February 14, 2006

RIP: Del Courtney (1910-2006)

Del Courtney with Louis Armstrong at KSFO (1955)One of the monumental entertainment figures in Bay Area history, Del Courtney, died last Saturday (Feb. 11) in Honolulu. He was 95 years old.

Del Courtney was born in Oakland in 1910 and was a popular bandleader locally beginning in the 1930s. He had his own show on KWBR in Oakland (the forerunner of today's KMKY/1310) and was later a disc jockey on KSFO in San Francisco during its golden age as "The World's Greatest Radio Station," alongside Don Sherwood, Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins and Jim Lange in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

He also hosted a regular variety show on KPIX (Channel 5) in the 1950s, and was the producer and co-host of ABC-TV's "The King Family" variety series in the 1960s; Del's wife, Yvonne, was a King sister. He also co-owned radio station KSAN (1450 AM, now known as KEST) from 1964 to 1975 with Les Malloy, another Bay Area entertainment legend.

In addition, he was the leader of the Oakland Raiders band, which entertained during the team's home games during the 1960s and 1970s, and was the Raiders' director of administration for many years. He was also instrumental in the formation of the team's signature Raiderettes cheerleading squad.

Del Courtney's autobiography, "Hey! The Band's Too Loud," was published by AuthorHouse in January 2005.