As a Northwest radio disc jockey, Danny Holiday’s voice carried

Born and raised in Everett as Daniel Prescott Thygesen, he was known to listeners all over Western Washington by his radio name — Danny Holiday.

He spent decades spinning top-40 hits and oldies on Seattle stations KOL, KZOK and KBSG. In retirement, he brought his Rock ‘N’ Roll Time Machine to community radio, hosting the weekly show on Everett’s KSER (90.7 FM).

There was sad news recently on KSER’s website: “Thank you and farewell to Danny Holiday.”

The longtime disc jockey died Feb. 20 after a long illness. He was 68. Holiday, who lived near Stanwood, is survived by his wife Joyce Thygesen, son Dan Thygesen, three grandchildren and many friends and loved ones.

“He was quite a character. He was a walking rock ‘n’ roll encyclopedia,” said Ed Bremer, KSER’s news and public affairs director.

“It was an incredible treat to listen to the nuggets of knowledge he put forth on the radio about that music,” Bremer said Thursday. “He not only played it, he had often met the artists. His show had the polish and shine of commercial radio, with community radio content.”

While Holiday played powerhouse artists of 1950s and ’60s radio, Ricky Nelson to Ray Charles, his selections for KSER weren’t necessarily songs we’ve heard countless times.

When I interviewed him in 2008, the year he started on KSER, Holiday said he had played “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys “let’s say at least 500 times.”

“I wouldn’t play that record today if the barn was on fire,” Holiday said. Instead, he would play a lesser-known recording of Brian Wilson’s masterpiece.

Holiday’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Time Machine previously aired on KZOK, a Seattle rock station. Bremer said that on KSER the show aired about three years, first on Sundays and later on Saturday mornings. The Everett station plans a broadcast tribute to Holiday, but it’s not scheduled.

“He had a wonderful collection of old music — all his programs,” said Dennis Mapes, a friend who first met Holiday in Anacortes in about 1955. After his childhood in Everett, his family moved to Anacortes, where he went to high school. Mapes, who now lives in Skagit County, was a year ahead of him in school.

“He probably knew more about the history of rock ‘n’ roll than anybody,” Mapes said.

Beyond his radio career, Holiday worked as a music promoter and met many artists. Davy Jones, The Monkees singer who died Wednesday, is among stars pictured with Holiday on the deejay’s website.

Evidence of Holiday’s obscure rock treasures arrived at my office after I talked with him in 2008. In an envelope from Holiday was a CD with a song called “Oh Julie.” He had put two versions of it on the CD, a rocking rendition by Shakin’ Stevens and a late-1950s version by crooner Sammy Salvo. Obscure treasures, indeed.

A prolific storyteller, Holiday said in 2008 that his stage name came from the Holiday Ballroom, once a music venue in Burlington, where he had played in a band called the Swags.

He also recalled going to Canada with his parents to see Elvis Presley at Vancouver’s Empire Stadium on Aug. 31, 1957, a day before Presley played Seattle. “The Vancouver show only lasted 20 minutes because the crowd rushed the stage,” Holiday said in 2008.

He had hundreds of stories. He played thousands of songs.

Mapes said his friend knew his calling even as a boy.

“He set his sights on radio really early,” he said. “He hung around KAGT in Anacortes and got friendly with the disc jockey. He always had a good radio voice. He knew what he wanted to do, and stuck with it his whole life. He was very successful.”

Mapes had lost track of his friend until he heard Holiday one night on KBSG. Holiday retired from the Seattle station in 1998.

“I visited him there, and he showed me around the studio,” Mapes said. “He was one of the good guys.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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