Otfans need no introduction to the events of the week leading up to THE HIT. For others, here are a few words of explanation. The story of the campaign to buy John Otway a second hit record for his 50th birthday has already been told elsewhere in this section. The chosen track, Bunsen Burner, was issued on Monday, September 30th. In the ensuing week, all stops had to be pulled out to ensure that the single (issued in three mixes with three different B-side tracks in addition to House of the Rising Sun) would sell sufficient quantities to chart.

The following pages of photos follow Otway and his Hit Squad through some of the week's events, culminating in the spectacular Birthday Show at the London Palladium on Sunday, 6th October, when Bunsen Burner charted at an incredible Number NINE!

The Two-Hit Wonder (pictured with Nick Foster) speaks to the world via BFBS
Otway appeared on both radio networks of the British Forces Broadcasting Service –
BFBS Radio 1 with Nick Foster, and BFBS Radio 2 with Simon Guettier.

After a manic week of in-store appearances and numerous interviews on TV, radio and major newspapers, Otway's single BUNSEN BURNER (with superstars Mary, Chris and Jenny 'singing' on the B-side HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN) shot into the Top Ten at number NINE!

This guaranteed John (but sadly not Mary, Chris and Jenny) an appearance on Top of the Pops for October 11th and turned Mary, Chris and Jenny into One-Hit wonders!

From the outset, Johnnie Walker had championed the HIT SQUAD campaign on his Radio 2 show. Johnnie received a standing ovation when he arrived on stage at Otway's Birthday Hit Celebration Show at the London Palladium on Sunday night (Oct 6th), to announce the chart countdown to an ecstatic capacity audience, many of whom were co-star backing 'singers'. Radio Caroline was also firmly behind the HIT, with an Otway interview with Riga Steve being broadcast twice.

(The Radio London Webmasters achieved another sort of HIT record on Tuesday 8th Oct,
with around 450 'hits' to the website after the pictures went up! It's normally about 100 per day.)

There are literally thousands of people who I really need to thank for the astonishing success of Bunsen Burner.

The amazing thing is that it would have been impossible to do any better than you have all done - and at the moment I don't have the words to describe how I feel about it all - and it hasn't really sunk in yet.

I'll try and drop you all a line when I've got over celebrating the end of the Hitless Years.

Thanks for the Palladium too – that was just unbelievable!

I've got 400 letters in my e-mail in-tray – they will take a couple of weeks to get through so try and be patient if you've been expecting a reply.

Thanks loads and loads and loads.

I'm now a proper Pop Star.



(OTFANS – look what had entered the Fab Forty, Oct 9th 1966 at number 40 !)

Click here to download the BUNSEN BURNER video promo (4MB - be patient!)

Click here to read the Abbey Road recording story.

Oct 9th – Otway's 'thanks' message to the Hit Squad is on the Otway index page

Oct 9th – Music Week reports that over 17, 500 copies of BUNSEN BURNER were sold the previous week.

Click here to buy BUNSEN BURNER from HMV on line. Find the single by entering BUNSEN BURNER into the search engine at the top of the page. There are three mixes available, the Hit Mix has House of the Rising Sun on the B-side plus an additional previously-unreleased track.

Otway signs First Day Cover CDs at HMV Aylesbury
Click on the cameras to access the pages
The Otway Express takes the Hit Squad Roadshow to another signing at the Virgin Megastore

To explain what's happening in the photos, this is the Otway Hit Squad 'Road Show' Schedule, Monday 30th September, 2002

12.30 Hot from his midnight appearance at HMV Sheffield, Otway arrives to autograph first day covers of Bunsen Burner at HMV Aylesbury.

2.30 The Otway Express leaves Aylesbury for London and the Virgin Megastore, complete with Central News camera crew.

3.30 The Otway Express arrives at Marylebone and is met by a camera crew from London Tonight and a cheering crowd of Otfans. Bunsen Burner is playing over the station Tannoy system. Billy proposes to Catharine and is accepted. Otway somersaults and the Hit Squad sings for the cameras. Tourists are baffled.

4.15 The 'Road Show' arrives at the Virgin Megastore for a mini-gig performed for the benefit of the TV cameras. The 'roadshow' retires to the pub.

6.20 Pub customers witness Otmania when the London Tonight feature is screened.

7.00 The Virgin Megastore doesn't know what's HIT it, as around 300 Otfans yell, sing, cheer and then queue for hours to get autographs.

Otway's Birthday Hit Palladium Show,
Sunday 6th October/Monday 7th October

Five pages of pix taken out and inside the London Palladium Birthday Gig
Click on the cameras to access the pages
Two pages of pix taken at Otway's early-morning surprise birthday party

Please Note: All these pictures are the copyright of Chris or Mary Payne as indicated. Full copyright law applies to these pictures, in the usual way. While we are unlikely to object, if you wish to promote Otway by using any of the pictures here, (or indeed anywhere else on the website), you must inform us. Apart from anything else, we can give you a bigger version if you need it. Thank you.