It would have been hard to grow up listening to rock radio in Philadelphia in the 1980s without hearing Robert Hazard‘s searing new wave on regular rotation. After a 1981 Rolling Stone article proclaimed Philly native Hazard the next big thing, his self-titled EP became a local FM staple, as well as a harbinger for the era of Hooters and big hair. However, Hazard possessed a timeless, debonair cool, somewhere between Bryan Ferry and some French New Wave actor. On Tuesday, Philly lost a local legend, as Hazard died at age 59 after surgery for pancreatic cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. After the jump, DJ/scene historian Robert Drake reflects on Hazard’s times, and we share some of the tracks from that 1982 EP that left such an indelible mark.
When news came down about the sudden passing of Robert Hazard – I must admit, I was at a loss how to process it.
Robert was more than a musician. To me, Robert represented one of the most vibrant moments of my young adulthood. Robert was front-and-center of the new wave movement – and pushed it forward with a passion.
First, a bit of personal background; the first time I went to a non-arena rock concert was for my 16th birthday celebration in June 1979 at The Hot Club, located on the corner of 21st and South streets. Although I remember elements of that magical night, the entire night itself was a bit of blur – since I was so excited to just get into the club and be in the middle of the madness, especially on a school
The concert took place Monday, June 18, 1979 and featured an incredible performance by Human Sexual Response – – and opening for them was a local band called Robert Hazard and the Heroes. (Attached is the actual flyer from that gig.)
From that moment on, I was a fan of Robert’s… watching his star rise made me proud to be part of his hometown base – proud to be part of what was truly an amazing time in Philadelphia music history.
When I graduated high school and moved onto South Street in 1981, I quickly appreciated that Robert was one of the many colorful threads that together weaved the unique fabric of South Street life back in the early 80s.
Robert was many things – but for me, he was always a great story teller.
He will be missed.
— Robert Drake
Robert Drake is a DJ and radio producer; check out his monthly party, Sex Dwarf, at Fluid, and his radio show, “Land of the Lost,” every final Friday night of the month on WXPN. In tribute, WXPN will rebroadcast the Free @ Noon concert that Robert Hazard did last November, today at Noon.