in Surrey 1943, Tony Blackburn's family moved to Dorset in 1948. Educated at a public school,
Tony went on to study at Bournemouth College, receiving a Business Diploma.
From an early age his ambition was to be a singer and disc jockey.
Whilst in Bournemouth, he was a resident
singer for evening shows at the Pavilion, later singing with the Johnnie
He successfully auditioned for Radio Caroline
South in 1964, however the different presentation style where his happy, teenage
personality was projected to the listener was not initially welcomed by the
station manager, although listeners approved. In 1965, he declined a job offer with Radio London who wanted him to change
his name to 'Mark Roman !'.
He released 3 records with Fontana records in
1965/66. He has written 200 songs, but only had one published. In 1966, he
resigned from Caroline due ill health, but shortly after commenced with Radio
London, presenting the breakfast show under his own name.
I was at Radio Caroline I met Harold Davison who became my manager. He said
there was a new station called Radio 1 and they were interested that I work for
them. He said you come with my agency and I'll make you the top DJ in three
months. I thought about it for about two seconds and he did it in two months. I
got the job and went to Broadcasting House. I remember a lovely guy called Mark
White was the executive producer. They sort of auditioned me first on the Light
Programme on a lunchtime 3/4 hour show taking over from Judith Chalmers and
Paddy Feaney. It was the flower power era and when we opened up Radio 1 it was
very strange because all the BBC producers and staff were in flowery gear power
while we from the Pirate ships were in suits!"
Tony began work with the BBC Light Programme in August 1967,
presenting 'Midday Spin' (see clips below). Tony knew this was an audition for the yet to be
launched Radio 1. When Radio 1 started the next month, Tony was the first
Disc Jockey on the new station. He was helped by Arnold the dog, who he found on
a BBC sound effects tape. He has additionally been heard on RTL Radio
The Breakfast Show included a
'School Salute', from 1969, a feature
where if your school was mentioned you won Radio 1 goodies.
He released 'So much Love' early 1968 and an album, 'Tony
Blackburn Sings'. He also had his own television show in that year, 'Time for
Blackburn' which was seen across the UK.
Tony moved from
Breakfast to weekday mid-mornings from June 1973, where he featured 'The Golden
Hour'. This feature was later carried by Simon Bates.
Moving again in Autumn 1977 to weekday afternoons for two years,
it was during this period Tony went through a divorce from his actress wife
Tessa Wyatt (later of Thames comedy series Robin's Nest). He
found the emotional loss hard to handle and was prescribed
medication in order to help. He made the public aware of his broken heart and
repeatedly dedicated weepies such as If You Leave Me Now by Chicago to Tessa
on his Radio 1 afternoon show. On his last daily Radio 1 show in
August 1980 Tony thanked Phil Swern (ex producer of A & M records) for 'help through the toughest times'.
Tony pictured with former Radio 1 presenters
Maggie Philbin and Keith Chegwin
(1983 publicity shot)
'Junior Choice' followed
from 1980, featuring songs for younger children, and the UK Sunday Top 40 chart
countdown for 2 years. He remained with Radio One until 1984, moving to
BBC Radio London,
where he introduced
the first (legal) soul music radio show in the UK. Here he hosted a
morning show mixing music with listener phone-ins. The shows are remembered for
Tony's use of light-hearted innuendo and banter with female callers.
Tony's musical passion is soul
music, and he is famous for his light humoured
'corny' jokes and upbeat presentation.
Tony is married to Debbie and they have a young daughter,
KING OF THE JUNGLE
In September 2002, Tony took part and won
the British Television series 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here'.
From Daily Mail Front Page 09.09.02.
and four female media personalities were placed in a
North Queensland, Australia and were set daily
'bushwacker trials' to
win food. Tony had to walk along a large 'spiders web' and endure a shower
of maggots! He also collected many logs for the fire. Tony was voted the winner by viewers and, along with the
other contestants, raised thousands of Pounds for his chosen
King of Jungle Celebrity
Mix MP3 3.mins
(Mix by Danny Pike of Southern FM)
1988 - 2002 CAPITAL
1988 to 2002
Tony could be heard around the UK on local 'Capital Gold'
stations in the drive-time slot, Monday to Friday.
2002 - 2006 REAL RADIO
Tony left Capital Gold at the end of 2002
after 15 years to present the 'Real Party Night' on Real Radio (South
Wales, Central Scotland & Yorkshire) consisting of 80's soul music. The show
broadcast 6pm-10pm every Saturday until 2006.
2003 -2004 CLASSIC GOLD TRIPLE CHART SHOW
On Classic Gold
Digital, the Saturday morning 'Triple Decade Chart Show', featuring chart music from the 60's, 70's
and 80's in a 10am-2pm slot. and on Classic Gold Northamptonshire, Tony
Blackburn's Real Party Night; 6 hours of great party music 6pm-12am.
2003 -2004 JAZZ FM
For 12 months from March 2003 Tony presented a weeknightly
programme on the London & Northwest JazzFM
'Real Soul' show featured the best of classic and contemporary soul, jazz
and R & B. 10pm - 12am slot.
2003 - 2007 BREAKFAST ON CLASSIC GOLD
The Weekday Sensational Breakfast show
Classic Gold Digital from 6am - 9am Monday 31st March 2003 with ex-Hereward FM & Evening
Telegraph columnist Laura Pittson. until 3rd August 2007.
2004 to DATE RADIO LONDON 94.9 RETURN
Tony came back to BBC Radio London in March 2004 to present a regular
Monday night and Saturday lunchtime Soul Show. The broadcast marked a return for Tony
to the BBC after an absence of 16 years. (Please find audio clips of
his first show at the base of this page).