Fond memories of
The Big Architect
Duncan Johnson
(Gerald Clements)
17/08/1938 - 11/10/2018

(Right) Duncan sports his RL teeshirt at The Radio Academy Celebration of Sixties Offshore Radio, 2007)

Tributes Received by Radio London

Willy Walker, Big L DJ

I met Duncan (Gerald Clements) when he, later to be joined by Mike Lennox, came to Bermuda to work for Radio ZBM in the early 1960's. We all enjoyed a vigorous party life on the Island.
If I remember correctly, Duncan and another announcer, Lloyd Halek, were going to England to get an assisted passage to Australia. Plans changed and the rest is history.
When I came to the UK in 1964 to visit my sister, I contacted Duncan and Mike, eventually became a flatmate and after a while, joined Radio London.
Mike recalls the "BBC Grey"...that was Duncan's suit which he, Mike and I wore to go to modelling auditions before the radio days.
Duncan was an easygoing person with a dry sense of humor and an excellent broadcaster with that distinctive voice.
I shall miss one of "The Uncles" but have wonderful memories to recall.
My condolences to his Family and Friends.
RIP Duncan

Tony Brandon, Big L DJ

Sad news indeed. I always remember Duncan as a gentle man with a very dry sense of humour.

Our paths never crossed after Radio London closed down, much to my regret.

Duncan was always a very popular member of the presentation team and deservedly so. He will be fondly remembered by everyone who knew him both personally and on the air.

Keith Skues – Big L and Radio Caroline DJ, now presenting programmes networked on BBC local radio, has written a brief biography of Duncan.

It's sad news indeed about Duncan, although I know he was not well in recent years. We all last met on theTattershall Castle for Radio London's 50th Bithday, when Stewpot and Mitch brought him along in a wheelchair. I am including a short tribute on my 14th October programme, including a brief biography.
Duncan was born in Ontario, Canada on 17 August 1938. He arrived in England in 1963 and joined Radio London the following year. I had the pleasure of working with him, and what a great, deep brown voice he had.
He left radio briefly in 1966 and set up a photographic studio in London, but went on to produce his first pop record with the New Faces – 'Lace Covered Window.' The record was Tony Brandon's climber for 4th June 1967 and made a one-week appearance in the Fab Forty the following week (11th June) at #33.
We met again in 1967 when Radio One opened on 30 September. Duncan presented a daily quiz feature 'Crack the Clue' and also compered 'Midday Spin.'
He was married in 1968, but divorced in 1988.
In 1971, Duncan became label manager for EMI Records. His main claim to fame was in 1973, with the release of the Simon Park Orchestra's 'Eye Level'. The catchy theme from the popular Thames TV detective series, 'Van der Valk' sold a million copies.
In radio, Duncan worked for Radio Luxembourg for over 2 years and then London's Capital Radio for eight years.

Below: Duncan in the Capital Radio studio with producer Mike Childs

'Marshall' Mike Lennox, Big L DJ (now living in Mexico)

Mutual friends have let me know of the passing of our good friend Duncan (known as 'Shag' to the Uncles). The Uncles – Duncan, Stewpot, Willy Walker, Tommy Vance, Softly and I – were close friends and sometime flat-mates, for many years. Duncan gained the 'Shag' nickname after he started addressing many of us as Shag or Shagnasty and somehow that was reversed and we began to call him Shag all the time.
Duncan and I first worked together at a radio station in Bermuda and then he was the one who arranged the life-changing interview for me with Ben Toney and Big L. The last time I saw and talked with him was at the Duke of Wimbers' (Stewpot's) house in 1988 (my bad).  (See photo on Page 1)
He was a gentle, kind and giving friend...never a complaint when I needed to borrow the "BBC Grey", his best dress suit. I remember fondly how he developed and nurtured a lifelong friendship with Mitch the Big L steward. He was thoughtful, well read and always well informed.
As I write this, I find my thoughts returning to so many shared times and memories, that we never had a chance to relive over a pint or a cuppa.

If there is a life after, I'm sure the Uncles will reconvene to share time-altered memories of good times spent.

Martin van der Van, Webmaster, The Offshore Radio Guide

Duncan was such a nice guy, a superb dialogue partner and a splendid converser. As a 14-year-young boy, I first heard him on 10th April 1970 when RNI began testing on 190 meters medium wave. I will never forget that wonderful deep voice! I was lucky to meet Duncan four times between 2002 and 2009. As a neurologist I did know how much he had to suffer from Parkinson's Disease during the last 2 decades of his life. As a Christian I do believe that Duncan is redeemed and may now rest in peace.

