Pete-Fornatale-Obituary

Pete Fornatale

Obituary

NEW YORK (AP) — Rock music fans Thursday were mourning the death of Pete Fornatale, a beloved New York radio disc jockey who promoted the best new musicians for decades in his easy, free-form style. He was 66.

Fornatale died in New York a week after suffering a stroke, his son, Peter Thomas Fornatale, told The Associated Press.

"He represented the golden age of progressive FM radio," he said.

When The Beach Boys "were the most uncool thing in the world," he said, his father had the clout, in the 1970s, to help make them popular again — by introducing them on the Carnegie Hall stage.

Fornatale entered with a surfboard.

"It's a very sad day for radio," said songwriter Paul Simon. "New York has lost one of its most acclaimed and wonderful radio personalities. ... He really knew his era and his music."

At New York's Fordham University, the DJ's alma mater, president Joseph McShane called Fornatale "the voice of several generations" who conducted soul-searching interviews with the hottest musicians and played their work.

As a DJ on WNEW-FM in the 1970s, he established a loyal following by spinning records by lesser-known artists and album cuts beyond the hit singles.

One of his favorites was Poco, a country-rock band he championed.

He helped launch the careers of singer-songwriters like Suzanne Vega, John Gorka and Christine Lavin. Grammy winner Shawn Colvin told The New York Times in 2001, "Pete helped pave the way for so many of us. He was a rare guy in radio then."

In the 1990s, Fornatale was featured on the station known as "K-Rock," following Howard Stern's show.

Fornatale's hallmark was "to use music in a very creative way," his son said.

"He could take a song that you heard a hundred times, but play it in a context — whether on a special occasion or the music around it — that would make some of the most familiar tracks in rock history sound like you were hearing them for the first time."

Until his death, his father still hosted the show "Mixed Bag" on Saturdays for Fordham University's WFUV-FM station.

The Bronx native was a Fordham student DJ when he developed the style that grew into the kind of FM rock broadcasting listeners still enjoy.

"The complete freedom to put this package together, for better or for worse stamped me then and is still with me today," Fornatale said in 2001.

In recent years, he also became a rock historian.

He and his son worked together on a book celebrating the Rolling Stones' 50th anniversary that they finished just before Fornatale's death, titled "50 Licks," to be published later this year or in early 2013. The DJ also wrote "Bookends," the story of the Simon & Garfunkel album by that title.

Fornatale leaves three sons, including Mark and Steven, and his former wife, Susan Fornatale, all of New York.

The funeral will be private, but a tribute concert is planned for a date to be set.

VERENA DOBNIK
Associated Press


Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Guest Book

Not sure what to say?

My name is John McGeehan and I live in Montauk, NY. During the years of Mixed Bag (and the Morning Show at K-Roc), I recorded on cassette many (over 200) of Pete's Sunday morning shows. Currently I have been coverting these shows to MP3s in my computer for safe-keeping. My buddy Randy (next door neighbor back in those days) also recorded many of Pete's shows, including Saturday morning 60's. We both would love to see this material be available back on the radio, perhaps even Sirius radio. I...

GOOD BYE PETE I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU ARE GONE

YOU WERE MY BEST FRIEND AFTER SCHOOL EVERYDAY
YOU ARE THE BEST PART OF MY LIFE AND YOU OPENED MY EYES TO THE WORLD IN THE MOST AMAZING SOFT PERFECT WAY
YOUR VOICE I AM PROUD TO SAY ,IS MY SOUL, AND THE SOUL 'THAT' TIME.

Rest in peace and rock on Pete Fornatale. Thank you for all the years of wisdom and guidance into good music. So many years ago when I first heard you on the in-comporable WNEW 102.7 you were a forerunner of the DJ pantheon. Condolences to the Fornatale Family. The air waves are certainly with greater distortion since your silence.
C.L.Ricci

To the FORNATALE family sorry for your loss may GOD give you his love, peace, and strength in this time of sorrow. May he R.I.P -|-

"There was magic in the radio, enchantment in the ether.
A power born of mind and brain, and yet a part of neither.
A power to be reckoned not in kilowatts or joules,
A means to let a single voice touch half a million souls."
-Ballad of the Sandman
Rest in peace Pete.
We do love you so...

To the family and friends, God is our refuge and strength a help that is readily to be found in times of distress. Psalms 46:1

I've listened to Pete, here at home in New Mexico, for eleven years. Now my life will be different. He will be SO missed. Bonny Holder in Cedar Crest, NM

R.I.P. Pete Fornatale (so sad) he was an awesome DJ on WNEW 102.7 back in the day of awesome rock n' roll! He even wrote his own fan letters! I miss his soothing voice and awesome interviews. The good old days when "Radio Ruled" with Vince Scelsa, Dennis Elsas, Scott Muny, Alison Steele the Nightbird, Jonathan Swartz, Pete Fornatale, Dave Herman, Richard Neer, Pat St. John etc.