Jerry Blavat, Philadelphia radio legend, passes away at 82

Written by on January 20, 2023

Philadelphia radio legend Jerry Blavat passed away at the age of 82, his family announced Friday morning. 

Born Gerald Joseph Blavat, the South Philadelphia native started his career in entertainment as a dancer on Bandstand at 13. 

By the time he was 20, Blavat began hosting his own radio show that showcased his bright and vibrant personality that captivated the region. 

PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 15: Disc jockey Jerry Blavat visits Fox 29’s ‘Good Day’ at FOX 29 Studio in Philadelphia, PA on May 15, 2015 in Philadelphia, United States. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)

Along the way, Blavat took on several nicknames such as ‘The Boss with the Hot Sauce’ and ‘The Geator with the Heater.’

Blavat was inducted into the Philadelphia Music Alliance’s Hall of Fame in 1993 and in 1998 he became part of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s Museum of Radio and Records. 

Blavat coined the phrase “Keep on rockin’ because you only rock once’ which he later used as inspiration for his 2011 biography ‘You Only Rock Once: My life in music.’

He remained active in radio, running the Geator Gold Radio Network and “Memories” in Margate. 

Blavat was voted “Best Philly Icon” in Philadelphia Magazine in 2018 and was immortalized on a South Philadelphia mural with other local music legends, including the recently passed ‘Wildwood Days’ singer Bobby Rydell.

Blavat’s family shared a statement Friday asking Jerry’s friends to continue sharing their memories of him. 

“Jerry proudly said, ‘Life is precious, and I am happy. And when I am happy, I want the world to be happy.’ So he lived life to the fullest and enjoyed sharing life with all of you,” the statement read in part.

Many of Jerry’s friends spoke of their many memories with the legend.

“I’ve been dancing on the dance floor since I was 18 and Jerry became a big part of our Saturday afternoon and Saturday nights,” Margate resident Dawn Ranieri said.

“He’d be snapping his fingers and giving everyone names,” friend Ann Catania recalled.

CEO of Chickie’s and Pete’s, Pete Ciarrochi, remembered, “He’s a clicker. He was like, ‘You’re the best, there’s nobody better than you. You’re the greatest.’”

“He knew Dionne Warwick, he knew Frankie Avalon, he knew Smokey Robinson, but you were just as important whoever he was speaking to,” Hughe Dillon, with Philly ChitChat, remarked.

His closest friends say he was a walking encyclopedia of music, a health advocate and a generous man with a huge heart.

“Losing him in Philadelphia is like losing the Liberty Bell. He’s that big of a part of the city,” Ciarrocchi added.

“I wanted to be him. He was so good with his energy, his connecting with the people, creating an atmosphere, a party atmosphere,” Dillon said.

Wherever Blavat went, so did the fun and entertainment.

“Geator, your diction, your words – we’ll always think of you and you’ll always be a part of Chickie’s and Pete’s and my family,” Ciarrocchi said.

“The world is a better place and a better place because we had him, but sad because there’s no more Jerry,” Ann added.

 Jerry’s life will be celebrated on Saturday, Jan 28, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. A viewing will begin at 9 a.m. with mass scheduled for 11:30 a.m.

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