16 Jun 2014

US radio star Casey Kasem dies

7:34 am on 16 June 2014

US radio personality Casey Kasem, who for years counted down the music hits on his popular weekly radio show, has died at the age of 82.

His radio programme ran from the 1970s until 2009 and was broadcast worldwide. He also lent his distinctive voice to hippie sleuth Shaggy in the Scooby Doo cartoons.

On his syndicated show, Kasem counted down the 40 most popular songs of the week in order, finishing with the No. 1 song. Before each song, Kasem told an upbeat anecdote about the singer's road to success and read letters from listeners.

"Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars," Kasem, a Detroit-born Lebanese-American, told millions of listeners at the end of his weekly radio programme.

At its peak, Kasem's show was heard on more than 1,000 stations in about 50 countries. "I accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. That is the timeless thing," Kasem told the New York Times in 1990.

Kasem was famed for his unmistakable tenor voice - also heard on thousands of commercials and television announcements.

"It's a natural quality of huskiness in the midrange of my voice that I call 'garbage,'" he told the Times. "It's not a clear-toned announcer's voice. It's more like the voice of the guy next door."

For four decades starting in 1969, he provided the voice of Shaggy - the perpetually hungry, easily frightened, mystery-solving human pal of a Great Dane in the TV cartoon series Scooby Doo, Where Are You! and its various other incarnations.

On news of his death there was an immediate outpouring on Twitter from both fans and celebrities including singer and actress Marie Osmond and Motley Crue base player Nikki Sixx, who said Kasem "inspired all of us in radio & turned millions of people onto music."

Kasem, whose final years were marked by dementia, had been the focus of a dispute between his three children from his first marriage and his second wife, Jean Kasem, who they said had prevented them from visiting as he suffered from Lewy body dementia, an illness with symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease.

As his health deteriorated, a Los Angeles judge sided with the adult children and permitted them to withhold food, hydration and his usual medication as they choose comfort-oriented, end-of-life care at a Washington state hospital.