Condensed from Steve Geer's very fine "A Tribute to Motor City Rock 'n' Roll: 1966 - 1972" web page:

Dave Dixon

"Culture Czar" of Detroit and WABX Radio Personality

The following is reproduced from the WXYT web site page that appeared following Dixon's passing in May, 1999:

Radio pioneer and WXYT talk host Dave Dixon passed away over the Memorial Day weekend. He was 60. 

Dixon was the host of "Dave Dixon's Radiomagazine," an arts and entertainment program heard on WXYT every Saturday from 9pm to midnight, for the last three years. Referring to himself as the "Culture Czar," Dave's acerbic wit and sharp critiques were part of what brought him to cult status with his listening audience and among entertainers and writers in the metro Detroit area. 

Dave was considered a pioneer in the radio industry from his involvement in the "underground" FM movement in the late sixties. He was the acknowledged leader of the "Air Aces," the on air staff from legendary station WABX, that first brought the sounds of album oriented rock to Detroit in 1968. The station was among the very first in the country to feature long sets of album tracks from artists who did not get play on top 40 radio. The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Cream and many other "underground" acts reached a wide audience through air play on WABX and similar stations.

Dixon left 'ABX in 1974 and spent 10 years as the eclectic host of a quirky all night movie program on a television station in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale market. He spent several years as an on air host at public station WDET in Detroit, playing the same type of unique music mix as he had at 'ABX. He joined WXYT after hosting a "WABX 30 Year Reunion" in June of 1996.

He was also a co-songwriter of Peter Paul and Mary's hit, "I Dig Rock & Roll Music."

Dave will be greatly missed by all of us at WXYT and by the huge listening audience who were entertained and inspired by his discoveries and explorations. He left no survivors.

The friends and family of Dave Dixon have announced that there will be no memorial service open to the public. A scholarship fund will be set up in the next few weeks and an announcement of how the public may contribute is forthcoming. We ask that you join us for a special on air tribute to Dave this Saturday night (6/5) from 9pm to midnight.

"From the Tesla broadcast center in beautiful downtown Southfield, we say 'goodbye, Dave.'"

The life and spirit of Detroit's "Culture Czar" Dave Dixon was honored Sunday evening, June 20, 1999, at the Magic Bag in Ferndale,  Michigan. Dixon, who passed away at home on Memorial Day weekend sometime after his Saturday night show on WXYT 1270AM, was paid tribute by dozens of friends, family, and admirers with song, poetry, and story in a "Celebration of Life."

Jerry Lubin was, with the help of Ben Edmonds, "master of ceremonies," so to speak, and laminated "passes" for the wake were a special piece of artwork by Gary Grimshaw.  The Reverend Rodney Reinhart, longtime friend, eulogized Dixon... in true "Dave Dixon" style. For those who ever met or heard, or heard about, Dave Dixon, you will understand, and agree with and smile about "the man remembered," as Reverend Rod bravely and succinctly remembered him for us:

by The Rev. Rod Reinhart

We are here tonight to remember and honor Dave Dixon: radio personality, Detroit's Culture Czar, song writer, TV producer, supporter of music and musicians, and the man who turned Detroit radio around.

At funerals, we usually forget the bad, and remember only the good, but let us all remember that Dave Dixon pissed off nearly everyone in this room.... and he did it on purpose, and he did it over and over again. And he pissed us off on the air and in person, and he pissed off friend and foe alike.

And all of us had plenty of reasons to tell Dave right where to stick it, and some of us did.... over and over again.... But still, we loved Dave Dixon. And still, we recognized his genius.  And still, we listened to him, over and over again, because he was the best darn radio jock, captain of the Air Aces, unpredictable cable TV producer, unrepentant Rock and Roll Wizard, and the most unrelenting Culture Czar Detroit has ever known.

David could sit there at his microphone and spin stories of all the great stars and great low-lifes of the music industry. He kept us mesmerized for hours. He could find just the right record to touch our souls with the tears and tenderness of our youth, or knock our socks off with the scraping rage of today. Dave kept our most ancient memories alive, and always kept us staring over the very edge of the future. For us, for years, Dave was radio and radio was Dave.

Dave enjoyed making us mad, and sometimes, he did it for our own good. but Dave was also kindly and courtly to women, deeply concerned about the well being of artists and musicians, and always a supporter of the cultural and charitable life of our city.

They called him a curmudgeon. They said he was acerbic. They kept telling us he never followed the rules... and all of that was true. But that was his job and he did it mighty well. A curmudgeon is someone who tells the hard truths the way he sees them. A curmudgeon tells those truths well, and tells them with a knife blade wit to make sure people don't forget.  That is what Dave Dixon did.

