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Casey Kasem, king of the top 40 countdown, dead


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Casey Kasem, the internationally famous radio broadcaster with the cheerful manner and gentle voice who became the king of the top 40 countdown with a syndicated show that ran for decades, died Sunday. He was 82.

Danny Deraney, publicist for Kasem's daughter, Kerri, says Kasem died Sunday morning. A statement issued by the family says he died at 3:23 a.m. surrounded by family and friends.

Kasem's "American Top 40" began on July 4, 1970, in Los Angeles. The No. 1 song on his list then was "Mama Told Me Not to Come," by Three Dog Night.

The show continued in varying forms - and for varying syndicators - until his retirement in 2009. In his signoff, he would tell viewers: "And don't forget: keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."

Radio Icon Casey Kasem Dies At 82

In recent years, Kasem was trapped in a feud between his three adult children and his second wife, former actress Jean Kasem. In 2013, his children filed a legal petition to gain control of his health care, alleging that Kasem was suffering from advanced Parkinson's disease and that his wife was isolating him from friends and family members. Kasem also suffered from Lewy Body Disease, a form of dementia.

A judge in May temporarily stripped his wife of her caretaker role after she moved him from a medical facility in Los Angeles to a friend's home in Washington state. Jean Kasem said she moved her husband to protect his privacy and to consult with doctors. Casey Kasem developed a severe bedsore while in Washington and was in critical condition by the time he was hospitalized in early June.

It was a sad, startling end for a man whose voice had entertained and informed music lovers worldwide.

Kasem's "American Top 40" began on July 4, 1970, in Los Angeles, when the No. 1 song was Three Dog Night's cover of Randy Newman's "Mama Told Me Not to Come." The show expanded to hundreds of stations, including Armed Forces Radio, and continued in varying forms - and for varying syndicators - into the 21st century. He stepped down from "American Top 40" in 2004 and retired altogether in 2009, completing his musical journey with Shinedown's "Second Chance."

While many DJs convulsed their listeners with stunts and "morning zoo" snarkiness, Kasem would read "long distance dedications" of songs sent in by readers and introduce countdown records with sympathetic background anecdotes about the singers.

"The idea from the beginning was to do the type of thing on radio that Ed Sullivan did on television, good, honest stories with human interest," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1975.

Succeeding him at the main "American Top 40" show in 2004 was multiplatform star Ryan Seacrest, who has said he had been a fan of Kasem since boyhood and would imitate him in pretend countdown broadcasts at age 9.

Kasem's legacy reached well beyond music. His voice was heard in TV cartoons such as "Scooby-Doo" (he was Shaggy) and in numerous commercials.

"They are going to be playing Shaggy and Scooby-Doo for eons and eons," Kasem told The New York Times in 2004. "And they're going to forget Casey Kasem - unless they happen to step on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I'll be one of those guys people say `Who's that?' about. And someone else will say, `He's just some guy who used to be on the radio.'"

The son of Lebanese immigrants, Kasem was active in speaking out for greater understanding of Arab-Americans - both on political issues involving the Mideast and on arts and media issues.

"Arab-Americans are coming out of the closet," Kasem told The Associated Press in 1990. "They are more outspoken now than ever before. People are beginning to realize who they really are, that they are not the people who yell and scream on their nightly newscast."

Kasem was born Kemal Amin Kasem in 1932 in Detroit. He began his broadcasting career in the radio club at Detroit's Northwestern High School and was soon a disc jockey on WJBK radio in Detroit, initially calling himself Kemal Kasem.

In a 1997 visit with high school students in Dearborn, Michigan, home to a large Arab-American community, he was asked why he changed his name to Casey.

"It didn't sound like a deejay; it wasn't hip. So we decided I'd be `Casey at the Mike' - and I have been since," Kasem said.

In the 1975 Los Angeles Times interview, he said he had been doing "a regular screaming DJ show" in San Francisco in the early 1960s when his boss suggested he talk about the records instead.

He was unconvinced, since his screaming routine had brought him top ratings. But he said he had learned "after a particularly unpleasant situation in Buffalo never to argue with general managers."

Join the discussion

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Ann Moehling June 15 2014 at 12:31 PM

May you rest in peace, Casey. Thanks for all the memories and what a kind man you were.

Flag Reply +91 rate up
zombiedemocratfollower June 15 2014 at 1:08 PM

Happy Father's day.....
Casey is probably happier now then he has been in years..

