Pioneering Soul DJ Joe “Butterball” Tamburro Passes Away


Legendary Philadelphia radio personality Joe “Butterball” Tamburro died today (July 27, 2012).

Butterball was a fixture of the Philadelphia music scene for over 50 years, after he joined WDAS in 1964 as a salesman.

WDAS was home to some of the most popular African-American disc jockeys in history.


Georgie Woods, Butterball, Jimmy Bishop, butterball, Bernice Thompson, Jocko Henderson and Hy-Lit, Johnny-O and Mr. Freeze were some of the famous DJs who started at the station.

WDAS was more than just a place to hear music during the 50s and 60s and the station played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement.

Under the guidance of legendary radio executive Bob Klein, WDAS offered a multi-cultural lineup of DJs who thrived during tumultuous era of civil rights.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of the greatest disc jockeys and radio personalities in music radio history,” said Gamble & Huff in a joint statement.

“Joe ‘Butterball’ Tamburro was a class act in radio and the music business, and he was an icon here in Philadelphia,” Gamble & Huff said. “Butterball had a major impact and influence in picking many of the radio hits for our PIR label. More importantly, Butterball was a part of the Gamble-Huff Organization family. He will always be remembered and respected in our hearts and minds forever. There will never be another R&B and soul radio legend like Butterball.”

Fans grooved to the sounds of Butterball and the other popular DJs, while also getting important messages from guests like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Butterball, an Italian-American, later the program director of the famous station, a position he held for decades.

Gamble & Huff labeled Butterball a “good man who was loved and respected by everybody in Philadelphia and around the nation. He had great love for R&B and soul susic and a special love for the Sound of Philadelphia.”

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