Jim Ladd, Iconic L.A. Disc Jockey Dies at 75
Jim Ladd was a legendary disc jockey (DJ) who inspired many other DJs during his long career. He even had a song written about him, the 2002 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers song “The Last DJ,” because he was considered the last freeform DJ in the United States who was allowed to pick his own song selections on the radio.
Ladd worked on several radio stations in Los Angeles over the years including KNAC, KMPC/KEDG, KFI-AM, KMET, and KLOS. He worked at KLOS-FM from 1969-75 then moved on to KMET for a few years before returning to KLOS in 1987. He worked for a few other stations including KLSX-FM, introducing the classic rock format to the Los Angeles area. In 2011, he appeared on SiriusXM’s Deep Tracks channel until his death. He was known for playing classic rock music and for his interviews with rock artists such as John Lennon and Stevie Nicks. SiriusXM aired tributes to Ladd on Deep tracks and other classic rock channels.
After the news broke of his death at age 75 after suffering from a heart attack, many celebrities paid tribute to Ladd on social media, including The Doors drummer John Densmore. He wrote, “’The Last DJ’ has crossed the tracks. There wasn’t a more soulful spinner of music. The songs he played were running through his blood, he cared so much for rock n’ roll. Irreplaceable… a very sad day, which can only be handled by carrying his spirit forward.” Densmore’s Doors bandmate Robby Krieger added, “Rest in peace, Jim Ladd. He was the best friend in radio The Doors ever had. Even when people forgot about us in the late ‘70s, he kept playing our music.”
Fans can pay tribute to Ladd on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which he received in 2005. Ana Martinez, producer of the Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremonies shared, “His legendary voice and unparalleled contribution to the world of radio have left an indelible mark on the industry. Jim’s passion for music and his unique ability to connect with his listeners will always be remembered fondly.”
Ladd is survived by his wife, Helene. May he rest in peace.