Tribute to Alan Freeman

It is a very sad day for radio! One of the most influential broadcasters, in terms of DJ style, Alan Freeman has passed away, aged 79.

“Fluff” will be remembered for a couple of specific things. First of all, he more or less invented the “countdown” which he did so brilliantly and excitingly on “Pick of the Pops”. He used his backing music “At the sign of the swinging cymbal” to fantastic effect as he ran down the Top 20. What he did with the music and the countdown was sheer genius. There have been many imitators of the Sunday evening Top Forty. But all of them owe a little bit to Alan Freeman, who created the genre of the Top Forty run-down in Britain.

His Saturday afternoon Rock Music show on BBC Radio One (on VHF/FM – a rarity for Radio One in those days) showed his enormous flexibility and yet again, he showed his genius in creating a genre all of his own. The introduction was wonderfully exciting and the inserts of classical music etc were a brilliant touch. He was a real rock music buff.

He later went on to do classical music on Radio Two. So he managed to straddle pop, rock and classical music in his career. Quite a feat.

I met Alan Freeman in 1975 when I was sixteen. I was fortunate enough to be chosen for the South-West heat of “Quiz Kid ’75” on Radio One. It was fascinating to see him work.

A few years ago I wrote to him when I saw his entry in the Radio Hall of Fame. I told him how brilliantly exciting his Top 20 run-down and his Saturday afternoon intros were, and that many of us still remembered him fondly from the radio. I received a reply from his manager, Tim Blackmore.


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