Tony Currie, Radio Six International and BBC Scotland

That's sad news. Duncan was always a star and helped me a lot when I was very young.

John Sales, dedicated listener

Duncan had one of the best voices for radio, ever! His shows, adverts and promotions where absolutely incredible and so very distinctive; you always knew immediately when Duncan had voiced something!

RIP Duncan Johnson. Sadly yet another Radio London presenter who has now left us.

'Fab' Alan Field, Fab Forty chart compiler

Poor Duncan didn't have it so good for the last few years, but we can look back on a long career and a distinguished contribution to the world of radio, and remember one of the greatest voices of them all.

Stephen Chesney, dedicated listener

I remember the first time I heard Duncan Johnson on Radio London. In February 1965 I had a couple of days off school through illness. Having recently discovered and fallen in love with Big L my transistor radio was permanently set at 266 metres. I switched on at lunchtime expecting to listen to Dave Dennis when instead I heard a new voice, a very deep one with an accent I could not identify, but I now know was Canadian. After a couple of records this DJ gave his name and said he was sitting in for Dave Dennis who was on shore leave. Thereafter for many months, Duncan regularly deputised for the Double D from 12 to 3. He was also a relief DJ on the 9 to 12 morning show.

It would be exactly a year before Duncan was given his own proper show, London After Midnight when Radio London extended its hours, although for a time he was the regular presenter of Radio London Brides, a sponsored half -hour show on Sunday afternoons. The music format for the early hours was to be easy listening, for which Duncan had the right voice. As I never stayed up that late it meant that the only time I heard Duncan thereafter was when he read news bulletins. He left Radio London in the summer of 1966 after 18 months and was one of the longer serving DJs. In my opinion, he was not a big personality but a very assured and competent presenter at the microphone.

I was pleased that Duncan Johnson was among the first team of DJs for Radio 1 on which he was heard on the very first day, when he was the second DJ to be heard on the new station, presenting the Crack the Clue competition. Crack the Clue was broadcast daily except Sundays, at 9.55am and 1.55pm. Duncan was also fortunate to have been given one of the Midday Spin slots. He stayed on the station for only a few weeks. It was good to hear him again years later on Capital Radio on his Saturday Afternoon Delight show although I was not a regular listener. I am sad that another star from the Galaxy is no longer with us.

Pauline and Dave Miller, dedicated listeners

It's very sad news but, as has already been said, poor Duncan didn't have much quality of life in this last year or so. Still a great loss. His velvety voice was so right for radio. We felt it was such a privilege to meet him on a few occasions over the last few years before his illness really took hold and he wasn't able to get out to see his friends anymore. A really nice chap and his contribution to radio will never be forgotten.

Alan Hardy, dedicated listener

Very sad news indeed but poor Duncan hadn't had the best lifestyle for many years now, so in a sad way this is probably a blessing. He had a great life using his talents and skills and when on-air, entertaining millions with his distinctive voice.

Ray Reynolds, dedicated listener

It was very sad to hear of Duncan's passing and I well remember 23 December 2014, when we had such a memorable celebration for Radio London's 50th Birthday, also attended by Ed Stewart and Mitch.

John Hutley, dedicated listener

I was very sorry to hear of the passing of the great Duncan Johnson. I'm sure you knew him very well. For me, he was the first voice I ever heard on Radio London, along with Dave Dennis. I always remember this as, having tuned in for the first time, I rather naïvely believed they were the only two DJs aboard the Galaxy! I also recall, with great delight, hearing Duncan return briefly on Radio North Sea International after his stint at the beginning of Radio One. His voice was unique and authoritative and is another sad loss to the memory of Big L.

David Skeates, dedicated listener

It was with much sadness that I learnt of the passing of Duncan Johnson, who brought so much listening pleasure to us devotees of offshore radio and beyond. Duncan was the eighth DJ to join the wonderful Radio London crew and we all fell in love with his warmth and those rich tones that came through the airways. At first he was standing in for a resident DJ who was on shore leave and then he was given his own permanent programme, 'London After Midnight'.

He was one of a small band of pioneers who successfully strove to bring us free radio and is certainly one of the big heroes of his time and a legend in the world of pirate radio history.

Duncan will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of hearing those smooth, deep, velvety tones lighting up the radio.

With Radio London Engineer David 'Hermione' Hawkins at the Big L 50th Birthday Party, 2014

Please turn to Page 3 for a photo-montage of happy memories, audio and links.
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