On Friday, April 27th, KEXP's long-running rockabilly show Shake the Shack ceased shaking as host Mike Fuller retires and the show ended its 30+ year run. For the next two weeks, you can stream the show's final broadcast.
“I'm so grateful for having had the opportunity to serve KEXP's listeners for almost a decade, first alongside my cousin Leon Berman and later as the regular host of the show,” said Mike. “I'm sad to leave, but am proud to have exposed the music of countless new bands to KEXP's listeners. Helping connect artists and listeners is what it's all about. I'll never forget the way that our listeners made us a part of their week, many of them listening with friends over years and even decades. Although Shake the Shack is ending, KEXP still has a whole world of music to explore.”
Following the retirement of long-time host Leon Berman in 2016, “Cousin Mike” Fuller took over the reins, typically broadcasting with co-hosts Red, Johnny, Mame and Jake by his side. Fuller made the decision to step aside in mid-March.
It's been a wild ride over the past 30 years. We asked Mike to share some of his favorite memories:
Every band who played for us! We had The Sonics (possibly my biggest showbiz thrill), Southern Culture On The Skids, Bloodshot Bill, and Dale Watson, just to name a few -- and all the surf bands, including The Phantom Four, The 427's, and Aloha Screwdriver. If you ever get a chance to see a KEXP in-studio performance, grab it!
Our fake remotes/radio dramas that we did on Halloween: we broadcast live from Hell, were abducted by aliens (and probed rather severely), visited the Bermuda Triangle, spent the night in the uber-haunted Berman Castle on the Polish Moors, and the night we recreated Orson Welles' famous "War of the Worlds" broadcast, but did it Shake the Shack style. That one was my masterpiece.
Another moment we'll never forget is when Mike nominated Leon Berman for induction into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2009, spearheading the campaign and convincing their curator Bob Timmers "that Leon’s body of work made him a prime candidate and that his induction would make the Hall stronger. Bob agreed and that was that."
In his letter to Timmers, he wrote:
I’m a big rockabilly fan myself and know that without the support of organizations like the Hall; record labels and studios and, again, broadcasters like Leon, rockabilly would fade because it’s the work that all of you do that makes my enjoyment of the music possible. You’re not making the music but in giving me access, you’re keeping it alive and vital. I don’t underestimate the value of performers, but would Elvis Presley be Elvis without Sam Phillips, Dewey Phillips, Leiber & Stoller and (I know this is a touchy subject for some, but) Col. Tom Parker? Perhaps — maybe even probably but perhaps not and I can’t help but wonder how many other performers of Elvis’ stature might have been out there (might be right now) but we never heard of them because they didn’t have the support and encouragement of people behind the scenes?
Mike, himself, has been one of those folks who has dedicated themselves to support and encouraging artists over his decades here at KEXP. We asked him to share five artists he wanted to champion, and while it was hard to choose so few, here's who he named:
MFC Chicken -- a fantastic London band who are spiritual heirs to The Sonics.
Wau y Los Arrrghs!! -- maybe the best band ever to come out of Spain, certainly the best garage band.
Lil' Mo & The Dynaflos -- Doo-Wop band that puts on an incredible show. Lil' Mo also has another band, The Unholy 4, who can rock you up one side and down the other.
Messer Chups -- a lot of bands do spooky surf music, but this duo from Russia really stands out.
Joakim Tinderholt -- amazing blues guitarist from Norway who produced one of our Top 10 albums of the year.
Wayne "The Train" Hancock -- the king of the honky tonks. It isn't physically possible to sit still when Wayne is playing. I know this is six, but if I was good with numbers, I might never have become a DJ!
The retirement of Mike and Shake the Shack certainly leaves a big hole in the rockabilly world as well as the KEXP airwaves. We asked Mike to share some parting words:
I want to say the biggest possible thank you to our audience -- without a doubt the best listeners in radio, but especially the ones who made Shake the Shack their Friday night ritual for years and sometimes, decades! I will never forget them and the way they made us part of their family. I have just two regrets: 1) that for the listeners' sake, my 'reign' couldn't last as long as Leon's and 2) that we never did get around to my planned live remote broadcast from the Shiny Happy People's Republic of Shake the Shackistan, the former Soviet puppet state that modeled itself on the show. I promise you -- that would've been one for the ages!
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