DUNCAN JOHNSON: THE BEATLES 'TUESDAY MAN'?

...."That's another fine myth you've got me into!"

Chris and I met Alan Field for the first time during Big L 2000, and were intrigued when he came up with the following idea concerning the lyrics to 'I Am the Walrus', which he has now kindly contributed to the website:

Alan says:

Some time after he left Big L, Duncan Johnson was one of several ex-pirate DJs hired by the BBC at the start of Radio One. The new station was inaugurated on 30th September 1967 with every kind of publicity, including promotional tee-shirts. Many DJs were tried out on air in the beginning, many more than the station would eventually need. The lunchtime show, Midday Spin, was partly used for this purpose. It had a different host every day of the week, and Duncan presented the Tuesday edition. After about the 4th week, it was announced that he would be taken off the show because he didn't have the bright upbeat image that Radio One was looking for. He was the first DJ to be weeded-out in this way, and the story made the news. Released towards the end of November 1967, the Beatles' song 'I Am The Walrus' included the lyrics:

"Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long..."

We've heard that the Beatles sometimes took the inspiration for their lyrics from stories they'd read in the newspapers. The peer injured in a car crash, and the pot-holed streets of Blackburn, as featured in 'A Day in the Life', are often given as examples. Could it be that less than a year later Big L's Duncan Johnson was similarly immortalised in song by the Beatles in 'I am the Walrus'?

Just a thought.

Alan Field


Having, unfortunately, no personal contact with Macca, I did the next-best thing. I forwarded what Alan calls his, "All-original, Alan Field, Beatles lyrics interpreted while-you-wait service...." to Duncan Johnson.


Duncan replied:

How the myth is made!

The theory is possible but not very plausible. I know Tony Bramwell, who worked for the Beatles, well enough that I feel he would have said something about the lyrics if that were the case. Also, the only headlines at the time (that I am aware of) were 'Too Old at 29' written by David Wigg in the Express. Ed Stewart was the first to have his programme pulled - after 4 weeks- although he was offered another contract at the time. I stayed for 6 weeks and did 'Crack the Clue' for 13.

The story as I remember it is that Mike Lennox, a former colleague and flatmate, did the mandatory audition for a 'pop' show and I did one for a late evening programme. Perhaps the BBC hierarchy thought we were interchangeable, but whatever the reason, we were offered the opposite to that planned. In any event, as partner in an increasingly busy photographic studio, I told a lady in the contracts department I could not afford to work for 28 a programme and she replied, "'celebrity broadcasters' are expected to get the majority of their income from other than BBC sources". Weekly light entertainment programmes were a recent innovation and not approved by all.

The parting was amicable and I remained friends with the producers, Teddy Warrick (until his death in December 1999) and Tim Blackmore, as I did with Johnny Beerling and Bill Bebb, producers I occasionally worked with.

Alan Clarke told me recently that he and fellow Hollie, Graham Nash, sitting in a cramped dressing room with the Beatles in Stoke, during a little-publicised gig, during the early days of both bands, suggested the first couple of lines for a song which became a Lennon/McCartney song. I've forgotten which, but it was confirmed by Tony Bramwell. Regrettably I've had no known similar effect on anything the Beatles ever said or did!

Regards, Duncan


Back to Alan Field:

I'm glad you sent my theory on the 'Tuesday Man' Beatles lyric to Duncan for comments because I'd always wanted to tell him about it and see his reaction. So he agrees it's possible.... As for plausibility, the timing is right and, if it's not that, I wonder what else the words mean? Even the supposed gibberish Beatles lyrics generally turn out to be have been inspired by something. By the way, there was definitely also a story in the Daily Mirror which my folks used to have delivered at home in those days. Maybe Duncan will ask Tony Bramwell specifically next time he sees him. It might just jog a memory at the back of Tony's mind, or intrigue Tony enough to ask some of the other guys he's still in touch with who worked with the Beatles at the time.

Or even Macca himself...? My own thought is that the Beatles always had close connections with Big L, especially after they befriended Kenny Everett when he represented the station on their USA Tour. They obviously did not object to Radio London's cheeky 'Sgt Pepper' world-exclusive, or they would have been too miffed to have bothered to record personal 'farewell' messages for the last Big L programme, 'Their Final Hour'. If the Fabs maintained an interest in what had happened to the DJs after August 14th, maybe the story about Duncan caught their imagination? What do our viewers think? I await your feedback!

Mary


Duncan's ex-Capital Radio colleague, Peter Young says:

Fascinating Duncan Johnson theory. I think it's very likely. I can't believe I never thought of it myself.


A forum on the subject of the 'Walrus' lyrics can be found at TRUE LIES - Urban Legends and Folklore News http://forums.about.com/ab-urbanlegends/messages?lgnF=y&msg=3214.1

This is also an excellent site for checking out the validity of the many virus 'warnings' and 'chain letters' that arrive at your 'In' box from well-meaning, but not always well-informed friends.


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