I met Patti LaBelle after a concert in the late ’80s here in San Diego at the Sports Arena. She was playing with Luther Vandross. Her hair was mindblowing: it swept straight up and flared out at the top like a fan or peacock tail. And it was not a fake thing, or sprayed or lacquered stiff. It looked amazing on stage. Her dress looked futuristic with lots of sparkles.
Meeting her backstage, I was impressed. She’s very flamboyant, gregarious, and surprisingly open. She’s incredibly warm and friendly, even with strangers. Meeting me for the first time, she had no reason to be open and friendly. I couldn’t do anything for her career, why care? I mean, I played her music at a radio station. She wasn’t just friendly to me but to everyone around us, including the friend with me; everybody backstage. She’d say, “Here’s my phone number. I make barbeque all the time. You should come over. Arsenio loves my barbeque.”
Years later, when she discovered she had diabetes, she came out publicly to talk about it. She didn’t keep it private. She said, “Look, I love to eat. I love my barbeque.” She talked about her concern of a soul-food diet, high cholesterol, and a high-fat diet...diabetes running rampant among black people. She tried to do something to help the cause. And, she looked for alternatives, implying you could have your cake and eat it, too.... I never did make it to her house for barbeque, though.
DJ: Shelley Fox
Station: KiFM 98.1 FM
Shift: Saturday, noon to 6:00 p.m.; Sunday, 2:00 to 7:00 p.m.