Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bill "Weird Beard" Vermillion, 1936-2008

Me and Bill Vermillion, September 2006

Sad news: legendary Orlando radio personality Bill "The Weird Beard" Vermillion of WLOF has passed away after a long illness.

I got the news from my Florida Rocks Again! co-producer Jeff Lemlich, who wrote, "I was saddened to learn that Bill Vermillion, WLOF's legendary music director, died this weekend... WLOF wasn't just a force in Orlando, but from a national perspective as well. Bill was directly responsible for several national hits ("Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison, "Dirty Water" by the Standells, which he was the first in the nation to play).

"As a fanatical record collector and aircheck/survey freak, to me what made Bill Vermillion unique was the way he threw away the national charts and trusted his ears. That's why records such as "2+2" by the Bob Seger System and "Psycho" by the Sonics not only charted on WLOF, but made it all the way to number one on the station's charts. Like Johnny Dark's WYND in Sarasota, WLOF broke many regional hits...It was guys like Bill Vermillion that made radio so alive and vibrant inthe '60s. According to WLOF's Dick Shane, Bill requested that there be no formal funeral or memorial service. Instead, there will likely be a celebration of his life, sometime in the future."

I had the pleasure of meeting Bill at the Orlando Reunion Concert in 2006, where he got to reconnect with many old friends. There was a lot of love in the room for him, and although he was in frail health, he was visibly moved. I was fortunate to be able to tell him that he was a major influence on our show, and to thank him for his many years on the air.

He will be missed.

Orlando Sentinel Obituary

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