Friday, 29 January 2010

Britain says "Happy Birthday" to Tony Blackburn and Andrew Loog Oldham

Andrew Oldham, music producer, impresario and author is 66 today. Tony Blackburn, disc jockey is 67.

Andrew was in London in the Second World War in 1944. His father, Andrew Loog was a United States Army Air Force lieutenant of Dutch descent who served with the Eighth Air Force who was killed in June 1943 when his B-17 bomber was shot down over the English Channel. His Australian mother was a nurse and comptometer operator.

His interest in the pop culture of the 1960s and the Soho coffeehouse scene, led to working for Carnaby Street mod designer, John Stephen and later as an assistant in Mary Quant's shop.

In the field of music he became a press agent for British and American rock & roll acts and in 1963 he was tipped off by a journalist friend to check out a young R&B band called 'The Rolling Stones' and with his business he took over their management.

His moves, which helped propel the group to fame included:

* retaining ownership of the band's master tapes, which allowed greater artistic freedom than a standard recording contract.

* bringing Lennon and McCartney to the recording studio at a crucial moment, which led to their "I Wanna Be Your Man" becoming the Rolling Stones' second single.

* getting the Rolling Stones to write their own material and actively promoting a "bad boy" image for The Rolling Stones as a contrast to the clean shaven Beatles.

As 'The Stones'success increased, he thrived on a reputation as a garrulous, androgynous gangster who wore makeup and shades but relied on his bodyguard 'Reg' to threaten rivals.

He sold his share of the Rolling Stones' management to Allen Klein in 1966, but continued in his role as the band's producer until late 1967.

In 1965 Oldham set up Immediate Records, and released work by PP Arnold, Chris Farlowe and the Small Faces. After the Small Faces split in 1969, he put together Humble Pie, featuring Steve Marriott formerly of the Small Faces and Peter Frampton of 'The Herd'.

Since the 1970s he has worked in the USA and in Colombia which has been his primary residence since the mid-80s, when he married Esther Farfan, a Colombian model. There he became a mentor for local bands.

Tony Blackburn was also born during the Second World War. He first achieved notice as a disc jockey who broadcast on the offshore pirate stations 'Radio Caroline' and 'Radio London' in the 1960s and was the first presenter to appear on BBC Radio 1 in 1967 and launched the new station with : "...and good morning everyone! Welcome to the exciting new sound of Radio 1". His cheery style and corny jokes ensured his household reputation and made him a popular figure with some, though his dislike of heavy and progressive rock and punk made him a hate figure with others. His fellow Radio 1 DJ John Peel would often derisively refer to him as 'Timmy Bannockburn'.

After a long career as a presenter he hit the headlines in 2004 when he was temporarily suspended from his show on 'Classic Gold' for playing songs by Cliff Richard, in defiance of a ruling by the head of programmes that Richard's music did not match the station's 'brand values'.

The dispute was even referred to in Parliament, with Leader of the House Peter Hain voicing his support for Blackburn.

He was reinstated, amid rumours that the episode was merely a publicity stunt.

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