When he was the chief Air Ace on WABX, he had a lot of hard truths to tell. When America was bombing the BEJEZZUS out of Vietnam and American youth were dying by the dozens on the streets, and Nixon was going mad with power and lying to us every day, Dave was there to tell us the truth, and make us roll on the floor with laughter and rage. And he got us "down" with the truth, so we would rise up, and march out to demonstrate and work for peace, and change the world.

When Dave was the top fund raiser and greatest creative mind on public radio, and when most creative radio was dying under the stultifying stratification of homogenous corporate control, Dave Dixon broke the world open with the best new music from the most vibrant scenes and the most brilliant minds any of us had ever heard. He never rested on the familiar and the fashionable. He researched what was good, and he told us why it was good. He cursed out the executors of schlock music and the executives of schlocky songs who forced us to repeatedly listen to second rate sounds and third rate rock.

He stomped the toes of anyone, high or low, who tried to force him to tone down his rhetoric, tie off his musical tastes, muzzle his opinions, or not tell it the way Dave said it really is.  Dave fought them and he won, and he won the battle for us.

Yes. Dave was a curmudgeon. Dave was acerbic. Dave didn't always follow the rules. But so what? He was a genius in a time that needed Genius. We are all the better for it.

But Dave suffered. He had arguments with bosses. He lost jobs. He often lived near poverty. He could not always afford medical insurance, and maybe he died much too young. But he still told the hard truths the way he saw them. There are two words for someone who tells the hard truth to people in power. There are two words that describe those who suffer for their vision of what the world should be. Those words are artist, and prophet.

Like the great prophets in the Bible, and like all the prophetic change agents in history, Dave had a message, and he had the courage to speak it. Like all the great artists in history, Dave had a vision of reality and knew how to create it with words and music. He got on the radio and created it.

Yes, Dave pissed us off. We often responded in kind. But still, we cared about him. Still we listened to him and still we gave him his due. Dave was our man - our flaming arrow, our hard rock, love song, heavy metal, hard-nosed guru. In spite of his painful edges, we knew him as a man of true compassion and passion. he was still the man we loved.

And I loved Dave Dixon. when I was just a kid in the far northern suburbs, I listened to him constantly on WABX. He showed me a new world out there and helped me establish a new independence I had never known before.

When I was the pastor of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church on the Wayne State Campus, Rob Tyner, Charlie Gorvitz, Mike Whitty, Susan Sunshine, Craig Shank, and I produced the Community Concert Series. Dave often showed up at the shows and gave us lots of support on the air. When I established a Christmas healing service for people suffering with AIDS, Dave was the first person on Detroit radio to promote us. He challenged this city's prejudices and opinions about brothers and sisters in need and pain. Dave was right there for us and I know he was right there for you when you had important concerts or events and you needed his help. Dave made good things happen for all of us and we will each always be grateful to him.

Dave may have made us mad, and maybe a lot of his bosses had trouble working with him. But we are all grateful to the many radio stations in town who brought him here, gave him a microphone, and gave us the chance to hear his voice. We are especially grateful to the people at WXYT who gave him that gig on Saturday night, and did so much to help him "Keep on keeping on."

But Dave was not concerned only with bare survival. He had his sights set on the stars. Radio is changing, and Dave was changing along with it. He had plans to expand those three hours on a tight signal into a worldwide broadcast roar.

A few days before he died, Dave was talking with an old friend of ours, and a lovely singer, Violet Brooks. He told Violet he had a bead on the new technology that would bring him back to his vision of what radio really ought to be. He was working to get into satellite radio, where he could put his show into syndication across the globe. Then he could say and play exactly what he wanted and , once again, be the true audio artist we all knew he could be.

Dave may not have achieved that vision in this life, but, some time in eternity, some guys show up, and some time down the road, we may hear him again on the wavelengths of heaven, and we will recognize those sounds when they come.

And now, in his death, we can admit that even though Dave pissed us off sometimes, we still loved him. All of us can carry on that legend of great music and acerbic wit, and a deep concern for humanity and truth.

All of us together, WABX, WDET, THE EDGE, WXYT, WADL, Rose and Jerry Lubin, Becky Tyner and her children, Ben Edmunds, John Sinclair, Peter, Paul, and Mary, John Dixon, Vivian Dixon, Carol, Lucy, Mike, Dan, all the rest of his family and friends, and all of us and all of you... We wish him a fond and tearful good-by. We send out our love, and we open our ear, and we strain to hear those final words, "This is Dave Dixon signing off," once again.

The Rev. Rodney Reinhart
The World Sabbath of Religious Reconciliation
Plymouth, Michigan

Thanks to:
Maryjane Stelmach Honner
For sharing the preceding text