Flag Reply +76 rate up
3 replies
Madeline June 15 2014 at 12:32 PM

A sweet man and great DJ. Rest in peace; you've certainly earned it.

Flag Reply +62 rate up
1 reply
Kathy Hall Madeline June 15 2014 at 2:24 PM

He is not dead.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
12 replies
chefjohnp June 15 2014 at 12:25 PM

A vey familiar voice we came to know and love. He put a different excitement in announcing the top 10 hits. I always enjoyed listening to him. He will be missed. R.I.P.
Mr. Kasem and thanks for all the memories.

Flag Reply +54 rate up
2 replies
David chefjohnp June 15 2014 at 8:25 PM

I'll go a bit FURTHER than this! I first heard Kasem when my sister and I saw our father, and we had a radio on. Between his deejay career, and his voice as Shaggy (on "Scooby Doo"), I liked this voice.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Lynn F White David June 16 2014 at 9:32 AM

Wow I used to watch Scooby Doo and I never knew that he was the voice of Shaggy ,I think most grew up listen to Casey.

Flag 0 rate up
CAMERON chefjohnp June 15 2014 at 8:34 PM

Me too along with. Cousin Brucie back in the 70. 101.1. Those were the days

Flag Reply +6 rate up
Pat June 15 2014 at 12:30 PM

Thanks for everthing Casey! I loved listening to you for so many years. Thanks for the wonderful memories of sitting with my little transistor radio, waiting to hear all my favorite songs and where they were on the charts. Rest in Peace.

Flag Reply +46 rate up
1 reply
Justine Pat June 16 2014 at 9:18 AM

Absolutely!!!! He was a class act, that which is sadly lacking today. RIP Mr. Casem, your voice lives on in my memory.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
ladyfun03 June 15 2014 at 12:26 PM

so sad, rest in peace, I always enjoyed your Sunday'morning show.

wonderful man..

Flag Reply +39 rate up
1 reply
GENEVAOHMAN48 ladyfun03 June 15 2014 at 1:36 PM

and so did I I actually listened to it this morning

Flag Reply +6 rate up
harleyman June 15 2014 at 12:27 PM


Flag Reply +34 rate up
Doug June 15 2014 at 12:30 PM

Starved to death by his Gold-digging family.

Flag Reply +31 rate up
34 replies
ladyfun03 June 15 2014 at 12:26 PM

geez bricklayer, you need a brick to fall on your head, how callous can you be..

Flag Reply +10 rate up
2 replies
Bruce ladyfun03 June 15 2014 at 12:55 PM

Bricklayer may not be the most "tactful orator" but he does hold a valid point, of which you cannot argue. Mr Kasem, did in fact, kick the bucket, with the help of his gold digging children who used to legal system to execute him.This is why I'll NEVER have an "EOL" instruction sheet. I'll pass on my own terms, not forcing someone else to bear that cross, Thank You!

Flag Reply +9 rate up
26 replies
mvette76 ladyfun03 June 15 2014 at 1:37 PM

why its the truth

Flag Reply 0 rate up
2 replies
TALLEYGT mvette76 June 15 2014 at 4:31 PM

how many sunday morning hangovers did he help me through?

Flag +6 rate up
Storm mvette76 June 16 2014 at 1:09 PM

Well no it is not the truth. HE had a living will that the court upheld. I have the same living will. He did not want to have people changing his diapers, he did not want to be force fed and kept alive he wanted to be able to die . BUT the wife wanted to drag him all over the country to keep him alive and he Casey left the choice UP to his daughter because he knew she would respect his wishes unlike his wife who was busy signing his names to contracts illegally ,, when she knew he was dying and that he was never going to get well Who threw him in a nursing home and didnt go see him for 4 months. NOW hear this his wife had those kids taken out of his will they get NO money what so ever and pubically stated the same thing..no money. The wife would not let them see their father and if they got the chance she took him and ran with him and he had NO medical help. He also had no choice but to go with the wife. Now who in the hell was a gold digger?? They wanted only to see their father .

Flag +3 rate up
Lorriefla12 June 15 2014 at 12:37 PM

Heartbreaking new on Father's day he was so loved, he looked so good too, and always a sweet man its not fair. Tearsssssssssssssssss

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
mvette76 Lorriefla12 June 15 2014 at 12:44 PM

They killed him on fathers day , bet they are talking about the will right now in his house . over champagne breakfast

Flag Reply +5 rate up
3 replies
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