Jack Lowe Endler; Area Disc Jockey Promoted R& B
Friday, May 6, 2005
Jack Lowe Endler, 89, a disc jockey and rhythm-and-blues enthusiast known to Washington area radio listeners in the 1940s and 1950s as Jackson Lowe, died May 1 of complications from emphysema at his home in Sunrise, Fla.
As a DJ in the Washington area, he promoted local R&B at a time when it was difficult for black artists to find a broadcast outlet. He would go to Birdland, the Hayloft, the Melody Inn, the Cotton Club and other venues around town to hear the music he loved and then not only play it on the air but also promote it.
He introduced a number of local performers to his good friend Ahmet Ertegun, who founded Atlantic Records in 1947. Ertegun would hear the Regals, the Cardinals or some other talent on Mr. Lowe's show, go to Waxie Maxie's record store to buy the record and more often than not run into Mr. Lowe himself. Mr. Lowe became Ertegun's guide to the clubs, cafes, and theaters where the music was played.
His son recalled that at one of the Washington stations where he worked, Mr. Lowe played rhythm and blues on his show, instead of following the station's gospel music format. The station fired him but had to bring him back to quell the uproar from listeners.
He also hosted a weekly amateur talent show at the Republic Theatre, giving a boost to a number of local musicians, including Pearl Bailey and her husband, Louie Bellson. His talent-show discoveries included the Clovers, out of Armstrong High School, who would go on to record several hits, including "Devil or Angel," "Blue Velvet" and "Love Potion No. 9."
In 1950, another Armstrong alumnus, a silky baritone named Jimmy McPhail, won Mr. Lowe's talent show; McPhail would go on to perform with Duke Ellington and Mercer Ellington. A finalist in that same talent show was a young woman named Shirley Horn.
"I think he was courageous," said Joe Lee, longtime owner of Joe's Record Paradise in Rockville. "In the late '40s, here's this little Jewish guy with a limp from childhood polio going around championing black music. He could go anywhere in D.C., and African Americans knew him and felt great affection for him."
Jack Lowe Endler was born in Brooklyn and graduated from New York University. An actor and a singer with a basso profundo voice, he sang with choirs in college, appeared in several off-Broadway plays and had bit parts in a few movies. He broke into radio in New York doing live drama and for a time was the radio voice of Popeye.
He moved to Washington in 1943, adopted the radio name Jackson Lowe and was an on-air personality for the next two decades. He worked for WWDC, WUST, WOL and WINX.
In the early 1960s, he moved back to New York. He returned to Washington after a couple of years to work in advertising. He worked for Cal, Ehrlich and Merrick, an advertising agency, and then as an advertising salesman for several newspapers and publishing companies. He formed Jack Lowe Enterprises in the early 1980s. A longtime resident of Wheaton, he retired and moved to Florida in 1999.
His wife, Shirley Endler, died in 2001.
Survivors include two children, Mike Endler of Jessup and Lo-Lynn Endler Gonzales of Kensington; a sister; and five grandchildren.