Casey Kasem was the voice of the American Top 40 for many years as well as voicing animated characters. His voice was distinct and his legacy as one of the greatest American radio personalities is still well intact.
But what do we know about the man behind the voice? I’m sure you have heard the controversy by his family since his sad passing a few years back. There is a struggle over his estate as well, which is always so sad and terrible. But let’s put that behind us and look at the living man who created his own way.
- Casey first counted down American Top 40 on July 4, 1970. Ryan Seacrest has taken over the radio show. The broadcast was originally only on a few stations and you literally had to listen for three hours before finding out the number one song for the week. The first number one hit was “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” by Three Dog Night.
- Casey refused to use the title of George Michael’s hit “I Want Your Sex.” The song was gradually going up the charts and eventually made it to number one, but Kasem was not comfortable using the name of the song on-air. He instead would use phrases like “here’s the latest hit by George Michael,” instead of saying the song’s title. This was also pretty funny because he did say Rod Stewart’s song “Ain’t Love a Bitch” on-air in 1979, but something about Michael’s song made him uncomfortable.
- Casey is not his real name. It should be obvious that “Casey” was a nickname derived from the last name “Kasem.” His real name was Kemal Amen Kasem. His parents were Lebanese Druze immigrants and he was born in Michigan on April 27, 1932. His parents named him after Mustafa Kemal Ataruk, who was the first president of Turkey. His father was reported to have greatly respected Ataturk.
- He started working in radio at a very young age. His voice seemed like it was destined for radio, having an air of likability that was unique and also easy to listen to at the same time. He was on radio for more than 50 years before he finally retired when his health begin to deteriorate. He was later diagnosed with Lewy body dementia.
5.He was married two times. His first wife was Linda Myers. They were only married for seven years (1972-1979), but managed to have three children in that time (Mike, Julie, and Kerri Kasem). He married the actress Jean Thompson in 1980 and they remained married until his death. He had a daughter with Thompson as well (Liberty Jean Kasem). The issue following his death was between Thompson and his children from his first marriage. The children stated that their father had dementia and Thompson was refusing anyone to be able to visit Kasem. She also lied and told them he was out of country, which was not true. The battle ensued in court, with the children ultimately winning the ability to allow end of life measures to happen so that he could pass the way that he had requested. He finally died at the age of 82. The battle didn’t end there with the children getting a court order to have his body examined before being cremated, but Thompson had his body moved and said he was going to be buried in Oslo. He was finally buried in Oslo six months later, but the kids have since filed a wrongful death suit against Thompson.