A chat with 80s DJ icon Richard Blade

80s DJ Icon Richard Blade

If you grew up in the greater Los Angeles area in the ’80s and watched music videos then you should know Richard Blade. Richard Blade is a British DJ import during what we called the ’80s “British Invasion” or “The Music of UK“. When I was living in Los Angeles, I remember watching the show “Video One” faithfully, Blade was the host. That was the start of my love of British music specifically New Wave. I particularly admired Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, The Cure, Adam Ant, The Smiths, New Order, OMD, Gary Numan and Wham. Their music was a major part of my adolescent life and Richard Blade was part of that era. Blade is the quintessential disc jockey of the new wave music of the 80s. Blade who came from Toquay, England moved to Los Angeles and started working as a DJ at KROQ in Los Angeles in 1982. After a couple of months working in LA, according to Nielsen audio, he became the #1 rated radio personality on the West Coast. Blade also appeared in a couple TV shows such as Hunter, Divorce Court and Sarah Jessica Parker’s Square Pegs which also reminds me of one of my favorite teen movies of the ’80s. It was “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” where Blade also appeared in the 1985 movie as a TV host.

In the 90s, Blade took over Casey Kasem’s America’s Top 10 TV show and had a segment at KROQ called FlashBack at 12. Currently Blade has a regular show on 93.1 Jack FM in Los Angeles with the ’80s show “Flashback Lunch” as well as First Wave with Richard Blade on Sirius XM. He has been busy as ever touring and hosting shows for special events, clubs and shows like the upcoming massive Los Angeles ’80s Weekend #4 at the Microsoft Theater.

Richard Blade shows no signs of slowing down

Richard Blade shows no signs of slowing down

With over three decades on the music scene, Blade shows no signs of slowing down. I was able to catch up with Richard Blade before going to his gig at the Totally 80s Club in Fullerton. It was a delight to interview this really down to earth genuine personality.

In this interview you’ll find out how the British Disc Jockey got started in the biz, his other passion and the musicians he still wants to meet.

Popbuff: How did you start your career as a Disk Jockey?
RB: I was a college DJ in Oxford. I noticed that the DJ at the Social Club got all the girls …(chuckles). That’s how I started. I really really enjoyed it. I work in the summers in the British Resort towns…the Holiday towns in England. And then when I left college I didn’t want to teach or become an actor or anything like that. I had a couple degrees. So I went to Europe and worked for a couple of years and came over to America in the late ’70s. I’ve been in America much longer than I was in England but I never lost the accent (chuckles).

Popbuff: How do you feel being labeled as the iconic ’80s DJ?
RB: I’m so flattered. I think I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. Music was changing and exploding. I was talking about this on the radio today on Sirius XM. I was saying that ‘This coming Monday I’m gonna be doing a countdown on the air from 1983’. That was a year when New Wave was really established. It started in 1970 and 1980 … and ’81 and ’82 a lot of bands came together but ’83 to ’85 were amazing years for music. So many great songs that rocked on to the scenes.

Popbuff: In the ’80s, we called it The British Invasion …do you see it coming to America again? What’s your prediction?
RB: I don’t know, I mean everything changed so much. Thanks to the internet. Music is delivered a different way. It’s sold a different way…if it’s even sold anymore. And it’s listen to in a completely different way because of satellite radio, because of Spotify and Pandora. And the way people share the music is completely different to anything it ever was, so things can change on a dime literally. It used to be ….we would get a record and listen to a record and we would play it and people in Southern California would get a buzz and other stations would add it and then MTV would add it and it would become big. Now, a song can break in literally 24 hours and get 30 million hits on YouTube if it’s a great song. It happened so many times. Look at Justin Bieber , Psy (Gangnam Style) which I always played it live at the gig. It’s amazing how it changes. So I would not predict the future because I think we are in the the future and it’s evolving. It’s changing so fast.

Popbuff: Going back to your career, what did you like most about it?
RB: I’ve been so fortunate in the fact that I’ve been able to continue working and playing music and being in the industry that to me is the biggest thrill. I love working live, playing in clubs, doing private parties and I love the radio as well. And I like to do little side projects, you know, some writing, some TV and things. So I’ve been very fortunate with that.

Popbuff: What do you dislike?
RB: I have very few complains about it. For me when I look at my career I just think I’ve been blessed to have been fallen into it. I fell into young age and kept it going. I even tried quitting in 2000 when I moved to the Caribbean. I deliberately left KROQ and gave plenty of notice and left on a good foot. I moved to the Caribbean and then lured back three years later. I had a wonderful
time. Loved St. Martin’s. It was fantastic. I loved being a diving instructor. I’ve been diving since I was kid. I used to make my own wet suite when I was 13. Then I learned to dive at the Royal Air Force in England and then became a dive instructor here in ’88. Did all the diving instructional videos with PADI worldwide. My dream was always to teach diving in a warm water location. So
I’ve been fortunate to do so many things and fortunate keeping it.

