Q Magazine

The radio legend's laid-back style has earned him the nickname "Whispering" and a Radio 2 job he says is the best in the world. Beneath the casual exterior, though, hides a man who's had his fair share of "wild times"...

How would you describe your shows?

The Thursday night country show [7-8pm] focuses on left-field and fringe country artists. A good rule of thumb is that Lucinda Williams makes it in, but Faith Hill doesn't. For the Saturday show [11pm-2am], the brief is much wider. I play Snow Patrol, Bobby Darin, Kings Of Leon, some old blues. It's a broad church.

Is there a playlist?

No, but for both shows I publish the tracklisting on my website [] just before we go on air. There are links to the artists' websites, so you can read about each one as you listen to the track. We get about 3,000 people taking part every show.

Do you have any guests?

On Saturday night, we have a session and an interview after midnight, which is all live. We also go to Nashville at least once a year for the country show to record interviews and sessions. Emmylou Harris is a regular.

How did you start DJing?

When I moved to London in the mid-'60s, I met John Peel. He introduced me to his producer, who helped me record a pilot for Radio 1. When John went on holiday, I stood in for him. I'd never done a radio show before in my life. Six weeks later they offered me my own show. I wasn't nervous because it was where I'd always wanted to be.

Have you ever been involved in any controversy?

No, but I had some wild times while presenting The Old Grey Whistle Test. One time I was at The Rainbow Rooms on the Sunset Strip, which was a hangout for British bands on Los Angeles. This girl asked me if I wanted to go to a party, something to do with Deep Purple. We drove up into Laurel Canyon in a limousine. It was absolute madness, people taking drugs and having sex. Then the police turned up, so we tried to leave, but our limo had disappeared. The girl I was with tried to steal a police car. They didn't seem to mind, though; they just said she couldn't have the car. Eventually, we got a lift back to West Hollywood. Halfway there we ran out of petrol, but it was downhill all the way, so we just rolled down to Sunset Strip and then walked back to the Rainbow Rooms. That was an average evening in LA at the time.

How did you become patron of Cancer Research UK's annual Sound & Vision fundraiser?

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007. I'm now clear. Last year, I was invited to attend the event to give a talk about my experiences. The Cancer Research UK committee then asked me if I wanted to take over from the founding patron George Martin. I'm very honoured to have been asked.

When will you hang up your headphones?

I enjoy it now more than ever. I was at my son's school recently and one of the dads came up to me and said, "You've got the best job in the world". And I think I have. I don't want to give up just yet.

Q Magazine©Q Magazine


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