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‘Shindig’ Host Jimmy O’Neill Passes Away at 72

Jimmy O'Neill
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Television personality Jimmy O’Neill, whose inimitable style helped make the music variety show ‘Shindig!’ a hit for ABC in the mid-’60s, has passed away at the age of 72 following a struggle with heart problems and diabetes. The Beatles, Rolling Stones and the Who were among the acts that appeared on ‘Shindig!’

Like many early TV stars, O’Neill rose to prominence on the radio, where he worked as a Pittsburgh-area disc jockey before moving to Los Angeles and helping KRLA make the switch from country to rock in the early ’60s. Later, he landed his own local television show (the suitably named ‘The Jimmy O’Neill Show’), finally scoring the ‘Shindig!’ gig after the series was pitched to legendary TV producer (and eventual ‘Gong Show’ host) Chuck Barris.

‘Shindig!’ was an immediate ratings success, at one point airing two nights a week, but it was ultimately short-lived, getting the axe after only two seasons on the air. In a later interview with Classic Bands, O’Neill ascribed the show’s failure to the departure of producer Jack Good, saying, “I knew that if Jack did quit, chances were the show would not survive. Sure enough, it took about six months, but I could see almost with the first episode without Jack, that we had begun to stray off the track.”

Following the show’s cancellation, O’Neill struggled to regain his professional footing, moving back into radio work and dealing with substance abuse before ultimately leaving the field to work in sales. As VVN Music notes, O’Neill returned to the airwaves in 1990, hosting “a morning show playing the music from his most popular days,” before finally retiring to spend time with his family.

Next: See Other Rockers We've Lost in 2013

Watch the Rolling Stones on ‘Shindig!’

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