Rockin’ Ronnie coming to Yukon Freedom Fest

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A radio disc jockey who has played rock and roll for the world since the 1950s is coming to Yukon and with him comes his mobile music for a car show.

He is a legend in rock and roll and radio history.

Ronnie Kaye has been going strong since 1957, and he is now 83 years-old.

Kaye will DJ at Yukon’s Freedom Fest Saturday at noon. The Freedom Fest Car Show on Saturday, July 3, is from from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at City Park, 2200 S. Holly. Admission is free. Kaye will DJ noon to 3 p.m.

In a recent telephone interview, Kaye talked about the styles that have changed in music and in clothes over the years. He said his latest publicity shot is of him in a fringed jacket from about four decades ago.

My clothes by the way are almost as old as I am. That fringe vest has been around a long time. You get attached to clothes that you buy, the 1970s he Mod stuff you buy through the era. People ask, ‘Why do you wear those old clothes? This is 2021.’ Clothes have a vibe, an energy,” Kaye said.

The fringe vest he still wears was brought at Oak Tree at Quail Springs Mall, he remembered.

I bought clothes all over the place, Hollywood,” Kaye said.

Clothing salespeople in California often tell customers someone famous just bought the same garment, Kaye said. He was told James Brown once bought the same suit he was looking at in one Hollywood store.

There was a shirt one year that Toby Keith also liked, Kaye said he was told out in California.

The salesman said to Kaye in the store that “Toby Keith from Oklahoma,” had just bought the same shirt.

And Kaye ran across Toby Keith a short time later. Kaye learned it was true, Keith had also bought the same style shirt. Only Keith had shredded some fringes to it to add a bit more of his style.

For Saturday, Kaye plans to wear something cool for the Oklahoma weather.

Don’t quote me on what the weather will be. I don’t do weather,” Kaye said.

He does do the music. And he has done it 64 years.

In 1957, Ronnie Kaye was working as a DJ at KLCN in Blytheville, Arkansas. He had just started working as disc jockey there. And he could also listen to WHBQ in Memphis, a station with Wink Martindale who was working the morning show, and Kaye heard the show on his radio that picked up AM in a 1957 Ford.

Martindale was mostly playing Elvis. “That is exactly what everybody was playing then,” Kaye said.

Elvis was just getting started and we were getting 100 letters a day in Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri in a tri-state area from people wanting to hear Elvis. One day I got a letter from Gary Pepper from the Elvis Presley National Fan Club President. He was a paraplegic who Elvis befriended. The storm of Elvis and the music he created was just building then and would last for decades in various forms, from rockabilly to punk to country.

Everybody knew that something with Elvis was happening, something like an earthquake like something that might never happen again,” Kaye said.

Elvis was in California filming a movie, when Kaye decided to drive to Elvis’ home in Memphis, Graceland. Kaye met Elvis’ father Vernon Presley.

Vernon Presley gave him chunks of carpet that they were throwing out. The old carpet was red and the new was white. So, Vernon Presley let Kaye have the red carpet Elvis had walked on. Pieces of it were cut up and given away in radio promotions for years, Kaye said.

I was going to Memphis State University during the week and hitchhiking to Blytheville to work on the radio station on the weekends,” Kaye said.

In the 1960s, Kaye learned the power of TV. He hosted the TV dance show, “The Scene” from 1966 to 1974 that was sponsored by Dr. Pepper and clothing store chain C.R. Anthony’s. The show ran on WKY-TV.

Rock and roll lives on, he said.

We were at the Arts Festival in downtown Oklahoma City this year and I was looking at the building where I first saw a concert by a big name in 1961. It was Fats Domino at the Oklahoma City Municipal Auditorium, later named the Civic Center Music Hall.”

In the world of 2021, Kaye uses computers and talks to the audience when he DJs at an event as he will at noon Friday in Yukon at the Freedom Fest, Chisholm Trail Park.

What he will play, he said, is a mix of what people like. Car show enthusiasts are usually all ages, and he plans to mix the music up with a variety and he will take requests.

Kaye had one fond memory of a Yukon resident, Brian Dunning, an Elvis impersonator who once jumped out of a closet at kaye’s house in his outfit as Elvis at a party for an Elvis fan club one year.

Kaye has been working at KOMA radio since the 1980s. He still is on the air daily weekdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. He also keeps up with demand for the mobile music shows. He said he has done about 40 to 50 mobile music shows a year since the 1970s.

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