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Clay Cole, Legendary New York Music Show Host, Dies

Clay Cole, Legendary New York Music Show Host, Dies 1David Salidor had just finished watching the movie “Pirate Radio” (2009) with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy and the wonderful Rhys Ilfans, and marveled at all the terrific music in the movie; from several Rolling Stones tracks to The Turtles’ “Eleanor.”

Watching that movie and hearing all that terrific music, yet again, strengthened his resolve and made him feel positively joyous. Again, the power of music cannot be denied.

“Then, I get some bad news, from my friend Tom Cuddy; legendary New York TV and radio personality Clay Cole had passed away,” Salidor says.

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Earlier this year Tom gave me his wonderful memoir Sh Boom! (The Explosion of Rock ‘n Roll – 1953-1968) (Morgan James Books) detailing Cole’s magnificent rise to fame in the early ’60s.

He wrote, produced, and was the on-screen talent in several different shows. It’s probably one of the best three music books I’ve read this year; however, meeting and getting to know Cole was truly an experience in itself.

I can safely say that he was everything depicted in the book and more; tremendously gracious and so knowledgeable about all things music.

He was literally a child prodigy who prepared shows in his family’s basement for his family and friends. He kind of reminded me of myself, when I made Top Ten record charts for an imaginary radio station … go figure!

Clay Cole, Legendary New York Music Show Host, Dies 2

PR Guru David Salidor, Clay Cole, Keith Girard

What was interesting when I read the book, and still resonates now, is how often Cole’s accomplishments were highlighted, but he never got his proper due.

In one memorable incident from the book, Cole was instrumental in fighting management to get more minority performers on his show.

The station was rewarded by a powerful civil rights group, but the award went to the very people who had fought to keep Clay from airing black performers, without ever acknowledging Clay’s pioneering role.

And, to top it off, they didn’t even acknowledge him in their speech!

Stuff like still happens today, and still hurts each and every time.

All I can say is that it was an honor to have met him and spend an afternoon with him at a party when he published his book.

It was, in hindsight, one of the best moments ever for me.

I just opened a delighted Xmas card from him this week, so my thoughts go out to his friends and family. Along with my friend Bill Murray, it’s been a tough year. RIP Bill and Clay.

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