Miami Herald, September 18, 1984, p. 6C
From legendary Birdland, from a booth overlooking Fifth Avenue in New York, from a Miami radio studio, the deep, raspy voice of Symphony Sid Torin meant jazz to decades of music fans.
Symphony Sid, who died Friday of heart and lung failure at Miami Heart Institute, was the first man to play bop on the radio. He had lived in Islamorada for the past 12 years, spending his days deep-sea fishing and his nights telling tales of Bird, Prez and Billie, the greats of jazz history.
He knew them all. He helped make their careers, announcing concerts and club dates over WBNX and WHOM in New York and WJZ in Detroit. Crowds would gather on Fifth Avenue to watch him spin records in his booth in the window of The Record Hunter. At concerts at Carnegie Hall and New York jazz clubs, audiences would cheer Symphony Sid as loudly as they would Lester Young.
Sid's ABC broadcasts were heard in 38 states. There was even a Symphony Sid fan club in British Guinea.
Born Sidney Tarnopol, later Torin, Symphony Sid was born in a cold-water flat on Manhattan's Lower East Side, the oldest son of Jewish immigrants.
"Sid was like a grandfather of jazz radio," said China Valles, host of WTMI's all-night jazz show. "He was my idol, my hero. His show is what inspired me to be a jazz disc jockey."
Valles, who first heard Symphony Sid in the late forties, said he copied Torin's relaxed, cool style. And Valles tried to return the favor in 1974, when he gave Torin the weekend nights disc jockey job at Miami's WBUS, an all-jazz station.
"I'd go pick him up at midnight after his show and I'd take him over to The Forge or somewhere and we'd sit and drink all night while he told me stories about Charlie Parker and all the greats," Valles said.
"I was hoping one day to get all those stories on tape. Now it's too late."
Torin's Miami show featured the classic jazz he had promoted all his life, with a splash of Latin music.
Back to his start in 1937, Symphony Sid was "the accepted white voice of the New York black" music scene, said Arnold Passman, author of The Deejays. Torin built up a Harlem audience by playing what were then known as "race records." Listeners responded by patronizing the 125th Street shops Sid advertised.
But it was his masterful salesmanship as well as his musical taste that won Torin commercial success. Consider his distinctive style: "If you got eyes to be the sharpest, take a tip from Old Daddy Sid and fall by Al's Pants Shop, for the pants with the peg bottom and the wide knee."
Columbia Records recently issued a series of albums of Symphony Sid radio broadcasts of Charlie Parker playing with a string orchestra.
Torin, who was 74, married three times. He is survived by a brother-in-law, who was expected to arrive in Miami today, Valles said. The disc jockey said a memorial service will be held for Torin later this week.
Valles said he will present a tribute to Symphony Sid, playing recordings of his radio broadcasts each morning through Saturday at 3 a.m.
On Friday and Saturday mornings, Valles will play a recording of Torin's final New York program, originally broadcast in 1972.