IN REMEMBRANCE: 10-30-2016


Legendary Radio Veteran and Music Promoter, Skipper Lee Frazier, Dead at Age 89

When it comes to radio and music, there are certain individuals who are great, and then there are those who come along and set the bar so high that they become iconic and legendary. Sadly, Houston just lost one of the most iconic figures to ever grace the radio airwaves of Houston.slf05

Legendary radio veteran, community advocate, producer, promoter, manager and businessman, Skipper Lee Frazier, known for his signature voice and “Mountain of Soul” trademark, has passed away at the age of 89. He died this past Saturday, October 15, at his home surrounded by family members. Since 1954, until his death, Frazier has been involved with radio in Houston, and has served in various capacities, from disc jockey to ownership.

Frazier excelled beyond just merely being a radio personality. He was one of the greatest to ever grace the radio airwaves, but was also a successful businessman and one of the most successful music promoters to come out of the Greater Houston area.

“Skipper Lee was a true inspiration to me and was like the older big brother you never had,” said legendary sports talk show host Ralph Cooper. “The very first time I was on the radio was on his show, and he would bring me on his show on Fridays to predict football games. I was writing for the Forward Times at the time, and because of him I gained confidence to be a better broadcaster.”

Cooper emphasized how positive and encouraging Frazier was with everybody, and how he pushed people to do things that they could not see themselves doing.

“Although he was a local giant here in Houston, he always reached back and helped people,” said Cooper. “He included everybody on his program, including business owners and just regular members of the community. He also helped numerous local musicians and gave them exposure to show their talents across the country, like Archie Bell & The Drells. He will be truly missed.”

Another legendary disc jockey and signature voice talent, Don Sam, chimed in on Frazier’s passing.

“I remember meeting Skipper Lee in Barrett Station when I was about 13 years old and helping him bring his music in,” said Sam. “I remember cutting commercials with him and doing his drops on KWWJ. It was quite the journey to say the least and I will miss him much.”

From the time he was born on July 31, 1927, in the small Texas town of Magnolia Springs, TX, Frazier was an active and busy man. After finishing high school in Orange, TX, his father wanted him to study to become a doctor, so he went on to study at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA. Frazier never wanted to become a doctor, so he decided to start taking some business courses. He gained a healthy appreciation for business ownership. After completing a certificate in tailoring, Frazier went into business for himself in Orange, making and selling clothes. Because most of his customers were in the construction business, however, he soon learned that they did not have enough spare money to buy his clothing because of the extended bouts of bad weather they had experienced over a several month period, causing him to shut down the business and do something else.

Frazier eventually found his way to Houston, and while working at Finger Furniture Company, he realized he wasn’t making much progress so he decided to apply for a job at the post office. While working at the post office for several years, he found himself listening to the radio one day and heard that a school for disc jockeys was opening in Houston. Frazier enrolled and finished the course, and after receiving his certificate, he learned that there was an opening at the legendary KYOK 1590 AM. A friend of his recommended him to the station owners, and while visiting his mother in Magnolia Springs, he received a phone call from his friend asking him if he wanted to be a disc jockey on KYOK. He hurried back to Houston, applied for the job and was hired as a part-time weekend disc jockey. Frazier worked on Sundays, all the way from 6 am to midnight. He would play gospel music in the morning, R&B in the afternoon and jazz at night. Frazier also had two radio personality names. In the morning and at night he went by the radio handle Lee Frazier, but during the afternoon he went by “Hip Skipper,” and that is when he became more and more popular. It was during that time that Frazier did record hops and talent shows, which eventually led him to manage many of Houston’s up-and-coming talents.

After working weekends at KYOK for three years, Frazier applied for a full-time job at KCOH radio, after they heard him doing his thing on KYOK for years. KCOH eventually hired him and he took over the 3 pm drive-time slot, which is when he began using his “Mountain of Soul” trademark theme song. It went like this:

“Skipper Lee, tell us your story. When did you come to Houston and why? This is my story. Last night as I tried to sleep, it seemed I could hear voices. These voices kept telling me, ‘Skipper Lee, steal away and carry a mountain of soul to Houston.’ Over and over again I kept hearing those voices. So I called my mother and I kissed her goodbye. I called my father in and shook his hand. As I walked out the door with my bags in my hand, I knelt down and kissed my little sister. Then I began the long, lonesome journey to carry a mountain of soul to Houston because I could not ignore those voices. Over and over again I kept hearing those voices. ‘Skipper Lee, steal away and carry a mountain of soul to Houston.’ Have mercy, have mercy. So here I am Houston! Here I am, Houston! I’ve brought a mountain of soul to this city. Have mercy, have mercy.”

