Valley radio announcer and comedian Buddy Rubbish has died of complications following cardiac surgery.
Rubbish, whose real name was Lou Roscher, was well known to Valley residents in the 1980s and '90s as host of the popular oldies show at WRSI-FM in Greenfield and later as morning host at WRNX-FM.
Friends said Rubbish complained of severe chest pains and nausea Friday night. He was taken to Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield and from there was rushed to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. Doctors reportedly operated and put a stent in his heart.
He died of a brain aneurysm at 8:20 p.m. Friday. Divorced, he leaves two young children. He was 56 and had been living in Turners Falls.
'He was wildly quick, with a great laugh,' said Sean O'Mealy, general manager at WRSI The River. O'Mealy was Rubbish's last boss in radio, bringing him in for a stint as morning host on WPVQ-FM.
'He was always known as the guy with a million jobs,' said O'Mealy, referring to Rubbish's many bartending stints, the most recent at the Delaney House in Holyoke.
A DJ's way
Rubbish's oldies show, which he originally co-hosted with Bobby Darling, was known for its unique way of taking requests: Motorists, with car radios blaring and horns honking, would pull up in the alley down below - appropriately called 'Memory Lane.'
Rubbish's assistants would lower a microphone out the window, enabling the quick-witted host to banter with fans before playing the often-obscure selections they wanted to hear.
Longtime fans of the show remember the opening, an often inspired bit of satire culled from the day's news or from events from the 1950s and '60s, which segued into the show's signature tune, 'Green Onions' by Booker T and the MGs. 'It was the most fun and creative time of my life,' said Joe Leda, aka Bobby Darling, of his time co-hosting the oldies show with Rubbish in the '80s.
'We'd go in at 7 Wednesday night, start writing, and we'd still be writing at 7 the next morning. I was proud to have been part of that,' he said.
Leda described the day he and Rubbish journeyed to Boston with $750 of WRSI's money to buy records for the show as 'two kids in a candy store.'
Rubbish was naturally funny, his humor understated and his delivery straight-faced. 'You could throw anything at him and he wouldn't miss a beat,' said Leda.
Rubbish later hosted the morning show at WRNX, the first announcer that station had when it opened in Amherst.
Early in his tenure there, Rubbish once spent a week on a raft in the middle of Puffer's Pond in Amherst, in a successful attempt to raise funds to reinstate laid-off security personnel at the pond so it could remain open to swimmers. Rubbish slept in a tent nailed to the raft and announced his morning show from that location.
'He saved Puffer's Pond,' said longtime friend and colleague Sean Davey, now vice president and marketing manager at Clear Channel in Springfield. 'He raised $93,000. He was so generous, so funny. I remember 'Throw Buddy from a Plane' and exorcising Babe Ruth's ghost with Father Guido Sarducci at Fenway Park. I've been laughing and crying all day.'
Davey, who always joined Rubbish and friends at his apartment for Red Sox Opening Day, was kicking himself for missing it this year. 'He was young at heart, full of love, a very giving man,' said Davey. 'He made everything fun.'
Buddy Rubbish was born in Long Island in 1952, moving to the Valley in the late '70s by way of Miami, where he met up with the band from the Renaissance Commune and followed them north. He and his partner at the time, Virginia Simpson, started a comedy room in the early 1980s at the Hot L Warren in South Deerfield called a 'Separate Entrance,' which served as an outlet for fledgling comics to perfect their craft. Called the 'Comedy Crunch,' the venue later moved to the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton with Rubbish as master of ceremonies.
No services are planned, but a celebration of Rubbish's life is scheduled for May 18, according to O'Mealy, with more details to come.