Casey Kasem was a popular rock and roll deejay on KRLA in Los Angeles — and the host of local dance and lip-sync show "Shebang" — when in 1970 he went national with "American Top 40." After four decades on the air with that show and others, including "Casey’s Top 40," and various guest stints, Kasem is now known to many as Mr. Top 40. Many also know him for his voice work, most notably as Shaggy on "Scooby-Doo." The Kasem children took to Facebook to announce his passing this morning in a Gig Harbor, Washington hospital.
Early this Father’s Day morning, our dad Casey Kasem passed away surrounded by family and friends. Even though we know he is in a better place and no longer suffering, we are heartbroken. Thank you for all your love, support and prayers. The world will miss Casey Kasem, an incredible talent and humanitarian; we will miss our Dad.
With love, Kerri, Mike and Julie.
Ryan Seacrest, Kasem's successor as the national voice of the pop hits, said in a statement that Kasem will be missed.
"It’s a sad day for the broadcasting community and for radio listeners around the world," Seacrest said in a statement. "When I was a kid, I would listen to Casey Kasem’s AT40 show every weekend, and dream about someday becoming a radio DJ. So when decades later I took over his AT40 countdown show, it was a surreal moment. Casey had a distinctive friendly on-air voice, and he was just as affable and nice if you had the privilege to be in his company. He’ll be greatly missed by all of us."
From the Hollywood Reporter:
Since his first broadcast from Hollywood on seven stations on July 4, 1970, to his finale on the same holiday weekend in 2009, the peppy Kasem ended each American Top 40 show with his signature line: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”
Kasem’s friendly, crackling tones also were heard as Shaggy on the CBS cartoon Scooby-Doo Where Are You!, which premiered in 1969. He quit the show in 1997 in a dispute over a Burger King commercial but was back in 2002 when it was determined that Shaggy would be a vegetarian, just like Kasem.
Kasem also provided the voice of Batman’s pal Robin the Boy Wonder on several cartoon series.
He was born Kemal Amen Kasem on April 27, 1932, in Detroit, the son of a Lebanese grocer father and a Lebanese-American mother. Kasem made his radio debut covering sports for his Northwestern High School station, then performed in radio dramas at Wayne State University, voicing The Lone Ranger, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon and other heroes of the airwaves....
He also provided the voice for characters on Sesame Street, Josie and the Pussycats and Transformers; served as NBC’s staff announcer in the late 1970s; hosted the syndicated TV show America’s Top 10 for a decade; did hundreds of commercials; guest-starred on such TV shows as Fantasy Island, Ironside and The New Mike Hammer; and appeared on Nick at Nite to count down reruns on New Year’s Eve.
In Harvey Kubernik's history of rock and roll radio in Los Angeles, "Turn Up the Radio," lead singer Willie Garcia says that Kasem was an early supporter of his East LA band Thee Midniters." "We were Casey's favorite band to book. He was an advocate of what we did."
The Doors made their first TV appearance on Kasem's "Shebang" series on KTLA Channel 5 in 1967:
From the New York Times obit:
Casey Kasem, a disc jockey who never claimed to love rock ‘n’ roll but who built a long and lucrative career from it, creating and hosting one of radio’s most popular syndicated pop music shows, “American Top 40,” died on Sunday in a hospital in Gig Harbor, Wash. He was 82....
In his final months, Mr. Kasem, who had lived in Beverly Hills, Calif., was at the center of a family legal battle over the terms of his death, pitting his wife, the actress Jean Kasem, against his three adult children from a previous marriage. Ms. Kasem removed her husband from a Santa Monica nursing home on May 7 and took him to stay with friends in Washington State. By court order, he was moved to the hospital on June 1.
Mr. Kasem’s “American Top 40,” which first aired in the summer of 1970, was a weekly four-hour feast of homey sentiment and American optimism that ran headlong into the prevailing spirit of rebellion in the music culture of the day.
Only five radio stations carried the debut of “American Top 40” on July 4, 1970. But within a year more than 100 did, and by the mid-'70s it had reached nearly 1,000 outlets “coast to coast,” as Mr. Kasem liked to say, making him one of the best-known D.J.'s in the country.