In Britain, Radio 1 and Top of the Pops began in the Sixties, but by 1970 the Disc Jockeys (or DJ’s) had been elevated to stardom, and many were household names;
Tony Blackburn, David ‘Diddy’ Hamilton, Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman, Dave Lee Travis, Noel Edmonds and Jimmy Saville (who moved to television with Jim’ll Fix It in 1975). Noel Edmonds joined Keith Chegwin, John Craven and Maggie Philbin in Multi-Coloured Swap Shop.
Born in Liverpool on 30 September 1942, Mike Ahern was educated at St Bedes Secondary Modern School until he was 15. His first job was in a menswear store where, after three months, he had a serious mishap with an expensive suit and left. Work as a clerk, barman and factory hand followed before he decided to take his undoubted (to Mike) talents to France. Here he remained for two years as a grape-picker and learnt to speak French, Greek, Spanish, German and Italian.
On his return to Liverpool, he and a friend opened a club “The Teen-Beat Club”, which had moderate success until the local council declared the floor to be unsafe. He joined Radio Caroline North and later transferred to the South ship.
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Don Allen took a course in announcing in Chicago after leaving school and, on graduation at 18, became an announcer with a Canadian Radio Station. He later became a freelance disc jockey and was heard over the air in the USA and Mexico before coming to England. First broadcasting from the Radio Caroline South ship, Don later moved to Radio Caroline North.
Born and educated in Portsmouth, Mike Allen devoted much of his time to songwriting. In this field he was very successful – his songs include Skinny Lizzie for Gerry and the Pacemakers, Iceberg and Stablemates for the Mark Murphy album on Fontana and also Mark’s single Broken Heart. He also wrote songs for Screaming Lord Sutch, John L. Watson and the Hummelflugs and many others. Mike first broadcast from Radio Caroline South in 1964, then he left for a short while only to return later to the ship.
Simon was born in Birmingham but lived in Suffolk until 1954 when he moved to Shropshire. But he had to go to New Zealand to get his first broadcasting experience and worked for a year as a radio actor in Auckland in 1965.
Then he moved to Wellington for a further three years as a radio and television DJ. He left Wellington for Australia where he worked for the Australian Broadcasting Commission – the down-under equivalent of the BBC, where he divided his time between a weekly arts programme on television and three radio series.
By 1971 he was back in England and joined the BBC as an announcer and newsreader for Radio 1 and Radio 2 in December. He built up his reputation by presenting Radio 2’s Early Show from March 1974 to January 1976 and also proved his versatility (and availability) by introducing Late Night Extra and Folk 74.
Born at Parkstone, Dorset on 29 January 1943, Tony Blackburn was the first DJ to broadcast on Radio 1 when it launched in September 1967.
He spent 17 years at the station and also presented Top of the Pops and was a weekly fixture on Noel’s House Party.
Prior to all that, he had broadcast on Radio Caroline and then Radio London.
After Radio 1, he was one of the launch presenters on Capital Gold. He has also hosted Radio 2’s Pick Of The Pops as well as regular bank holiday specials for the stations.
Born in Montreal in 1942, Pete Brady first tried his hand at DJ work with Radio Jamaica before coming to Britain and joining Radio London, becoming a regular on the breakfast show.
He left London quite early on, in 1965, and worked for EMI, presenting their ‘plug’ programmes on Luxembourg, plus undertaking various jobs for the BBC until landing the afternoon slot on Radio 1.
Later he went to Thames Television as one of the original Magpie team, along with Susan Stranks and Tony Bastable
A native of Dorset, Brandon broke into broadcasting – after a spell as a journalist and some time on the variety stage as a comedy impressionist – when he read an item in a newspaper about a couple of Disc Jockeys who were leaving Radio Luxembourg.
He scored himself an audition and landed up in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg as a 208 DJ. After a year on the Continent, he took the plunge and was pressed into service by pirate station Radio London where he was happier because he had greater control over his own programmes. From there went on to the BBC.
Paul Burnett was born into a show business family and attended twelve schools, living mainly in caravans.
He began broadcasting while serving with the RAF in Aden. He came back to England and worked as a DJ in a Northern disco for five nights a week, buying himself out of the Air Force in 1966 to take a job with one of the pirate stations.
