Ali Hackett is affectionately known in the Tri-State area and beyond as “King of the Oldies”. With music being a major part of his life, Ali has entertained so many with his unmistakable style of music, and his smooth dancing for many years.
The DJ, who earned the nickname “King of the Oldies,” has enjoyed a long career extended from his days as a DJ on WHAT-AM radio where he played oldies for 13 years.
“When I was about 4 or 5, my mother would have house parties and her friends, and guests would come over, and she would ask me to play the music, so that’s how that got started,” Hackett said.Once started, he never stopped and his love for music continued to grow.
“Music is an integral part of my being and I always played my music,” he said. “When I grew up I wanted to become a disc jockey, I listened to Jocko Henderson, Georgie Woods, Jimmy Bishop and people like that.”Hackett said he wanted to do what they did — but better — and so he borrowed something from each one of them and created his own personality.
“I didn’t want to be a carbon copy of either one of them; I wanted to be my own person. I must say that it’s been pretty successful and rewarding,” he said.
Last month, Hackett was given the Living Legends Award during a Black Music Month ceremony at the African-American Museum for his contribution to black music.
“I sort of knew that I would be receiving an award but nothing of that magnitude,” he said. “When I think of legends, I think of Georgie Woods, I think of Jocko Henderson and I think of [State Rep.] Louise Bishop, people like that. I don’t think of myself in that realm and for someone to thing of me in that way is so humbling and I am so appreciative of that.”
Hackett also educates while playing music. He teaches music history while he entertains. It was for this reason that he was given the title of King of the Oldies.
Hackett said he was bestowed with the title several years ago during a performance. “There was a ceremony at the show and I was knighted King of the Oldies because of the way that I play and the information I clarify, I’m sort of like a teacher-entertainer, if you will,” he said.
Hackett’s events turn community parks into ballrooms in which people put aside differences, lay down their burdens let the music carry them away. He can be heard Monday nights, 5 to 9 p.m. at 25th and Jackson streets in South Philadelphia and Thursdays, 5 to 9 p.m. at 24th and Wharton streets. He hopes to resume at Malcolm X Park in West Philadelphia shortly.