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Chuck Niles Dies

Chuck Niles, the only jazz radio announcer ever awarded with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, died Mon., Mar. 15 at Santa Monica Hospital in California from complications of a stroke he suffered on Feb. 26. He was 76.

Niles (aka Be-Bop Charlie, aka Mr. Jazz, aka Minister of Cool) had a smooth baritone voice that made him one of the most recognizable jazz radio hosts in the country. His 50-year plus career in radio had him behind the microphone at West Palm Beach, Florida’s WEAT and the L.A. stations KNOB, KKGO (formerly KBCA) and KKJZ (formerly KLON), where Niles had been the afternoon drive host for the past 14 years.

Born Charles Neidel in Springfield, Mass., in 1928, Niles grew up as a jazzhead. He played clarinet and saxophone in his youth and later got his start in radio on at WEAT. He eventually moved to L.A. to pursue an acting career that amounted to small roles in the films Teenage Zombies and Breakfast at Tiffany’s before he committed to a career in radio.

The way Niles spoke on-air about jazz and the people who made it left no room for doubt that he genuinely loved the art form and its artists. The artists loved Niles as well. Among the songs said to be named after Niles are Louie Bellson’s “Niles Blues,” Horace Silver’s “The Hippest Cat in Hollywood” and Bob Florence’s “Bebop Charlie.”

Niles is survived by his wife, Nancy Neidel, and his daughter, Tracy Neidel. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located at 7080 Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles.

A public memorial for Niles will be held Sat., Mar. 20 at 10:30 a.m. at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, the Church of the Hills, located at 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068. In lieu of flowers, Niles’ family asks that donations be sent to the KKJZ Chuck Niles Foundation, 1288 N Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90815. The Chuck Niles Foundation supports the Dolo Coker Foundation and other non-profit organizations that promote jazz education.

Originally Published