Going Ga Ga For Radio

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Well, the snow held off for my birthday, and I’ve had the most fantastic weekend celebrating it. Saturday was spent being thoroughly spoilt by my kids, then an evening of karaoke – my birthday rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody was indeed a treat for everyone present! Yesterday (or my Birthday Boxing Day, as we call it in our family) was a somewhat surreal experience, as the radio of my teenage years became real life.

Arriving in Camden for the Great British Radio Reunion at The Jazz Cafe, I was twenty minutes early so popped into a nearby coffee shop to keep warm and check I looked presentable. As I stood in the small queue for the single, unisex toilet that served the cafe, I noticed a group of gentleman sat inches away from me. I don’t know what you call a collection of radio DJs. A broadcast? A transmission? Whatever it is, I had stumbled upon one of the best – Paul Burnett, Mike Read, Ian Damon  and Tim Jibson. Paul invited me to join them, and as I sat down with the group, Showaddywaddy’s Dave Bertram turned up! Like I said, surreal.

We arrived at the venue at the same time as a number of other DJs, including Andy Peebles and Roger Day, who tried to convince the doormen I was his wife, in a futile attempt to get me indoors more quickly. The guest list hadn’t arrived at the door, and without a BBC pass to flash at security, I was amongst those having to wait a minute until we were given the go ahead. Still, I was in good company, and for the rest of the day, I was Roger’s pseudo wife!

DJs

Clockwise from top left: Roger Day, Johnnie Walker, Adrian ‘Ade The Shades’ John, Adrian Juste, Mike Read, Paul Burnett and David ‘Kid’ Jensen

As more and more guests arrived, I soon found myself surrounded by voices of the airwaves – Kid Jensen, Graham Dene, Tony Prince, and Shaun Tilley, who always seemed to be on hand whenever I needed someone to take a photo – thanks Shaun! I also managed to grab conversations with the two Adrians, Juste and John, both an integral part of my Radio 1 listening during the Eighties. Then, there was the man who everyone wanted to meet, Johnnie Walker. Magnetically charismatic, he seemed to have the ability to attract people from across the room, regardless of who they were. I won’t name names, but I wasn’t the only guest to have a big grin on my face when they met him. And what an eclectic bunch, the guests were.

Representing the 80’s music contingent were Brother Beyond’s Nathan Moore, Dr. & The Medics’ Clive Jackson, Martin Fry, Phil Fearon, Owen Paul, David Van Day, and Eddie Lundon of China Crisis, with the 70’s and earlier being represented by Tina Charles, Linda Lewis, Jimmy Helms, Hello’s Bob Bradbury, The Foundations’ Clem Curtis, The Searchers’ Frank Allen, and Ray Dorset of Mungo Jerry, to name but a few.

Music

Clockwise from top left: Nathan Moore, Clive Jackson, Eddie Lundon, Adrian Juste, Owen Paul, Dave Bartram, Jona Lewie, Tina Charles, Graham Fenton, Jimmy Helms, David Van Day,  and Linda Lewis.

Amongst an onstage celebrity Pop Quiz, which saw Jona Lewie, Eddie Lundon and Sally Geeson take on Dave Bartram, Stephanie de Sykes and Beverley Craven,  a tribute to Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart, and numerous performances by a plethora of singers and musicians, there were two personal favourites for me. First was Graham Fenton of Matchbox singing Rockabilly Rebel and When You Ask About Love, which immediately transported me back to a time when I was at primary school, and still in single figures. The second was Angie Brown performing Bizarre Inc’s 1992 hit I’m Gonna Get You, a track synonymous with my clubbing days. Although, I never dreamt that I would be watching Angie performing it live, whilst dancing away between The Reverend Doctor and Sixties’ songstress Billie Davis. What a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon – I can’t wait ’til next year!

Click here to see the full list of presenters and performers at this year’s Great British Radio Reunion.

 

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Stay Gold TSP

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The reality of what I am writing has yet to sink in. Emotions of disbelief and sadness are overwhelming as I type what I have been unable to voice. On Friday 22nd May 2015, actor, artist, and the loveliest man anyone could ever hope to meet, Terry Sue-Patt was found dead at his home is East London.

