Friday would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday. For more than two decades, that often meant a performance by the #9 Orchestra, a collective of local musicians who played Lennon tribute shows every year on his birthday. That’s out this year amid the pandemic — but Austin has an ace-in-the-hole with KUTX’s Jody Denberg.
The longtime Austin DJ, who spun tunes in the 1980s at KLBJ-FM and was program director at KGSR in the 1990s and 2000s, joined the KUT/KUTX family in 2011 and has a long and storied history with Lennon and the Beatles. Denberg, a New York City native, was in the crowd at Madison Square Garden when Lennon famously joined Elton John onstage in November 1974 — a night that also sparked Lennon’s reunion with his wife, Yoko Ono, after a separation.
In recent years, Denberg and Ono have become good friends; he’s often traveled to New York for her birthday celebrations. He also co-authored "See Hear Yoko," a 2015 book about Ono, with photographer Bob Gruen. He and Ono have co-produced four major-label promotional CDs about Lennon.
Denberg produced radio marathons at his former stations to celebrate Lennon’s 50th and 60th birthdays, so it’s fitting that he’s doing another one for Lennon’s 80th. From noon to 4 p.m. on Friday, he’ll spin songs from Lennon’s solo and Beatles catalogs, including demos and rarities.
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Also of note on KUTX’s Friday schedule: After John L. Hanson’s weekly "Old School Dance Party" show from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., KUTX music editor Jeff McCord will return as host of the adventurous "Left of the Dial" show from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. McCord created and hosted the show for 17 years before turning over the reins to Rick McNulty a few years ago.