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!

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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.

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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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I Just Can’t Wait ‘Til Saturday

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With only a couple of days to go until ‘Your Eighties’ is published, and everything organised for the launch party, the excitement has started to kick in. As much as I’m looking forward to my book being unleashed on the public, I can’t wait to see my party guests. Friends old and new are making their way to east Kent, to join me in the celebrations.

Travelling down from the north west are my Scouse friends, who I first met in 1986. Anyone remember the penpal section in Smash Hits magazine? Well, my details appeared in an issue of the magazine earlier that year. I was inundated with replies from all over the world, and ended up with penpals in a number of countries, including Japan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Italy and France. However, My Favourite Waste of Time (we had been corresponding for a couple of months when the Owen Paul track was released) was a lad from Warrington, called John. We would usually reply the same  day we received a letter, so by the time we finally got to meet, just after Christmas ’86, we were old friends.

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L-R: John, Me and Wayne

John arrived with three of his mates, Wayne, Terry and Tommy in a Nissan Sunny driven by Wayne, the only one of the four old enough to drive. It was the first of many meetings which would see us together during the Eighties. Along with their visits to Kent were my visits north, the first of which was with my friend Kate, and involved us travelling on a National Express coach, and Wayne huffing and stamping his feet when we finally arrived over an hour late! These were the days before mobile ‘phones, and we had no way of letting him know we were held up in traffic. By the time 1989 arrived, I was the proud owner of an Austin Allegro, and we drove to see our northern friends. After a fantastic time, which saw us on the ferry ‘cross the Mersey, being given the lads’ guided tour of Toxteth (!), and hanging out with Kirsty from Brookside at a house party, we made the drive home. Thanks to mechanical problems with my prized piece of British engineering, it was an arduous 9 hour journey on a scorching hot summer’s day. That didn’t put us off returning though.

During other visits, we went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the Brookside set (although unlike ‘normal’ sightseers, we accessed it by climbing through the adjoining woods!), and West Kirby beach to do handbrake turns in Terry’s black Manta! Although we have stayed in touch, I haven’t seen Wayne since 1996, and John and Terry a few years before that. So, the fact that the three of them are coming to the launch party, along with all my other fabulous guests, puts a huge smile on my face. Roll on Saturday!

My 80’s Non-Stop Oldies

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Recently, I was part of a discussion about radio stations playing 80’s music (quelle surprise!). The conversation soon got round to Sara Cox’s “Sounds of The 80s” show, which airs on Radio 2 every Saturday evening. I was reminded of the show’s launch, back in October 2013.

Ahead of the show’s debut, I was asked to prepare a playlist of my favourite Eighties’ tracks, to be played on Steve Wright’s show, during the Non-Stop Oldies feature, the day before Sara’s first show. I was to choose at least 15 tracks, although less than half of the songs would be played in the half hour time slot – oh, the pressure!

Days of deliberation resulted in a playlist I loved, and which I felt best encompassed my favourite decade – a delicate mix of pop, excess, camp and class! On the day of the show, I eagerly awaited to hear which of my tracks had been chosen. I wasn’t disappointed. It was fantastic to hear some of my favourite 80’s music being played again on national radio. A couple of tracks were omitted, which I would have liked to have heard: The Kane Gang’s “Closest Thing To Heaven” and Big Sound Authority’s “This House”, but I still enjoyed the selection. For anyone who missed it first time round, I have finally managed to upload a recording I made of the broadcast:

Apologies for the abrupt beginning and ending – my editing skills remain firmly in the Eighties, taping off the radio with my cassette recorder!

My 80’s Non-Stop Oldies:

Party Fears Two – Associates

War Baby – Tom Robinson

Come Dancing – The Kinks

My Favourite Waste of Time – Owen Paul

New England – Kirsty MacColl

Calling Your Name – Marilyn

The Bitterest Pill – The Jam

My Eighties Book

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Tomorrow (Friday 14th Nov) sees the release of my book, “My Eighties”. The first in a series of books on the decade, “My Eighties”, as the title suggests, uses my own recollections of the 80s as a basis for a nostalgic but realistic look back at the decade that subtlety forgot. Alongside my own (sometimes embarrassing) anecdotes, are interviews with some of my Eighties’ favourites, including Hazell Dean, Owen Paul and Paul McCarthy (aka Tommy Watson, from the best kids’ TV show ever, Grange Hill!), plus a visit back to some of the greatest (and some of the worst) tracks to ever find their way onto vinyl.

My Eighties Cover

I hope that in sharing some on my memories, you will be inspired to share some of your own. I would love to hear your stories of my favourite decade, and maybe even feature some of them in a book I am currently working on. You can send them to me via my website: Your Eighties

For those of you who would like to read my book, it is available from Amazon for less than the price of a cup of coffee!   Order here

Although currently only available in Kindle edition, you do not need a Kindle to read it – just download the free Kindle App which allows you to read it on PC, tablet, mobile, iPhone, etc.

Let me know what you think…

A Night To Remember

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1888446_604748819594337_1831894231_nA quick follow-up to Saturday’s blog, in which I eagerly anticipated Owen Paul’s Acoustic 80’s gig. The group selfie Owen took at the end of the night (that’s me peering over his right shoulder!) really says it all… a good time was had by all!

The addition of new material, including a couple of numbers released by Paul Young in the Eighties (although not Paul Young songs, as rightly noted by Owen!)  made for a memorable evening, which highlighted the vocal range of this talented Scotsman. Today may be St. Patrick’s day, but Saturday belonged to a different Celt, singing A Different Corner.

Return To My Favourite Waste Of Time

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Anyone who remembers the summer of 1986, will be familiar with the lyrics “You’re my-y-y-y-y-y, you’re my favourite waste of time.” Sung by Glasgow-born Owen Paul, a man whose stature belies his powerful voice, the song became the theme tune to my teenage summer. Sometimes underrated, and written off as a one hit wonder, Owen has not sat idle since his stint at the forefront of pop. Following over a decade of behind-the-scenes involvement in the entertainment industry, Owen returned to the music scene in 2002 with the launch of his album, About Time. Appearances with Mike & The Mechanics, Four Good Men and XSM (ex-Simple Minds, alongside his brother Brian McGee) followed, culminating in the re-launch of his solo career in 2013.

Having been fortunate enough to experience one of Owen’s Acoustic 80s nights last summer, to say I was excited to learn he was performing another tonight is an understatement! As well as his own material (including his other ’86 release Pleased To Meet You), Owen mastered 80’s classics such as Propaganda’s “Duel”, George Michael’s “A Different Corner”, and my personal favourite, Whitesnake’s “Is This Love”. If tonight’s performance comes anywhere close to last year’s one, I will be in Eighties’ bliss! Don’t take my word for it, come along and see for yourself:

http://www.wegottickets.com/event/251858#.UyQVGPl_vxE

Hope to see you there!