When Brad Pitt dresses up as you for Halloween and legions of crafters make artsy knick-knacks in your likeness, it’s safe to say that you’re officially a pop culture icon. That’s what happened this year to DJ Lance Rock (aka Lance Robertson), the star of Nick Jr.’s wildly popular kids show, Yo Gabba Gabba!…and yep, you guessed it, he’s a native North Countian.
These days, Robertson sings and dances with a quirky cast of costumed characters, teaching kids about things like sharing and nutrition with the help of celebrity guests like Elijah Wood, Andy Samberg, indie band MGMT, and the hilarious Jack Black. But in 1983, he was just another Hazelwood East graduate, working at Streetside Records and Vintage Vinyl in the Delmar Loop.
In the early 90s, Robertson headed up the St. Louis techno band My Other Self, known for its dreamy, multimedia shows. He also ran the Loop record store Deep Grooves, specializing in dance music, and DJ’d at numerous parties and raves, some of which I attended.
Back then, DJ Lance was a colorful fixture in the local hipster/music scene, always present at cool shows and events. He seemed to know everyone, and everyone thought he was a super fun, talented guy.
Robertson moved to Los Angeles in the mid-90s, about the same time I did. (I saw him at concerts out there too.) After years of working retail, spinning records and playing in the L.A. band The Ray Makers, he was tapped in 2007 to be the host of Yo Gabba Gabba!, a silly, clever, musical kids show that feels like a hybrid of Pee Wee’s Playhouse and Sesame Street.
The show takes its name from the Ramones’ lyric “gabba gabba hey,” and it’s become such a huge hit (especially among Gen X parents) that Robertson and the rest of the cast are now on a nationwide concert tour. Will they come to St. Louis? I don’t know. But a 40-something man dressed in orange spandex, dancing with a monster, a dragon and a robot… Sounds like a classic NoCo character to me. Rock on, Lance!
Filed Under: People