Saturday, September 17, 2011

Art Laboe's Memories of El Monte

Art Laboe Remembers the El Monte Legion

Art Laboe single handedly changed the image of the City of El Monte when he brought his Oldies But Goodies show to the Legion Stadium.
Art Laboe joined the Army signal corps, studying radar, but after hearing that the corpsmen were being sent to the South Pacific, and the fact that the corpsmen were first on land, Art became concerned that the casualty rate was 85%. Art was able to resign due to his age; he was 17 years old at the time. Art then joined the Navy as a radio officer. Since he had his FCC license he was assigned to the Pan American Clipper fleet for three years and flew to Hawaii 147 times. He also made many trips to the South Pacific carrying blood and important people.
Art’s first radio job was radio station KSAN San Francisco. Art walked in and asked for a job. The owner took one look at Art and said he didn’t have a job, but what he needed was a guy with an FCC license. Art reached into his pocket and produced three licenses and the owner hired him right then and there.
Art Laboe’s first Los Angeles radio job was at radio station KRKD in 1949. Art would have to sell time for his show which is a common practice in radio today. After KRKD, Art moved to KXLA 1110 where one of his sponsors was the owner of Scrivner’s Drive-In restaurant in Hollywood. Art did a live show from Scrivner’s Drive-In. Rock ‘N’ Roll was just making noise around the country and Art knew this. Art was the first DJ on the West Coast to play rock ‘n’ roll on the air. In 1955 Art was working for KPOP and was broadcasting from Scrivner’s Hollywood restaurant. Art’s show on KPOP generated a 30 Hooper share, making his show the most listened to show on the Los Angeles radio dial.
In 1957 Art Laboe decided to promote live dances and shows, but was unable to book a hall in Los Angeles. The city would not allow children under the age of 18 to attend this type of event. Art found the El Monte Legion Stadium which was big enough to promote his Oldies But Goodies show. The El Monte Legion could hold up to 3,000 people. Art would put on a show every other week for three years. Some of the acts to appear at the El Monte Legion Stadium were, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jackie Wilson, Ritchie Valens, Chuck Berry, Jackie Wilson and Ray Charles.

I asked Art Laboe how he felt when he heard the news back in the seventies that the El Monte Legion Stadium was going to be demolished. “In a word, I felt sad about it. It’s like things come and go you know. Like, I’ve seen in Hollywood, so many restaurants like Scrivner’s Drive-In went out of business.” “It’s always sad to see something that is iconic, that is part of the community, become history. I was sad, and there was not much I could do about it,” continued Art. I then asked Art Laboe his fondest memories of the El Monte Legion Stadium. “There are so many. I played 26 times a year for three years, but mainly what comes into my head is lot of good times. A lot people from southern California came there, Rock ‘N’ Roll was a big tidal wave and I was right in the middle of it from the very beginning.” “I will always have great memories of the stadium and the City of El Monte,” Art continued.

Art Laboe still has the number “1” rated radio show in Southern California on Hot 92.3, and you can hear him every Sunday through Friday, still giving out his dedications to all his fans.
Art Laboe is not only a very kind person he is a great humanitarian. As busy as Art is he will take time to talk to you. I want to thank Art Laboe and Joanna Morones for their help in this article. Art can be seen at his 20th anniversary show September 10, 2011, at the San Manuel Amphitheater.


  1. The article brought back many fond memories for me as those were my teen years

  2. spiderharrison@charter.netSeptember 27, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Outstanding article if a GIANT of a man.
    Spider Harrison