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R.I.P. Harrison Ridley Jr

Harrison Ridley Jr was the host of "The Historical Approach to the Positive Music" Sunday night radio show on Temple University's WRTI station. He was known to have an encyclopedia like knowledge of jazz history and a massive collection of recordings. His voice was alone was just as captivating to listen to as the great stories he told. He passed away yesterday from complications of a stroke.

I never met the man. I was a fan none the less. May he rest in peace.



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Artist in residence
Distinguished Member
I knew Harrison well, was a guest on his show a few times, and was a great fan of his good musical taste, good musical knowledge, and his goodness as a human bring. He always wore a dashiki with those goofy buttons pinned to the front of it, grey or tan pants, and sensible brown shoes. And he always carried a book, and always had a warm smile.

He told me his story once, he started collecting records when he was about 10 years old, and I think I remember him telling me that he traded things for records when he didn't have the money to buy them. He played records from his own collection on his show, and his collection numbered into the thousands.

I remember going on the air with Harrison quite a few times, but I also remember stopping by the station when it was on 13th street, just to hang out with him while he was doing his show. He'd be running around the studio trying to find stuff that was working, turntables would be broken, he usually went from vinyl, he very rarely used cd's. So he would tell me that his show was the "end of the line", and he was the one who had to deal with the broken stuff. So I asked him what did he mean by that? "Well, he said,"my show comes on the air at 8:00pm Sunday night, and at midnight when I leave the air, they play a taped show so the tech can repair and do maintanence here at the station, so the equipment is fresh for the start of the week". So he did a very smooth show in spite of all the obstacles he was dealing with in the room.

I was in Philly this past Tuesday, rehearsing with the Odean Pope Saxophone choir. When the rehearsal was over, I jumped across the bridge to hang out with my old friend and mentor Zack Zachery. Zack is way up in age and not feeling his best these days, but he's looking to pick up his alto and play again one day. He was one of the greats when he was out there playing. Check him out on youtube, punch in MFSB Love is the Message, and MFSB Sexy, and you can hear Zacks' alto doing it's thing. He was a sho nuff powerhouse!!! But last Tuesday, Zack asked me about Harrison, why hasn't he been on the air for the last few months? He liked to talk on the phone with Harrison while he was on the air. I couldn't tell Zack anything, I don't live in the area anymore, I don't get WRTI's signal.

I still don't have the heart to call Zack and talk about Harrison's passing. Thanks for posting this tribute, TJ.