Someone returned into my life last week and he brought along with him a wealth of memories.
Like so many great singers, he doesn’t have a last name. Back in his hey day, he was known simply as, “Julio–the World’s Biggest Seahawks fan.”
Julio was a lounge singer who performed at the White Shutters Inn in Renton and boy, did he love his Seattle Seahawks. So much, that every Friday morning before a Seahawks game, he would drop off a cassette at the KLSY building that contained a customized Seahawks song which he had recorded and which we would feature on the Murdock, Hunter & Alice Morning Show. The basic formula for each song was to have a few lines commenting about the last game, toss in something about the upcoming game, work in a clever play on words involving the next opponent and then wrap up with several, “How ’bout dem Hawks!” As time went on, he dragged in celebrities to help him say, “How ’bout dem Hawks” including Elvira–Mistress of the Dark, Tiny Tim, Aaron Brown, Stan Boreson, Scotty from ‘Star Trek’ and many others. Here’s one of several wrap-ups Stan Boreson did for Julio.
I went through three different program directors at KLSY from the inception of Julio to his last song on the station.
Again, we’re talking 30 years ago so I’m going completely on what details I remember. My first KLSY program director, Chris Mays, turned me on to the song by Matt Bianco song, “Yeh, Yeh” and I couldn’t help but notice how much instrumental there was in that tune. So, I took out those pieces and created a music bed, searching for something I could do with it.
Even though KLSY was marketed as “Classy” and offered up Soft Rock songs to a mostly female audience, we still did sports things. For a while, we had a Don James show in the afternoon. Seriously. And eventually, Seahawks quarterback Dave Krieg became a regular guest on the morning show. We got to know him so well, his wife Sue would do fill-in administrative work every now and then. Great people.
So, we had a Seahawks connection and it just seemed logical for me to create a rah-rah song supporting the team. The next thing you know, I did a couple of these “How ‘Bout Dem Hawks” songs and a character was born.
Back in my college years, I spent a couple of lost summers working at the United Airlines flight kitchen down in Los Angeles. That definitely needs to be the topic of a future blog. We’re talking scraping dishes and putting them into a conveyer belt where they would receive a high-temp wash and then be organized on the other side. I was either loading or unloading, 8 hours a day.
One of our supervisors was a guy named Julius. My guess would be that he was somewhere in his 50s, had a big round belly, receding hair and was always wearing one of those paper hats made popular in the food services industry. Picture him, walking around, making sure everything was moving along and then, when the time came, yelling out, “OK everybody, break time!” It’s that voice I have in my head when I sang as Julio.
Being a Latin music bed, it seemed only right to take that voice and modify the name Julius to Julio.
Eventually, we switched program directors and Bobby Irwin arrived on the scene. He was big on backstories. It was Bobby who found a picture of a mom with two kids, one around 5, the other in a stroller and taped it up in the control room so that every personality would remember that we were talking to “Darlene.” We should always say things that mattered to her, never saying anything that would embarrass her in front of her kids–THAT was our listener. He also recommended we humanize Julio and give him a backstory. Bobby gets full credit of coming up with the fact he was a lounge singer that performed at the White Shutters Inn in Renton. However, no matter how real we made him on the air, he would be Santa-esque–he would come and leave something, but no one ever saw him drop off that cassette in the early hours of a Friday morning.
Geeze, I think about those days and remember having to explain the concept to celebrities after an interview with them. I hoped each would play along and say “How ’bout dem Hawks” for use in a future song. Elvira was all about it and ad-libbed her way through a couple of great lines.
There was also the time we did a week of shows in Japan and I even pulled off doing a Julio overseas by singing along in the stairs of our hotel in order to get the reverb. It wasn’t the greatest, but it kept the streak alive.
Then, after 7 years or so of doing Julio, it just felt like it was time for him to fade away and so he did. The Hawks were giving us very little to “How ’bout” about and so, he became a part of KLSY history. At least he survived until the Barry McKay (program director #3) era, which meant his tenure covered three PD’s! It wasn’t long until, as staff changed over, there were KLSY employees when asked about Julio who would respond with, “Who?” and I’d say, “No, it’s who–LEE-o!”
During his run on KLSY, I easily recorded over 100 “How ’bout dem Hawks” songs that still exist, although on tape and that is fading fast. I’m trying to digitize them as quickly as possible along with the hundreds of other tapes I have under the house. It’s a “spare time” thing, which means it’s almost impossible.
Last weekend, as we approached the Green Bay game, it just seemed like the perfect time for Julio to make a comeback. I didn’t know if it would be a one-game thing, or if he would go along for the ride through the playoffs and eventually, to the Super Bowl. Besides, if Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin can come out of retirement, why not Julio–the World’s Biggest Seahawks Fan?
So, I got out the rhyming dictionary, started thinking about the subjects I could talk about or make fun of, and Julio was back. I even gave his return a little hype the day before on social media.
I was already thinking ahead to the next week. Had the Seahawks won, Julio was definitely going to be back for at least one more week. When I heard San Francisco was the first NFL with a comfort dog, I imagined Julio tossing a cat into the locker room. I was even giving thought to doing a video to go along with the song. However, it was all not meant to be.
The power of Julio and “How ’bout dem Hawks” was not enough to extend the Seahawks season. Still, what an amazing run for a really banged-up team that none of us were planning on seeing go this far. Where do we go from here? I don’t know about you, but I’m going to take up Marshawn on his advice and take care of my body, my mentals, my bread and my chicken and stand by until the next Seahawks season, 7 months away.
Hopefully, Julio will swing back around and rejoin the party. In the meantime, you can still catch him at the White Shutters Inn in Renton, Wednesday through Sunday nights. He’s off Mondays and does dishes on Tuesdays.
How ’bout dem Hawks!