Subsequently, he joined Radio Luxembourg before moving to Radio 1 in 1974, presenting a Sunday morning show and hosting the Top 20 chart programme.
He and fellow DJ Dave Lee Travis released a parody cover version of U.S. hit Convoy.
Fired from Radio 1 in the 1980s, he went to work for Capital Gold.
Londoner Dave Cash acquired his accent after emigrating to Canada when he was sixteen. While in the Great White North he participated in rodeos, indulged in motor racing and studied acting – though not all at the same time.
Soon after, he took to the microphone and visited Los Angeles and New York before returning to England, where Radio London took him on.
He was only there for six months, but during that time, his shows with Kenny Everett became a radio legend and were sensibly resuscitated by Radio 1, for whom he first broadcast on 2 October 1967
Dave Cash died on 21 October 2016, aged 74.
Long-running Radio Luxembourg DJ with a passion for classic rock and soul music. Presented a popular Sunday show. Left the station in 1975 and joined Radio Victory in Portsmouth. Went on to do stints on radio in the Faroe Islands, Hong Kong and Ireland before returning to work in Luxembourg for Sunshine Radio and Radio Television Luxembourg. Retired from radio in 2007.
Born in Ottawa Canada on 28 July 1935, Simon Dee went to school at Shrewsbury in England. On leaving school Simon tried his hand at a number of jobs including that of lorry driver and as a bouncer. His first public appearance was in the ITV play Touch of a Dead Hand.
For a while, he also worked as a photographer’s assistant with Anthony Armstrong Jones (Lord Snowdon).
A meeting with Ronan O’Rahilly led to Simon Dee becoming a DJ on Radio Caroline when she started broadcasting at Easter 1964. Since leaving Radio Caroline he established a very considerable reputation and became one of Britain’s top spinners of discs.
Pete was born in Wales in 1943 and started out to be an actor but was sidetracked into radio in America when he capitalised on being British when British pop was wildly popular in the USA.
He began broadcasting with Radio London in August 1966 before moving on to the BBC and Radio 1.
Essex-born Edmonds, an ex-public schoolboy, the son of a headmaster, and a student teacher – turned down the chance of going to university for a broadcasting job with Radio Luxembourg in 1968.
With ten O-levels and four A-levels behind him, he entered the world of showbiz at the tender age of 19. Then he struck it lucky.
Joining the BBC in 1969, his chance to hit the big time came in 1970 when he was picked to take over Kenney Everett’s Sunday morning show, a move which was to make him the youngest regular DJ on Radio 1.
One of the great innovators. Kenny Everett (real name Maurice Cole) helped to establish the double-DJ show with Dave Cash on pirate station Radio London (‘Big L’). There Everett developed the production techniques and tape tomfoolery that he used throughout his career.
The timid Liverpudlian became electrifying behind the microphone and was envied for his genius as a tape editor, and for his assortment of Goon Show-inspired voices and characters.
Everett also proved vital in establishing Big L’s friendly relationship with The Beatles, travelling with them on their 1966 US tour.
Renowned for his risque remarks and unpredictable behaviour, Everett found himself suddenly out of a job in 1970, after moving to the BBC. There was considerable fudging over the reasons for his on-air dismissal from Radio One.
The BBC maintained that it was not Everett’s on-air remarks about the transport minister’s wife (he claimed she had passed her driving test only because she had crammed a fiver into her examiner’s hand), but the fact that he had broken his promise not to “speak to the press on controversial broadcasting matters” which got him the boot.
The sacking did Kenny no harm as he moved to television, where The Kenny Everett Explosion was the first in a long line of snappily-titled shows over the years, including The Kenny Everett Video Show, The Kenny Everett Video Cassette, The Kenny Everett Television Show and a programme called Simply Ev, the name by which friends and colleagues knew him.
Everett was a married man who later came out and who had wanted to be a priest before turning to television as a career.
Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman
Born in Melbourne, Australia, former-accountant Freeman landed himself a job as summer relief disc jockey on Radio Luxembourg. He made enough of an impression to get himself recruited to the BBC Light Programme as presenter of the Records Around Five show in 1960, where he first introduced his familiar signature tune, At the Sign of the Swinging Cymbal.
In 1961, Freeman took over Pick of the Pops from David Jacobs on the Light Programme and successfully managed to relegate the musical content to second place with his ebullient presenting manner.
