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'Funky Broadway:' A Forgotten Song Of Phoenix

John Dixon
Christina Estes/KJZZ
file | staff
Arizona music historian John Dixon holds a CD featuring Dyke and The Blazers.

Arizona’s music scene has produced several well-known singers like Linda Ronstandt, Stevie Nicks, Waylon Jennings, Dierks Bentley, Alice Cooper and Ce Ce Penniston.

Phoenix and Arizona have also played prominent roles in many songs from “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” performed by Glenn Campbell to “By The Time I Get To Arizona” by Public Enemy.

Recently, we picked up on a 50-year-old song many Phoenicians don’t know about, and we learned about it — believe it or not — during a discussion of street names at a Phoenix City Council meeting.

The council was discussing how to handle a citizen’s request to officially rename Broadway Road in south Phoenix to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which is in Councilwoman Kate Gallego’s district. While she supported changing the name she said a community-wide discussion would need to take place first and it would need to include the local music crowd, which Gallego says is fiercely proud of a song called “Funky Broadway.” It was written and performed by Arlester Christian who went by the name "Dyke" and lead a band that was called “Dyke and the Blazers.”

Contrary to what some may think, Gallego said the song is not about Broadway in New York City, she said it’s about Broadway Road in Phoenix.

In the song, you can hear Dyke singing about the observation that every town has a street named Broadway.

While Dyke was originally from Buffalo, New York — where there is also a Broadway Road — he moved to Phoenix in the 1960s where he wrote the song and his band recorded it.

Listening to the lyrics ourselves, it seemed obvious that he's referring to Phoenix in specific parts. However, we grasped it a little differently than John Dixon did. He’s a founding member of the Arizona Music Hall of Fame and calls himself Arizona’s unofficial music historian.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.