For those who remember the television show “Shindig!” but may have forgotten the host, this story will remind you of the very talented Jimmy O’Neill, who was from Enid, Oklahoma.
He started his radio career at 16 in Enid, then on to WKY Oklahoma City and KQV Pittsburgh before making his Los Angeles debut at the brand-new KRLA in 1960. The station had just adopted a top-40 format.
At the age of 20, Jimmy O’Neill had the most popular program in his time slot, making him the youngest person ever to have a No. 1 show.Jimmy was 24 when he hosted “Shindig!” which was on ABC television from September 1964 to January 1966 and for a time ran twice a week. Besides the Beatles, among its list of superstars, “Shindig!” featured the Who, the Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke, the Beach Boys, and the Righteous Brothers.
Jimmy was also the owner of Pandora’s Box, an influential Sunset Strip music venue in West Hollywood, California.Jimmy eventually left Los Angeles for KOB in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and then WOW, Omaha, Nebraska, where John Erling worked with him at WOW and KOIL.Jimmy was 73 when he died January 11th, 2013.
For Jimmy’s story, John interviewed Jimmy’s former wife Eve O’Neil, whose brother was actor Troy Donahue.If you search the web for Jimmy O’Neill, you’ll find examples of his extraordinary work. Listen to the Jimmy O’Neill story on the oral history website and podcast VoicesofOklahoma.com.