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Randy Alexander, publicist who worked with Gamble & Huff, the Hooters and Disco Biscuits, dies at 62

An ebullient and insatiable networker, with nostalgic tastes and deep love for the Philadelphia sound, Alexander ran a one-man public relations firm, Randex Communications.

In a file photograph, Randy Alexander is seen preparing for a Philadelphia Music Alliance press conference to announce the 2017 Walk of Fame inductees.
In a file photograph, Randy Alexander is seen preparing for a Philadelphia Music Alliance press conference to announce the 2017 Walk of Fame inductees.Read moreJESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

Randy Alexander, 62, a rock critic and then a publicist, whose lifelong commitment to the Philadelphia music scene included amplifying talents from Gamble and Huff to the Hooters to the Disco Biscuits, died of pancreatic cancer on Dec. 27 at home in Marlton.

An ebullient and insatiable networker with nostalgic tastes and deep love for the Philadelphia sound, Mr. Alexander ran a one-man public relations firm, Randex Communications, and was the self-appointed historian for the nonprofit Philadelphia Music Alliance, developing a comprehensive, and often unexpected, list of candidates for South Broad Street’s Walk of Fame.

Raised in Philadelphia, Mr. Alexander studied journalism at Temple University and started out covering sports at a short-lived tabloid, the Philadelphia Journal, “that made the Daily News look like the Christian Science Monitor,” according to Chuck Darrow, his colleague there and friend of 40 years. Darrow began bringing Mr. Alexander to shows, and he found his calling.

“Randy was a schmoozer. He has a knack with people, and he enjoyed the behind-the-scenes action. He loved being in that world,” Darrow said.

A short man with an outsized personality, Mr. Alexander spoke with his hands so vigorously that one guest at a reception celebrating KYW-TV’s first closed-captioned newscast spotted him from across the room and assumed he was using sign language, Darrow recalled.

Later, at the Trenton Times, Mr. Alexander enthusiastically covered a band called the Torpedos.

“It struck up a friendship for over 40 years,” said drummer David Uosikkinen. “We formed the Hooters in 1980, and it seemed like he was along for the ride. He was a big part of writing about us. When we got signed to Columbia Records, he came over my house and had dinner with my mom and dad, and he interviewed my mom. I had to tell her, ‘Don’t say that!’ She loved him.”

Mr. Alexander navigated subsequent decades of upheaval in the music industry, Uosikkinen said, because “he was really authentic. ... It was about the relationships. That’s how I think he always survived.”

His eclectic client base over the years included the Amazing Kreskin, the rock band Deep Purple, comedian Joe Piscopo, and the jam band Disco Biscuits.

Many friends and collaborators emphasized Mr. Alexander’s unstoppable commitment to Philadelphia music culture. Gamble and Huff issued a statement of gratitude for Mr. Alexander’s relentless “hustle.” And Alan Rubens, chairman of the Philadelphia Music Alliance, marveled at his dedication to uncovering unexpected corners of the city’s music legacy, such as its contribution to country music in the form of Ray Benson, frontman of Asleep at the Wheel.

Mr. Alexander was already moonlighting as a publicist when he interviewed Franke Previte, who had just won an Academy Award for the song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” featured in Dirty Dancing.

“I saw the passion he had for music, and that was an important part of our friendship. We could talk freely about it without any ego,” Previte said. Mr. Alexander later supported him as a publicist for “One World,” a song written as a cultural exchange. They also worked together on performances that have raised thousands of dollars for pancreatic cancer charities.

Though Mr. Alexander was seemingly at every event and concert — “I learned to stop asking him, ‘What are you doing here?’” Uosikkinen said — he also was a devoted husband and father, survived by his wife of 32 years, Randi; his children, Zoe and Harrison; his brother, Keith Alexander; and his mother, Lois Alexander.

Harrison Alexander said that, outside his work, Mr. Alexander was a diehard Phillies fan; a drummer; a history buff fascinated by 1960s culture, particularly the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; and a collector of Flintstones and Beatles memorabilia and presidential campaign pins.

“A celebrated publicist in the Philadelphia music culture — I guess that’s what the outside world will remember him most as. Within my circle, my family, he was just literally the best father he could be,” he said.

A memorial service will be held virtually. When details are available, they will be posted to Mr. Alexander’s Facebook page.