Graham Gill (Graeme Gilsenan)
We received the sad news from Hans Knot in Groningen that Graham, who had been in poor health for some years, had died in his sleep at home.
Graham spent only a short time working aboard the Galaxy, a career move that did not work out for him, but soon afterwards he moved on to Radio 390 and continued broadcasting till 1984, on Britain Radio, Radio Caroline, RNI and Radio Netherlands.
Graham had worked in Australian radio for some time before he came to England in 1966 and was talent-spotted while working at the Wimbledon Palais. He joined Radio London just after his 30th birthday on May 9th, 1966 (although as was common at the time, a few years were deducted from his age and the press was informed that he was aged 23).
Graham was allocated 'Look At My Baby' by The Sensations as his first climber. The following week, his climber was 'Playboy' by Freddie and the Dreamers.
As was automatic with all Big L deejays, Graham was made a special member of the Knees Club – number 236. I sent his membership card and a copy of 'Knees Monthly' immediately and was surprised when I promptly received a reply from him. It reads:
"Thanks for your letter and welcome to Big L. Also for membership to the KNEES CLUB. In the comp, might I hazard a guess as to how many knees will be in the club by June 1st. I think it will be 574 knees. So how 'bout that for an answer. Nice to be in the club. Sorry I can't forward you a stamp, but just haven't got one. Our mail is taken off the tender and posted at our London Offices.
Yours sincerely, Graeme Gill"
(In 'Knees Monthly', we were running a competition to guess the number of knees we would have in the club by a certain date. Graham's estimate of 574 was on the low side! The actual total was 622. The reference to a postage stamp is because we requested members to send us stamps in order that we could keep sending out copies of 'Knees Monthly'.)
Later, Graham explained that he changed the spelling of his first name mainly because that was the way most listeners spelt it when they wrote to him.
It must have been Hans who put us in touch with Graham. Our first contact with him after launching the Radio London website was on February 17th, 2002, when Chris and I spent a Sunday afternoon having a fascinating telephone conversation with Graham calling from his home in Amsterdam.
Sounding in great voice, he told us of his early broadcasting career in Australia and how he had barely arrived in England when he became involved in the world of watery wireless. He talked at length about his stints on various offshore stations and of on-shore meetings with pop celebrities of the time.
We assisted Graham in getting in touch with the old pals he worked with from Down Under, Alan Freeman and Ian Damon. He told us, "Alan was a great mentor and friend for me and was a great help in my early days in Britain. I'll always remember with affection our early days at 3KZ in Melbourne." Interestingly, Graham had been unaware that a year after his spell aboard the Galaxy, Ian had followed him in becoming a Radio London DJ, joining the station in June 1967.
The last time Chris and I encountered Graham was at the Amsterdam Radio Day in 2014. He had been suffering with some health problems, but looked surprisingly well.
Graham was sad that he was not sufficiently well to attend the Offshore 50 reunion in London on August 14th 2017, but sent me a very nice letter. (Click on the image to the right to read it).
Alex van den Hoek very kindly recorded a video of Graham at the Rockart Museum, Hoek van Holland, so that we could play it to the assembled guests, several of whom had broadcast over the watery airwaves alongside Graham.
Smooth sailing, Graham.
With fellow Australians Dermot Hoy and Norm St John at the Radio Academy Celebration of Offshore Radio, 2007
With fellow Australians Dermot Hoy and Norm St John (above) and Ian Damon (below, left).
All in London for the Radio Academy Celebration of Offshore Radio, 2007. Right, in London with Hans, and the RNI CD.
(Below) chatting to The Admiral Robbie Dale's wife, Stella at our 35th Anniversary Offshore Reunion on Saturday August 10th 2002 at the Doggett's Coat and Badge pub on the Thames at Blackfriars Bridge
35th Anniversary Offshore Reunion group shot with Graham in the back row next to DLT
A meeting with Rick Randell
in Amsterdam was
arranged by Hans
With Olga Patricia chums Dave Gilbee and Phil Martin at the Radio Academy Celebration of Offshore Radio
Hans Knot, who knew Graham well, has compiled of some of his many memories of his friend.
Photos courtesy of Hans Knot, Martin van der Ven, Mary Payne
Alex van den Hoek also edited footage taken by the late Rob Olthof of our 35th Anniversary Offshore Reunion on Saturday August 10th 2002. It includes shots of Graham and other sadly departed friends.
No Amsterdam Radio Day was complete without Graham singing his theme tune 'Way Back Home'. (Junior Walker & the Allstars).