Frazier came on every day with that signature trademark and it elevated him to one of the most popular radio personalities in Houston. His career in radio eventually led to his involvement in the music recording industry, where he set the bar for himself as manager, producer and promoter of several successful acts out of Houston, such as the Masters of Soul, Beau Williams (who was known then as Bobo Mr. Soul), the TSU (Texas State University) Toronadoes, as well as managing the group Archie Bell & the Drells, who became well-known for their 1968 gold number one R&B hit “Tighten Up,” written and produced by Frazier.

“Tighten Up” brought national acclaim to the city of Houston, and throughout Frazier’s association with the music industry, he was afforded the opportunity to promote shows for renowned artists such as James Brown, B. B. King, the O’Jays and Wes Montgomery. Frazier also became an extremely close friend of boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

Through his involvement in both radio and music management, he became the producer, promoter, booking agent and master of ceremonies of the KOOL Jazz Festival. The KOOL Jazz Festival was presented in several cities across the country and turned out to be a resounding success. He also hosted his very own television variety show titled “The Skipper Lee Show,” as well as ran an advertising business and operated budget motels. Then after a 55-year career, Frazier captured his iconic life in his very own autobiography entitled, “The Man Who Brought a Mountain of Soul to Houston, Texas: Autobiography of a Disc Jockey.”

Frazier eventually purchased a funeral home, which is known all across the city as Eternal Rest Funeral Home. After being out of radio for some years, Frazier eventually went back into radio as a gospel disc jockey on KWWJ Gospel 1360AM.

Frazier was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame on October 30, 2004 in San Antonio, TX, and donated all of his radio memorabilia, music and music contracts to the University of Texas Music Department.

The Celebration of Life and Homegoing Service for Skipper Lee Frazier will be at Jones Memorial at 11 a.m. on Friday, October 21, 2016. He will lie in state from 12-9 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, with wakes on both days from 6-9 p.m. at Eternal Rest Funeral Home located at 4610 South Wayside, Houston, Texas 77087.

Expressions of sympathy may be sent to:

Sister Joyce Frazier & Family

4606 Wilmington St.

Houston, TX 77051

The Forward Times wishes to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Skipper Lee Frazier, and we celebrate the legacy he has left us all here in Houston.


Yes, he brought a mountain of soul to Houston.

Anyone growing up listening to the voice of “Skipper” Lee Frazier has nothing but the fondest and warmest memories of this self-effacing man who gave so much joy, love and commitment of himself to the Black community that was fortunate to have lived in Mr. Frazier’s heyday.

The music, the talk shows (loved those talk shows, especially Wash Allen’s show), the news reports and community information, those were wonderful times.

“Skipper Lee, tell us your story. When did you come to Houston and why? This is my story. Last night as I tried to sleep, it seemed I could hear voices. These voices kept telling me, ‘Skipper Lee, steal away and carry a mountain of soul to Houston.’ Over and over again I kept hearing those voices. So I called my mother and I kissed her goodbye. I called my father in and shook his hand. As I walked out the door with my bags in my hand, I knelt down and kissed my little sister. Then I began the long, lonesome journey to carry a mountain of soul to Houston because I could not ignore those voices. Over and over again I kept hearing those voices. ‘Skipper Lee, steal away and carry a mountain of soul to Houston.’ Have mercy, have mercy. So here I am Houston! Here I am, Houston! I’ve brought a mountain of soul to this city. Have mercy, have mercy.”

Now, Mr. Frazier has left, and I can only hope that wherever in the great beyond he goes, that he will be most appreciated.

Rest in peace, Mr. Skipper Lee Frazier.

Rest in peace.




Slide Show|12 Photos

Tom Hayden: 1939-2016

CreditJ. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

Tom Hayden, who burst out of the 1960s counterculture as a radical leader of America’s civil rights and antiwar movements, but rocked the boat more gently later in life with a progressive political agenda as an author and California state legislator, died on Sunday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 76.

His wife, Barbara Williams, said he died in a hospital. He had been treated for heart problems and fell ill in July while attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. He lived in Los Angeles.

