King of The Oldies)
If anyone has earned the right to be the first
inductee into the Tampa Bay Nightclub Grand Mix Masters Hall
Of Fame, it’s Kurt “K.O.T.O.” Curtis who has
been Tampa Bay’s longest running and Top ranked Grand Mix
Master for over 30 years. At age 12 Curtis sat in on one of Roy
Nilson’s afternoon radio shows at WLCY and right then and
there decided his destiny was to become a Disc Jockey. In 1965
he met Dick Clark who he would cross paths with two more times
in his long career. Curtis launched his career as an Oldies Jock
during the late Sixties and quickly become a full-fledged expert
in the field of “Oldies”. During the early Seventies
he dabbled in radio working with Billy Jay Jacobs doing Public
Service Announcements for WFSO.
was also during the early Seventies that noted club manager,
Jake Lamotta, Jr., son of famed boxing legend, Jake “The
Raging Bull” Lamotta, discovered him. Lamotta introduced
Curtis to famed California nightclub musician, recording artist,
Grand Mix Master, Tony Dezago. Dezago, a well-traveled entertainer
had never met anybody who knew more about the “ Oldies” than
Kurt Curtis. Offered a position as an “Oldies” nightclub
DJ for the nationally famed “Flanigan’s nightclub
chain, Curtis was sent to Daytona Beach in late 1976, where he
established one of the first and hottest “Oldies’ clubs
in the nation. Highly respected by his loyal following in Daytona
Beach, they crowned him with the title, “K.O.T.O.”,
the undisputed “King Of The Oldies”. While in Daytona
Beach, the legendary “ Wolfman Jack”, as well as
Sha Na Na, took the time to visit him. On the world’s most
famous beach Curtis became a local legend. His first class Oldies
shows are still talked about to this day and are fondly remembered
1979 he was invited to attend Dick Clarks 50th Birthday party
in Orlando. Soon the “K.O.T.O.” became the subject
of many feature newspaper articles and TV documentaries. Southern
Music Magazine called him a legend of the South. In 1982, he
was invited to Atlanta where he programmed the hottest “ Oldies” club
in the city. While in Atlanta, he was offered a position with
the largest nightclub chain in the country, “McFadden Ventures”,
where his talent and knowledge of music was utilized to help
set up music formats for the nationally acclaimed Confetti nightclub
While in Atlanta Curtis mastered the art of
mixing Dance Club music after befriending Grand Mix Master Tito
Acosta at the legendary and mammoth Limelight Disco. In 1983
he was brought into Tampa to host Confetti-Tampa. After an incredible
run there, he was transferred to open Confetti-Ft. Lauderdale.
While there he groomed “Stan “The Man” Priest
to become a future
Grand Mix Master. Priest has often said that Curtis taught him
everything he knows about music. After spinning at many of the
top ranked most prestigious dance clubs in the U.S. Curtis returned
to his hometown of St. Petersburg in 1992 where he has continuously
spun in the top club’s of Tampa Bay. He also launched his
own mobile DJ service called D.A.N.C.E. Entertainment and has
been the master of ceremonies for countless weddings and parties.
In 1997 he landed the role as the Grand Mix Master in an episode
of ABC’s Second Noah. During 1997-98 Curtis was an on-air
talent for Oldies Radio-U-92 in St. Petersburg. In the new millennium
Curtis continues to be one of the most popular and sought after
Grand Mix Masters / Entertainer’s in the State.
KOTO - Kurt Curtis is the author of a massive Encyclopedia called "Florida's
Famous and Forgotten" (The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Florida
Rock, Soul and Dance music-Vol-1-The first Thirty years-1955-1985”.
In January-February 2002 he was flown to Miami to write the history
and liner notes for a double CD released by world legendary record
promoter and producer, Henry Stone.
From 2000-2003 Curtis enjoyed a successful
run as the resident Grand Mix Master for Stormy's night club
located above the Hurricane Seafood Restaurant in historical
Pass-A-Grille. Always in demand for his legendary programmig
and mixing skills, Curtis was offered the position to be the
Grand MixMaster for The Green Iguana's brand new Flagship club
located in St. Petersburg. Opened on January 15th 2004, The Green
Iguana has become the hottest nightclub spot in Tampa Bay. There
have not been crowds this big since the days of Confetti back
in the early Eighties. Check it out!
Robert Kurt Curtis "KOTO" passed away 9/15/2004
of natural causes.
Kurt Curtis was an unusual man, a man with
a penchant for Florida music history. KOTO as he was known (King
of The Oldies) traveled the state many times over the last 20
years, compiling information for a book he was writing, a Florida
Rock & Roll Encyclopedia.
His manuscript, a mere 1500 pages, contained not only information
and a discography of the musicians, but also their photos. This
was truly a life’s quest.
KOTO listed every Florida band to ever record a song, who played
on the session, and what had become of the people involved. Truly
a magical compilation for any Florida music historian.
Kurt Curtis loved music, he ate it, slept it, and lived it. At an early age,
his Mom dropped him off at WLCY Radio, the Top 40 monster of its day, to meet
the legendary afternoon DJ Roy Nilsson. KOTO was hooked, he wanted a career
KOTO would listen everyday, memorizing the lyrics, and collecting the 45s,
thousands of them. He knew every singer, song writer, and label. Truly a music
and radio junkie.
Getting into the radio biz proved very difficult for Curtis, so he started
mixing at local clubs. KOTO became a legend on the Tampa Bay club circuit.
Versatile, he knew all types of music, which paid off for him down the road
with the changing musical tastes of the country.
In the late 80s, his dream finally came true as he landed a weekend slot at
U92 with Scott Robbins, playing his favorite type of music, the oldies. It
was a fulfillment words could not describe, in fact years later his eyes would
swell as he spoke of his brief time in the radio limelight.
Management changes brought an end to his radio stint, and it was back off to
the night clubs, and spinning discs for the younger crowd. He did not love
it, but hey, it was as close to being a radio DJ as he could be.
After a more than 22 year quest, KOTO found a publisher for his book, Doug
Cifers. After a little more than a year of editing (1500 pages would put War & Peace
to shame), the book was finalized, it was set to be published in mid October
of this year. A long journey was coming to fruition, his baby was about to be
Kurt Curtis never lived to see that dream materialize, as he died of an apparent
massive heart attack on Wednesday September 15th at his apartment in St Petersburg..
KOTO’s body was found by co workers at the club, who became suspicious
when he did not return phone calls.
Robert Kurt Curtis, King of The Oldies, would be proud to see his offering “The
Famous and The Forgotten” hit the book stores. The 54 year old entertainer,
who suffered from diabetes had a fear he would not outlive his mission. KOTO
was right. He died the day it went to press.
He will be missed by those who knew him professionally, and those of us who
knew him personally as a man of passion who loved the oldies.
Rest my dear