A founding father of Northwest rock and roll scene has played his last record.
San Juan Islander and former Seattle DJ Pat O’Day died surrounded by family at his island home on Aug. 4. He was 85.
“The Pacific Northwest will always seem a little empty without legendary Pat O’day,” wrote Jeff O’Day, Pat’s son, in a Facebook post announcing his father’s passing. “All we can do is focus on the incredible role he had in making the Emerald City a better place to live, and the difference he made in people’s lives.”
According to an article by the Washington Secretary of State’s office, O’Day was born Paul W. Berg on Sept. 24, 1934, in Norfolk, Nebraska.
After graduating from Bremerton High in 1953, O’Day spent a short time at Olympic College before enrolling in a broadcasting program at Tacoma Vocational-Technical Institute (now called Bates Technical College).
According to the SOS article, O’Day felt his birth name didn’t have any “magic” to it and he felt more like a Pat than a Paul. On New Year’s Day 1960, O’Day went on air with KJR for the first time, a station that would be his home for the next 15 years.
In a 2001 essay for HistoryLink.org, author Peter Blecha called O’Day the founding father of the Northwest rock and roll scene. O’Day was Seattle’s highest-profile DJ in the 1960s.
During his tenure at KJR, O’Day the honor the top program director in the nation in 1964 and ’65 as well as “Radioman of the Year” in ’66. He also began announcing Seafair hydroplane races on Lake Washington. He introduced the Beatles at their first Washington state concert in Seattle in 1964, and he escorted Jimi Hendrix’s body home from London when he died after Hendrix’s father asked O’Day to go “find out what was happening.”
While rising to the position of station manager, O’Day ran a concert business and invested in real estate, according to the SOS article. According to the Associated Press, he owned the radio station KYYX in the mid-1970s and early 1980s.
O’Day became a big proponent of the Schick Shadel Hospital’s 10-day aversion therapy program after walking in with an addiction to alcohol, cocaine and marijuana in 1986 and walking out, never to touch any of them again.
In 2012, O’Day was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which turned out to be benign. Jeff O’Day said in his post that while his father had beat lung cancer, it had wreaked havoc on his lungs.
“He knew the gifts he had been given and how spectacular his life had been. Dad was ready,” Jeff O’Day wrote.
O’Day leaves behind his wife, San Juan Island Attorney Stephanie O’Day, and his four adult children — Jeff, Garry, Jerry and Kelsey. Read more about O’Day in the SOS article at https://www.sos.wa.gov/_assets/legacy/pat-o-day-profile.pdf.