During the racial unrest and antiwar protests of the 1960s and early ’70s, Mr. Hayden was one of the nation’s most visible radicals. He was a founder of Students for a Democratic Society, a defendant in the Chicago Seven trial after riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and a peace activist who married Jane Fonda, went to Hanoi and escorted American prisoners of war home from Vietnam.

As a civil rights worker, he was beaten in Mississippi and jailed in Georgia. In his cell he began writing what became the Port Huron Statement, the political manifesto of S.D.S. and the New Left that envisioned an alliance of college students in a peaceful crusade to overcome what it called repressive government, corporate greed and racism. Its aim was to create a multiracial, egalitarian society.

In 1974, with the Vietnam War in its final stages after American military involvement had all but ended, Mr. Hayden and Ms. Fonda, who were married by then, traveled across Vietnam, talking to people about their lives after years of war, and produced a documentary film, “Introduction to the Enemy.” Detractors labeled it Communist propaganda, but Nora Sayre, reviewing it for The New York Times, called it a “pensive and moving film.”

Tom Hayden speaking in Lincoln Park in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention in August 1968. Credit Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Later, with the war over and the idealisms of the ’60s fading, Mr. Hayden settled into a new life as a family man, writer and mainstream politician. In 1976, he ran for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate from California, declaring, “The radicalism of the 1960s is fast becoming the common sense of the 1970s.” He lost to the incumbent, Senator John V. Tunney.

But focusing on state and local issues like solar energy and rent control, he won a seat in the California Legislature in Sacramento in 1982. He was an assemblyman for a decade and a state senator from 1993 to 2000, sponsoring bills on the environment, education, public safety and civil rights. He lost a Democratic primary for California governor in 1994, a race for mayor of Los Angeles in 1997 and a bid for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council in 2001.

He was often the target of protests by leftists who called him an outlaw hypocrite, and by Vietnamese refugees and American military veterans who called him a traitor. Conservative news media kept alive the memories of his radical days. In a memoir, “Reunion” (1988), he described himself as a “born-again Middle American” and expressed regret for “romanticizing the Vietnamese” and allowing his antiwar zeal to turn into anti-Americanism.

“His soul-searching and explanations make fascinating reading,” The Boston Globe said, “but do not, he concedes, pacify critics on the left who accuse him of selling out to personal ambition or on the right ‘who tell me to go back to Russia.’ He says he doesn’t care.”

“I get re-elected,” Mr. Hayden told The Globe. “To me, that’s the bottom line. The issues persons like myself are working on are modern, workplace, neighborhood issues.”

Thomas Emmet Hayden was born in Royal Oak, Mich., on Dec. 11, 1939, the only child of John Hayden, an accountant, and the former Genevieve Garity, both Irish Catholics. His parents divorced, and Tom was raised by his mother, a film librarian.

A federal marshal escorts Mr. Hayden in San Francisco after he was indicted in connection with antiwar protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Credit Associated Press

At Dondero High School in Royal Oak, Mr. Hayden was editor of the student newspaper. His final editorial before graduation in 1957 almost cost him his diploma. In his exhortation to old-fashioned patriotism, he encrypted, in the first letter of each paragraph, an acrostic for “Go to hell.”

His turn to radical politics began at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he was inspired by student protests against the anti-Communist witch hunts of the House Un-American Activities Committee and by lunch counter sit-ins by black students in Greensboro, N.C. He met Dr. King in California in the summer of 1960 and soon joined sit-in protests and voter registration drives in the South.

Perceiving a need for a national student organization to coordinate civil rights projects around the country, he and 35 like-minded activists formed Students for a Democratic Society at Ann Arbor in 1960. He also became editor of the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Michigan in 1961 and did graduate work there in 1962 and 1963.

His marriage in 1961 to Sandra Cason, a civil rights worker, ended after two years. He met Ms. Fonda at an antiwar rally, and they were married in 1973. They had a son, Troy Garity. Ms. Fonda had a daughter, Vanessa, by a previous marriage, to the film director Roger Vadim. Mr. Hayden and Ms. Fonda divorced in 1990.

Mr. Hayden married Ms. Williams, a Canadian actress, in 1993. They adopted a son, Liam. Along with his wife, Mr. Hayden is survived by the three children as well as two grandchildren and a sister, Mary Frey.

Mr. Hayden joined the Freedom Riders on interstate buses in the South in 1961, challenging the authorities who had refused to enforce the Supreme Court’s rulings banning segregation on public buses. His jailhouse draft of what became the 25,000-word S.D.S. manifesto was debated, revised and formally adopted at the organization’s first convention, in Port Huron, Mich., in 1962.

