Friends, admirers remember radio legend

Richard Pegue, who died last Tuesday, spent more than 40 years in radio

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By DELORES MCCAIN

Now the heavens will get to hear "The best music of your life."

That was the name of Richard Pegue's radio show on WVON, a celebration of his and his listeners' love of classic R&B, a.k.a. the dusties.

Many Chicagoans came out on Monday to pay their respects to Pegue, 64, who died last Tuesday. His funeral took place at Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S. Dorchester. Pegue's radio career spanned more than 40 years.

Officiating the funeral were reverends Marshall Hatch of New Mt. Pilgrim Church, and Gerald Glasper. Minister Vuanita Maze also officiated.

When Pegue died of a heart attack last Tuesday, WVON's on-air personalities all paid tribute to him, including Perri Small, co-host of the radio show "The Matt & Perri Show." A longtime employee of WVON, Small was one of Pegue's many friends. When the announcement of his death came, his WVON colleagues expressed shock, including Cliff Kelley, a longtime talk show host and friend of Pegue's at the station. The two were known to share a love of jazz.

Four radio personalities spoke at his funeral: WVON radio show host Herb "Cool Gent" Kent; Marv Dyson, former general manager at WVON and WGCI; Lucky Cordell, a former general manager at the station; and Richard Steele, who attended high school and sang in a doo-wop group with Pegue. The two were friends for more than 50 years. In a recent interview Steele said of his friend, "His knowledge of old records was better than just about anybody I know. I mean, you name the artist, he knew that person, when they recorded, who they recorded with, who played drums on that recording - that kind of stuff.

Some of the station's original on-air personalities, known as "The Good Guys," also remembered Pegue, who joined the station in 1968, five years after WVON launched.

Former Good Guy Cecil Hale, now a college professor in California, flew in for Pegue's funeral. WVON co-owners, "Blues Man," Pervis Spann and Wesley South were in attendance, along with current staff and the station's President/CEO Melody Spann-Cooper.

Richard Earl Pegue Jr. was born July 29, 1944 to Laura and Richard Earl Pegue Sr. at Cook County Hospital. Pegue attended Hirsch High School, where he formed a doo-wop group, "The Belvederes," with Richard Steele. Pegue realized his radio passion when he visited his first station, WBEE in 1957. There, he found his role models, Al Benson, Herb Kent, E. Rodney Jones, Pervis Spann and Lucky Cordell. He would often visit them just to watch them work. Herb Kent eventually brought him on his show as a guest DJ and the rest is radio history.

For more than 30 years, Pegue hosted his annual Dusties Record Convention two times a year. Besides his on-air career, he was also a songwriter, including of commercial jingles. In 1965, he wrote and produced the single, "I'm Not Ready to Settle Down." He produced commercials for McDonalds and Coke Cola. But true to his love of Chicago music, he wrote some of the most memorial jingles, including for "Fun Town" at 95th and Stony Island, and for Moo & Oink.

In 1968, Pegue became the music director for WVON and a member of the legendary Good Guys. Among his personal causes was his campaigning for Harold Washington as mayor of Chicago. His other tireless efforts included working to get barriers put up along Lake Shore Drive, helping to end homelessness in Chicago, and improving conditions for senior citizens. And he rarely turned down a request to appear for any organization.

His greatest love, according to Perri Small, was his wife, Sevina. Pegue is also survived by his children, Richard III, Cenise, Christopher and Rosalyn.

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