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KENNY EVERETT - A TRIBUTE

The letter I wrote Kenny, just weeks before he died:

Sunday, 15 January 1995

Dear Kenny,

I’m so glad that this letter has reached you.

I am not in the habit of writing to people in "public life" but after reading your interview with Angela Levin in yesterday’s Daily Mail I felt very strongly that I should like to write to you.

The reason is simply that I have very much enjoyed and admired all the work you have done on radio over the years, to the point where I feel you have been a real hero of mine; and I wanted to be able to tell you that now, rather than feel later that I have been cheated of the opportunity.

I shall be 40 years old this year and grew up with the pirate stations. I remember my father getting me up at six o’clock one dark morning to hear the start of Radio Caroline, but it was Big L which proved to be my favourite, partly because the music was better but mainly because of the DJs, not least yourself and Dave Cash. As a child I was very interested in radio, tv and tape recorders. In those days, of course, the equipment was very primitive, but I wanted to know what made it all work and what could be done with it. In particular I loved my first tranny. The worst punishment my long-suffering parents could inflict on me was taking my tranny away - without it I was quite lost and didn’t know what to do! (Sadly I grew up quite normally apart from that and hardly ever wear an anorak!)

Never mind President Kennedy, there are two days in my childhood I shall never forget: watching the first ever episode of Dr. Who and listening to the last day of Big L. I remember that for some reason I had the house to myself that afternoon and I tuned all our radios to 266m and turned them up as far as they would go without distorting. I wanted to hear everything. Afterwards I cried, and I ached to have someone to share this extraordinarily sad moment with, but I was an only-child, and none of the friends I had at that time would have understood.

But the prophesy you made on that August day back in ‘67 did come true didn’t it? Radio London did eventually come back bigger, better and on land, as Capital Radio.

The shows you did on "Wonderful Radio 1" (247m!) on Sunday mornings were an inspiration. A new-found friend and I sat close to his parents’ radiogram with the treble turned up as far as it would go and soaked it all in. Later we put our tape recorders to work and did some stuff of our own, most of it long since consigned to the dustbin, thank goodness.

But for me personally, I remember the recorded shows you did for Radios 1 & 2 as really your best work (Were they "Midday Spin"s?) You took the opportunity to be more technically creative: speeding yourself up, slowing yourself down and talking back to yourself; stuff you couldn’t have done live. Radio hadn’t been used like that since the days of The Goons. I wish I’d been able to record some of those shows so I could have heard them again.

I was given a Philips portable cassette recorder for Christmas in 1972, and on Boxing Day your show "Everett on Everett" was broadcast on Radio 4. I taped it on a cassette (from FM, of course!) and still have that recording today, now archived onto DAT. I think it’s another example of you at your technically creative best.

Unlike most music radio presenters you seemed to credit your listeners with intelligence, you realised that if you didn’t like what you were doing you couldn’t expect us to, and I respected that. It also seemed to me that we shared a common taste in music. You seemed to "discover" classical music at about the same time I did and also to be interested in sound for its own sake as well as just in the music. When you chose your Desert Island Discs recently I listened with great interest and mixed emotions, as you can imagine.

I have to confess, I never listened much to Capital Gold - I resented the fact that it was only on AM and would rather listen to Radio 4 than try to hear music, however good, strained through a sock backwards!

I won’t bang on about how bland most music radio is these days, but there are very few really likeable characters on the wireless today. Roger Scott and Ray Moore could never be replaced, and neither will you Kenny.

So far, I’ve been able to write this letter without referring to your state of health (and boy, is it in a state!) but you can take all the usual stuff for granted...

Of course AIDS is not just, any more than cancer is just. These things strike randomly with utter disregard. Last year my step-father contracted bone-cancer and died in December within six months of being diagnosed. He was also a wonderful man, always active, religious and keen on church music. I’m pleased to say that he faced his illness just as bravely as you seem to be. At one point he just looked at me and said "It’s a bit of a bugger, this, isn’t it?" Thankfully he got great treatment in a Sue Ryder Home and he did not suffer when the end came. My mother wasn’t with him when he died but when she saw his body she told me he had a smile on his face as if he had been listening to some of his favourite music, and that all the stresses and strains of his life seemed to have been taken from him. My mother then said that the experience had changed her attitude towards dying and that she was no longer afraid of it.

Bless you Kenny, and thank you for all the many hundreds of hours of joy you have given, not only to me but to all your listeners. Keep dusting your studio...

My thoughts are with you.

Yours, with great affection,

 

Mike Brown.

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