Wonderful Radio 1

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Radio 1

On 30th Sept 1967, BBC Radio 1 was launched in the UK. Former Radio Caroline DJ Tony Blackburn was the first presenter on air. The Move’s “Flowers In The Rain” was the first record played.

“…and good morning everyone! Welcome to the exciting new sound of Radio 1.”

Wonderful Radio 1 had arrived. Little did we know that during the next 20 years at least, this new national radio station, launched to combat those irresponsible pirate stations, would dictate the tastes and record buying of the great British public.

And what a bunch of jocks we had! Tony Blackburn, who presented the flagship breakfast show for six years, couldn’t open his mouth without delivering a dreadful one-liner; his jokes were terrible! But Tony’s style and delivery became the blueprint for thousands of budding DJs up and down the country.

Tony was a failed singer who had released singles as well as an album, before making his name as a pirate DJ on Radio Caroline and Radio London. But in his defence, Blackburn had an ear for a great pop record and by making these his “record of the week”, the DJ kick-started the careers of many new acts. He had the ear of a nation that was happy to listen.

Radio 1 was new and fresh and in the days before the tightly restricted playlist format, these presenters could pick and choose records they wanted to play – which is now sadly missed on most stations.

Kenny Everett was another Radio 1 DJ and my favourite. I was immediately drawn to his wacky sense of humour. His shows were chaotic and groundbreaking; he loved music and you could tell. Kenny had struck up a friendship with the Beatles and accompanied them on their 1966 tour of the United States, sending back daily reports for Radio London. He also produced their 1968 and 1969 Christmas records.

I remember when Sgt. Pepper’s was released; Kenny played the whole of side one. Turned it over and played all of side two. Can you imagine any major radio station doing that now?

I loved listening to Everett so much I joined his fan club and later when he was sacked from the Beeb (for making a remark about a minister’s wife giving a driving instructor a backhander), all fan club members were sent “Bring Back Everett” car stickers which we bullied our parents into displaying in the rear window.

These were the halcyon days of British radio. With millions of listeners, record companies would do anything to get their records playlisted. Producers and presenters were wined and dined by radio pluggers as you’d expect. The best story I ever heard from this period was by a forward-thinking plugger who worked for one of the major labels.

The pluggers would all meet on a designated day and be handed a copy of the ‘new’ playlist, to see if their record had been added.

It had come to the attention of this one particular plugger that the playlist was typed on a sheet of BBC Radio 1 paper. This was then placed in all the presenters pigeonholes from which they would play the records on air. His plan was simple. All he had to do was get his hands on some BBC paper and re-type the playlist, adding one or two of his records! He successfully carried this scam for several months before being caught.

The initial lineup of DJs included John Peel, who remained with the station until his death in October 2004. As a presenter, he did more for new artists than any other presenter on the planet.

Yes, wonderful Radio 1, it became a national and much-loved treasure and in the process made household names of many of its team: Johnnie Walker (who was forced off the station after describing The Bay City Rollers as “musical garbage”), Simon Bates, Simon Dee, Tommy Vance, Dave Lee Travis (who later resigned live on-air unhappy with changes at the station), Alan Freeman and Bob Harris, who both brought rock music and more to the masses and a whole bunch of other DJs.

Radio 1 became the most listened-to station in the world with regular audiences of well over 12 million (up to 20 million for Blackburn’s Breakfast Show). Radio 1 did capture the hearts of the British public with its mix of zany and entertaining presenters. The sun was always shining on Radio 1 in those early days; Radio 1 was fun and was your best friend.

If only all radio was this good.

