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Radio : Rick Dees Sounds Off!

February 03, 1985|DENNIS McDOUGAL

IF NICE GUYS FINISH LAST, WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT RICK DEES? Two years ago he was just another L.A. morning deejay. But now KIIS' fun-loving boy wonder is the hottest disc jockey in Los Angeles--and the country. He's everywhere--hosting "Solid Gold" and two syndicated radio shows, doing commercials for Chrysler and Michelob. He's cut a pair of comedy albums and even has a movie development deal in the works at Paramount. It's all made a multimillionaire out of 35-year-old Rigdon Osmond Dees III, seen above defacing one of KIIS' promotional bus boards. But around the KIIS studios, they call Dees "The Little Prince." And some co-workers say he's spiteful, petty, insecure and "just plain nasty." Who is this man who reportedly pays a Hollywood PR firm $3,500 a month for projecting that impish image? Article by Dennis McDougal

The most popular disc jockey in America was mad as hell about his tapes and he wasn't gonna take it anymore.

He was sitting in his private dressing room at Paramount Pictures, trying to explain it all with a grand analogy. He compared the destruction of his childhood collection of leaves to the destruction of his tape cartridges . . . the ones that contained sound effects of unzipping trousers, falling footsteps, orgasmic moaning and teeny squealing.

"You have to understand this: You have a leaf collection that you've been collecting for 17 years," Rick Dees said in an absolutely solemn voice. "You came in and somebody had burned half of your leaf collection up."

Dees began to sound curiously like a young Capt. Queeg relating in growing hysteria how the crew of the Caine conspired to steal his strawberries.

"You thought about those leaves. Maybe you've got one petrified leaf out there . . . and it's the only one, and they burned it too. Now, that would upset you."

Rigdon Osmond Dees III leaned forward during this brief break in the taping of his weekly "Solid Gold" TV show and reread the infamous tape memo that he had personally posted on the walls of the KIIS studios three weeks ago.

Yes, he had threatened to pressure KIIS General Manager Wally Clark to fire any deejay who touched his tapes.

"This is about as mad as I get, so, I'm proud of myself that this is the limit."

But some KIIS co-workers don't see it that way. They paint a portrait of Dees that is at once ambitious and ruthless. But more on that later.

"You see, that's one good thing that relaxes me so much," Dees went on. "I've busted ass and I've worked real hard. One of the rewards is, you can play the odds. You can go in, if you have to, and say, 'I'm sorry, but I can't take this anymore. You're gonna have to get rid of Bob or you're gonna have to get rid of me.' I've never done that, though, because I'm always afraid that they'd get rid of me! You know, that's always my horror."

His cornflower-blue eyes hardened to acrylic. In his black leather pants and thickly starched blue dress shirt, the 35-year-old madcap of L.A. radio would hardly be taken seriously under normal circumstances.

But Dees was not laughing.

"I don't want people stealing my tapes. Do you think Coca-Cola wants Pepsi to copy their formula? Heck no. You think I'm gonna give a road map to my competitors on how to win? Where I fell down? Where I failed?

"I'm not about to tell what type of zipper sound I use to make my zipper sound! I'm not about to tell you how many people it took me to get my 'yeaaa' sound! Let them figure out how many it took on their own ."

Dees grumbles that the tapes that launched him toward fame and fortune are probably being copied and passed around in Bakersfield by now. No, he says resolutely, he does not think he is being petty.

The flapping of the Time Fairy's wings, the unzipping of wino Willard Wizeman's fly, the subtle whoosh of a whoopie cushion . . . all the Dees sleaze had been rifled.

"I finally figured out that somebody has been going in the booth at KIIS and making copies of all the tapes that I had collected. They put them all back the wrong way. Everything was out of order. Everything was sprung."

Dees felt as personally violated as the woman he had called on his radio program that very morning during his "Candid Phone" segment. Thanks to a tip from a "friend" of the woman, Dees called her with the unsettling news that her breast implants had been manufactured by the Chrysler Corp., and that they were defective and had to be recalled.

After revealing to her that she was a victim of "Candid Phone," Dees gleefully observed that someone had "burned your buns!"

Someone had burned his too . . . and he was determined to get even.

"Rick Dees in the morning, you are an idiot, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...."

Each morning from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., the a-cappella KIIS chorus chants the Dees credo to hundreds of thousands of listeners. The loony lyrics signal the beginning of another morning mix of Top 40 hits and the ofttimes tasteless but frequently clever humor of Rick Dees.

Dees owns L.A. radio and he knows it.

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