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The Real Don Steele Remembered

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Don Steele would have celebrated his 72nd birthday this month. You could not have a bad day around him; he was like a one-man party all the time.

In Memory of The Real Don Steele

Boss Radio Legend The Real Don Steele passed away in his sleep Tuesday morning, August 5th, 1997, at his home in the Hollywood Hills, after a short bout with lung cancer. Steele had given up smoking in 1979. He was 61.

Donald S. Revert was born April 1, 1936 in Hollywood. He graduated from Hollywood High School, served in the Air Force and then studied at a local radio school before working at stations around L.A. He worked in Kennewick, Yakima and Spokane, Washington; Omaha, Nebraska; Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco before returning to Los Angeles to work at the All-New KHJ in April of 1965. He is survived by his wife, Shaune.

In Memory of The Real Don Steele

The Real Don Steele was born on April 1, 1936, in Hollywood, California, to a mother who was in show business; a musician whose professional career began when she played piano in the movie houses for silent films.

As a young boy, Don accompanied his mother to gigs all over Southern California. His father drove the truck with the performers and their instruments and costumes in it; Don frequently slept in the back seat of the truck, or in the dressing room with the entertainers getting ready for their act. His mom and her combos played for the wartime defense plant workers, at the USO canteen, for chorus line rehearsals at the movie studios, as well as for private parties where the entertainment could get kind of wild (!), and all points in between. Don grew up around musicians, jugglers, strippers, clowns, animal acts, ventriloquists -- you name it. Their lifestyles and "show folk" view of the world became his view of the world.

The Real Don Steele Biography


Glitter Graphics

Jackie De Shannon with the Real Don Steele

Hollywood 1966

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That's scary that he quit smoking at 43, according to those numbers, and 18 years later, died from lung cancer.

You would think, quitting by that age would be enough time to prevent something like that.

Now we can go deeper, like possible heavy life long radon exposure, or other possible contributors, but we have to just stick with smoking right now.

That's scary.

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Fortunately it was a short illness, and for the other part of his life he enjoyed good health. You could be having the worst week, and wake up in the morning, listen to his show before you left for school, and he lifted that burden. He made everyone smile; lots of soul there.

In 1993, from KRTH, Steele told the Los Angeles Times:

I don't think I'm any different now. I've never stopped. I've never changed. I never did anything else. This is the music of my life."

In Memory of The Real Don Steele

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Was he on KHJ and then KRTH 101?

Yes, he did the morning show on KHJ, and he did his last show on KRTH on May 16, 1997 .

“Look, you take the Motown sound and the British Invasion and you throw in Elvis and Roy Orbison, and you have a music mix that's hard to beat at any time or any place."

- The Real Don Steele

Upstairs at the Rainbow Bar & Grill on a Friday night, the young man in the U.S.A. shirt has the look of uptown punk about him.

His fists punch savagely at nothing and his face is fixed in a fearsome sneer as he and his dance partner move to the music on the tiny disco floor.

The Ramones are singing "I Want to Be Sedated."

At a corner table, Llana Lloyd shuts out the bedlam of the moment and returns to telling how the Rainbow isn't what it used to be. She's only here tonight because she was feeling nostalgic, she says.

Back in 1974, everything was different. Those were the days of glitter rock, when David Bowie and Robert Plant and Iggy Pop were regulars at the Rainbow.

The Sunset Strip was a blaze of brilliance then.

She was a dancer on the Real Don Steele Show on Channel 9, and one of the Rainbow's original glitter girls. Maybe some people thought the Strip had already seen its better days, but they weren't part of the '70s like she was.

"It was the musical extravaganza wherein every rock 'n' roller thought they were 'star star,' " she says. "It was the original Hollywood avant-garde glitter rock raunch narcissistic exhibitional era.


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