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Vancouver DJ who interviewed Beatles and other rock ‘n’ roll giants dead at 86

Long-time broadcaster, show promoter and advocate for rock ‘n’ roll in Vancouver, Red Robinson, has died, according to his family.

In a statement posted online, Robinson’s family said he passed away, after a brief illness, on Saturday shortly after 8 a.m. PT. He was 86.

“We’re so glad we got to spend his final moments with him, and having his brother Bill there made it extra special,” said his family in the statement.

Robinson began his radio career in 1954 at Vancouver’s CJOR, and his website credits him as the first DJ in Canada to play rock ‘n’ roll music on a regular basis.

It says Robinson jumped to Vancouver CKWX station in 1957, where he met American singer Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. He went on to interview the Beatles and even called Johnny Cash a friend.

Red Robinson on stage with the Beatles in Vancouver.
Robinson is pictured on stage with the Beatles in Vancouver in 1964. (Bill Cunningham for the Red Robinson Collection)

His website says he made the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2000, retiring from radio in 2007.

He received the Order of British Columbia in 2016, and was also the recipient of the Canada 125 award and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.

A picture of Buddy Holly and Red Robinson together.
Robinson is pictured with Buddy Holly in Vancouver in 1957. (Rolly Ford for the Red Robinson Collection)

The City of Vancouver declared March 30, 2017, Red Robinson day in honour of his 80th birthday to recognize his work to bring some of the biggest acts of the ’50s and ’60s to Vancouver.

A picture of Elvis Presley being interviewed by journalists with Red Robinson in the foreground.
Robinson with Elvis Presley in Vancouver in 1957, (Rolly Ford for the Red Robinson Collection)
Red Robinson with Roy Orbison .
Robinson with Roy Orbison. (Craig Hodge for the Red Robinson Collection)

His family said in the statement on Saturday that he also made time for them.

“Most people knew our Dad as a rock’ n’ roll DJ, a TV personality, an ad agency owner, a spokesperson, or through his philanthropic work. He was larger-than-life in a lot of ways, but to us he was a devoted father and grandfather, a loving husband to our late mom Carole, and a loyal friend to everybody.”

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