In April 2015 it was extremely tough saying goodbye to the on air persona of Fez Whatley when he introduced that because of well being points, he was retiring from radio. Now, six years later, its unimaginable to imagine I’m saying goodbye to Fez once more, this time eternally.
Fez handed away on the age of 57, struggling a significant coronary heart assault after present process a minor surgical process. Fez was placed on a ventilator for a number of days and fought to come back again to us however the stress on his coronary heart was simply an excessive amount of.
Whatley had suffered one other practically life ending huge coronary heart assault in March- the truth is he flatlined- solely to be introduced again to life. It was a present of 5 months to his mates, household and followers who can be so thrilled to listen to him pop up on the Bennington Present to deal with some slight, or rejoice a milestone- his 57th birthday- or discuss in regards to the close to loss of life expertise.
Fez joked that he had a foul coronary heart however the actuality was, he had a lot coronary heart and gave all of it away for the complete time I’ve recognized him and a few years earlier than. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to make somebody giggle or to entertain even at his personal expense. Household, mates, followers and strangers all acquired to giggle, or be confused, or attempt to determine him out. No one ever may.
There have been so many eras to Fez’s life on the microphone and each was necessary and touched so many lives. His profession began on the Ron and Ron present in Tampa as a buddy of the present after Ron Bennington met him at his comedy membership. Fez was beloved on the Ron and Ron Present, enjoying an excessive flamboyant homosexual character, throughout a time and in a spot that didn’t all the time heat as much as homosexual characters so easily- however Fez received everybody over. After the Ron and Ron Present got here to an finish, Whatley and Bennington shaped the Ron and Fez Present, and never solely did that present have a number of lives on totally different platforms, however every period was extremely totally different from the final starting in Florida, and discovering time in Washington D.C. and New York Metropolis and all around the continent from 1998 till Fez retired in 2015.
In later years earlier than he retired, Fez struggled. He handled anxiousness, melancholy and well being points, together with his first coronary heart assault in 2005. The years that Fez struggled with well being and wellness points had been as groundbreaking and necessary to the followers as prior incarnations of the present. However he stored displaying as much as work. He would share his frailties and fears in a method that may solely be described as fearless. The ridiculous conundrum of getting so many fears, and being courageous is one thing solely Fez may pull off. Individuals have written on twitter and Instagram in the present day, expressing how a lot humanity these reveals had, not solely listening to Fez attempt to come to grips along with his issues, but additionally via listening to these round him grapple with the right way to react. In some ways, Ron and Fez was extra actual and extra human than every other present on the radio.
However the present wasn’t about reality- removed from it. The Ron and Fez Present was legendary for delivering wrestling like shoots and works leaving listeners guessing what was actual and what was a bit. Generally actual life grew to become a bit, and at different instances the bit morphed into actual life. That prolonged via private issues, like Fez’s sexuality, which was a present bit, till he formally got here out as homosexual in 2012.
This unusual dichotomy continued proper up till the ultimate second of the present when Fez all of a sudden introduced his retirement on April Fools Day 2015, leaving even shut mates of the present uncertain whether or not the retirement was actual or a gimmick. That was the brilliance of the show- you by no means may inform and even in the event you assume you knew, you in all probability didn’t. Months after Fez’s retirement, individuals had been nonetheless swearing it was only a lengthy con. And when it was introduced that Gail Bennington would take his place as Ron Bennington’s radio co-host he couldn’t have been prouder, or extra supportive. He listened to Bennington every single day and for the final 6 ears, he discovered himself a fan of a radio present.
In 2018 Fez got here out of retirement for one night time to sneak into the Exhausting Rock Cafe in NYC to shock longtime followers with an look on the Bennington’s annual dwell Thanksgiving present. He wasn’t nicely, confirmed up off the aircraft with a sort out field of drugs, a cane, and extra white hair than Santa Claus. However when he walked on stage, it was an unforgettable second, and the gang exploded as Fez climbed onto the stage to tug a wrestling bit with Ron and Gail. He stayed after the present for hours to signal autographs and take images. It was the final time most of us ever acquired to see him and the easiest way to recollect him.
Moreover loving radio, he was a diehard wrestling fan, and he beloved soccer and the Bucs. He even joked as soon as about wanting his ashes to be fired out of a cannon at a Bucs sport. He may not get that want, however he did dwell to see the Bucs go to the Tremendous Bowl, and win it, and he was there for the massive sport. Followers had been so thrilled for him, that individuals from all around the nation began rooting for the Bucs.
Fez Whatley was fall-down humorous on a regular basis. In his prime, there isn’t any one who was funnier, quicker, or extra keen to go to any size for fun. His dedication to a bit was unparallelled- and he and Bennington made magic for many years.
A lot of Fez’s legacy could be discovered on the web in numerous methods. If you recognize the place to look, I extremely advocate the journey.
I began realizing Ron and Fez as a listener. Ultimately I might be privileged to work with them behind the scenes for a few years. He was not simply an entertainer and a collaborator, he was additionally an in depth buddy who I’ll bear in mind every single day for the remainder of my life. He was beneficiant, he was enjoyable, he was the lifetime of numerous events. Even when he drove you nuts- and he was good at that too- you smiled. It’s been a rollercoaster that’s been a hell of a experience and it’s over far too quickly.
I really like you Fezzie. I miss you already. Relaxation straightforward Huge Cat.