Ooh, yeah! Gary Davies is back on air­waves

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS -

HE was Manch­ester’s orig­i­nal su­per­star DJ and tonight Gary Davies is mak­ing his big re­turn to the BBC air­waves. Gary will take the helm of Ra­dio 2’s Sounds of the 80s show on Fri­day nights, re­mem­ber­ing the hits of the decade in which he first be­came a house­hold name.

It brings him full cir­cle, af­ter pretty much quit­ting broad­cast­ing 20 years ago to con­cen­trate on set­ting up his own mu­sic pub­lish­ing com­pany, which saw him dis­cover acts in­clud­ing Corinne Bai­ley Rae.

But from to­day he will be back on the air­waves - and yes, that “ooh Gary Davies” jin­gle will be back too.

He says: “It’s quite amaz­ing re­ally, it was noth­ing that was planned.

“It all hap­pened af­ter Ra­dio 2 did their Comic Re­lief 80s danceathon last year and Si­mon Mayo called me up and said ‘why don’t you come in, no one knows what you’ve been up to for 20-odd years.’

“That was the first time I’d been back at the beeb since leav­ing Ra­dio 1. It led to Ra­dio 2 con­tact­ing me to see if I would stand in on Sara Cox’s show. I hadn’t done ra­dio for 20-odd years and I didn’t know if I could still do it, but it got an amaz­ing re­ac­tion.

“It re­ally sur­prised me. I didn’t think peo­ple would re­mem­ber me - but it was clearly the op­po­site. It was an amaz­ing feel­ing to know you had such an im­pact.”

It was back in 1982 when Gary got his “big break” on BBC Ra­dio 1 - head­ing to Lon­don to join them ini­tially on a three month con­tract, quit­ting his role on Manch­ester’s Pic­cadilly Ra­dio.

But it went bet­ter than he could ever have ex­pected - with Gary dom­i­nat­ing the air­waves with his lunchtime show The Bit In The Mid­dle and TV swiftly fol­lowed with pre­sent­ing on the BBC’s Top of The Pops. And Gary’s glossy­haired good looks earned him the place as a pin-up on fans’ walls.

Look­ing back on those times he says: “Ra­dio One in the 80s it was huge. If you were a DJ on Ra­dio One at that time, with the size of au­di­ence it had, it was the clos­est thing any DJ could have of be­ing like a pop star.”

Gary, 60, was born in Chorl­ton and raised in Chea­dle and Gat­ley, study­ing at the North Ces­trian Gram­mar in Al­trin­cham although he ad­mits he was a “ter­ri­ble aca­demic”.

His cousins Jack, Philip and Ivor Abadi owned the Twisted Wheel club in Manch­ester and would “sneak him in” to watch leg­endary artists like Wil­son Pick­ett and Aretha Franklin. When he was 17 they gave him a job on the door - but one fate­ful night there would change Gary’s life for­ever. He re­calls: “One night the DJ didn’t turn up so I went and did it. I just loved it. From then I started DJing.

“When no one was in the club I would record demos and send tapes around to ev­ery ra­dio sta­tion I could to try and get my break.”

In 1979 he got that break with Pic­cadilly Ra­dio in Manch­ester.

He says: “Pic­cadilly was huge in Manch­ester at that time. They would never give me my own day­time show, they told me I wasn’t good enough! But what was great for me was there was not one show I didn’t end up do­ing so in terms of ra­dio. I did sport, break­fast, lunchtime, it was an amaz­ing learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

He joined Ra­dio 1 in 1982, work­ing there for over a decade be­fore leav­ing in 1993, and left broad­cast­ing be­hind as well.

He said: “I just thought it would never be as good as what I did and what I had at Ra­dio 1. So I de­cided to do some­thing dif­fer­ent.

“I al­ways loved dis­cov­er­ing new acts, I had a pas­sion for new mu­sic and new tal­ent so I set up my own mu­sic com­pany.”

As to what we can ex­pect when he takes the helm of the pop­u­lar Sounds of the 80s show from 10pm, he says: “Loads of great mu­sic, the main thing is I lived through the 80s, I was help­ing to break a lot of acts and I do have a huge knowl­edge of the mu­sic.”

Manch­ester DJ Gary Davies to­day and at the height of his fame in the 1980s, in­set

Gary Davies with 1980s’ icon Toyah

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