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Philly's Jerry Blavat, "Geator with the Heater," dies at 82

Philadelphia icon Jerry Blavat dies at 82
Philadelphia icon Jerry Blavat dies at 82 02:14

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Legendary Philadelphia DJ Jerry Blavat has died at age 82, his family confirmed Friday.

Born Gerald Joseph Blavat on July 3, 1940, to a Jewish father and an Italian mother in South Philadelphia, Blavat found his life's love and local fame at the ripe old age of 13. As a teenager Blavat got into the business on the original American Bandstand with DJ Bob Horn. Blavat became a regular on the show and went on to DJ throughout the area. 

A few years later, he managed a musical acts tour, met comedian and actor Don Rickles - he'd become his valet - and by 1960, he had his own radio show.

His show syndicated throughout the Delaware Valley, from Camden to Atlantic City, Pottstown to Allentown. It was there, on the radio, that he was able to make others' happy. He's quoted as saying, "I play music from the heart, not a research chart."

Blavat was known to some as "the Geator with the Heater" and to others as "the Boss with the Hot Sauce." He hosted live dances and pioneered the "oldies" format on the radio, and got many acts their big break, like the Four Seasons and the Isley Brothers, according to the Kimmel Center. As late as this fall, Blavat was still hosting dance events, playing "oldies but goodies."

In 1972, he opened the club "Memories" in Margate, N.J. 

Blavat wrote a book "You Only Rock Once," in which he discussed relationships with Sammy Davis, Dick Clark and even Angelo Bruno, an underworld leader who Blavat knew from the neighborhood.

Blavat had a spot on the Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame on Broad Street as well.

One of Blavat's shows featured the debut appearance of Dionne Warwick, he told New Jersey Stage magazine. He later appeared in the documentary "Dionne Warwick: Don't Make Me Over," which is streaming on HBO Max.

His family released a statement Friday afternoon.

"Jerry proudly said, 'Life is precious, and I am happy. And when I am happy, I want the world to be happy.' So he lived life to the fullest and enjoyed sharing life with all of you," the statement said.

"His love for Philadelphia only superseded his love of music," the statement continued. "He was proud of this great city, and nothing made him prouder than the impact the music from Philadelphia made on the world."

He had postponed a January 28 show at the Kimmel Center, saying in a Facebook post that "very reluctantly I had to take the advice of my doctors and medical team to hold off on all performances until my physical therapy was complete and I was strong enough to be out there again."

He's survived by four daughters and legions of fans who will never forget him as the Geator.

In lieu of flowers, family request that donations be made to the Jerry Blavat Endowed Fund at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

"Please continue to share your memories of Jerry," the family statement said. "We are enjoying them. He loved all of you. 

"The Boss with the Hot Sauce is with the Big Boss Now."

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