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Chuck Niles, Legendary Jazz DJ, Dies

SOURCE: Published: 2004-03-16
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Chuck “Be-Bop Charlie" Niles, whose velvety baritone voice and music knowledge earned him the only Hollywood Walk of Fame star awarded to a jazz radio host, died Monday. He was 76.

Niles died at Santa Monica Hospital from complications of a stroke he suffered Feb. 26, said longtime friend Judy Jankowski.

“We would call him 'The Great Chuck Niles,'" said Jankowski, who also is the president and general manager of KKJZ-FM in Long Beach, where Niles served as the afternoon drive host since 1990.

Born Charles Neidel in Springfield, Mass., in 1928, Niles began playing clarinet at age 7 and was playing professional jobs on the saxophone by age 14. He broke into professional radio at WEAT-FM in West Palm Beach, Fla.

He later headed to Los Angeles to pursue acting. Niles, described as tall and lanky, had small roles in films, including “Breakfast at Tiffany's."

He eventually ended up as the afternoon movie host at a local Los Angeles television station and a long-lasting friendship with jazz legend Sleepy Stein led to him joining KNOB-AM in Los Angeles, where Niles launched his career in jazz radio.
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