The summer of 1971 — it’s not just the 50th anniversary of all those famous albums we’ve been talking about this year. It’s the also the 50th anniversary of New York’s beloved music personality, Dennis Elsas. Monday marks his fifth consistent decade as the Rock n Roll Whisperer.
On Monday, Elsas is celebrating LIVE from 4 to 7 pm on WFUV-FM here in New York, all over the world on the station’s app. More on the anniversary show in a minute.
I’ve been listening to Dennis my entire life. I can’t believe he’s 73 now and has four grandchildren. Where did the time go? For 30 years, he was one of the Mt. Rushmore voices on New York’s WNEW-FM, 102.7, with Scott Muni, Pete Fornatale, Alison Steele, Vin Scelsa, and so on.
Then Dennis, a visionary, moved to public radio on WFUV and Sirius XM where he hosts several shows including one I’m addicted to the on Beatles channel, 49.
Because he started in the summer, Dennis makes 50 before Jim Kerr, this fall, who started on WPLJ (and is now on Q104.3 and Sirius). I was 13 when these guys hit the FM airwaves, and I was just making the transition from Cousin Brucie and Dan Ingram on WABC. Those were the days. We were dependent then on these guys (and Alison, and Carol Miller and Meg Griffin) talking us through the music. There was no Walkman, or iPod, or Spotify. They played us the records and we learned them. It was Rock Studies 101.
So back to Monday’s show. Click here. Elsas has gone way back in his archives to the beginning. We’ll hear clips from his interviews with at the very least John Lennon, Julian Lennon, Elton John, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, Mick Jagger, Mel Brooks, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Clarence Clemons, Ringo, Elvis Costello, Grace Slick, Judy Collins, Jerry Garcia, and John Fogerty.
Dennis doesn’t like to name a favorite all time record or song. The Beatles, he says, are his top group. “Obviously.” Obviously. His tag line is “Rock and Roll Never Forgets,” so he does favor the Bob Seger song. A guilty favorite? He says, “ELO, Mr. Blue Sky, it’s a song of such intimate joy.” He’s right. Great choice. He points out that single has elements of the Beatles as well as the Drifters’ “When My Little Girl is Smiling.” (I actually hear some of ELO’s “Living Thing” in there, too.)
Elsas has outlived many of his contemporaries actuarialy and career wise. Of all of them, he says, he misses Scott Muni the most. “I grew up listening to him and then he hired me,” Dennis observes.
So we’ll hang tight Monday afternoon, listening to WFUV any way we can (here’s the link for the live stream app). And here’s to Dennis doing ten more years because it’s true, Rock and Roll Never Forgets!