Some people have only one talent and some people have multiple talents. Larry McKinley would be of the latter. Known to man as the the co-founder of Minit Records and the latter-day voice of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, he will be greatly missed as he died Sunday of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 85 years old.
Larry McKinley also worked at local radio station WMRY-FM,which later became WYLD-AM. In the 1950’s he was a well known disc jockey that played a pivotal role in breaking many f hit records, including Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say.” He was also a concert promoter and he was instrumental in booking talent such as James Brown, Jackie Wilson, the Four Tops, and Aretha Franklin.
Later in his illustrious life, Larry McKinley joined the governing board of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit that owned and ran the beloved festival. Again Mr. McKinley was directly responsible for increasing the awareness, attendance, and notoriety for the festival and the legacy he left still lives on today. As reward for his many efforts to change the shape of the New Orleans music scene, he received OffBeat magazine’s Best of the Beat Music Business Award in 2005, and was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010.