He also established himself as a regular fixture on TV’s Top of the Pops, having been appointed as one of the original four presenters in 1964. He appeared on film in Julien Temple’s Absolute Beginners (1986), in Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors (1965), and as a DJ in the 1968 Dirk Bogarde vehicle, Sebastian (1968).
Freeman died on 27 November 2006.
David Hamilton started his career with the British Forces Broadcasting Service in Germany and when he came to England he became a television announcer in the North-East.
His brief interjections between programmes were so well received by viewers that they voted him ‘Personality of the Year’.
Following a few years in Manchester as an announcer, he was chosen as Ken Dodd‘s straight man in the Doddy’s Magic Box series in 1967 and 1968 (where he became known as “Diddy” David Hamilton) and later starred with Ken in a series called Funny You Should Say That.
After sitting in for Jimmy Young on Radio 1 and for Terry Wogan, Peter Murray and Tony Brandon on Radio 2, Hamilton became best known for his weekday radio shows on Radio 1.
Henry joined pirate ship Radio Scotland after a stint at acting. Eventually, he joined the BBC and became known to millions.
David ‘Kid’ Jensen
David Allen Jensen was born in 1950 in Victoria, British Columbia. He began broadcasting in Canada at the age of sixteen presenting, oddly enough, classical music.
Later he joined a pop station in British Columbia and also worked as an announcer on radio and television in Whitehorse, Yukon.
He was dubbed ‘Kid’ when, at eighteen, he became Radio Luxembourg‘s youngest DJ. He stayed in the Grand Duchy for 6½ years, during which time he was also seen on Granada Television introducing a weekly pop show.
In May 1975 he was taken on by a commercial station in Nottingham and, just over a year later, moved to Radio 1.
Jensen also guest-hosted Top of the Pops, before going to work for US broadcaster CNN. He returned to the UK in the 1980s and worked for Capital Radio.
After a stint at BBC Radio Merseyside, Janice Long – elder sister of Swap Shop‘s Keith Chegwin – joined Radio 1 in 1982, making her debut on 4 December with her own Saturday evening show from 7:30 pm to 10 pm.
In October 1984, she became the first female presenter of a weekday Radio 1 show, taking over the evening slot from David ‘Kid’ Jensen. She also became a regular presenter of Top of the Pops and was the first woman to become a regular host, often presenting in partnership with John Peel.
In 1989, she joined London station BBC Radio London (then known as Greater London Radio), taking over from Nick Abbot on the breakfast show. Long became involved with XFM in London when it had a Restricted Service Licence, and played a crucial part in its bid for a permanent licence.
In 1995, she moved back up to Liverpool, where she set up a radio station called Crash FM with Bernie Connor, which eventually successfully bid for a permanent licence on 107.6FM.
In 1999, Long started appearing on BBC Radio 2, presenting a Saturday afternoon show, and in April 2000, she began as a weekday presenter, hosting the show originally from Birmingham and then from BBC Radio 2 studios in London.
Long left her regular BBC Radio 2 slot after further changes to its schedule, but returned to stand in for Jo Whiley for a week in April 2017 and was given her own series called A Long Walk With . . .
From the station’s founding and launch in 2002 to 2004 Long presented “Dream Ticket” on BBC Radio 6 Music and also presented for a time on BBC Radio WM on Saturday mornings from 9 am to noon. In 2017 she began presenting a new evening show on BBC Radio Wales (taking some time away in December 2017 following her brother’s death). Long presented her final show on BBC Radio Wales on 9 December 2021.
She died at home from pneumonia on Christmas Day 2021, at the age of 66.
After early radio experience in Melbourne, Australia, Johnny came to Britain in 1963, joining Radio Luxembourg as a staff announcer for two years in 1964 (where he introduced himself as ‘Johnny Moran your music man’).
After a lean time, the BBC opened its door to him in 1967 and he was principally responsible for devising Scene and Heard which embraced news items, a review of the pop press, interviews with pop people in the news and a look at a current LP. The programme suffered over the years from recurrent bouts of rescheduling when it was shunted around the network like a redundant goods train.
Annie Nightingale was the first female national DJ on BBC Radio 1. She started on 8 February 1970 with a Sunday evening show and in April she became one of the hosts of the singles review show What’s New before graduating to a late-night progressive rock show, Sounds of the 70s, with Alan Black, John Peel, Bob Harris, Pete Drummond, and Mike Harding.
