RIP Red Robinson, Canada’s first rock’n’roll DJ

All the American histories of rock’n’roll talk about the role of Cleveland (and later New York) radio DJ, Alan Freed. Going deeper, there was also Dewey Phillips, Wolfman Jack, Murray Kaufman, Bill Randle, and a couple of others. Another name that should be on this list is Red Robinson, quite possibly the first Canadian DJ to play rock’n’roll records on the radio.

While at CJOR/Vancouver on November 12, 1954, Red started playing this new music for his audience. He then jumped over to rival CKWX where he continued to hype rock’n’roll, meeting and interviewing Elvis, Buddy Holly, and The Beatles. His career took him to a number of other stations (a list can be found here). Here’s an aircheck of him working at CKWX in 1984. (More aircheck can be found here.)

Red continued to work in radio until 2007 when he retired. He died on Saturday (April 1), two days after his 86th birthday.

More here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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One thought on “RIP Red Robinson, Canada’s first rock’n’roll DJ

  • I grew up listening to Red, and to this day he is the radio voice that I compare all other radio voices to. I don’t think that rock in Canada would have been the same without him.


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