US RADIO presenter Casey Kasem died yesterday morning aged 82.
He was best known as the voice of Shaggy in Scooby Doo, with a distinctive frightened tone beloved by fans of the cartoon worldwide.
Kasem had suffered from Parkinson’s and dementia for some time and it is thought he died from complications from an infected bedsore.
It was a sad end for a man whose voice had entertained and informed music lovers worldwide and who headed the top 40 countdown in the US on a syndicated show that ran for decades.
His American Top 40 began on 4 July 1970 in Los Angeles, when the No 1 song was Three Dog Night’s cover of Randy Newman’s Mama Told Me Not to Come. The show expanded across hundreds of stations, including Armed Forces Radio, and continued in varying forms – and for varying syndicators – into the 21st century.
He stepped down from American Top 40 in 2004 and retired altogether in 2009. In his sign-off, he told viewers: “And don’t forget: keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”
In the UK, he was probably best known for his voice role as Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, a character he took on in 1969 and continued, with only a couple of short breaks, until 2009. A year later, he voiced Shaggy’s father in the 2010 TV series, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
His daughter, Kerri Kasem, said in a statement posted online yesterday: “Early this Father’s Day morning, our dad Casey Kasem passed away surrounded by family and friends.
“Even though we know he is in a better place and no longer suffering, we are heartbroken.”
Kasem once said that his Shaggy alter-ego – who was best known for his catchphrase “zoinks” when frightened – would be better known than he himself.
“They are going to be playing Shaggy and Scooby-Doo for eons and eons,” Kasem said in an interview in 2004. “And they’re going to forget Casey Kasem – unless they happen to step on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I’ll be one of those guys people say ‘Who’s that?’ about. And someone else will say, ‘He’s just some guy who used to be on the radio.”’
It was claimed that Kasem had originally wanted to play character Fred Jones in the series and was worried when he was assigned the role of Shaggy, saying that while he was “hip to what hippies were about” he had never before portrayed a hippie character.
The son of Lebanese immigrants, Kasem was active in speaking out for greater understanding of Arab-Americans.
His long-running top 40 show was an antithesis to the stunts and jokes which many DJs gave their listeners. Instead, he would read “long distance dedications” of songs sent in by listeners and introduce records with sympathetic background anecdotes about the singers.
“The idea from the beginning was to do the type of thing on radio that Ed Sullivan did on television, good, honest stories with human interest,” he said in 1975.
He leaves four adult children – Kerri, Julie and Mike from his first wife, Lynda Myers – and Liberty, his daughter with his second wife, Jean Kasem.