Saturday, October 29, 2011

Goodbye from the guys and gals

Now then, now then. As it happens, the Vinyl Word lifts a glass to Sir Jimmy Savile, who has died at his home in Leeds at the age of 84. It's hard to exaggerate the importance of Jimmy in the world of pop music in the sixties. I was one of the earliest members of Radio Luxembourg's Teen and Twenty Disc Club (the TTDC) back in around 1961, when Jimmy was a DJ on 208. I had a membership card with a low membership number, but I've no idea what happened to it. Around that time he attempted a pop career with an unsuccessful cover of Ray Stevens' Ahab the Arab.
But it was as a radio presenter and, even more so, as a TV presenter that Jimmy really shone, with his catchphrases, northern affability, dyed hair and track suits. He was, notably, the first presenter of Top of the Pops in 1964 (and also the last when it ended in 2006), a big name on Radio One from 1968 onwards and presenter of the rather naff, but very popular Jim'll Fix It.
A former miner and professional wrestler, he was awarded his knighthood for services to charity, especially money raised through his long distance walks and marathons. I remember in 1972 when I was a local newspaper reporter in Lancashire I met Jimmy, who was one of a number of nutty people who took part in a non-stop walking competition around the motor racing circuit at Aintree. This mad event took places for days - perhaps even weeks - and Jimmy was one of the last to give up. I also recall that on the night Elvis died I tuned into Radio Luxembourg - and there was Jimmy on the line reminiscing about his meetings with The King.
Jimmy was always a strange fish. He doted on his mother - The Duchess - and never married. With his huge cigars, white Rolls Royce and constant cheeriness he came across as somehow rather a lonely person. But he was a big personality in his day and a leading figure in the pop music of the day. So, Jimmy, how's about that then?


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