The photo above, showing Tony doing what made him happiest, was taken during the Big L 2001 RSL. I believe it was Paul Graham who told us that Tony had long harboured a wish to broadcast on Radio London, and his wish was granted that August on the pier in Clacton. Tony had already undergone drastic surgery for throat cancer, but it did not prevent him from continuing to broadcast whenever the opportunity arose.
In March 2001,
Radio London assisted Jonathan Myer at the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame in passing
on to Tony numerous tapes of ancient radio shows sent in by friends. These recordings
served their intended purpose of keeping Tony sane during his stay in hospital,
while he endured major treatments which he found extremely debilitating. Eventually,
there came a point where he decided that he had suffered enough, and declined
further treatment. Tony would finish the fight in his own way.
Tony's sense of humour, however, remained intact. He said:
"I am now at the age where Timothy Leary's slogan has to be updated to, 'Turn on. Tune in. Drop off!' The only good thing about all this is that I have been given a special diet sheet to make sure that I do not lose too much weight and the bloody fools have recommended that one of the best high-protein items, which is also very good for me, is Guinness. And they say the national health service is going down the drain. More advice like that and we'd have the healthiest nation on the planet!"
The last time many friends will have seen Tony was in March 2004, when he attended Roger Day's Caroline 40th Anniversary. He looked extremely frail and gaunt, but had been determined not to miss the celebration.Thank you to everyone who has been kind enough to send personal memories of Tony.
In July 1967, I had
the privilege to spend some time aboard Radio Scotland's ship the Comet. When
I arrived at Radio Scotland's studios in Cranworth Street in Glasgow, the first
person I met was Tony Allan. He was 17 at the time, and he immediately helped
me find a hotel to stay. We then went back to the studios, and he introduced
me to a band that was recording there (I don't remember the name of the band,
but one of the members (Shel Macrae) soon left them to replace Glen Dale in
Tony Allan took me around town that evening, to visit discotheques and bars, and he introduced me to another Radio Scotland disc jockey, Bob Spencer, who was also a discotheque dj at the time.
The next day, we left for the ship. Tony and I shared a cabin while I was on board. He was kind enough to invite me to his Destination Midnight show, and let me speak some words in French for my Belgian friends. He also gave me a tape of the show, which I kept during all these years.
After I came back to Belgium, I kept on listening to Tony every time I could, and especially on RNI and Radio Caroline in the 70s. The Internet allowed me to make contact again after 30 years, and we got back in touch through e-mails. He said he remembered my stay on the Comet (especially after I sent him a picture of myself behind the Radio Scotland microphone). I made a CDR from the tape he gave me 30 years earlier, and Mary Payne was kind enough to hand it over to him. When he did his 2 hours programme on Radio Caroline (last "analogue" transmission March 2001), he played excerpts from the CD, and mentioned my name and how much fun we had in those days!
Now that he is gone, I feel like I've lost a long time friend, although we didn't spend much time together. Goodbye Tony. I won't forget you. Wherever you are, I know you will keep on playing music for the people.
Raoul Verolleman from Belgium
Tony (nicknamed "Doris")
will be well remembered for his distinctive deep voice on many quality radio
stations from the 1960s to the 80s. Starting as a young deejay on Radio Scotland,
then Caroline South, he moved to The Voice of Peace, RNI and back to Caroline
in its 'Loving Awareness' period. His credits include several BBC local stations
and Scottish Television before he came to Ireland for the opening of Sunshine
Radio in Portmarnock, CoDublin. He was also in at the start-up of Radio Nova
but will best be remembered as an excellent voice-artist. Tony's self-produced
commercials were aired on most of the Irish pirate radio stations and, through
agencies, on RTE radio & TV.
It is fair to say that Tony could be a little temperamental at times but everyone who worked with him would agree that he was at all times a highly polished and professional presenter and a superb radio personality.
A famous anecdote from his pre-Ireland career originates at STV when he was duty presentation/continuity announcer on the day that Lord Louis Mountbatten died. Tony was given an incorrect note and appeared on camera solemnly stating that The Queen Mother had died. Quite soon after, he scripted and presented an 'Oscar winning' abject apology to the nation and to Queen Elizabeth, who had been alive and well, watching her TV in Balmoral at the time.
I feel privileged to have worked with 'Doris' on Sunshine, Big Dee, Nova and South Coast Radio. He could aim and throw a NAB cart and hit you at 50 paces but seconds later he would be the most generous of pals saying, "Right lads, let's go down the pub!"
Broadcasting in the UK and Ireland was enriched by Tony Allen's voice and all-round 'radio savvy'. One of the 'old school' has gone today, I am proud that I knew him at his best.
Peter Madison "The Teenage Pensioner"
Tony was one of the
finest broadcasters ever, a one-off, in an age where the word Legend is overused,
Legend really applied to Tony; great as a Jock, Newsreader, Voiceman, and in
production there was no-one who could touch him! There was very little that
Tony couldn't turn his hand to in radio. As someone who knew him as a workmate
and dear, dear friend over 20 years, I miss him terribly
Tony was a kind, generous
and loyal friend and a wild, and at the same time, a rebellious and dangerous
I first met him shortly after he left Radio Scotland (the shipborne version). He was young, bright, gregarious and I was briefly in awe of him. He was just a year or so older, but here was I, a hospital radio DJ straight from school; and there is Tony, a veteran of pirate radio. He immediately gave me the nickname of 'Shitfeatures'. I liked that.
Over the years we worked together rarely, but often met up, spoke, compared notes, and despaired at the state of the world. When he was at Radio Forth, (a square peg in a round hole if ever there was one) he suddenly decided to walk out and never come back - but I felt honoured that he rang me beforehand to tell me what he was planning.
Years later, after battling assorted demons, we worked on a documentary about radio jingles that I did for Chris Cary's satellite version of Radio Nova. Chris later told me how much it had meant to Tony to work with me on the project. The feeling was entirely mutual. A couple of years ago, after he'd taken ill, I persuaded Tony (with the help of Eljie) to come on board the LV18 and host a show once more on RNI. We had a wonderful day together, which culminated in shepherd's pie and rollups in the galley.
He had one of the most distinctive voices on the radio, and despite living much of his life apparently with a finger on the 'self destruct' button, he had a distinguished career on alternative stations around the world.
I was more than fond of Tony Allan. I loved the man (he always respected - if failed to understand - my heterosexual view of the world) and I am glad I knew him.
Imagine if you will,
being an electrician in the 1980s. You are working in Manchester in an old mill
full of randy mill girls, 200 yards from Piccadilly Radio studios, where outside
they have huge billboards showing the presenters' pictures.
It's brew time and some clone plays Frankie again. The radio is on a high shelf, covered in dust. One of the mill girls gets on a chair and tunes from FM to MW and Nova. The signal is not that clear in Manchester, but the DJ is far better. Tony Allan's golden voice breaks through and he plays Blue Oyster Cult.
One of the girls says, "That's more like it' and we stay with Nova all day, 200 yards from the Piccadilly Radio studios.
I think that says it
all for Tony. I hope he is at peace.
John (the paper boy) Newstead.
On www.soundscapes.info Volume 7 you'll find a tribute in Dutch and English