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Pete Myers – ‘The Mad Daddy’

Pete Myers (aka “The Mad Daddy”) was the wildest Disc Jockey from America’s golden age of Rock & Roll radio – a cat who drove around in a pink Pontiac wearing a Dracula cape and ‘Batty Bucks’ (bat-winged sneakers).

The greatest scientist of the 20th Century, Albert Einstein, was estimated to have had an IQ of 160 – that’s officially ‘Genius’ on the measuring scale of human intelligence. Pete Myers boasted an IQ of 172, ranking him higher than Einstein, in the ‘High Genius’ category.

The difference though, is that Einstein used his flabbergasting grey matter to quantify the theory of relativity while the mentally superior Myers spent his intellect inventing hepcat teenspeak like “zoomeratin'”, “atom-smashin'”, “wavy gravy” and “mello jello”.

maddaddy_003Myers was first and foremost a failed thespian (studying at one time at RADA in London), though whatever acting ability he possessed definitely aided him as a broadcaster.

During a stint in the US Army, he convinced the North Korean enemy that they were about to be attacked by a giant sea monster with a frighteningly convincing ‘Mayday!’ transmission.

It was prankster tendencies like these which were to serve him well when making the transition to commercial radio upon his discharge from the forces.

His ghoulishly brilliant ‘Mad Daddy’ first appeared on Cleveland’s WHK in 1958.

Working without a script, Myers’ cackling, express-paced banter between hot waxings from the likes of Link Wray and Howlin’ Wolf was like listening to verbal diarrhoea being spun into poetic gold.

These ingenious, effects-drenched rhymes (“roopity doopity skippity flop!”), skits about “winky blinky juice”, screwball dedications (“howdy doody little stinkers!”) and bizarre advertisements for his show’s sponsors were all completely improvised.

Sadly, Myers’ talents were hindered by a professional restlessness and the constant nagging of bigger, frustrated ambitions.

An attempt to break into television – presenting a late-night horror show – failed; his insistence on being filmed upside down like a bat hanging from the ceiling proved just too weird for audiences to stomach.

maddaddy_678Worse, when he broke his radio contract by signing a deal with a rival station, The Mad Daddy was served with an injunction banning him from the airwaves for three months.

Desperate to stay in the public eye, he retaliated by parachuting into a lake dressed as Zorro . . .

Such derring-do ensured he remained a legend in Cleveland, but when Myers decided to take his Mad Daddy act to the Big Apple his career took a nosedive.

After his first show on the city’s WNEW in June 1959, the corporation was flooded with phone calls and letters of complaint.

What had been funny in Cleveland was deemed “idiotic” by audiences in New York. It would be four years before Myers had the nerve to revive his Mad Daddy routine again, by which time he and the other original Rock & Roll shock-jocks had sadly passed their sell-by date.

Myers persevered in radio for another five years, until 4 October 1968 – the day he took an antique shotgun into his Upper East Side bathroom, turned the barrel upon himself and blew the zoomeratin’, mello jello, Mad Daddy’s brains – all 172 IQ of them – out of his skull.

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