Joe “Butterball” Tamburro – Legendary Philly DJ Passes at 70
Funny how you know someone without ever meeting them!
I didn’t know the man personally…but then again, many of my disc jockey heroes I’d only known by their radio personas.
Joe “Butterball” Tamburro was someone I’d heard and read about…but felt I’d known all along because of the music that became the soundtrack of my life.
It was the music he introduced to the world on Philly’s WDAS that eventually made its way up the Jersey Turnpike and into the hands of legendary DJ Frankie Crocker at WBLS.
Whenever I think of the ‘60s and ‘70s RnB, Soul, and Disco; the names that will be inexorably linked to it will be Frankie Crocker; and by extension, Joe Tamburro!
Think of Gamble and Huff, the Intruders, the Delfonics, the Ebonys, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, Spinners, Patty LaBelle…and on and on; and you’ll find the common link is “Butter!”
According to a statement from WDAS-FM Radio, Tamburro died at 10:00 a.m. Friday. The cause of death was not immediately released.
Tamburro grew up in South Philadelphia and began working at WDAS in 1964 as an advertising salesman. The nickname “Butterball” was given by then-program director Jimmy Bishop. Tamburro eventually became a part-time and later full-time disc jockey. His oldies show soon became a hit.
Tamburro went on to became Program Director for WDAS and is credited with giving many R&B artists their start.
In addition to his contributions to broadcasting and the music industry, Tamburro was also known for his work on behalf of the Philadelphia-area civil rights movement, offering the airwaves to leaders including the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Cecil B. Moore.
He was honored for his work on the air by Philadelphia Mayors William Green and W. Wilson Goode, the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, Philadelphia City Council, the Pennsylvania legislature and others.
Whenever I hear the song, “The Last DJ” by Tom Petty; I think of the guys; and gals, who not only played the music…but introduced it into the world.
Unfortunately that ship has sailed.
And it’s very likely “Butter” was indeed the “last” of them!