Roger Waters pays tribute to "The Last DJ" Jim Ladd, takes potshot at his bosses at Sirius XM

Roger Waters and Jim Ladd at SiriusXM in 2012
Roger Waters and Jim Ladd at SiriusXM in 2012 (Image credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Roger Waters and Peter Frampton have paid tribute to broadcaster Jim Ladd, whose death from a heart attack at the age of 75 was announced on Monday by Meg Griffin, an on-air colleague at Sirius XM.

“He never stopped caring,” Griffin told listeners. “He delivered the truth. He lived for the music, and I am blessed to have worked with him."

Ladd, one of the last remaining music DJs on mainstream US radio with the freedom to choose their own playlist, was the inspiration for the title track of Tom Petty's 2002 The Last DJ album, and the voice of the fictional disc jockey DJ Jim on Roger Waters' 1987 album Radio K.A.O.S.

Waters has paid tribute to Ladd, but also used the opportunity to take potshots at his bosses at SiriusXM, who last month reduced Ladd's schedule on the Deep Tracks channel – one that plays less frequently heard album tracks from classic bands – from a daily broadcast to a single weekly show. 

"I just watched an interview I did with Jim in 1984," Waters writes on YouTube. "Fuck he was good, and so was Stewy my cocker spaniel. Jim suffered a setback at work recently. SiriusXM, for whom he worked, cut him from six Deep Tracks shows a week to one. Thank you Scott Greenstein [president and chief content officer of Sirius XM], and if it wasn’t you, you should have stopped who ever it was. 

"I believe Jim was fired, partly at least, because of me. Against the company’s better judgment Jim had interviewed me on Deep Tracks, and our conversation had veered too close to the sacred cow, Israel, and it’s subjugation of the Palestinians. 

"I loved Jim and he loved me. I got him the job at Sirius when the meat grinder that is modern LA finally closed its door on his legendary career at KMET and KLOS. Jim was a revolutionary. Jim Ladd believed in the power of love. Jim Ladd believed in telling the truth, Jim Ladd believed in human rights, Jim Ladd believed in Freeform Radio." 

Waters goes on to say that he and Ladd had been in discussion about setting up a new radio station in 2024, Radio KAOS FM.

Peter Frampton has also paid tribute to Ladd, saying, "Our entire family are so saddened to hear of the passing of Jim Ladd. He was our good friend, always a champion of great music. A special man with a huge passion for music. Our thoughts are with his wife, Helene and family. Love you Jim."

A post on the official Facebook page of the late Tom Petty read, "Tom respected and admired Jim Ladd and considered him a friend. He inspired the song The Last DJ and his insights into rock and roll were priceless. Jim’s voice will be missed on the airwaves. Our family joins his in mourning his loss."

Ladd first came to national attention hosting the nationally syndicated show Innerview at KMET in Los Angeles. The show aired weekly on more than 160 stations from the 70s to the late 90s, with Ladd interviewing the likes of Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Aerosmith and Rush. He interviewed Rogers Waters about Pink Floyd's The Wall album in February 1980.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.