Tommy Vance
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Tommy Vance

Tommy Vance
Tommy Vance 2005.jpg
Tommy Vance on holiday, January 2005
BornRichard Anthony Crispian Francis Prew Hope-Weston
(1940-07-11)11 July 1940
Eynsham, Oxfordshire, England
Died6 March 2005(2005-03-06) (aged 64)
Dartford, Kent, England
NationalityBritish
Other namesRick West
OccupationRadio host, presenter, disc jockey
Years active1960–2004
Known forFriday Rock Show
TelevisionTop of the Pops, Dumber and Dumber, The 11 O'Clock Show, The Nightfly and The Friday Rock Show (VH1), Voice acting
1. Ferne Johnson (divorced)
2. Susan Hanson (divorced)
3. Stella 'Cookie' Brusa (divorced)
Children2

Richard Anthony Crispian Francis Prew Hope-Weston (11 July 1940[1] – 6 March 2005), known professionally as Tommy Vance, was an English radio broadcaster, born in Eynsham, Oxfordshire. He was one of the first music broadcasters in the United Kingdom to champion hard rock and heavy metal in the early 1980s, providing the only national radio forum for both bands and fans. The Friday Rock Show that he hosted gave new bands airtime for their music and fans an opportunity to hear it. His radio show was a factor in the rise of the new wave of British heavy metal. He used a personal tag-line of "TV on the radio".[2] His voice was heard by millions around the world announcing the Wembley Stadium acts at Live Aid in 1985.[3]

Early life

Born Richard Anthony Crispian Francis Prew Hope-Weston in Eynsham, Oxfordshire, 11 July 1940. His grandmother owned a travelling repertory company, his father was an electronics engineer and his mother a former singer and dancer.

Expelled from school at 15 for truancy, Vance's first job was as a trainee manager at the Hyde Park Hotel, London. He joined the merchant navy in 1956 as a cabin boy at age 16. It was while docked in New York, listening to US radio, that Vance first toyed with becoming a disc jockey. He had been brought up on the British broadcasting of the fifties and, like a number of his contemporaries, fell in love with the brash sound of American commercial radio.

When Vance returned to the UK, he worked as a mechanic for a jukebox company so that he could hear music for free. Unable to find an opening in British radio he enrolled at a Northern Ireland college, becoming a part-time actor/stage hand. He joined the Ulster Bridge Repertory Company, run by the actor James Ellis, as a stage manager.[4]

Career

KOL Seattle and KHJ Los Angeles

Moving to Vancouver in pursuit of his first wife, Fern, in 1964, he joined KOL Seattle Using the pseudonym Rick West working the midnight-to-6am shift broadcasting to a field of sleeping cows as he once described it.

From there Vance moved to Los Angeles where he was offered a show by programming consultant Bill Drake on KHJ radio (aka Boss Radio), holding the evening airshift at KHJ for several months in late 1965. The programme had originally been intended for another presenter who had pulled out of the deal at the last moment, the jingles and pre-launch publicity could not go to waste so Rick West became "Tommy Vance", "The station asked if I would take the name as they had already made the jingles for him. I said, for that kind of money you can call me what you like, mate."

KHJ was one of the most successful and influential Top 40 stations of the era and California in 1965 was a great place to be. However, America was then involved in a war in Vietnam and when Tommy got his draft papers for the US Army, he decided it was time to head back to the UK.[5]

Offshore Pirate Radio

Vance returned to the UK in 1965 just before Christmas with British musician Ian Whitcomb who lent him the fare. Tommy knocked on the door of Caroline House in London, no programme controller was going to pass up on the opportunity to employ a KHJ boss jock and Caroline's Bill Hearne was no exception. He was hired by Radio Caroline South, where his colleagues included Johnnie Walker, Dave Lee Travis, Tony Blackburn and Emperor Rosko. On 3rd January 1966 Vance presented his first show on Caroline South, his slogan was "TV on radio" and used Jack Costanzo's version of the "Naked City Theme" as his signature tune.

In 1966, Vance released a handful of singles, "You Must Be the One" a covers of Herman's Hermits', 'Silhouettes' and a cover of The Rolling Stones, "Off the Hook". Vance's Wife was not best pleased with the idea that her husband was going to be on a ship two weeks out of three and it would mean she would be living in an unfamiliar city on her own, So Vance left Caroline after a few months and moved to Radio Luxembourg. The marriage did not last so when Caroline's Ronan O'Rahilly suggested Tommy should return to the ship there was nothing to stop him, and he rejoined in December 1966.

