Bo Leibowitz Dead at 74
Alan "Bo" Leibowitz, host of KCRW's "Strictly Jazz," passed away this morning after a long illness. He was 74.
KCRW announced his death on their Facebook page. "His legacy and influence in the LA jazz community is profound," the post station stated, adding that they would share more information about Leibowitz's life and contributions in the coming days.
Leibowitz had been with KCRW since 1979, hosting "Strictly Jazz" every Saturday morning from 3 to 6 a.m. Leibowitz, who had been a fan of jazz since he was 15, played a variety of jazz, ranging from the classics of the twentieth-century to contemporary artists.
Originally hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, Leibowitz enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania in 1963 but left four years later without a degree. "I wasn't much for going to class," Leibowitz told the Pennsylvania Gazette, the University of Pennsylvania's alumni magazine, earlier this year. Leibowitz stated that he preferred to spend his college days "reading, listening to music, and going to the movies."
After leaving school, he moved to New York, where he wrote for FM Guide – the radio equivalent of TV Guide. From there, he moved to Boston, where he ran a record store named BoJo's.
In 1979, during a trip to Los Angeles, he met Tom Schnabel, KCRW's then-music director, who hired him and put him on air. At the time, KCRW operated out of John Adams Middle School, which is located across the street from Santa Monica College (SMC). Leibowitz was with KCRW throughout the station's major moves, first to the Cayton Center basement and later to the Center for Media and Design (CMD), where it now operates.
Praised for having been accompanied by "an elegant and exquisite sense of musicality," Leibowitz has long been a major figure in Los Angeles's jazz community.
"Bo never compromised, preferring to showcase classic music that stood the test of time. He treated jazz with the respect that the artform has always gotten in Europe and Japan," Schnabel wrote in KCRW's obituary to Leibowitz.
Schnabel went on to praise Leibowitz's encyclopedic knowledge of jazz. "Bo was uncompromising in his taste, a true jazz purist…Whenever I went to him with a question, he had the answer. I never ceased to be impressed by him."
Leibowitz went off the air in March due to health reasons. "I've been having health problems and it has affected my on-air performance," he told the Pennsylvania Gazette. "Better go out swinging."
He is survived by a wife, Rosemary, and a son, Evan.
In his interview with the Gazette, Leibowitz added these final, fitting words: "People who say 'jazz is dead' just aren't listening. It will never die. It just needs exposure."