Remembered by a generation as Benny Green, the first Grange Hill pupil to eve58680_10201586065125056_37009664_nr grace our television screens, Terry was also an incredibly talented artist, working under the name TSP Hoodie. The photo shows the pair of us holding one of his pieces which, I am proud to say, has hung in my hallway for the last couple of years. It is the last thing I see at night, as I close my bedroom door, and the first thing I notice as I make my way, bleary eyed, downstairs each morning. Guaranteed to always put a smile on my face, the painting continues to do what Terry always did.

Ask anyone who ever met Terry what he was like, and the words “beautiful”, “fun” and “cheeky” are repeated time and time again. His fellow Grange Hill cast member and close friend, Erkan Mustafa commented yesterday “he loved everybody that he met”. As his many friends and family all know, everybody he met also loved him. Whether you had known him for years or hours, Terry’s warmth and generosity of spirit became a part of your life that you never forgot. Paul McCarthy, who played Tommy Watson alongside Terry in Grange Hill, captures his nature perfectly: “He was a very special man, with no malice or agenda, just a kind soul.”

Despite his early TV appearances and exposure to public scrutiny, like many former pupils of Anna Scher, Terry remained with his feet firmly on the ground, untainted by the superficiality of the entertainment industry. He was even susceptible to moments of being almost starstruck himself. About six months ago, an old episode of Pointless, in which my daughter and I had appeared as contestants, was repeated. The first I knew of it was a text from Terry asking “Is that you on the telly? If it’s not, you’ve got a double!” When I confirmed that it was me, Terry managed to turn what should have been my fifteen minutes of fame into “Hollywood Star” treatment, thanks to his now infamous Facebook “shout outs”. By the time my second episode aired the following day, I felt like I had most of Walthamstow behind us, willing us to win. Unfortunately, the outcome was still that we went out in the second round, due to my incorrect answer to a football question, something my staunch Spurs supporter friend found both unbelievable and hilarious!

We may have differed in our football knowledge, but we shared a love for S.E. Hinton’s book, “The Outsiders”. I had first read the book as an impressionable teenager, and have lost count of how many times I have read it since. Discovering the book later in life, Terry not only enjoyed this tale of true friendship, but found the characters engaging in a way that helped him with his own struggles. Knowing how much I love the book, Terry sent me his copy a few weeks ago, along with a note saying that he would have sent it sooner, but “it was so good I read it twice.”

One of the most poignant moments in the book centres around a poem by Robert Frost. I can think of no better way of saying goodbye to a friend who was taken from us too soon, than with the words he loved to read. Terry, you will forever stay gold.

One of the tributes painted yesterday by Tee Wat. This one is at Monty's in Brick Lane, Terry's favourite bar.

One of the tributes painted yesterday by Tee Wat. This one is at Monty’s in Brick Lane, Terry’s favourite bar.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Sunny’s Sad Story

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Many songs in the Eighties carried a message or told a story, even if it wasn’t immediately obvious or fitting to the music. Nik Kershaw’s “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was about the threat of nuclear war, although you could be forgiven for not making a connection between the subject matter and its synth pop accompaniment. In some cases, the meaning of a song’s lyrics has only become apparent years later. As I was only 9 years old when The Vapors released “Turning Japanese” in 1980, it was at least a decade before I came to realise the alleged story behind the song!

The Seventies saw a lyrical dearth, which only ended with the advent of Punk, but the Sixties set the bar for storytelling lyrics. That is one of the reasons I love listening to Radio 2’s “Sounds of the Sixties” show, on a Saturday morning.

Last week, as Brian Matthew introduced the track “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb, he relayed the sad tale of how the song had come to be written. Harold “Hal” Hebb, Bobby’s older brother by six years, had been murdered in a mugging 48 hours prior to writing it, the song being an outpouring of Bobby’s grief.

Listening to the song, knowing the circumstances in which it had been created, was like hearing a brand new song, both in the lyrics and in the emotion of the vocal. What do you think?