During the summer of 1967 it became apparent that the government was going to legislate against the offshore stations. Tommy heard a rumour that Philip Birch, boss of Wonderful Radio London, was negotiating to move his station to France and he wanted to be a part of it. In July 1967 he transferred to Radio London. Unfortunately Big L failed to find a base on the continent. Rather than break the new law, it chose to close down on 14th August so Tommy's stay with the station was brief.[6]

Radio 1 and Capital Radio

After the pirates were closed down in 1967, the BBC's new station, BBC Radio 1, adopted much of their musical philosophy and took on many of their personnel including Caroline colleagues John Peel, Tony Blackburn and Johnnie Walker. Vance co-hosted the "progressive" show Top Gear with John Peel. When the programme was given to Peel to present solo, Vance presented the popular weekly programme "Pop Club" on the BBC World Service. Each instalment of the programme started with Cliff Richard. Members of the "Pop Club" got special badges and membership cards.

Frustrated with his lack of progress, however, Vance joined Radio Monte Carlo International with Dave Cash and Kenny Everett. In October 1973 all three would join the new London-based Capital Radio, Britain's first legal commercial pop station, initially co-presenting the morning show with Joan Shenton and then playing reggae and soul music on a weekend show. [7]

In 1975 Vance made a film appearance as disc jockey, Ricky Storm, in Richard Loncraine's Slade in Flame, a vehicle for the group Slade.[8] By 1976, Vance was also on the Portsmouth ILR station Radio Victory.

Vance hosted Capital's first reggae show and, at a time when punk was being shunned by the press, he carried out the first in-depth interview with Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols in 1977, in which Rotten talked at length about his love of reggae music, at a time when the group were given very little media exposure elsewhere.[9]

BBC and the Friday Rock Show

Vance returned to Radio 1 in November 1978 to begin a 15-year stint hosting the show for which he is best remembered -- the Friday Rock Show. He was to become associated with heavy metal and rock music; his deep, resonant, booming voice and catch-phrase 'classic cuts' have been much imitated. The first record which he played on the show, and with which he finished on his final programme in 1993, was 'Rock 'n' Roll Damnation' by AC/DC. A 1983 edition was the first radio programme to use only compact discs. His signature music was "Take It Off the Top" by Dixie Dreggs and then he would say in his gravelly voice, "Hi, this is TV on the radio and welcome to the programme that we call the Friday Rock Show." [10]

Vance had a two-year stint (10 January 1982 to 1 January 1984) hosting the Sunday-afternoon Top 40, where he showed knowledge of and enthusiasm for a wide range of music and displayed a similar keenness when he hosted Top of the Pops around the same time. He also deputised on the Top 40 for Richard Skinner (in 1984 and 1985), Bruno Brookes (in 1987) and Mark Goodier (in 1991 and 1992).

Vance was a daily presenter on BFBS from 1976 to 1987 and so he also became known in Germany, where BFBS was popular among a civilian audience despite being aimed officially at British military personnel. He also presented a weekly chart show for BFBS as well as other programmes such as Soul Bowl. As well as presenting the best-selling singles chart of 1982 and 1983, he also presented the equivalent show in 1991 despite not presenting the weekly chart at the time.

In 1984 to 1985, Tommy Vance hosted a Thursday night AOR programme on Radio 1, "Into the Music." This was in place for about a year before being taken off in favour of Andy Kershaw. At a similar time, the "Friday Rock Show" gained an extra hour on MW only, during which the rock charts were played.

When the BBC's new radio station for London, Greater London Radio (GLR), was launched in 1988, Vance presented the drivetime show, mixing album-oriented rock and current affairs dubbed "rock and rolling news". He also became the continuity announcer for BBC2 and interviewed for the BBC World Service. He was a frequent choice as master of ceremonies at award shows, concerts and festivals; such as Monsters of Rock at Donington Park.[11] Vance departed Radio 1 in March 1993, however, he continued to host Rock Salad for BBC World Service for many years.

Later years

Tommy was a key player in the launch of Virgin Radio in March 1993, presenting the Drivetime show, a move he later regretted as the station dropped its adventurous format in favour of an ad-driven playlist.

