Funeral services will be held Saturday, Nov. 10, at 10:30 a.m. at Ward A.M.E. Church, 1177 W. 25th St., Los Angeles, for “The-e-e. Jammin’ Jai Rich,” whose sonorous voice and lively mixture of Jazz, Gospel as well as R&B helped formulate the background music for Black Los Angeles from the 1960s to the 1970s.

Rich died Wednesday. He was 78 years old.

In an autobiography written for radio station KJAZZ, where he had returned to radio in 2007, after a 23-year hiatus, James Roy “Jai Rich” Richardson talked about a childhood fascination with the broadcast industry at a time when all Black music on the radio was lumped together into the category “race music.”

That stricture aside, Rich gained an opportunity at an early age to appear on a local show called Blues at Sundown that aired from 3-6 p.m. on a station emanating from Fort Worth, Texas.
He was only 9 years old.

Rich was born Aug.15, 1934 to Rozenia Brockington Richardson and Ocie B. Richardson in Marlin, Texas. He was raised and educated in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, graduating from Booker T. Washington High School in 1952.

After that early radio experience, Rich said he was hooked. After serving in the Marine Crops as a radio-telephone operator and receiving commendations for outstanding service, he went on to complete formal broadcast training at the Don Martin School of Radio and Television Science, which also produced such graduates as “The Real Don Steele” and Bob Eubanks.

Rich would become one of the first African Americans to obtain a FCC first-class radio telephone operators license in Southern California.

“My career began in 1960 in Los Angeles when FM radio was in its infancy. Those were pioneer days in FM broadcasting,” writes Rich in his autobiography. “It was gratifying and rewarding, because you learned all sides of the business: sales, programming, production; You name it, you did it.

“It was small market radio in a major market. We purchased time from the radio station, and then sought local advertisers in order to cover the cost.

“The local African American community was the hotbed for Jazz and Blues, and a natural supporter in advertising sales.

“My first music promotion was at an after-hours Jazz concert hall called “Jazz at the Metro,” which featured such superstars as Lou Rawls, the Jazz Crusaders, The Gerald Wilson Big Band . . . just a few of the local standouts.”

“During my career, I have enjoyed the pleasure of sharing the stage with some of Jazz’s best and greatest.”

The early stations Rich worked for included legendary Jazz KBCA from 1969-72
Rich was also part of the founding crew of DJs that created the sound of KJLH radio station–Kindness Love Joy and Happiness. The mantra in the early days was they played the music the people wanted to hear.

Among the phrases Rich created were “music designed with you in mind;” “this is the lion’s den, suite 910, welcome my friend to the melodical, lyrical, powerful sounds of Jazz,” and closing his show as “Rozenia’s little boy,” saying “bye-bye, ta, ta, I’m gonna see you later, and tutaonana.”

Moving from a a garage in Long Beach to 39th and Crenshaw in Los Angeles, the station would soon bec-ome the place to be in L.A. and drew celebrities of all statures to their studios. Radios throughout neighborhoods were tuned in, creating a simulcast feeling, and Rich was one of those right in the middle of the action.

As a broadcaster, Rich was a voice for the disenfranchised and formed an association with the Nation of Islam, the US Organization under the leadership of Dr. Maulana Karenga, and co-founded the African-American Music Society.

He joined the staff of KGFJ-AM as local sales manager and helped establish many local businesses throughout his broadcast career, including coining the phrase for Mr. Jim’s Barbecue: “You need no teeth to eat my beef.”

After leaving radio, Rich exploited the business side of his talents by becoming the marketing manager at Roscoe’s’ House of Chicken and Waffles and eventually full manager of the South Los Angeles store.

He returned to the radio airwaves in Spring 2007 on all-Jazz KJAZZ (88.1 FM) where held down his favorite shift, midnight to 6 a.m.

Rich is survived by Amy, his wife of 28 years; eight children–Paula, Kandis, Rozonna, Dewayne, Rory, Debbie, Lisa, and Jai (Torrey); grandchildren Myisha, Christopher, Keyon, and Brandi; godchildren Terry and Gerald.