We cel­e­brate the 50th an­niver­sary of Ra­dio 1 with DJ Tony Black­burn

Veteran DJ Tony Black­burn, who spoke the first words on Ra­dio 1 in 1967, shares his mem­o­ries of that mu­si­cal mile­stone with Pam Fran­cis

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Come On In! -

At 7am, on Satur­day, 30 Septem­ber 1967, a very young Tony Black­burn ut­tered the words he will never for­get. ‘And good morn­ing, ev­ery­one. Wel­come to the ex­cit­ing new sound of Ra­dio 1.’

On 30 Septem­ber this year – also a Satur­day – he’ll be back in the BBC stu­dio recre­at­ing the same show to cel­e­brate the 50th an­niver­sary of the mu­sic sta­tion that’s been the sound­track to so many of our lives.

‘They’re even bring­ing in turnta­bles and the vinyl records are be­ing pol­ished so that we do it ex­actly the way it was done all those years ago, in­stead of just push­ing a but­ton on a screen, which is how it works now,’ says the 74-year-old DJ, who seems to have just as much en­ergy as he did back then when we meet at Wo­gan House in Lon­don.

‘I think it’s a fab­u­lous idea to re­make the orig­i­nal show, but the kids lis­ten­ing will prob­a­bly won­der what on earth this old bloke is do­ing on Ra­dio 1!’

At the age of 24 and al­ready a favourite from his three years on the pi­rate ra­dio ships Ra­dio Caro­line and Ra­dio Lon­don, Tony couldn’t quite be­lieve his luck when he was cho­sen to launch the ex­cit­ing new ra­dio sta­tion. Un­til then, he’d been al­lowed to play pop mu­sic for only 45 min­utes a week on The Light Pro­gramme on a show called Mid­day Spin.

He still re­mem­bers when he ar­rived at the BBC dressed in a suit and tie and called ev­ery­one ‘Sir’ only to be met by older pro­duc­ers wear­ing their 1960s ‘Flower power’ T-shirts and jeans.

‘The first thing they asked me was for my script. I said, ‘Well, I don’t re­ally have one, I just ad lib.’ The pro­ducer said, ‘If you don’t mind, we’ll have to do some sort

of script oth­er­wise I’ll have to can­cel the cof­fee and dough­nuts while we re­hearse.’ And he showed me an Alan Free­man script which had typed on it: ‘Not ’arf, hey hey!’ re­calls Tony, laugh­ing.

‘So that was my in­tro­duc­tion to the BBC. I’d al­ways joked with the oth­ers on pi­rate ra­dio that if we ever got to the BBC, I was sure there would be a dear old lady sit­ting there, knit­ting a jumper. And there was! It was her job to open up the mi­cro­phone on the first show I did for them, by which time she’d com­pleted a sleeve! But then, of course, Ra­dio 1 com­ing in mod­ernised ev­ery­thing.’

Both Tony and fel­low DJ Kenny Everett were in­vited to de­sign the first Ra­dio 1 stu­dio where, in­stead of knock­ing on a win­dow to cue the per­son play­ing the discs, they played their own records on turnta­bles.

And he still re­calls ev­ery mo­ment of the first-ever Ra­dio 1 show called Daily Disc Delivery.

‘I wasn’t at all ner­vous, just ex­cited. This was the high­light of my ca­reer, and there was a huge build-up to the launch. The BBC was de­ter­mined to em­brace how things had been done on the pi­rate ships. We had the same jin­gle pack­age as Ra­dio Lon­don,’ says Tony.

For those of us who can re­mem­ber, the first record played on Ra­dio 1 was Flow­ers In The Rain by The Move.

‘I picked that as it was do­ing well in the charts and had that crash­ing noise at the be­gin­ning

The DJ with his wife Deb­bie and daugh­ter Vic­to­ria

A young Tony in the stu­dio back in 1967 Ra­dio 1 had its own sig­na­ture tune called by the Ge­orge Martin Orches­tra.

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