Tony Blackburn in Eastbourne with Sounds Of The 60s

Tony Blackburn (Photo: Contributed)
Tony Blackburn (Photo: Contributed)

It’s a celebration of a decade like no other, a decade which produced music which changed everything and which still enthrals now – as Tony’s radio show demonstrates every week.

Tony, who hosts the night, loves the impact of those great 60s classics: “Tony Hatch was the person who expressed it best. It was his 80th birthday and he said the 60s produced terrific songs that were just a couple of minutes long and were really direct. Tony wrote all the Petula Clark stuff and that was great. You have to remember that not everything that came out in the 60s was such good quality but we don't listen to the stuff that wasn't so good, and the great stuff was really great. It was a different era. It was a really exciting era. We had just come out of the crooners era and we had the start of rock 'n' roll in the late 50s with Bill Haley and so on. I remember when I was working at Radio Caroline, that was really special. We were out in the North Sea. It certainly different and we were just trying to break the BBC monopoly which we did.”

So much so that Tony's was the first voice to be heard on Radio 1 on that historic day, at 7am on September 30 1967, when the station launched. His first words were “And good morning everyone! Welcome to the exciting new sound of Radio 1!"

The first complete record he played was The Move's Flowers in the Rain.

Oddly, in other circumstances, Tony could so easily have been one of the big singers of the 60s – had his record sales been any better, he laughs: “I started off singing in a dance band in Bournemouth and and I came out of that and played in a little group. We were playing hits and it was pretty good for me. I started learning the techniques of all the stage work that I do now. But I made 29 singles and none of them sold! Well, not really!

Radio has remained his favourite medium ever since: “I think it's the contact you have. I mean, I remember going out on Radio Caroline on July 25 1964 and doing my first programme at four o'clock in the afternoon. It was called The Big Line-Up and I got in the studio and I just felt at home. I just felt I loved it right from the word go. I felt so relaxed with it. I mean a lot of people say ‘Well you know talking to an object like that, it's a bit weird isn't it.’ But not for me it.”

Part of the magic is not seeing your audience: “In my mind I've got a family audience there that I'm entertaining and of course nowadays of course we get texts and emails and things like that so it makes you much closer. And phone calls you can do as well. It's just the intimacy of radio and the liveness of it as well. A lot of television is recorded and I also think recorded stuff isn't quite the same as talking to the audience in that moment.”