Tawn Mastrey

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Tawn Mastrey given postumous LA Music Award
November 21, 2008
Tonight in Hollywood, Tawn Mastrey was given an award presented to her sister Cara by Kenny Ryback. Had a few words to add to it, and appreciated Kenny calling to read me what he had written. What I said to him was that Tawn had a voice like honey being poured in you ear. Tawn was my radio buddy at KSJO San Jose in the late ’70s and KNAC in LA in 1986. More than cohorts, we shared the same spirit, love of music and many adventures. This very talented, bright, loving, warm and beautiful woman lost her life in October 2007 due to liver failure brought on by Hepatitis C, a disease that has no cure and is more widespread than most people know. The Bob Dylan song “Simple Twist of Fate” comes to mind and the lyric “I do believe she was my twin…and I was born too late, blame it on a simple twist of fate.” There are Lobster Tales to be written with Tawn Mastrey playing a part, and I’ll share one with you in her memory on this occasion. I was working at KQAK in San Francisco in 1982. Tawn had been fired from KSJO the year before, for the third time, but that’s another story.

In search of work, Tawn had taken a flight from SFO to LA and was late, so she parked it in the short term garage…for several days. When she drove to the gate upon returning, she told them she had lost the ticket. Apparently, they had marked her back bumper each day with paint you can only see with an ultra-violet light and when they checked it, they wouldn’t let her take her car out without paying nearly two hundred dollars for the time, which she didn’t have. I picked her up at the airport that afternoon and had a plan. We hung out at my house until after midnight, and then returned to the airport. It would be well after a crew shift, and they wouldn’t know about the confrontation earlier in the day. The car, by the way, was a big early 60’s pink and white Plymouth Tawn had named “Christine” after the haunted one in the horror movie of the same name. It was a bit recognizable.

When we returned to the airport in my car, I pulled up to the automatic ticket gate at the entrance to the garage at the airport and pulled out the ticket, which triggers the gate to go up. I turned to Tawn and said “On second thought, let’s not park in the garage.”…and backed away. Tawn smiled as she realized what I was up to as we circled the terminal, returned to the entrance where I pulled a second ticket, this time going in. We parked my car near hers and went and had a drink at an airport bar. When we walked back to our cars, I handed her one of the tickets with less than an hour on it, and followed her and Christine to the exit gate in my car. When she handed the attendant the ticket, he looked back but I was right behind her, blocking his mirrored view of her bumper, scowling at him with my best “Hey buddy, hurry up and take her money, I’m in a rush to get outta here” look. He didn’t bother to ask me to back up so he could see her bumper. She paid, I recall, $1.50 and was out. We pulled over after we were clear of the garage and got our of our cars laughing like partners in crime after a heist. Tawn thanked me, we hugged, kissed each other goodnight and both drove off, having bailed Christine out for pennies on the dollar.

Tawn Mastrey (August 20, 1954 – October 2, 2007) was an American disc jockey, music video producer, one of rock radio’s top media personalities. She hosted a daily show on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Hair Nation Channel 23, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pacific time.

Mastrey was heard nationally on Westwood One Entertainment’s Absolutely Live High Voltage every other week. Mastrey hosted, wrote, produced and syndicated her own radio specials, RockZone and Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Happy Hour, through Mastrey Productions, Inc. She did voice-overs, owned her own video production company, Ladies In Production Services, and wrote a cookbook, Eat This.

Tawn Mastrey, a well-regarded heavy-metal disc jockey who built her reputation in the late 1980s at KNAC-FM (105.5) when the radio station was the official outlet for the then-thriving metal scene in Los Angeles, has died. She was 53.

Mastrey died Tuesday at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis from the effects of hepatitis C, said her sister, Cara Mastrey. She had contracted the disease as a child.

More recently, Tawn Mastrey was host of the daily metal show “Hair Nation” on Sirius Satellite Radio. She left in June when she became too ill to work.

“Tawn was a key figure in the heavy-metal scene and was a deejay at influential hard rock and metal stations in Los Angeles, San Jose, Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis,” Sirius said in a statement on its website.