In the mid-to-late 1970s, she presented a Sunday afternoon request show, and in the early 1980s, she presented a Friday night show and the non-music-based Radio 1 Mailbag and Talkabout.
In 1978, Nightingale became the main presenter of The Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC2 as a replacement for long-time host Bob Harris. During her tenure, the show moved away from its traditional bias under Harris towards country music, blues rock and progressive rock and embraced popular modern styles such as punk rock and new wave. She left the series in 1982.
From December 1982, Nightingale hosted The Sunday Request Show – one of the first shows on British radio to regularly play music from CDs. In 1994, she moved to a weekend overnight dance music show called The Chill Out Zone.
In 2021, Nightingale’s regular weekly Radio 1 show, now in its 52nd year, was moved to an earlier slot, 11 pm on Tuesdays.
See John Peel here.
Peter James Barnard-Powell was born on 24 March 1951 in Stourbridge. His first broadcasting job was for BBC Radio Birmingham in 1970, and he was the first voice to be heard on that station on its launch day.
Powell had a brief stint on Radio 1 in 1972, before joining Radio Luxembourg for several years. He returned to Radio 1 in 1977. In the same year, he made his first appearance as a presenter on Top Of The Pops.
After 11 years at the station, Powell left Radio 1 on 25 September 1988.
Born in Oldham in 1946, Tony Prince had been an apprentice tool-maker and the singer and guitarist with a Manchester group called The Jasons before he became a TV personality, eventually joining Radio Caroline North in December 1965.
Known to listeners as Tony ‘Your Royal Ruler’ Prince, he went on to become programme director of Radio Luxembourg. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he missed out on a gig at Radio 1. Instead, he launched dance magazine Mixmag, which was later sold to Emap for £9 million.
Mike was born Austin Churton Fairman in London in 1924. He was the son of the actress Hilda Moore. Before becoming a DJ he had been a photographer, a flamenco guitarist and an interior decorator and his first experience with offshore radio was when he joined Radio Atlanta in 1964, which shortly merged with Radio Caroline.
He achieved nationwide fame in 1967 as one of the first disc jockeys to broadcast on Radio 1‘s launch day and his 30-minute Sunday night The Mike Raven Blues Show soon became a two-hour slot. His appealingly diffident delivery was backed up by a comprehensive knowledge of his subject and he built up a faithful audience over the
Leaving radio in 1971, Raven went on to appear in several horror films including Crucible of Terror (1971) and Disciple of Death (1972).
He died on 4 April 1997 and was buried in a grave he had dug for himself on Bodmin Moor.
Known for his lustrous hair and cheesy voice, his career soared after leaving Radio Luxembourg. Snapped up by Radio 1 where he hosted the breakfast show. Famously banned Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s song Relax from his show in 1984 because he felt the lyrics were obscene. Also hosted Top of the Pops and Saturday Superstore on television. His play Oscar Wilde: The Musical was panned by critics and closed in the West End after one night in 2004.
Real name Michael Joseph Pasternak, the son of the famous Hollywood producer Joe Pasternak launched his DJ career in the US Navy, joining Radio Caroline and Luxembourg before moving to the BBC in 1967.
He was famed for his pacy banter, outlandish dress sense and quirky sense of humour, and described himself as “the Emperor, the geeter with the heater, your leader, your groovy host from the West coast, here to clear up your skin and mess up your mind. It’ll make you feel good all over.”
His over-the-top style once prompted a newsreader to announce “Now here is the news – in English”.
Returned to the US in the 1970s before returning to Europe and Radio 1 in 1982. Also worked for Capital Gold and Virgin.
Jimmy left school at 14 to take an office job before becoming a coal-face worker in the mines.
An accident at the colliery put paid to mining and Jimmy decided to enter the world of showbiz.
As a disc jockey, he began his career by touring local dance halls with borrowed records and a record player.
From these beginnings, he went on to become arguably the most famous DJ on British radio and a ubiquitous television personality.
After his death in 2011, hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse were made against him, leading the police to believe that Savile had been a predatory sex offender – possibly one of Britain’s most prolific.
