Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Final Exit

After a long illness, former Chicago overnight radio personality Eddie Schwartz died last night in Des Plaines, Illinois, of heart and renal failure.

Although due to his late shift, I rarely listened to Eddie on local AM stations such as WGN or WLUP (AKA: “The Loop”), my biggest (indirect) exposure to him was via a pitch-perfect impression by The Loop’s Kevin Matthews, who later expanded his on-air schtick of Ed (who was very overweight) by creating “Ed Zeppelin” – an authentic rock band (which I actually saw live once) fronted by Kev in a fat suit singing parodies of classic rock tracks with a food theme.

Thus, the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” became “I Could Eat Egg Rolls Forever” and so on. This act was also hilarious as Kev (on-stage as Eddie) would mock his rival’s wheezy on-air voice, and habit of offering listeners first aid advice (whether they wanted it or not) as if he were a paramedic.

So popular did this whole riff on Ed become—especially after he joined WLUP’s radio roster—that Kevin Matthews and Ed Zeppelin once played to a mid-summer crowd of 20,000 fans at the old Poplar Creek Music Theatre in suburban Chicago, which apparently rankled the real Mr. Schwartz to no end.

Anyhow, it’s ironic (to me anyhow) that my fondest memories of Ed Schwartz were of him as a goofy—but good-natured--caricature now that he’s passed on.

Goodbye, sir.

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