Casey Kasem, seen with his Radio Icon Award at the 2003
Radio Music Awards in Las Vegas, has died aged 82.
Casey Kasem, the US radio personality who counted down
pop music hits on his popular weekly radio show and also lent
his distinctive voice to hippie sleuth Shaggy in the "Scooby
Doo" cartoons, died on Sunday. He was 82.
"Early this Father's Day morning, our dad Casey Kasem passed
away surrounded by family and friends," his daughter, Kerri
Kasem, said in a statement posted online. "Even though we
know he is in a better place and no longer suffering, we are
Kasem, whose final years were marked by dementia, had been
the focus of a dispute between his three children from his
first marriage and his second wife, Jean Kasem, who they said
had prevented them from visiting as he suffered from Lewy
body dementia, a malady with symptoms similar to Parkinson's
As his health deteriorated, a Los Angeles judge sided with
the adult children and permitted them to withhold food,
hydration and his usual medication as they choose
comfort-oriented, end-of-life care at a Washington state
'REACHING FOR THE STARS'
"Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the
stars," Kasem, a Detroit-born Lebanese-American, told
millions of listeners at the end of his invariably cheery
weekly radio program, which ran from 1970 to 2009.
On his syndicated show, Kasem counted down the 40 most
popular songs of the week in order, finishing with the No. 1
song. Before each song, Kasem told an upbeat anecdote about
the singer's road to success and read letters from listeners.
At its peak, Kasem's show was heard on more than 1,000
stations in about 50 countries. "I accentuate the positive
and eliminate the negative. That is the timeless thing,"
Kasem told the New York Times in 1990.
There was an immediate outpouring on Twitter from both fans
and celebrities: "We've lost a music industry icon. Chngd the
industry w/AT40 Cntdwn. RIP Casey Kasem," said singer and
actress Marie Osmond.
Motley Crue base player Nikki Sixx said, "RIP Casey Kasem who
inspired all of us in radio & turned millions of people
onto music. Sending love to Kerri Kasem, family and friends."
'GUY NEXT DOOR'
Kasem was famed for his unmistakable tenor voice - also heard
on thousands of commercials and television announcements.
"It's a natural quality of huskiness in the midrange of my
voice that I call 'garbage,'" he told the Times. "It's not a
clear-toned announcer's voice. It's more like the voice of
the guy next door."
For four decades starting in 1969, he provided the voice of
Shaggy - the perpetually hungry, easily frightened,
mystery-solving human pal of a Great Dane in the TV cartoon
series "Scooby Doo, Where Are You!" and its various other
"Zoinks! C'mon, Scoob!" Kasem's Shaggy would exclaim as a
mummy, zombie, snow beast or swamp monster would chase him,
Scooby and fellow youthful sleuths Fred, Velma and Daphne.
He was born in Detroit as Kemal Amin Kasem on April 27, 1932,
the son of a Lebanese Druze grocer. He gained broadcast
experience covering sports for his high school's radio club.
The diminutive Kasem - 5 feet, 6 1/2 inches tall (1.68
meters) - was drafted to serve in the U.S. military in 1952
and was sent to the Korean War, working as a disc jockey on
U.S. armed forces radio.
In 1970, along with childhood friend Don Bustany, Kasem came
up with the idea of a radio show counting down the top pop
hits of the week based on the earlier successful "Your Hit
Parade" program. His show debuted on July 4, 1970, as
"American Top 40".
Kasem had three children with his first wife, Linda Myers,
before divorcing in 1979. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson
officiated when he married his second wife, actress Jean
Kasem, in 1980. They had one child.