A Celebration of Alan's Life

When the restrictions imposed by the UK government were eased in 2021, Alan's brother David and his wife Pauline were finally able to arrange a gathering where friends and family could honour his memory and give him the send-off that he deserved so much.

As David explained, sadly there was an equal number of friends who would have loved to have attended but were unable to, as there was attendees.

The afternoon was a lovely mix of happy memories, photos and the music and comedy that Alan loved. It concluded with Sam and Dave's 'Soul Man', which encapsulated Alan perfectly as both a man who loved soul music and a man with a wonderful soul.

Alan's brother David spoke of their childhood and family history

Mike Perry remembered sharing school days with Alan

Chris Payne talked about meeting Alan while apprentices at EMI and how they began Radio West Middlesex.

Chris's Speech:

"Ladies and gentlemen, picture the scene. Early 1966.

The Beatles were the top-selling artists in just about every country in the world. Their record label Parlophone, was owned by EMI. Many other stars of the time were on EMI-owned labels, HMV, Capitol, etc. Other divisions of the EMI company designed and built radio and television broadcasting equipment and owned Abbey Road, the most famous recording studio in the world.

Picture another scene. A dozen or so 17 or 18-year-old apprentices, not too long out of short trousers – no really – arrived at EMI in Hayes, and made their way to a building positioned behind the record factory that pressed all the hits and more for a worldwide teenage audience.

By this time, the so-called pirate station, Radio London, had been on the air for a year and a bit, and Radio Caroline had been on the air for two years. Several other offshore stations could be heard in various parts of the UK. With a third of the population now tuning into the ship-borne and fort-borne stations, untold wealth was created by the sale of vinyl manufactured by EMI and other record companies. In spite of this, we apprentices were paid the princely sum of just over £4 a week, in EMI's hope that we might eventually become useful employees of the company.

Being Student Engineering Apprentices, our group was taught electronics, technical drawing and inevitably, I suppose, metalwork. What fun we had, for what seemed like hours, trying to file a chunk of steel, ruler flat. A skill that has stood me in good stead my whole life.

As with most new gatherings of people, friendships were quickly formed, and Alan and I realised that we had very similar interests; pirate radio, music, good quality audio and just nattering about all sorts of things.

I can't quite remember how it came to mind, but with the pirate stations being so popular, we developed ambitions to have a go at 'radio'. Alan knew about the existence of hospital radio – something of which I was unaware at the time. He also mentioned that West Middlesex Hospital wasn't far away from where he lived with his folks in Hounslow, and he would find out if they already had any radio setup there.

An idea was born that maybe we could provide a request show for the patients, including at least some pop hits of the day. You have to remember that the pirate stations broadcast for about 24 hours a day, while the BBC had very minimal pop music output. People had got used to the freedom of the offshore DJs saying what they liked, and engaging with listeners. This created a very friendly atmosphere, unlike the BBC's rather staid presentation. Listener participation was what we had in mind when we formulated the idea of a hospital request show.

Gradually, among a small group of apprentices, Alan and me, with friends Chris Haynes and Neil (sorry I've forgotten his surname) and a couple of others whose names sadly I have also forgotten, a project took shape. We would write to the hospital authorities and explain that we would like to have a go at presenting a request show for the patients.

The outcome of this was that we managed to persuade those in charge of the apprentice training school, to let us engage the very busy EMI carpenters to make us a plinth to hold two turntables, and also allow us to use one of the top-of-the-range EMI TR52 reel-to-reel tape recorders, to record the show. Alan picked up the requests from the hospital and we recorded in the workshop late on Friday afternoons, when everyone else had taken advantage of the end-of-the-week early-off.

We had thought of asking for the use of Abbey Road, but we couldn't afford the bus fare to get there.

We also got permission to borrow records from the EMI staff shop, on the understanding that we wouldn't totally wreck them, and they would be returned after a week or two.

I was living in digs and went home to High Wycombe at the weekend, so on Saturday mornings, Alan would take either his or my tape recorder up to the hospital, to play out our request programme. As far as can be determined after all this time, the first show went out on the 27th May 1967.

I left EMI in September 1967 to pursue other avenues and as it turned out, to pursue Mary who became the other part of what turned out to be a super trio of like-minded friends.

After completing his apprenticeship, Alan went on to be an Assistant Engineer at Abbey Road and also worked for EMItape, the part of EMI making recording tape.

We stayed in touch of course, and in the early days exchanged tapes of music that we liked. Many tracks from Alan came from his father's collection of light orchestral records, a favourite genre for both of us.

We've spent many weekends together over the years, either Alan at our place, or us at his. The agenda was always the same, play music that we've each discovered since the last time we were together, watch TV programmes that we love, and talk about music and radio. Other times together involved going to music gigs, invariably with our dear mutual friend, the late Peter Young, PY, he of the Soul Cellar on Capital Radio and later, Jazz FM.

We took it in turns to host New Year's Eve and invariably saw in the New Year with champagne and Jools Holland.

Alan has been a huge part of our lives and has played a major role in various radio projects and celebrations that we've organised or been involved in. As I always say, it's all on the website – radiolondon.co.uk."

When we lose someone, we wish in our heart that we had spent more time with them. While it's still difficult coming to terms with the idea that we won't share weekends ever again, when I hear or play a track that I know Alan would love, thinking about him helps a lot.

Above all, Alan will carry on being a significant part of my life.

Colin Dawson recalled his long friendship with Alan, after they worked together at
UNS Radio Services and PR Newswire

On to Alan Hardy Tribute Page 5