Important Dates In The Life Of Radio 1:

On this day in music
11 Jan 2024
English radio and television broadcaster Annie Nightingale died age 83. She was the first female presenter on BBC Radio 1 in 1970 and the first female presenter for BBC Television's The Old Grey Whistle Test where she stayed for eleven years. Nightingale specialised in championing new and underground music, she also led the movement and encouraged other women to become DJs and broadcasters.
17 Jan 2016
English drummer Dale Griffin died aged 67. He was a founder member of Mott the Hoople best known for classic tracks 'Roll Away The Stone' and 'All The Young Dudes'. The band who made eight albums during their five-and-a-half year existence, reformed to mark their 40th anniversary in 2009 - but Griffin was too ill to take part. Griffin also produced numerous BBC Radio 1 John Peel sessions from 1981 to 1994 including the first professional recording session for Pulp in 1981.
15 Jan 2010
N-Dubz were dropped as ambassadors of anti-bullying charity Beatbullying after band member Dappy sent a woman threatening text messages. Chloe Moody texted The Chris Moyles Radio 1 Show while the band were being interviewed, calling them "losers" and labelling Dappy "repulsive", Dappy had sent a text back to her the following day saying "Your gonna die".
1 Dec 2006
An Oasis fan enjoyed "the best day of his life" when Noel Gallagher popped round to his house in Poynton, Cheshire to play an intimate gig. Ben Hayes had won a BBC Radio 1 competition to have the star play in his front room as part of a week of gigs compered by DJ Jo Whiley. 15 people packed into his lounge for the tiny gig - with his mother on hand making cups of tea for the crew.
7 Nov 2004
Elton John turned the air blue live on BBC Radio 1 using the words; f****ing, w**k, and t**s. The singer was a guest on the Chris Moyles Radio 1 breakfast show in the UK.
31 Jul 2001
BBC producer John Walters died aged 63. Walters produced and worked with Radio 1 DJ John Peel, who teamed up with Walters to broadcast some of the most groundbreaking music of an era. He joined the BBC in 1967, and became producer on John Peel's Top Gear show two years later. Walters played the trumpet with the Alan Price Set in the 1960s.
19 Jul 1999
A gunman who sprayed bullets at Westwood's car in Kensington, London, shot BBC Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood. A statement the following day said he was recovering in a London Hospital.
28 Dec 1998
UK radio station BBC Radio 1 aired the 100 National Anthems, songs voted by listeners. At No.5 Radiohead, 'Creep', No.4 Underworld 'Born Slippy', No.3 The Verve 'Bitter Sweet Symphony', No.2 Nirvana 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' No.1 Massive Attack 'Unfinished Sympathy'.
29 Feb 1996
Status Quo sued Radio 1 for £250,000 ($425,000) on the grounds that the BBC station was breaking the law by not including their new record on their playlist.
3 Sep 1991
During a European tour, Nirvana recorded ‘Dumb’, ‘Drain You’ and ‘Endless Nameless’ at Maida Vale studios in London for the BBC Radio 1 John Peel show.
31 Oct 1990
UK DJ Roger Scott died of cancer aged 46. Scott was one of the most respected broadcasters in the UK, working on Capital Radio for 15 years and then BBC Radio 1. Working as a presenter at the Montreal station 1470 CFOX, Scott sang on ‘Give Peace a Chance’, recorded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their "Bed-in" for peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada.
4 Nov 1989
Elton John scored his 50th UK chart hit when 'Sacrifice', entered the charts. Only Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley had also achieved this feat. Sacrifice was initially released as a single in 1989, but stalled at No.55 in the UK and at No.18 in the US. English DJ, Steve Wright, began playing the song on BBC Radio 1 and the song was then re-released as a double A-side single, along with 'Healing Hands'.
9 Aug 1986
250 Gary Numan fans picketed BBC Radio 1 in London, demanding more airtime for their favourite pop star.
28 Jan 1984