Richard Blade spins at Totally 80s Bar and Grill

Richard Blade spins at Totally 80s Bar and Grill

Popbuff: What’s on your bucket list?
RB: I’d like to write a book. I think I would like to do another movie. I’ve done a couple. I wrote a movie that got made for Lifetime channel and I wouldn’t mind writing. I wrote for TV shows as well in ’98 and ’99. It was called “7 Days”. It was a scifi show on what was UPN, it’s now called CW. It was a time travel show. I wrote the season 2 finale which featured Depeche Pharmaceuticals and it was called “The Cure” so it was a fun one. But I’ve got a couple of ideas and stuff and I wouldn’t mind doing but it’s just finding the time. It’s not like a burning ambition like I have to do this but if you ask me my bucket list, those are the two things: write a book and get a script …theatrically made. But then the whole theatrical market is changing, do you want to be theatrically made or you wanna put it on Amazon or Netflix?

Popbuff: You met and interviewed a lot of musicians, is there any one that you still would love to meet?
RB: There’s a lot of people I would like to meet. Most people I’ve met I wanted to meet but one person I’ve never met is Madonna and I would love to meet her. Her management kept her very isolated. She was very much an MTV baby. I’d like to chat with Madonna and do an interview with her. I think she’s such an icon and still is. She is outspoken. God bless her…whether you agree with her opinion or not I think it’s fantastic. She can speak out without fear. So God bless her for that. I’d like to talk to Morrissey again. I spent a lot of time with him in the ’90s but he’s become very reclusive. When he’s on form, he is the best interview you can do, the best period. But when he’s not, he can be arrogant. But we have good days and we all have bad days. I’m not knocking him for it. You catch someone on a bad day that doesn’t mean they are like that everyday of their life. That was just the moment you called them. So I’m always believing giving people a second chance. And Morrissey’s being better and smarter than just for everyone else most of the time. You get him on a day when he’s been screwed up by a record company or whatever …. of course he’s not gonna be responding well.

Totally '80s bar and Grill in Fullerton

Totally ’80s bar and Grill in Fullerton

Popbuff: Since we’re talking about icons and my favorite is George Michael. What do you think of George Michael’s tribute at the Grammy’s and The Brit Awards in UK?
RB: Well the Grammy Awards was ok. I hear the Brit Awards was absolutely fantastic. My buddy sent me a link to it but it was taken because of copyright issues by YouTube. And his comment was ‘They know how to do it over in England’ and I’m gonna search a copy of that. I hear it’s just wonderful. And he was such an icon like Adele saying a quote … ‘How effin hot he was.’ And he was! The women loved him and the guys and it didn’t matter. He was such a talent, he was such a brilliant writer, fantastic performer and his voice is like an angel.

Popbuff: Have you worked with George Michael?
RB: Oh yes worked with him several times. He was as nice as they come. Such a giving person. And when he walked into the room and saw you …. all he wanted to do was find out what was going on with you and it’s like ‘George right now you are the most interesting person in this room …tell me about yourself. ‘No no no I wanna find out about you’ and it was genuine. That was the way he was. He was not one of these egotist. He gave quietly a lot of money to charity and people in need, not just organized charity. He would see someone on television…it was on the Graham Norton show. There was a girl in the audience having medical issues. And he paid all her medical cost and he did under the condition of anonymity. He didn’t want any claim. He was a giving person.

Popbuff blogger Ruchel Freibrun and 80s icon DJ Richard Blade

Popbuff blogger Ruchel Freibrun and 80s icon DJ Richard Blade

Popbuff: Any projects brewin’?
RB: Well a lot of traveling this year. I’ve been so fortunate with my live appearances. Without sounding like bigheaded, working live I don’t think I’ve ever been better than I am right now. It’s because I’ve done it so much the last few years consistently and because of that, I get so many exciting bookings …. DJing a cruise through Tahiti in September. I’m DJing a big event in Cancun
in October. I’m DJing a week in Dominican Republic in Punta Cana in November with Howard Jones, Berlin, Starship and all these 80s band called “80s in The Sand”. And all these things are just so exciting. I just love it. But I still leave time for my wife and I to hang out and goof off and watch “Walking Dead” and cuddle with the doggies. That is so important to us. I love to work out everyday and swim. Things have been great. The fact that I’m able to do that by playing music is stunning to me because I’ve always loved music.

Popbuff: Any words for the fans?
RB: It’s a very cliche thing to say but I so appreciate the people that listen to me and come to the gigs because without them I would be digging ditches, pushing up boats or walking behind the bar or whatever. All of which I’ve done in the past and before I became a DJ. And people always say ‘Does it get old? ‘Do you mind people coming up and saying hi to you?’ No I’m flattered by every single time. The only thing I mind is from the airport running for plane or trying to put a coin in parking meter before I get a ticket. Someone asked for a selfie and I can’t stop, that’s when I mind because they think I’m being a jerk about it….. It’s like “No it’s just a one minute. I can’t stop’. Otherwise I am just flattered flattered flattered because they have more important job like I do. They probably work as a doctor’s assistant, they probably work as a firefighter, they work as a policeman. I did a retirement party for Glendora Police Chief, two or three weeks ago. I was thinking what he’s done makes what I do pale in comparison. That is why I appreciate the people because I know that what I said for whatever reason they listened to me and God, I thank them for it and in return I also thank the artist for making the music. I thank Duran Duran, New Order, The Pet Shop Boys and INXS and the Smiths for being there because without them I wouldn’t have music to play and you wouldn’t have the music to dance to so it’s like Reagan’s trickle-down economics, it’s like trickle-down happiness. It starts with a music. I’m just a little cog on that chain. But gosh it’s great to be on that chain.

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