KENNY EVERETT - A TRIBUTE
by Mike Brown
The world of radio has lost a number of real geniuses over the years. I have particularly fond memories of Ray Moore's early morning shows and Roger Scott's "Three O'clock Thrill" on Capital Radio but the man who kicked it all off was Jack Jackson. Jackson's creativity back in the 50s and 60s was far ahead of its time and both Adrian Juste and Kenny Everett publicly acknowledged their debt to the former dance band leader. He was the first person to really have fun on the radio.
I never heard Jack Jackson on Radio Luxembourg and although I heard some of his Light Programme shows I was really too young to remember him at his peak. I was, however, an avid fan of the pirate radio stations - my father got me out of bed to hear the start of Radio Caroline ("... on 199, Your All-Day Music Station").
The impact the pirate stations had on us in the sixties must be hard for today's teenagers to understand... until then all the BBC had to offer us was the Home Service, the Light Programme and the Third Programme. Apart from that there was really only Radio Luxembourg whose evening signal on 208m would always distort and fade. The Light Programme's only real concessions to pop music were Midday Spin and Brian Matthew's Saturday Club. The pirates, with their continuous, unrestricted stream of pop music, came as a breath of fresh air. Radio London ('Big L' on 266m) quickly became my favourite; the DJ's were slick but friendly and one voice stood out head-and-shoulders above the rest. Kenny Everett's zany, irreverent humour and his Liverpudlian charm were complimented by his stunning creativity. He and Canadian Dave Cash produced a superb double-headed breakfast show - The Kenny and Cash Show - which made waking up a joy and, for me, turned the radio from a luxury into a necessity!
When the Marine Offences (Broadcasting) Act outlawed pirate radio in 1967 Kenny joined the BBC and with their facilities at his command his creativity reached new heights. Ironically his best shows, in my opinion, were the ones he pre-recorded after 'Auntie BBC' decided he was too much of a risk live.
Commercial radio became a legal reality in Britain - just as Kenny predicted it would - with the opening of the first Independent Local Radio stations in 1973 . After something of a patchy, love-hate relationship with Radio 1 he joined London's Capital Radio and his creativity continued to blossom, but towards the end of his career he was really marking time and paying the mortgage with his weekday afternoon shows on Capital Gold.
Eventually Kenny admitted he was suffering from AIDS and his decline was rapid. Like many of his fans I was devastated that radio would lose another hero prematurely. It struck me that in the time-honoured fashion many tributes would be paid to his genius after he died, but I felt very strongly that that would be too late.
Journalist Angela Levin managed to get a rare interview with him before he died. The resulting article was published in the Daily Mail on Saturday 14-Jan-1995 and after reading it I felt the urge to do something I had never done before: I wrote a fan letter to Kenny. I sent it via Capital Radio. I didn't expect a reply and I didn't get one so I have no idea whether or not he even received it; I hope he did but either way I felt better for writing it.
My letter | Obituaries
Links to other good Radio and Kenny Everett sites