The Plastic Hippo

March 19, 2010

Charlie Gillett 1942 – 2010

Filed under: Media — theplastichippo @ 11:25 pm

Charlie Gillett died on Wednesday morning. Apart from writing the definitive history of popular music “The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll”, his radio shows gave first breaks to the likes of Graham Parker, Ian Dury, Elvis Costello and Dire Straits. But his greatest gift to us was as a champion of what became known as “world” music.

His Honky Tonk programme on Radio London in the 70`s rapidly gained a cult following with its eclectic mix of tracks from around the world and listeners knew that if Charlie was playing it, it had to be good. As well as being an antidote to Glam Rock and Heavy Metal, the show influenced so many musicians tired of the three minute pop song formula and the three chord trick.

In the 80`s he worked at Capital Radio and his “A Foreign Affair” show brought Miriam Makeba, Youssou N`Dour, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Salif Keita and countless others to a wider mainstream audience. Returning to the BBC, he gave us “Charlie Gillett`s World of Music” on the World Service and Radio 3`s “World on 3” on Friday nights.

After a long battle against illness, his last programme was broadcast on March 13 on the World Service. Anyone who is passionate about good music will miss him and his influence on bringing quality music to a global audience. Friday and Saturday night radio will never be the same.


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