Radio personality Jim Ladd attends a ceremony inducting The Goo Goo Dolls into the Guitar Center RockWalk at Guitar Center in Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles on May 7, 2013. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES—Flowers were placed Dec. 19 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame star of Jim Ladd, in memory of the disc jockey and producer who championed classic rock for decades and interviewed many of the rock era’s top artists in his Los Angeles studios and during stints at KMET, KLOS, and SiriusXM.
Mr. Ladd, who lived in the Hollywood Hills, died late Saturday night at age 75 after suffering a heart attack, DJ Meg Griffin announced on SiriusXM on Monday in the time slot of Mr. Ladd’s weekly show on the Deep Tracks satellite channel.
The supposed inspiration for the Tom Petty song and album title, “The Last DJ,” Mr. Ladd had been with SiriusXM since 2012 as one of the few free-form rock DJs still going in radio.
Mr. Ladd worked in music radio for more than 50 years and was named Los Angeles’s top FM DJ in the late 1970s and early 1980s during his run at KMET. While at the station, Mr. Ladd created and hosted “InnerView,” an hour-long nationally syndicated program that aired on more than 160 stations between 1974 and 1986. Among the subjects he interviewed were John Lennon, Pink Floyd, U2, Joni Mitchell, Eagles, and Led Zeppelin.
He also created the nationally syndicated show “Headsets” and developed thematic sets of songs that became his signature, punctuated by his longtime catchphrase, “Lord have mercy!”
Born Jan. 17, 1948, in Lynwood, Mr. Ladd began his career in 1969 as the midnight-6 a.m. disc jockey at KNAC, a Long Beach FM station that had recently switched to an underground rock music format.
In 1971, Mr. Ladd moved to KLOS-FM (95.5), hosting one of FM radio’s top-rated shows. He moved to rival KMET-FM (94.7) in 1975, to satisfy his longing to again play “free-form rock and roll.”
Mr. Ladd’s most memorable moment at KMET came in 1977, when he urged listeners to call the White House’s 24-hour public comment line to protest the spraying of the defoliant paraquat on Mexican marijuana fields. According to Mr. Ladd, the listeners jammed the White House’s circuits for days on end.
Mr. Ladd remained at KMET through 1987, when it changed formats. After portraying a rebel disc jockey on Roger Waters’s concept album, “Radio K.A.O.S.,” Mr. Ladd returned to the Los Angeles airwaves in 1991 at the classic rock station KLSX.
Mr. Ladd rejoined KLOS in 1997, leaving for SiriusXM in 2011 to host his own show on the Deep Tracks channel.
In 1991, Mr. Ladd published his memoir, “Radio Waves: Life and Revolution on the FM Dial,” which told of his times working as a top Los Angeles rock radio DJ before and during a corporate takeover of his station.
Mr. Ladd was named Air Personality of the Year in 2000 by the Los Angeles Music Awards and received The Hollywood Arts Council’s Media Arts Award in 2007. In May 2005, Mr. Ladd received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Mr. Ladd’s star is located at 7018 Hollywood Blvd. Flowers are set to be placed on it at 11 a.m.
Mr. Ladd is survived by his wife, writer and musician Helene Hodge-Ladd. Memorial services were pending.