The Kimmel Cultural Campus and Philadelphia Orchestra are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Jerry Blavat, a beloved friend & fixture on our Campus and an even greater presence within our city & the music world for decades.
Jerry as a young man acting on hit TV show The Monkees
Called “The Geator with the Heater” or “The Boss with the Hot Sauce,” Jerry has been an icon of Philadelphia over 60 years since he was discovered as a teenager on the television show Bandstand in the 1950s as a young dancer. He was under the age limit (sneaking in when he was just 13!), but Bandstand allowed him to stay to choose the records. He went on to become many things in his storied career including a band manager, record store, club owner, TV host, concert promoter, but most famously as a DJ for multiple radio stations, including WVLT, WXPN, WTKU, WOND, and WBCB. In 1972, he opened his nightclub, “Memories”, in Margate, NJ, where he put on shows throughout the summer. He gained local fame hosting live dances in the area and led his own independent radio station, Geator Gold Radio, helping to break many acts in the 1960s, including the Four Seasons and the Isley Brothers.
Since the Kimmel Center opened in 2001, we have been Jerry’s home for his annual “Jerry Blavat and Friends” concert, where he united a star-studded line-up of guests in Verizon Hall for a night of great music, dancing, and a highly anticipated afterparty in Commonwealth Plaza where Jerry spun the records himself.
Jerry on stage in Verizon Hall with Little Anthony in 2022. Photo by HughE Dillon.
Guests over the years included Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Darlene Love, The Miracles, The Chantels, Brenda Holloway, Little Anthony, The Dimensions, Jay Siegel, and so many more. Jerry performed over 40 shows on our stage over 20 years. We were honored to host these special reunion nights, bringing audiences down ‘memory lane’ and introducing younger fans to the music of generations before.
Jerry’s Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame plaque, located in front of the Academy of Music.
Voted “Best Philly Icon” in a Philadelphia Magazine poll, Blavat has shared his love for music across generations of listeners while filling Philadelphia’s radio waves with golden oldies. He was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia’s Hall of Fame, Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. A name beloved by many, Jerry became a mainstay special guest at the 6ABC Thanksgiving Day Parade and Italian American Parade.
Jerry Blavat will be missed by so many, including all of us at the Kimmel Cultural Campus and Philadelphia Orchestra. May we find comfort in remembering the energy Jerry brought to the airwaves and the stage, as well as the joy he found doing what he loved for a lifetime. His impact on not just the music world, but all of the Philadelphia region, will long live on. It’s widely said that “Philly loves Philly,” but truly no one loved this city more than Jerry Blavat.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Jerry Blavat Endowed Fund at: kimmelculturalcampus.org/donate