Jocko Henderson

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Douglas "Jocko" Henderson
Born (1918-03-08)March 8, 1918
Died July 15, 2000(2000-07-15) (aged 82)
Nationality United States
Occupation Disc jockey

Douglas "Jocko" Henderson (March 8, 1918 – July 15, 2000) was an American radio disc jockey, businessman, and hip hop music pioneer.

Early life[edit]

Henderson grew up in Baltimore, where both of his parents were teachers.[2]

Radio broadcasting[edit]

Henderson began his broadcast career in 1952 at Baltimore station WSID, and in 1953 began broadcasting in Philadelphia on WHAT.[3] He hosted a show called Jocko's Rocket Ship Show out of New York radio stations WOV and WADO and Philadelphia stations WHAT and WDAS from 1954 to 1964, which was an early conduit for rock & roll.[4][5] He was known for a distinctive style of rhythmic patter in his radio voice, which he had learned from a Baltimore deejay, Maurice "Hot Rod" Hulbert.[4] Henderson continued on the stations WDAS and WHAT until 1974, deejaying in Philadelphia and New York as well as hosting concerts in both cities and a TV music program in New York.[6] In addition to Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore, Henderson was also broadcast on stations in St. Louis, Detroit, Miami, and Boston.[3]

Payola and Scepter Records[edit]

In the 1950s and early 1960s it was common practice for record companies to lavish gifts on disc jockeys in exchange for airplay of their songs. This was known as "payola", and starting in 1959 it was the subject of Congressional hearings condemning the practice. New York disc jockey Alan Freed's career ended when he was convicted of two counts of commercial bribery.[7]

Wand, a subsidiary of Scepter Records, created greatest hits collections for Henderson called Jocko's Show Stoppers and Jocko's Rocket to the Stars. Scepter also gave him publishing rights to songs such as "Baby It's You" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", which he eventually sold to avoid suffering the same fate as Freed.[7]

Later life[edit]

In 1978, Henderson made an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the United States House of Representatives in Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district.[3] He also made some early rap records, recording 12" singles for Philadelphia International and Sugar Hill Records. He continued deejaying on oldies stations into the 1990s.[8] He died in 2000 after a long battle with cancer and diabetes.[6]

Reception, retrospect and influence[edit]

The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia inducted Henderson into their Hall of Fame in 2004.[9]

In a 2013 interview, Questlove described Jocko Henderson as "unofficially the first MC" (adapting a jazz style of scat singing in the late disco era), and stated that he was a major influence on the earliest rap and hip-hop in Philadelphia in the late 1970s.[10]


  • "A little bit of everything" (circa 1963?)
  • "Blast Off to Love" (circa 1963?)
  • "Rhythm Talk" (Philadelphia International, 1979)
  • "The Rocketship" (Philadelphia International, 1979)
  • "Everybody's Uptight (Trying to Get Their Money Right)" (Sugar Hill Records, 1983)


  1. ^ Listen to a 1957 Aircheck from the Legendary Philly DJ Jocko Henderson. WXPN, March 7, 2011.
  2. ^ Goodman, Fred (2015), Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 978-0-547-89686-1, p. 34.
  3. ^ a b c Douglas 'Jocko' Henderson, 82; a pioneering radio personality. The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 18, 2000.
  4. ^ a b Jocko Henderson Had An Air About Him. New York Daily News, July 27, 2000.
  5. ^ Goodman 2015, p. 34.
  6. ^ a b Dj 'Jocko' Henderson Dies At 82. Philadelphia Daily News, July 18, 2000
  7. ^ a b Goodman 2015, p. 35.
  8. ^ Ben Fong-Torres, Jocko Henderson at Encyclopædia Britannica
  9. ^ "Our Hall of Fame". Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. Retrieved January 27, 2016. 
  10. ^ Nardwuar vs. Questlove (2013), Youtube, iamOTHER (user/channel), May 2nd, 2013.