“We are people of this generation,” it began, “bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.”

Tom Hayden after announcing he would run for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate from California in 1976. Credit Walter Zeboski/Associated Press

It did not recommend specific programs but attacked the arms race, racial discrimination, bureaucracy and apathy in the face of poverty, and it called for “participatory democracy” and a society based on “fraternity,” “honesty” and “brotherhood.”

He made the first of several trips to Vietnam in 1965, accompanying Herbert Aptheker, a Communist Party theoretician, and Staughton Lynd, a radical professor at Yale. While the visit was technically illegal, it was apparently ignored by the State Department to allow the American peace movement and Hanoi to establish informal contacts. The group went to Hanoi and toured villages and factories in North Vietnam. Mr. Hayden wrote a book, “The Other Side” (1966), about the experience.

At Hanoi’s invitation, he attended a 1967 conference in Bratislava, in what was then Czechoslovakia, and met North Vietnamese leaders, who agreed to release some captured American prisoners as a gesture of “solidarity” with the American peace movement. Mr. Hayden then made a second journey to Hanoi to discuss the details. Soon afterward he picked up three American P.O.W.s at a rendezvous in Cambodia and escorted them home.

Directing an S.D.S. antipoverty project in Newark from 1964 to 1967, Mr. Hayden, in his last year there, witnessed days of rioting, looting and destruction that left 26 people dead and hundreds injured. The experience led to “Rebellion in Newark” (1967), in which he wrote, “Americans have to turn their attention from the lawbreaking violence of the rioters to the original and greater violence of racism.”

In 1968, Mr. Hayden helped plan antiwar protests in Chicago to coincide with the Democratic National Convention. Club-swinging police officers clashed with thousands of demonstrators, injuring hundreds in a televised spectacle that a national commission later called a police riot.

But federal officials charged Mr. Hayden and others with inciting to riot and conspiracy. The Chicago Seven trial became a classic confrontation between radicals and Judge Julius Hoffman, marked by insults, angry judicial outbursts and contempt citations.

In 1970, all seven defendants were acquitted of conspiracy, but Mr. Hayden and four others — Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger and Rennie Davis — were convicted of inciting to riot and sentenced to five years in prison. The verdicts were overturned on appeal, as were various contempt citations, on the basis of judicial bias. Mr. Hayden’s book “Trial” (1970) recounted the events.

Mr. Hayden at his Los Angeles home in 2014. Credit Emily Berl for The New York Times

(The Chicago Seven trial was originally the Chicago Eight trial, with the Black Panther leader Bobby Seale included as a defendant. After his repeated outbursts in court, calling Judge Hoffman “a pig” and “a fascist,” the judge ordered him bound and gagged in his chair — the image of a black man chained in court shocked many Americans — and later severed his case for a separate trial that was never adjudicated. Judge Hoffman sentenced Mr. Seale to four years in prison on 16 counts of contempt of court, but he served only 21 months before the citations were overturned on appeal.)

Mr. Hayden was Gov. Jerry Brown’s appointed chairman of the SolarCal Council, which encourages solar energy development, from 1978 to 1982. He lost a Democratic primary for governor in 1994 to Kathleen Brown, the governor’s sister, who lost the general election to the Republican governor, Pete Wilson. In 1997, as the Democratic candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, Mr. Hayden lost to the Republican incumbent, Richard J. Riordan.

After his legislative career, he directed the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Culver City, Calif., a platform for his opposition to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He taught at California colleges and at Harvard, and wrote articles for The Times, The Washington Post and The Nation.

Mr. Hayden wrote more than 20 books, including several memoirs, re-examinations of the civil rights and antiwar movements, and volumes on street gangs, Vietnam, his own Irish heritage, the environment and the future of the United States. In 2015, he explored American relations with Cuba in “Listen, Yankee!: Why Cuba Matters.” His last book, “Hell No: The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Movement,” is to be published early next year by Yale University Press.

His personal papers, 120 boxes covering his life since the 1960s, were given in 2014 to the University of Michigan. Besides troves on civil rights and antiwar activities, they included 22,000 pages of F.B.I. files amassed in a 16-year surveillance of Mr. Hayden.

“One of your prime objectives,” J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime F.B.I. director, said in one memo, “should be to neutralize him in the New Left movement.”

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