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Remembering 'DCB Jazz host John Burnett

May 27th, 2020

We are sad to pass along news that our long-time morning jazz host and friend, John Burnett, passed away Monday, May 25th in Virginia. He was 81 years old. Known to jazz listeners in Chicago as 'Your British-American Buddy', John retired after 19 years with WDCB at the end of October, 2015.

As most of you know, John was a warm and kind individual and a true gentleman, whether on the mic, on the bandstand or behind the scenes...a truly nice guy all the way. 

"He loved the radio station so much," says Joyce Burnett. "And he really missed being on the radio." She says he is also survived by a son and daughter who live in Canada, three grandchildren, as well as his own twin sister, who lives in England. She says a celebration of life is being planned for a later date.

Burnett started with WDCB in June 1996 in the role of the overnight jazz announcer.  Within eight months, he moved into the morning shift of 'DCB Jazz, which he occupied until his retirement. In his time with WDCB, he was a tireless ambassador for WDCB, between station appearances and performing with his band - The John Burnett Orchestra. With his band he recorded several CDs and was the featured entertainment at WDCB's annual Winter Gala for many years! And he was a listener favorite, with his genuine warmth and positivity, his love of big band jazz, and of course his British accent.

Not long after retiring from WDCB, John moved with his wife, Joyce, to rural Wise, Virginia, in order to be closer to her family. Joyce Burnett says "he loved this area of Virginia, because it reminded him of his boyhood hometown of Stone, England."

John's musical legacy continued in Chicago after his move as his old bandmates kept the orchestra together, renaming it the British Buddy Alumni Big Band. It has continued to perform, only recently taking a break because of coronavirus restrictions on venues.

All of us at WDCB send our condolences to John's family, as well as his friends and members of the jazz community. Anyone who knew John, whether personally or through the radio, was aware that he was a special person. And he will be missed.