I have a million of these photos, as does millions of people around the world, especially here in Philadelphia. Jerry Blavat, legend, family man, friend to everyone he met has gone on to entertain in the heavens. The man who told us all to live, be happy “You Only Rock Once”. Philly is heartbroken. I don’t think I’ve seen such an outpouring of love for a person, especially not a Philly person, than I witnessed Friday when it was officially announced the Geator with the Heater, my man Gerald Joseph Blavat had died. This is my personal account of my friendship with Jerry, but I know he touched many people’s lives, and did so much good in the community.
He was Philly’s biggest cheerleader of the people. He was the gatekeeper of music of a certain generation, and introduced the music to every generation after that. Where else are you going to hear Run Around Sue, or Heatwave with such a lively narration from the DJ.
When I was in high school my mother gave me one of Jerry’s albums, it was recorded at Memories in Margate. She told me I’d love his delivery, style, and the music he played. She was right. I wore that album out. When I was finally old enough to go to a club, 18 at the time, I headed to Memories of Margate to experience what I had been listening to for years. When I went to college in Dover Delaware, I made a pilgrimage to Margate with friends to experience the joy I had with Jerry and the oldies. I could have gone to any club, but his delivery, rhyming was unique and hyped the experience to a level no one else could, and no one will ever be able to do.
I can’t recall when I first met Jerry, but it was shortly after I became PhillyChitChat. I would see him at events, and I was able to tell him many times of his positive impact on my life. In 2011, he invited me to photograph his annual Jerry Blavat Concert of Love at the Kimmel Center. I couldn’t make it to the concert as it was always held against the Academy Ball, but for several years I would head to his after party to photograph him and his friends. Then I would send them out to the wireservice and place them locally in the press. The access he gave my was unprecedented and I will always be grateful.
In 2012 PNC Bank regional president Bill Mills was on hand to greet original Supremes’ Mary Wilson, who was partnering with the African American Museum of Philadelphia to present “Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection” which featured more than 30 of the Supremes glorious gowns, videos, images and artifacts that tell of the meteoric rise of one of the most famous American groups of all time.
Over the years I continued to photograph Jerry at as many events as I could make… as well as have dinner at the Palm, Rittenhouse Grill and the Saloon. Jerry enjoyed quiet little tables away from people, but whenever he was recognized he was “ON”, and sincere. He appreciated where he was in life, and he knew it was the fans who put him there.
I really wish I could find the photos and video of Jerry and Steve spinning at the Jefferson Methodist Hospital Women’s Fashion Show in 2015. That was a fun time as the duo spun side by side.
About 8 years ago my sister bought a house in Longport, a few blocks away from Memories of Margate. I used to go a few times a summer, sometimes with her, or with friends. During the pandemic I watched Jerry on FB live, until the back porch opened for “dancing”, then mask wearing on the dance floor, where security would now yell for us to put our masks on, to the time where life seemed normal again, and security would just yell for us to not drink on the dance floor, as Jerry sang a little jingle about people he spotted in the crowd.
Nothing will ever seem normal again, especially down the shore. The other day someone asked me if you were to tell someone in the future about Jerry Blavat, someone who didn’t know him, what would you say. You missed out on the most incredible, kind, charismatic superstar, who made you feel like you you were the most important person in the room. He looked you in the eye when he spoke. Jerry was definitely one of my biggest cheerleaders and I am going to miss the kind of encouragement.
Our hearts are broken as we all thought The Boss with the Hot Sauce was immortal, for now The Geator with the Heater, Emcee Extraordinaire Jerry Blavat will live forever in our memories, in our hearts, and on the internet where at any given time we can hear Jerry say My Man!! Youtube
Keep On Rocking, cause you only Rock Once. Love you Jerry. xoxo HughE