Steve Dahl to write final chapter on Disco Demolition

Comiskey Park July 12, 1979

Comiskey Park July 12, 1979

Thirty-five years after he rocked Chicago and blew up the music world in what became the most infamous radio promotion of all time, Steve Dahl hopes to clear the air about Disco Demolition with a definitive book on the event.

The Chicago radio legend is teaming with author Dave Hoekstra and photographer Paul Natkin to write Disco Demolition: the Death of Disco. It’s set for release in April 2016 by Curbside Splendor, an independent publisher based in Humboldt Park.

Steve Dahl

Steve Dahl

In addition to recalling his memories of July 12, 1979, Dahl said he hoped the book would put the legacy of the controversial incident in its proper perspective.

“I wanted to make sure that there is both an oral and pictorial history of what really happened that night,” he said. “As we get further from the event, people tend to assign different meanings to it. It really was about saving rock and roll.”

Dahl was the 24-year-old morning host at WLUP FM 97.9 when he hosted an anti-disco stunt at Comiskey Park between games at a double-header. After he exploded a box of disco records and thousands of drunken fans stormed the field in the ensuing riot, the damage was so severe that the White Sox had to forfeit their second game against the Detroit Tigers.

Despite Dahl’s vehement denials, critics would say Disco Demolition tapped into racism and homophobia. “We were a bunch of disenfranchised 20-something rockers having some laughs at the expense of older brothers who had the capital and the clothing to hang with the trendy social elite,” Dahl wrote in an essay for Crain’s Chicago Business last July. “We were letting off a little steam. Any statement to the contrary is just plain wrong.”

According to the publisher, Disco Demolition: the Death of Disco will feature interviews with Mike Veeck (son of former White Sox president Bill Veeck), disco artist Nile Rodgers, former and current White Sox players including play-by-play announcer Ed Farmer, house music DJs and others. Those will be written by Hoekstra, the former Sun-Times columnist and critic who signed on last week as a weekend host at Tribune Media news/talk WGN AM 720.

Providing an “immersive visual narrative” in the book will be exclusive images captured by Natkin, who was present as official photographer for the Loop that night.

After a six-year absence from terrestrial radio, during which he launched a subscription podcast venture, Dahl returned last month as afternoon personality on Cumulus Media news/talk WLS AM 890.

Dahl’s latest project is unrelated to earlier plans for a book on Disco Demolition, which did not come to fruition after University of Chicago Press passed on it.