As a child of the 60s my formative musical education was based around the emerging popular music scene of the time. As a teenager I listened to the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, John Mayall, the Searchers, Swinging Blue Jeans as well as the music coming out of America, in particular the Stax and Tamla Motown artists.As I approach my 69th birthday I look back upon this time with great nostalgia and indeed still listen to records form this era. I recently bought a four CD collection of 60s music, and whilst there is some real dross on it (I was Kaiser bills batman) there is some great stuff featured (The Wanderer, Good Vibrations).
So in recent years I was a regular listener to BBC Radio 2 show “Sounds of the Sixties” introduced by the excellent Brian Mathew. In his long career he had been the host of Saturday Club among other programmes, and began presenting Sounds of the Sixties in 1990, often employing the same vocabulary and the same measured delivery he had used in previous decades.
His Saturday show broadcast between 8–10 am was often an island oasis of good music compared to the rest of the dross pumped out by other BBC radio shows. His articulate, intelligent and no nonsense approach were so welcome in an era of the “look at me DJ”. Mathew’s musical knowledge was unmatched and reflected the years he had been in the business plus the research that he must have done to prepare his programmes.
He was very self-effacing and the focus of his programme was the music, nothing else. Despite being in his late 80s his enthusiasm for the music came across clearly in every broadcast and he was pure joy to listen to.
On 26 November 2016, Tim Rice stood in as presenter of the show. Rice announced that he would be sitting in for a few weeks since Matthew was “under the weather, Matthew had collapsed at home and had spent a few weeks in hospital. On 27 January 2017, the BBC announced that he would not return to the programme because of ill health. Matthew himself, however, disagreed with the BBC’s statement, saying: “That’s absolute balderdash. I was ready and willing and able to go back, and they’ve just said they are going to put the programme in the hands of other people.
The BBC’s off-hand treatment led to an e-petition signed by thousands of “avids” demanding his return. As a result, Matthew presented his final show on Saturday 25 February 2017. A week later 4 March 2017, Sounds Of The 60s passed to Tony Blackburn. However a Brian Matthew show from 2015 was broadcast in the repeat slot on 6 March 2017 with new linking material from Matthew.
And so we come to the crux of the matter, namely Tony Blackburn. A man who thinks the show is about him, his pathetic juvenile humour (Arnold the dog anyone?) and his need to talk about who he has met, talked to and appeared with. The show has also been moved to the 6 – 8.00am slot when most of us oldies are probably still in bed, so thanks BBC for ignoring your older listeners and forgive me if I treat your “diversity and inclusiveness” policy with the contempt that it deserves.
Just get rid of Tony Blackburn, he is an insult to the late Brian Mathew and the legacy that he left for playing excellent music and treating his audience as adults with intelligence.