A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 29, 2016
“Blast from the past”

Radio disc jockeys sometimes play old songs, referred to as “blasts from the past.” The “blast from the past” term was used in New York City in 1961, but it’s uncertain who coined it. Clay Cole (1938-2010), host of the television dance program The Clay Cole Show on New York City’s WNTA-TV, produced an album by October 1961 called Clay Cole Presents Blasts from the Past.

Popular New York disc jockey Murray the K (Murray Kaufman, 1922-1982) produced an album by November 1961 called Murray the K’s Blasts from the Past. Rick Sklar (1929-1992), Murray’s program director, has also been credited for coining “blast from the past.”

Similar terms include “golden oldie” and “oldie but goodie.”

[This entry includes research assistance from Ben Zimmer of the American Dialect Society.]


Wikipedia: Clay Cole
Clay Cole (January 1, 1938 – December 18, 2010) was an American host and disk jockey, best known for his eponymous television dance program, The Clay Cole Show, which aired in New York City on WNTA-TV and WPIX-TV from 1959 to 1968.

Wikipedia: Murray the K
Murray Kaufman (February 14, 1922 – February 21, 1982), professionally known as Murray the K, was an influential rock and roll impresario and disc jockey of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. During the early days of Beatlemania, he frequently referred to himself as the fifth Beatle.

Wikipedia: Rick Sklar
Rick Sklar (November 21, 1929 – June 22, 1992) was an American radio program director who, while at New York City’s WABC, was one of the originators of the Top 40 radio format.

16 October 1961, Billboard Music Week, “Spotlight Albums of the Week,” pg. 24, col. 3:
CLAY COLE PRESENTS BLASTS FROM THE PAST
Various Artists, Blast BLP 6803—New York TV (WNTA) jockey Clay Cole’s name and photo are showcased on the cover of this LP, but he isn’t mentioned in liner notes and doesn;t appear on the LP itself or the label copy. A flock of old hit r.&r. singles, ...

OCLC WorldCat record
Murray the K’s blasts from the past
Author: Chuck Berry; Bobby Lester; Bo Diddley; Nat Kendricks; Ritchie Valens; All authors
Publisher: Chicago : Chess, [1961]
Edition/Format: Music LP : English

2 November 1961, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, “Week’s top records,” pg. 10-C, col. 1:
PICK ALBUM OF THE WEEK:
MURRAY THE K’S BLASTS FROM THE PAST

27 November 1961, Billboard Music Week, “Late Pop Spotlights,” pg. 3, col. 1:
MURRAY THE K’S BLAST FROM THE PAST

27 January 1962, Billboard Music Week, “New Action LP’s,” pg. 1, col. 2:
CLAY COLE’S BLAST FROM THE PAST, Various Artists, Roulette

OCLC WorldCat record
Rock blast from the past
Author: Frank J Pingatore; Carl Perkins; Roy Orbison; Merrill E Moore; M Lytle; et al; All authors
Publisher: [London] : Ember ; Issy-les-Moulineaux : diff. Sonopresse, [1977]
Series: Kings of rock
Edition/Format: Music LP

OCLC WorldCat record
Blast from the past : a pictorial history of radio’s first 75 years
Author: B Eric Rhoads
Publisher: West Palm Beach, Fla. : Streamline Pub., ©1996.
Edition/Format: Print book : English

Musicradio WABC Rick Sklar Page (April 18, 1997)
At WINS Rick also met and worked with another legendary disc jockey; Murray “the K” Kaufman. In fact, it was Rick Sklar who was responsible for Murray Kaufman picking up the name “Murray the K”. And, it was also Rick who coined the phrase “a blast from the past” as a way to introduce oldies on Murray’s WINS show.

Wikipedia: Blast from the Past (film)
Blast from the Past is a 1999 American romantic comedy film based on a story and directed by Hugh Wilson, and starring Brendan Fraser, Alicia Silverstone, Christopher Walken, Sissy Spacek and Dave Foley.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRadio/Television • Friday, July 29, 2016 • Permalink