Rigdon Osmond "Rick" Dees III (born March 14, 1950 in Jacksonville, Florida) is Los Angeles, California-based radio disc jockey, host of the internationally-syndicated "Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 Countdown", and a musician, best known for his 1976 novelty hit "Disco Duck". He hosted the morning drive show on Birmingham's WSGN-AM from 1973 to 1974.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Dees was raised in Greensboro, North Carolina and graduated from Grimsley High School there while also working at WGBG-AM. He earned a bachelor's degree in radio, TV, and motion pictures from the University of North Carolina and also continued working at WXYC-FM in Chapel Hill before coming to Birmingham.
Dees' morning drive program at WSGN was the city's top-rated show in that time-slot, but was eclipsed by the upstart WERC-AM. Dees went on to WKIX-FM in Raleigh, North Carolina and WMPS-AM in Memphis, Tennessee. While there in 1976 he wrote and produced the novelty song "Disco Duck" with Donald Duck-inspired vocals by Ken Pruitt. The unexpected hit which sold six-million singles, won a People's Choice award, and made a cameo in John Badham's 1977 film "Saturday Night Fever". Dees eventually went on tour as "Rick Dees and The Cast of Idiots" to promote the song. Michael Chesney took Pruitt's place as vocalist for Disco Duck.
Dees' dual roles as Top-40 DJ and Top-40 musician introduced a conflict of interest. WMPS executives forbid him from playing the single and fired him when he complained about it on the air. Other stations in Memphis also blacklisted the single for fear of promoting their competitor. Meanwhile Dees' former rivals in Birmingham were required to play the hit on regular rotation. After a 45-day non-compete clause in his contract expired, Dees took a job with WHBQ-AM in Memphis.
WHBQ's owners, RKO General, offered him the morning slot at their Los Angeles station, 93KHJ-AM. He left in July 1981 when the station switched to a country format and helped build KIIS-FM into a powerhouse station, debuting his Weekly Top 40 countdown program in September 1983 when the station lost the rights to air American Top 40. Dees was named "Radio Personality of the Year" by Billboard magazine for fifteen consecutive years. His comedy album, Hurt Me Baby – Make Me Write Bad Checks, garnered a Grammy nomination in 1984.
ABC aired the late-night television program "Into the Night with Rick Dees" for one season in 1990-91. He also hosted "Solid Gold" for a while and guest starred on programs such as "Roseanne", "Married... with Children", "Cheers", and "Diagnosis: Murder". He also portrayed DJ Ted Quillin in the Richie Valens biopic La Bamba and provided voices in the film versions of "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons". He was a co-founder of the former "Fine Living Network" owned by E. W. Scripps.
Dees left KIIS-FM in 2004 and was replaced by Ryan Seacrest. He returned to the air in August 2006 on KMVN-FM, co-hosting a morning show with Patti "Long Legs" Lopez and Mark Wong until April 2009 when the station switched to a Spanish language format. Dees continued to produce his syndicated shows, including two versions of the "Weekly Top 40" for pop and adult contemporary audiences, and "The Daily Dees", which airs mid-days Monday through Friday. He returned to KIIS-FM in a simulcast arrangement with sister-station KHHT-FM, from May 2011 to July 2012.
Dees is a recipient of the Marconi Award and the Grammy Governor's Award. He has been inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and the North Carolina Broadcast Hall of Fame. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and serves on the nominating committee for the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
Outside of broadcasting, Dees raises cattle and crops on his central Kentucky farm. His hobbies include water skiing, golf and making pastries. He and his wife, comedian Julie McWhirter, live in Los Angeles and have one son, Kevin.
- Dees, Rick (1976) The Original Disco Duck
- Dees, Rick (1983) Hurt Me Baby, Make Me Write Bad Checks
- Dees, Rick (1984) Put It Where the Moon Don't Shine
- Dees, Rick (1985) I'm Not Crazy
- Dees, Rick (1985) Rick Dees' Greatest Hit (The White Album). Macola Record Co. MRC-0971
- Dees, Rick (1996) Spousal Arousal
- "Rick Dees" (February 17, 2014) Wikipedia - accessed March 3, 2014