Long-time DJ, entertainer, music guardian and historian Jerry Blavat — The Geator with the Heater, the Boss with the Hot Sauce — tells all in new autobiography, 'You Only Rock Once.'
ATLANTIC CITY — For years, Jerry Blavat has stuck to the story that a snowstorm that marooned him in a Camden radio station was responsible for setting him on the path that eventually made him a Delaware Valley broadcasting icon.
He still won’t back away from that tale, because it happens to be true. But with the July release of his autobiography You Only Rock Once (Running Press), the 71-year-old disc jockey, entertainer and music guardian and historian, said the seeds of his career were actually sewn out of childhood loneliness.
Blavat was the product of a broken home — his Jewish father and Italian mother separated when he was very young — and his mother used to schlep him and his older sister Roberta off to a day nursery before she went to her job at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
“So while the other kids were outside playing, I was in bed listening to the radio because we had to get up so early,” Blavat recalled during an interview prior to a recent book signing party hosted by KOOL 98.3, Blavat’s radio home at the Jersey Shore.
He still hadn’t tuned in to music yet. Serials like The Lone Ranger and Straight Arrow filled the gaps in his life, he said. When he was 13 and an uncle began appearing on Bob Horn’s original Bandstand television show, Blavat discovered two things that forever shaped and changed his life: music and dancing.
“Music filled the loneliness in my life, and dancing made me happy,” Blavat said softly and seriously, seemingly uncharacteristic for the still-wiry and frenetic man known to two generations as “The Geator with the Heater.”
Blavat’s back story is almost as improbable as his career. A prize-winning jitterbugger on Bandstand, Blavat was just 15 when he quit the show after Horn was replaced with little-known DJ Dick Clark, but not before he was arrested for leading a picket line against Clark in front of the TV station.
By the time he was 19, married and with a family on the way, Blavat had already worked as a valet for an unknown comedian and actor named Don Rickles and served as road manager for Danny and the Juniors when their hit single “At the Hop” was at the top of the charts.
His entrée into radio was the result of a lucky roll of the dice during a street-corner craps game, he said.
He had left the road and returned to the South Philadelphia neighborhood where he’d grown up. He went to hang on his favorite street corner, and the owner of a nightclub called the Venus Lounge said he was looking for someone to host a radio show from the club.
“Ask Blavat,” one of the local wise guys (read: mob lackies) said sarcastically. “He knows everything about show business.”
The club owner looked quizzically at the skinny kid.
“I told him I could do it,” Blavat said, but the man had his doubts. With nothing to lose — and having already established six as his point in the craps game — Blavat had a proposition.
“I told him if I made my number, he’d have to let me do the [radio] show,” he remembered. Blavat rolled the dice two more times without crapping out — and then rolled a six.
Once again, greetings and salutations. With the holidays upon us and Christmas right around the corner, we wish you all good cheer. And for all of the Geator Gold guys and gals who have been asking, we will celebrate by having our annual Christmas party this year at the SugarHouse Casino in Philly on Wednesday, Dec. 21, from 5-7pm, and it will be live on WVLT Cruisin’ 92.1 FM. Hope to see you there. And a reminder that if you’re going to join us for our gala Fire and Ice New Year’s Eve bash in the Mark Etess Arena at the Taj, I suggest that you get your tickets now, simply because this event will be sold out, as it is every year, well before the New Year approaches. For your tickets, contact the box office at 609-449-1000 or...
Greetings and salutations, and happy holidays! Before you know it, the New Year will be upon us. And it’s official: tickets are now on sale for the Geator’s gala Fire and Ice New Year’s celebration at the Taj. Every year it’s sold out, so I suggest you inquire about the fun and festivities and order your tickets now at (609) 449-1000 or at ticketmaster.com.
Once again, greetings and salutations. Hard to believe we’re moving into the middle of October, and before you can wink an eye, the holidays will be here, and then another new year. And speaking about the New Year, our great news is that our gala New Year’s Eve party this year will again be at the Atlantic City Trump Taj Mahal, this time in the main room. Stay tuned for info on how you can get your tickets. And if you haven’t been able to get my book, You Only Rock Once, we’ll have copies on hand this Friday night at Fabulous ’50s Weekend in Wildwood, and again on Tuesday, Oct. 18, when...
It isn’t uncommon to see a line forming well before doors open at Memories in Margate — the Amherst Avenue nightclub Jerry “The Geator with the Heater” Blavat has owned since 1972 — during weekend nights in the summer. This past weekend, though, had special significance, and the early Friday night flock certainly knew it.
There was a time when the Geator was more famous than he is now. But what his audiences have lost in hair they’ve more than made up for in devotion. Jerry Blavat, who’ll be 70 this summer, hears the shouts as he bikes around the city.
Mirroring the many family-tree faces its owner has entertained for around five decades, Memories could serve as a microcosm of Jerry Blavat's still-vigorous broadcasting career. The difference is it ...
Ask The Geator Musical MemoriesBy Jerry Blavat--> Once again, greetings and salutations. Before getting to your questions, a quick reminder that on Friday, Aug. 31, the Hilton will present our Disco D...
Over 35 years ago, a young man known as the "Geator with the Heater" performed with a rock 'n' roll group at the Elbow Room in Margate. Although well known as a disc jockey, Jerry Blavat showed his t...
One of the lessons one grandfather taught one kid was the value of having an area of expertise. People, places or things that claim to appeal to the masses, do the work of many, or cross several diff...