It was not until I sat down to write this tribute to our friend PY that I appreciated exactly how many adventures Chris and I had shared with him. The accompanying photos are some of his favourites, reflecting his great sense of humour.
I first encountered Peter around 1984, when I was a contestant on 'Peter Young Strikes Again' a music quiz on Capital Radio. I didn't win, but I came away with an 'I've been struck by Peter Young' teeshirt and certificate, which I treasure still. Peter's then producer was Jon Myer, who now runs the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame website. Chris and I became good friends of them both, but not until we caught up with them again some years later.
Right: A photo from the early Capital Radio days
Peter was presenting the Morning Show for Jazz FM, when the station ran the snappily-titled "Eat the Pizza, Meet the Presenter' competition. I won by selecting three of my favourite tracks to be played back-to-back and a few weeks later we headed to a restaurant in Docklands to meet Peter, with our friend Alan Hardy. We quickly established that we all loved the same things. We had a shared taste in music, of course, but also in non-PC comedy programmes from the 'Round the Horne' and 'Carry On' era. Peter was always amused that he and I were probably the only people in the UK who remembered an ancient, early, slapstick TV series called, 'Mick and Montmerency', starring Charlie Drake.
Naturally, we also shared a mutual love of offshore radio. He was a huge Radio London fan (this was before Chris and I started running the Radio London website) and always greeted me with 'Hello Dear', in the style of Ed Stewart when he was on Big L. Peter had the most incredible memory about who broadcast on what stations and when. He also never let me forget that once, I had had the temerity to tell him that I didn't like a particular track he'd played! I was careful not to do it again. Woe betide any listener who dared to phone the studio because their taste in soul did not coincide with Peter's. The complainant would be on the receiving end of an on-air earful!
As an example of the man's brilliant memory, Peter emailed me on May 22nd 2017 and said, "It's the 50th anniversary this week of Kenny's first broadcast on the Light Programme. (A Sgt. Pepper review on the programme 'Where It's At')".
We exchanged many hilarious emails over the years, but of course I could never match Peter's ability to come up with brilliant spoof name sign-offs like the following one (which will be appreciated by Watery Wireless fans everywhere) "Grosser Jack and his lovely assistant Pearly Spencer".
In the early Seventies, Peter had come close to fulfilling his ambition to become an offshore DJ, when he made an ill-fated trip to the RNI ship, Mebo ll. He spent the entire time suffering from severe mal de mer and returned to shore without ever making it to air. He did eventually get to broadcast on Radio London, though, during a recreation RSL on Clacton Pier, alongside his pal Tony Monson. (Studio photo, left) It was during that broadcast that Peter appeared on the show that I was presenting, to read out the words to my signature tune, the Association's 'Along Comes Mary'. We were recreating an event that had taken place aboard the mv Galaxy in 1966, when Dave Dennis read out the lyrics during Kenny Everett's show. However, unlike Peter, the Double D did not succumb to the giggles when he read some of the peculiar drug-inspired lines!
Over the years, Chris and I have amassed so many recordings of numerous incarnations of the PY Show, on various media, that he referred to us as his Official Archivists. In the pre-internet days, we would set the timer on a video machine to record the shows when we were out.
Chris and I were honoured when Peter offered to come to Aylesbury and DJ for our Silver Wedding celebration, co-hosting alongside Alan Hardy. It meant that he had to prerecord his Jazz FM Saturday afternoon show and that was something that he never did. He did, however, have to keep going out to listen to himself on the car radio, to check that the tapes were being changed at the correct times and in the correct order!
Alan, Chris and I spent a memorable New Year's Eve at the BBC London studios in the Marylebone Road, ensuring that the PY Show had plenty of background party noises to see in 2002.
We attended no end of music gigs together. Among them, Brian Wilson at the Festival Hall; Jimmy Smith at Dingwall's, War at the Jazz Cafe and the Concert for George Harrison at the Royal Albert Hall. We were at the 'Standing in the Shadows of Motown' film premiere and a rare Stan Freburg London performance. One of the most memorable occasions was 'Round the Horne Revisited', performed from the original scripts at the tiny Leicester Square Theatre. The capacity audience was in hysterics, but just when the laughter had died down, Peter would start guffawing and set everyone else off again, which the actors loved. A highlight of the evening for him was afterwards, when we met Robin Sebastian, who chatted to us while remaining in his Kenneth Williams character. Peter loved it! We were due to attend a Radio Academy evening with Steptoe writers Galton and Simpson, but unfortunately, Peter fell ill and couldn't go. He was delighted when I obtained both writers' autographs for him.
When Peter had much of his old vinyl collection stored in a lock-up garage, he decided it was time for a clear-out and generously donated most of it to us and Alan to share between us. On subsequent occasions when he came to our house, he invariably left with a few records that he couldn't resist taking back.
Among the collection in the garage we unearthed a master tape of jingles that Kenny Everett had recorded especially for Peter's Capital Drivetime show. We made absolutely certain that this precious artefact did not remain in outdoor storage to deteriorate.
Peter's 60th birthday meal in August 2011 was one of the last major social occasions that we shared with him and a handful of friends, before his diabetes began to take its toll on him. We made him the special Otis Redding card shown on Page 2, which he absolutely loved.
Peter did attend one or two gatherings after that, but a foot injury was giving him a lot of pain and he couldn't walk far.
Radio was Peter's whole life; he lived and breathed it. He loved his shows and his music so much that you knew he meant it when he said he was looking forward to playing a particular track or segment of the programme. He spent hours every week putting his show together. When he told us he had lost interest in radio and music, we realised how seriously ill he had become. He sent us an email in April 2017, saying, "I shouldn't think I'll be going back on air in any capacity. Truth is I'm not missing it. I had a good run but have lost interest in radio and even music. I only listen to the news now."
Sadly, we were unable to visit Peter during his final days, as health problems of our own prevented us from undertaking the long journey.
Peter is always going to be with us. Chris and I will continue to drive around playing our archive PY Shows in the car, enjoying the old 'Round the Horne' and 'Hancock' jokes that he loved repeating, the ancient jingles and the sharp wit of a real radio DJ. Peter didn't want to be a 'presenter'; he always saw himself as a DJ. There will certainly never be another DJ like him.
Farewell and Smooth Sailing, Dear. We love you and we are sorry we didn't get the plinth in place in time! Give our love to Kenny and Cash, Stewpot, Duncan, the Double D and all the others on-air on Heaven FM. It must be the most fantastic station!