Decades ago, I bought Art Laboe’s Oldies but Goodies series of records and then rebought them when they appeared in CD format. If you are a 50s Rock & Roll aficionado, the set is worth having. It’s still the gold standard. It is great to read here that a gentleman as important to the early Rock & Roll scene as Mr. Laboe was and continues to hum along. I think you will be as surprised as I was at whom Art’s biggest fans are today.
Over the decades, Laboe has worked as concert promoter, helped produce new artists, and was one of the first people to sell compilation albums with his “Oldies But Goodies” series.
But on one station or another, Laboe has remained on the radio — and stayed with his listeners.
Among LA Latinos, Laboe An ‘Icon’
Somewhat surprisingly, this 88-year-old Armenian-American has his most ardent following among Latinos.
A group called the South El Monte Arts Posse has been gathering oral histories and photos of the city’s early rock ‘n’ roll scene and its connections in Mexican-American life. Laboe is part of that tradition.
Rubén Guevara, a 71-year-old musician, attended a recent event held by the Arts Posse. And he says Laboe has provided the soundtrack to a lot of life in Southern California.
Laboe played “music we fell in love to, got married to, raised kids with,” Guevara says. “And he became, you know, a really constant family member.”
Luie Delgado, 36, says that Laboe has listened, without judgment, to people of all backgrounds, “taking messages and names and names that were familiar, names that were even in Spanish.”
He says what makes Laboe’s show powerful, is “just knowing that you were being heard.”