George Carlin's Ark-La-Tex Connection

Published: Jun. 23, 2008 at 10:53 PM CDT
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By Ben Wolf - email | bio

SHRVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A show biz legend -- known for seven words in particular -- has died.  George Carlin, the world famous comedian and radio host, died from heart failure on Sunday.

His monologue, "Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say on Television" sparked a United States Supreme Court indecency case in 1978.  The 71-year-old performed stand-up as recently as two weeks ago in Las Vegas.  He died at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

Carlin had strong ties to the Ark-La-Tex.

He has already gone down in history for seven dirty words deemed "indecent but not obscene" in a landmark 1978 Supreme Court case; but if you ask the Lewis brothers in Shreveport, that's not the George they knew.

"It was kind of a shock to me, George wasn't like that in person," said music label owner Stan Lewis.

"I don't really know a lot about that -- and I don't know those words," said music store owner Ace Lewis as he laughed.

They met Carlin back in the mid 50s when he was stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base and worked as part-time disc jockey at KJOE.

Stan -- a record distributor -- pushed new records to Carlin including a mistakenly shipped exclusive Elvis song "All Shook Up."  Carlin played the record on air and got instant nationwide attention.

Stan's brother had a record store in downtown Shreveport.  Ace Lewis says Carlin could be found coming in just about every week to borrow the likes of Woody Herman and Stan Kenton for his radio show.

"He'd play them and then he'd bring them back the next day and I could tell this guy was going somewhere," said Ace.

During the past fifty years, Stan Lewis traded birthday and Christmas cards with Carlin.

"He was just a normal person, very friendly," said Stan.

The Lewis brothers say Carlin never forgot his roots.

Carlin released dozens of comedic albums and books.

The 71-year-old was set to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in November.