Born in Devon in 1941 and brought up in Wimbledon, Ed “Stewpot” Stewart was supposed to have a secure job when he left school playing double bass in a jazz band in Hong Kong – but when he got there, there was no band, no job, no friends – he was stranded.
Luckily, he was stranded outside the office of a local radio station so he went in and asked for a job. For the next four years, he was their sports commentator, film critic, disc jockey and tea-maker. When he got homesick, he did a radio commercial for an airline company in exchange for a flight home to England.
In July 1965 he joined Radio London and became their chief DJ, eventually ending up at the BBC, signing up with Radio 1 in 1967. In addition to hosting Junior Choice (which had as many as 16 million listeners), Ed also made many TV appearances, including
Top of the Pops and Crackerjack.
Dave Lee Travis
Born in Buxton, Derbyshire, on 25 May 1945, Dave Lee Travis began his career spinning discs at the Oasis Club in Manchester on a part-time basis.
Proving extremely popular, DLT went on an extensive tour of clubs, ballrooms and theatres presenting and promoting his own shows with the aid of his specially built stereophonic record player system.
He was asked by Herman to accompany The Hermits on their American tour. This led to radio and TV broadcasts in many states and on his return to Britain he continued to promote his own shows in Blackpool, Bury and surrounding areas.
DLT joined Radio Caroline in September 1965 and broadcast from the Southern ship. He was on board when the ship ran aground during gales.
From Caroline he went back to Manchester and began his Radio 1 career by presenting Pop North, gradually extending his experience until the advent of his first daily show in 1971. He made many appearances on Top Of The Pops and in 1976 he got together with Paul Burnett and – under the name Laurie Lingo and the Dipsticks – made a record called Convoy GB, which was a big hit in the Radio 1 Fun Thirty.
Birmingham-born Walker began his DJ career at the age of 20 working in ballrooms in his home town. During his time as ballroom DJ he also worked during the day as a car salesman but decided to become a disc jockey full time.
He left his salesman’s job and three days later was with Swinging Radio England (after failing an audition with Radio Luxembourg). After an 18-month stint, he switched ships to Radio Caroline South in October 1966 – and on his late-night show organised his “Kiss in the Car” spot for which a vast number of his fans are “licenced” to take part – before eventually joining the BBC.
Made many of Radio Luxembourg‘s jingles and stayed with the station as a presenter for ten years. Left in 1981 and went on to work on local radio and Capital Gold before moving into television and radio production.
A one-time bank clerk, Terry Wogan joined the BBC in the 1960s and was one of Radio 1‘s original team of presenters in 1967. His Radio 2 breakfast show in the 1970s and early 1980s gained him a cult following and established his distinctively witty, self-effacing presentational style.
Items like “Fighting the Flab” and “Wogan’s Winner” characterised the show, and his constant digs at Dallas ensured that the soap became a hit in the UK.
His TV career took off in 1979 when he began five years at the helm of Blankety Blank, and in 1980 he turned his hand to chat shows with What’s On Wogan?, a live Saturday tea-time programme.
Two years later the show metamorphosed into Wogan and was transmitted late on Saturday nights, before being promoted in 1985 to being a thrice-weekly early evening live event. Terry quickly became the television personality of the 1980s and was seldom off British screens.
Born in Greenwich, South London, Wright was raised in New Cross. He started broadcasting in 1976 at Thames Valley Radio Radio 210 in Reading, Berkshire alongside Mike Read. In 1979 Wright got his big break at Radio Luxembourg, where he presented his own nightly show, presenting a Saturday evening show, then Saturday morning.
In 1980, Wright joined BBC Radio 1 taking over a Saturday evening slot before moving to Saturday mornings later that year.
Jimmy was born in Cinderford and was originally a singer with a number of hit records to his credit, including Too Young, Unchained Melody and The Man From Laramie. He was booked for was a two-week stint on Housewives Choice which proved to be a turning point in his career and he began to develop as a DJ.
Young became a mainstay of Radio 1 until he transferred to the rarified atmosphere of Radio 2 in 1973. Like all popular broadcasters, he soon became the butt of comedians everywhere with distinctive catchphrases like “TTT” (“through ’til twelve”) and “Orft we jolly well go”. As well as filling the nation’s ears with cheery chat and merry music, he also filled the stomachs of his “MMMMFs” (many millions of mid-morning friends) with an avalanche of recipes which spawned several JY cookery books.