Jim Ladd, veteran Los Angeles rock DJ and host of SiriusXM‘s classic rock channel “Deep Tracks,” died Dec. 17 at his home in Los Angeles of a heart attack. He was 75.
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Ladd’s colleague, DJ Meg Griffin, announced the news at the start of Ladd’s “Deep Tracks” slot and hosted in his place. SiriusXM confirmed the news to Variety.
Known as the inspiration behind Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 2002 album “The Last DJ,” Ladd started his career as a radio personality and DJ in 1969, spending time at KNAC and 95.5 KLOS before moving on to KMET-FM. With Ladd, KMET went from a struggling station to the top-rated station in all of Los Angeles. Ladd himself was rated the number one air personality in his slot for eight out of his nine years at the station.
While at KMET, Ladd created, produced and hosted the radio program “Innerview.” There, he interviewed high-profile musicians like John Lennon, Stevie Nicks and Pink Floyd, among others, about their perspectives on music. “Innerview” was the first program of its kind to air weekly over 160 stations and ran for twelve years under Ladd’s leadership.
Ladd rejoined KLOS in 1997 and departed in 2011 to host his “Deep Tracks” show at SiriusXM, which drew audiences for its dedication to spotlighting lesser-known rock tracks by notable groups. In 2005, Ladd was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his accomplishments in music and radio.
The Doors — formerly comprised of Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore — issued a statement in remembrance of Ladd.
“Jim, with his electric persona and cool voice, was an essential part of the culture of rock & roll,” the statement read. “Jim’s legendary interviews with Ray, John and Robby on the Doors and Morrison were later released as [the 2001 CD boxed set] ‘No One Here Gets Out Alive,’ which still stands as the most definitive interview in the history of the group.”
“‘The Last DJ’ has crossed the tracks. There wasn’t a more soulful spinner of music,” wrote Densmore of Ladd in a statement posted on social media. “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.”
Ladd is survived by his wife, Helene Hodge-Ladd.