Frankie Goes To Hollywood started a five-week run at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Relax!' BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read expressed on air his distaste for both the record's suggestive sleeve and its lyrics, he announced his refusal to play the record, not knowing that the BBC had decided that the song was not to be played on the BBC anyway. Produced by Trevor Horn the song remained on the chart for 48 weeks.
13 Jan 1984
BBC Radio 1 announced a ban on 'Relax' by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, after DJ Mike Read called it 'obscene', a BBC TV ban also followed. The song went on to become a UK No.1 and spent a total of 48 weeks on the UK chart.
31 May 1980
The Theme From M*A*S*H* (Suicide Is Painless), by Mash was at No.1 on the UK singles chart, 10 years after it was first recorded after being championed by BBC Radio 1 DJ Noel Edmonds. Mike Altman the son of the original film's director, Robert Altman, was 14 years old when he composed the song's lyrics.
8 May 1976
BBC Radio 1 DJ Johnny Walker announced he was quitting the UK station after being told he must pretend to like The Bay City Rollers.
18 Apr 1975
Four Bay City Rollers fans were taken to hospital and 35 others required on-site treatment after they attempted to swim across a lake to meet their heroes. The group were making an appearance at a BBC Radio 1 fun day at Mallory Park, a racetrack in the East Midlands.
11 Jan 1975
The Alan Freeman BBC Radio 1 show broadcast a Pink Floyd show recorded at the Empire Pool, Wembley, London, England on 16th Nov 1974. The band had played four nights at Wembley on their The Dark Side Of The Moon tour and tapes from these shows have been remixed.
23 Aug 1971
Diana Ross was at No.1 on the UK singles chart 'I'm Still Waiting', the singers first solo UK No.1. The song which spent four weeks at the top of the charts was released after BBC Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn featured it heavily on his morning programme.
18 Jul 1970
UK BBC Radio 1 DJ Kenny Everett was sacked after he joked on air that the wife of the conservative transport minister Mary Peyton had 'crammed a fiver into the examiner's hand', when taking her driving test'.
16 Jul 1970
Pink Floyd recorded a show at the BBC Paris Cinema, in London, England for broadcast on the John Peel Sunday Concert, on BBC Radio 1 (broadcast 19 July of this year.)
28 Jun 1969
Henry Mancini started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Love Theme from Romeo And Juliet'. The film's love theme was used as the backing for "Our Tune" by DJ Simon Bates on his BBC Radio 1 show.
24 Jun 1969
Led Zeppelin recorded 'Whole Lotta Love', 'What Is And What Should Never Be', 'Travelling Riverside Blues' and 'Communication Breakdown' for BBC Radio 1 at Maida Vale Studios, London. The session was broadcast on 29th June 1969.
27 Apr 1969
Pink Floyd appeared at Mothers Club in Erdington, Birmingham, England. Radio 1 DJ John Peel reviewed the gig as '...sounding like dying galaxies lost in sheer corridors of time and space'. Recordings from this show were included in the group’s 1969 album Ummagumma.
3 Mar 1969
Led Zeppelin recorded their first BBC Radio 1 'Top Gear' session during the afternoon at the Playhouse Theatre in London, England. Songs recorded were 'Dazed And Confused', 'Communication Breakdown', 'You Shook Me' and 'I Can't Quit You Baby'. Free, The Moody Blues and Deep Purple were also in session on the show.
30 Oct 1967
Tyrannosaurus Rex recorded a session for the UK Radio 1 'Top Gear' show, the first group to do so without a recording contract.
1 Oct 1967
The first edition of UK BBC Radio 1's 'Top Gear' was aired. Presented by John Peel and Pete Drummond they featured The Move, Traffic, Pink Floyd, Tim Rose and Tomorrow featuring Keith West.
30 Sep 1967
The UK's first National pop radio station, BBC Radio 1 was launched in the UK to take over from the very successful pirate radio stations, which had been forced off-air by the Government. Former pirate DJ Tony Blackburn, from Radio Caroline, was the first presenter on air, with The Move's Flowers In The Rain the first record to be played.
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. lucy

    October 13, 2023 at 9:15 am

    Yes I was there from moment one and you sure do have the (rose tinted) glasses from the hippy period on .. No mention of the widescale grooming and paedo.philia that was rife across the station then?

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