For those of Chicagoland’s baby boomer population, a little piece of us died on Monday when the news broke of former Chicago radio personality Jerry G. Bishop having died the night before at the age of 77 following a heart attack at his home in San Diego.
Bishop – born Jerry Gahn in Chicago in 1936 -- got his start in radio at WNMP in suburban Evanston before jumping over to Cleveland where he had the opportunity to travel for awhile with The Beatles to report from the road on the “Beatlemania” phenomenon.
Most of us discovered the versatile and talented Mr. Bishop in 1967 when he landed behind the microphone of rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse station of the day, WCFL, before eventually moving over to Chicago’s WFLD-TV where he slipped into a tacky tux, slapped on grease paint and a top hat, to transform himself into the original Svengoolie. He later kept Chicagoland laughing and rocking on the airwaves of WMAQ as morning host until the station’s format changed to country and Bishop moved to San Diego.
While hosting “Screaming Yellow Theatre” on WFLD-TV as Svengoolie from 1969 to 1973, Mr. Bishop reintroduced Chicago audiences not only to vintage horror films but also to comedic vaudevillian shtick that included cheesy movie commentaries, cheesier jokes, plenty of bad singing and a flock of flying rubber chickens. It was great television and earned Mr. Bishop’s alter-ego character, Svengoolie induction into the “Horror Host Hall of Fame” in 2011.
Bishop later passed the “Svengoolie” baton over to a young broadcaster he had mentored named Rick Koz, who as “Son Of Svengoolie,” continues to haunt Chicago’s television airwaves in a way that pays homage to Bishop’s original while bringing his own flair and personality to the bit.
Although Jerry G. Bishop’s career was long and varied with many accomplishments, including three Emmy Awards for hosting “Sun Up San Diego,” Jerry will always be remembered by Chicagoans for his Svengoolie years cracking bad jokes, singing worse songs and putting “BERRRRR-WYN!” on the map! Thanks Jerry for all the chills, thrills and laughs.
• John Carpenter and Mark Mybeck of the region band Nomad Planets will orbit as a duo Saturday when they perform a set of original music at Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Mich. (6:30 p.m. Central/7:30 p.m. Eastern). The twosome open the show for red hot Hoosier singer/songwriter Robert Rolfe Feddersen (whose title track video from his new “American Loser” album has gotten more than 500,000 hits on YouTube). Admission is free for the 21 and older performances.
• Those wanting to see Feddersen sooner and closer to home, can catch him as part of tonight’s “Acoustic Artists for Animals” fundraiser from 6-11 p.m. at Front Porch Music in Valparaiso. Feddersen and five other acoustic artists – Travis Fugate & Greg Pogue, Ripley Street Unplugged, Jef Sarver and Chad Clifford -- each perform an hour of music to benefit The Humane Society of Northwest Indiana. All ages welcome. A minimum donation of $10 is requested. More: (219) 464-4700 or www.frontporchmusic.com.
• The original line-up of one of the most popular dance groups of the 1980s and 1990s, The Dancing Noodles -- Roman Sawczak, Terry Canning, Brian Sarna, Paul Martin, and Ed Kammerer – reunited for a couple of festival and special appearances two years ago and have performed a handful of select dates ever since. One of those dates is Saturday, as the Noodles break out their dancing shoes and Motown grooves in The Rocks Lounge at Blue Chip Michigan City from 6-10 p.m.
Then at 10 p.m. follow the beat down the hall to the casino’s It’s Vegas Baby! Show lounges and wrap up the rest of the night with the retro rock craziness from region band, Ham Vegas. More: (219) 879-7711 or www.bluechipcasino.com
• Vocalist/guitarist Derek St. Holmes of The Ted Nugent Band has been booked for a rare solo, all-acoustic performance on March 2, 2014 at Chicago Street Theatre (154 W. Chicago Street) in Valparaiso. St. Holmes’ performance set will include songs from his own albums along with songs he recorded with Nugent. Tickets ($30 reserved/$60 VIP) are now on sale. More: www.chicagostreet.org/concerts or (219) 464-1636.