South Philadelphia legendary deejay Jerry Blavat, known by fans as “The Geator with the Heater,” passed away on Jan. 20. He was 82.
Blavat’s family released a statement on Friday thanking friends, fans and supporters.
“On behalf of our family, we would like to thank all of you, Jerry’s friends from near and far, for the outpouring of prayers, love, support, respect, acknowledgment, and appreciation for what he meant to all of you, especially in such a difficult time for our family,” the statement said. “We know how much he was loved by you, his loyal fans and friends, and we know the ‘Geator’ will live on in our hearts forever. But for us, our grief is truly indescribable in losing the man we’ll forever call ‘Daddy.’ ”
According to his family, Blavat died from myasthenia gravis and related health issues at VITAS Inpatient Hospice at Jefferson Methodist Hospital.
Also known during his career as “The Big Boss with the Hot Sauce,” Blavat – a 1958 graduate of Bishop Neumann High School – began his iconic career by spinning records at clubs in Philadelphia and South Jersey.
In 1960, Blavat debuted on radio at Camden’s WCAM-AM and became an instant smash by playing relatable music to his similarly-aged audience. Blavat’s voice was an intimate connection to the music they loved and to the man behind the microphone, and his show branched out to syndicated markets in Atlantic City, Wilmington and Allentown, among others.
Blavat later produced and hosted a weekly television show in Philadelphia called The Discophonic Scene. He was a co-owner of Record Museum, a small chain of local stores selling vinyl albums and 45s. Then, he guest-starred on television shows including The Mod Squad, The Monkees, The Tonight Show and The Joey Bishop Show. He also appeared in the films Desperately Seeking Susan, Baby It’s You and Cookie. In 1972, Blavat purchased a nightclub in Margate and named it “Memories.”
“Jerry proudly said, ‘Life is precious, and I am happy. And when I am happy, I want the world to be happy,’ “ his family said in a statement. “So he lived life to the fullest and enjoyed sharing life with all of you. His love for Philadelphia only superseded his love of music. He was proud of this great city, and nothing made him prouder than the impact the music from Philadelphia made on the world.”
Throughout the 1970s and up until last year, Blavat continued on as a high-energy “oldies” DJ on the air and at live events throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, on PBS and on the high seas for “Malt Shop Memories” cruises. Along with bringing “Geator Gold Radio with Jerry Blavat” to stations such as WVLT 92.1 in South Jersey, WBCB 1490 in Bucks Country and Trenton and Atlantic City’s WTKU Kool 98.3 FM and WOND 1400 News Talk Radio, Blavat was the host and producer of “The Geator’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rhythm & Blues Express” program at NPR affiliate WXPN-FM.
In 1998, Blavat was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. His best-selling autobiography, You Only Rock Once: My Life in Music, was published in 2011. Along with regularly hosting the beloved Philly/Jersey Shore reunion at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida, Blavat booked and curated annual live “Oldies” shows on the Kimmel Cultural Campus, starting in 2001, at the invitation of Sidney Kimmel.
“Jerry Blavat did what he was put on Earth to do, and did it perfectly while bringing happiness to millions,” said Sue Hoffman, who worked with The Geator for 50-plus years. “There are no words as to how much I, and all of us, will miss you.”
Blavat is survived by his daughters Kathi Furia (Robert), Geraldine Blavat, Stacy Braglia and Deserie Downey, his grandchildren Samantha Rodden, Kristina Furia, Joseph Downey, Frankie Braglia and Jeffrey Smullen as well as five great-grandchildren. Blavat is also survived by his devoted partner of over 30 years, Rosalie (Keely) Stahl.
A celebration of Blavat’s life is planned for Jan. 28 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul (1723 Race St.). A viewing will begin at 9 a.m., with Mass scheduled at 11:30 a.m. All are welcome.
For those unable to attend in person, we will be streaming the event at https://vimeo.com/event/2814279