Vance co-founded the internet radio station Rock Radio Network with his former Radio 1 producer Tony Wilson, music promoter Andy King and journalist Malcolm Dome in 1997, rebranding as TotalRock in 2000.

Vance developed business interests with the Silk Sound studios in Soho, later joined by The Bridge. He revived the Friday Rock Show for the digital channel VH1 which ran for some years until 2002. He featured twice in the Channel 4 comedy series, The 11 O'Clock Show, the spot was called Tommy Vance's News Slam in which he took a minute to read out news headlines.[] He was presenter and voiceover for the Channel 5 series Dumber and Dumber and had a much quoted appearance on Brass Eye. [12]

Perhaps his most memorable TV appearance came in 2004 when he walked out of ITV's Hell's Kitchen. He decided to leave the show after escaping a scalding from boiling fat and foulmouthed abuse from the celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsey. Vance's agent stated that he felt the environment was "dangerous" and that he was a risk to himself and the other contestants due to his age.[13]

When Vance moved to Spain, it was with the intention of a gentle semi-retirement. It was not long before he was back on the air playing music for the tourists and ex-pats on the Costa del Sol's Spectrum FM. Vance came back to Britain and threw himself into work again, doing commercials, appearing on television and returning to Virgin to present a weekly show on their DAB and internet offshoot, Virgin Classic Rock.

Death

Vance died at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent in the early hours of 6 March 2005, three days after suffering a stroke at his home.[14] He said of death, "When you're gone, you're gone, I don't want anybody weeping for me." Vance is survived by his ex-wife, their son and daughter.

Tributes

On 11 March 2005, five days after Vance's death, TotalRock ran Rock On, Tommy Day, a 15-hour live broadcast celebrating his life and work, including lots of music, numerous testimonials from artists and colleagues, and also from people who wrote down their thoughts on Tommy at a special Forum, In Memoriam: Tommy Vance, put up at the TotalRock website. As a finale, after the actual live broadcast had ended, the last Friday Rock Show Vance recorded for BBC Radio 1 in 1993 was re-broadcast.

On 31 March 2006, a Tommy Vance Tribute Night, in association with the Teenage Cancer Trust foundation, was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Judas Priest, Scorpions and Ian Gillan all performed to pay tribute. There were also special stage appearances by Roger Daltrey and Bruce Dickinson.

In early 2018, it was announced that a new festival, Stonedeaf, would be naming their stage after Tommy Vance. In true Monsters of Rock fashion with one day and one stage, held at Newark Showground on the same weekend.[15]

References

  1. ^ Vance's year of birth has been given, variously, as: 11 July 1940 ("Tommy Vance". The Pirate Radio Hall Of Fame. Offshoreradio.co.uk. Retrieved 2010.) and ("Tommy Vance". Radio London. Retrieved 2010.); 11 July 1941 ("DJ Tommy Vance dies after stroke". BBC News. 6 March 2005. Retrieved 2010.); 11 July 1943 (Leigh, Spencer (7 March 2005). "Tommy Vance". Obituaries. The Independent. Retrieved 2010.) and (Laing, Dave (7 March 2005). "Tommy Vance". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010.)
  2. ^ Leigh, Spencer (7 March 2005). "Tommy Vance". Obituaries. The Independent. Retrieved 2010.
  3. ^ Jones, Dylan (2013). The Eighties: One Day, One Decade. Random House.
  4. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/music/2005/dec/04/radio.television
  5. ^ Jacobs, Ron (2010). KHJ: Inside Boss Radio. Magic Broadcasting Publishers. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-578-06379-9.
  6. ^ http://www.offshoreradio.co.uk/tommy.htm
  7. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/tommy-vance-527520.html
  8. ^ Film end credits
  9. ^ Van der Kiste, John (2016). Pop Pickers and Music Vendors. Stroud: Fonthill Media.
  10. ^ Van der Kiste, John (2016). Pop Pickers and Music Vendors. Stroud: Fonthill Media.
  11. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/mar/07/guardianobituaries.radio
  12. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0888567/
  13. ^ "Stars walk out of Hell's Kitchen". BBC News. 26 May 2004. Retrieved 2010. He is not a young man and unless you are seriously trained it is very dangerous. He left to save his own finger and somebody else's.
  14. ^ DJ Tommy Vance dies at Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 February 2015
  15. ^ http://www.stonedeaffestival.co.uk/line-up/

External links


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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