largest circulated Black radio/music trade publication in America."I think I just called it the same thing I had called it at Stax -- "Telling It Like It T-I-S-is!" And, of course, since I was rappin' my ass off, as usual, I just kept going by "Jack the Rapper." I did a pick of the week, and rated the top singles and albums, but I added something new. I decided to run my own style of editorial pieces about the condition of the black music industry. If there was somebody to be told on, I was ready and willing to do it. The ending line was always the same: "Stay black till I get back."
Gibson figured that he could build a black music annual convention similar in structure to Billboard Magazine's yearly confab, except that his emphasis would be different. The very first "Jack the Rapper Family Affair" was scheduled at the Colony Square of Atlanta in June 1977.
It was set in what Gibson would always refer to as "Martin's Town". Major labels such as CBS Records provided sponsorship. There were seminars about radio programming and music production. Parties abounded. And amongst all of that, Minister Louis Farrakhan was one of the maiden Family Affair's keynote speakers.
That first Family Affair was a big success, and along with Sidney Miller's annual Black Radio Exclusive conference in Los Angeles, the black music industry could rely on at least two opportunities to network, strategize, promote fellowship and party hearty. By year 3 the Family Affair had outgrown Colony Square. So it was moved to Peachtree Plaza in 1979 and '80. That year, Jack recounted in his autobiography, we had a wild night with George Clinton and his Dr. Funkenstein act. Bob Marley was there too; I believe it was his last appearance before his death. By 1981, we moved the convention to Dunfey's and booked the entire hotel. Since Dunfey's had a pool, we added a pool party to the convention schedule, and somebody sponsored that. It was at Dunfey's that Eddie Murphy made an appearance at the Family Affair. After that we moved to the Marriot.
In 1985 Jack was involved with the effort to un-ban Stevie Wonder whose records were banned in South Africa after his acceptance of an Academy award in the name of Nelson Mandela, 230 radio stations joined his call to salute the singer/songwriter on his birthday.
1987 after learning that soul singer Jackie Wilson had been buried next to his mother in an unmarked grave Gibson launched what is today known as a Go-Fund-Me for a marker and tomb for the pair. A prisoner in Kansas donated 50¢ and by May donations estimated to be $10,000 in $1 increments were collected to build a mausoleum and headstone to be inscribed and now no more lonely teardrops to the singer.
The Jack the Rapper Family Affair was where influential people in black urban radio got together and listened to what the record companies had to offer, performing live there could launch the career of a new act and affirmed the viability of older established musicians like Prince and Whitney Houston. When rap blew up in the 80's and 90's, up and coming rap acts flocked to the Family Affairs, confusing the name 'Jack the Rapper' and bringing an element that caused the hotel venues to rethink the relationship with Gibson's affairs.
At the 1993 conference, Gibson recalls sitting in a panel discussion in one of the hotel parlor rooms, only to hear a rumbling sound coming from one of the other rooms. A chair-throwing, fist-flying commotion had broken out at one of the rap industry panels. Rumors swirled that it was a manifestation of a growing war between camps representing Suge Knight's Death Row Records and Luther Campbell's Skyywalker Records.
"I certainly didn't want that violence any more than anybody else did. Many of my backers blamed me, because I had refused to ban rappers from the convention. But how could I ban the rappers? They are just as viable as any other black music, and I was not about to engage in some sort of modern-day segregation practice. I guess it was just one of those cases of having to pay for your beliefs. Well, I was paying, all right. I was flat on my ass."
He relocated the 1994 Family Affair from Atlanta to Orlando in order to avoid the past incidents that marred recent conferences. It had grown to over 5,000 attendees and claimed a $13.8M influx of business to Atlanta annually. People wanting to hobnob with celebrities were buying tickets on site to party and the resulting crowds overwhelming the organizers was the principal reason given by Jill Gibson-Bell, Jack's daughter. There was also the security issue. Young, hustling entrepreneurs like Sean "Puffy" Combs and artists Guru, Heavy D, Das Efx and Redman were earnestly in attendance that year. Yet, some of the rough action that occurred in Orlando was documented in the 1997 Miramax film Rhyme & Reason, as recorded for a television news report. There were many talented artists who started at a Family Affair whom developed into superstars. There were seminars which gave the people in the business an opportunity to exchange ideas off one another. They often returned to their jobs equipped with fresh concepts learned elsewhere, ready to make some changes. But the show was over, the last convention was in 1997 and extra security failed to secure the venue. It was killed by the very acts he defended who brought the street to the 'family friendly' upscale convention.
In 1996 the entirety of his books, records and photographs was donated to the Archives of African American Music and Culture at Indiana University. That year he was also named to the Entertainment committee for the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta.
Gibson moved to Las Vegas in 1990 and was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 1998.
Diagnosed with prostate cancer he died flat broke, there were fund raisers held to pay various bills, many acts got their start at his affairs but nevertheless he did not have any sponsors left after the Family Affairs. He died on January 30, 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA of Prostate Cancer.