Lewis Largent, the one-time host of MTV’s alternative music program 120 Minutes and prominent radio DJ for KROQ, has died at 58. His family confirmed the news via Variety, revealing that the MTV VJ passed away on February 20th following a long illness.
Largent, who was born and raised in Southern California, launched his career in the music industry with an internship at Los Angeles’ famed alternative rock radio station, KROQ. He landed a full-time job with them in 1985, and was promoted to a music director position in 1989.
After departing KROQ in 1992, Largent jumped to MTV as the Vice President of Music Programming and assumed hosting duties of the channel’s established alternative rock show, 120 Minutes. During his tenure from 1992 to 1995, the music television tastemaker interviewed countless up-and-coming alternative artists at the time including Radiohead, Björk, Smashing Pumpkins, and Pavement as well as legends like David Bowie (sitting beside a young Trent Reznor) and Tony Bennett.
After stepping down from 120 Minutes, Largent continued to serve as a programmer for MTV until 1999, then became a Senior Vice President of A&R for Island Def Jam Records. Under his supervision, the label signed alternative acts like Sum 41 and Andrew WK, and he remained at the post until 2004.
In later years, Largent earned a BA in Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and followed with an MFA in 2015. He is survived by his wife, Atlantic Music Group CEO and Chairwoman Julie Greenwald, and their two children.
Reactions to the news began on Friday starting with Largent’s successor to 120 Minutes, Matt Pinfield, who shared (via Twitter) that he was “completely gutted.” He added, “I loved Lewis very much. I am at a loss for words.”
Fellow MTV personality John Norris, who was a correspondent at MTV News during the same era, tweeted, “Not gonna lie, I always wished that I was as cool as Lewis and he could not have been more chill and humble and kind.”
Elsewhere, SiriusXM host and Largent’s KROQ colleague Doug “Sluggo” Roberts recalled being welcomed by “TheLewMonkey” when he first joined the team and credited one of the radio station’s “coolest phases…in big part to him.” See clips from Largent’s tenure on 120 Minutes along with reactions below.
Lewis Largent, Influential MTV ‘120 Minutes’ VJ and KROQ DJ, Dies at 58 https://t.co/7mWzJ7MtWe via @variety I am completely gutted. I loved Lewis very much. I am at a loss for words.
— Matt Pinfield (@mattpinfield) March 10, 2023
How tragic. Not gonna lie, I always wished that I was as cool as Lewis and he could not have been more chill and humble and kind.
RIP friend. My thoughts are with Julie and his family and loved ones.💔
Lewis Largent, MTV ‘120 Minutes’ VJ and KROQ DJ https://t.co/9zhc1cfbl4
— John Norris (@Jonnynono) March 10, 2023
It’s heartbreaking to think we’ve lost Lewis Largent. The LewMonkey, as I called him, couldn’t have been more welcoming when I first joined KROQ at one of its coolest phases (thanks in big part to him) and he quickly became a good friend. RIP my brother! https://t.co/I1tJz58TD5
— Doug Sluggo Roberts (@SluggoDoug) March 10, 2023