Austin mourns loss of longtime DJ
Published 11:00 am Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Chances are, those who’ve danced in Austin through the 70s and 80s have grooved to the mixes of DJ Larry Dixon.
Dixon, who was a longtime resident of Austin, died Wednesday, May 4, at Austin Medical Center after a battle with cancer. He was 54.
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Larry was born Nov. 27, 1956, in Austin, to Roger and Ann Dixon. He attended Shaw School and graduated from Austin High in 1976. In high school, Larry already knew he wanted to work in radio and as a DJ. He prepped himself accordingly by learning what he could before college, according to his mother, Ann Dixon.
In 1977, Larry earned a certificate in radio announcing from Austin Area Technical Institute. Soon after, he spun records at weddings, celebrations, and several of Austin’s hang-out spots, including the Cavern — and years later, the Loft and the Silver Bullet. He landed the title “Leapin’ Larry,” after he began playing records at events with his friend, Jack Morgan, known as Jumpin’ Jack.
“It was just kind of a sidekick thing — Leapin’ Larry and Jumpin’ Jack,” Morgan said about their days DJ-ing events in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Morgan said Larry liked to keep to himself. He was never the life of the party, but people migrated toward him. Some remember Larry playing their favorite songs without asking — he knew. However, Larry didn’t always buy the biggest hits from the radio store and put them on his tables; he was a DJ, and he bought what people wanted to dance to.
For a brief time, Larry also worked at KAUS radio in the 80s, and he later worked in Mason City at KLSS radio around 1990. In radio, Larry learned how to do a little of everything, including overnight on-air, commercials, weather bits, news and public affair pieces.
But radio and records weren’t the only things Larry loved. Among all the music and frequencies, he was an avid golfer. Some years, he and friends vacationed for golf in Laughlin, Nev., or went to his brother Dan’s house in South Carolina.
For a short time, Larry lived in Mesa, Ariz. He had a break from his radio career. But the draw of his friends, family and radio brought him back to Austin, where he dove back into his favorite career.
“I think he had to come back,” Larry’s mother said about his draw to family and radio.
In 2004, Larry returned to KAUS where he worked part time and used his all-around knowledge to run the station while others covered assignments. John Wright, currently a program host at KAUS, worked with Larry for about six years at the station.
“Larry was kind of my life-line back at the station,” he said. “Larry could definitely do just about anything here.”
Wright was one of many who saw Larry’s music knowledge first hand. He said Larry was unbeatable at “name that tune.” But Wright also remembers Larry’s hidden knowledge of sports. Larry was a Twins fan and Vikings fan. As a sports reporter, Wright was surprised to learn the depth of Larry’s knowledge of professional teams.
Wright worked with Larry until 2010, when in August Larry was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer. After several months, doctors stopped treatments because they weren’t working. In March 2011, hundreds attended the Larry for Life benefit in Austin to help Larry continue his fight with cancer, which friends and family didn’t expect so many people to attend. Through his last 10 months, Larry kept in good spirits. Many friends and relatives stayed with him throughout his battle with cancer.
Larry is survived by his mother, Ann Dixon of Austin; sister, Deb Dixon (Tambo) of Nevis, West Indies; brother, Dan Dixon (Denise) of Anderson, S.C.; sister-in-law, Donna King (Leroy); many beloved nephews and nieces.
Larry was preceded in death by his father, Roger Dixon; brother, Randy Dixon and nephew, Brandon Dixon.
Now, many will remember Larry every time they enter Kenny’s Oak Grill — or every time Neil Diamond plays.