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‘The night I hung with …’: 7 Cerphe brushes with greatness

Local radio legend Cerphe recounts some of his personal moments with music's biggest stars, in his new book, "Cerphe's Up."

WASHINGTON — Most music fans who have lived anywhere  near the nation’s capital for the past 40 years have spent some time listening to Cerphe.

The longtime radio broadcaster, who got his start in the early 1970s at the iconic WHFS, has talked on air and backstage with some of the most influential musicians of our time.

In his new book, “Cerphe’s Up: A Musical Life with Bruce Springsteen, Little Feat, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, CSNY, and Many More,” co-authored by Stephen Moore, Donald “Cerphe” Colwell tells some of the stories he’s gathered, in his years at stations including WAVA, DC101, WJFK, and Classic Rock 94.7.

Cerphe now hosts a daily online show, at musicplanetradio.com, unencumbered by the limitations of commercial radio.

In September 1985, Cerphe testified on Capitol Hill, with Frank Zappa, Dee Snider and John Denver, opposing a rating system for music suggested by the Parents Music Resource Center.

In a WTOP exclusive, Cerphe shares audio recollections of seven  brushes with music and entertainment greats.

Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler acknowledged some of the temptations of rock stardom.

1. Talking (cold) turkey with one of music's great frontmen

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Stevie Nicks has been Cerphe’s guest often, through the years.

2. The local road sign that inspired a rock classic

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Not all of Cerphe’s memorable moments happened on the air, or on stage.

Stars, including Kris Kristofferson, sometimes let their guard down around Cerphe.

In June 1973, after the release of his first album, Bruce Springsteen played an acoustic set in the WHFS studio.

In 1985, Cerphe testified against record labeling on Capitol Hill, with Frank Zappa, Dee Snider, and John Denver.

Cerphe’s wife, Susan, had a literal run-in with Pete Townshend.

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