It’s said that if you remember the 60s you weren’t really there. Well one man who was - and definitely remembers - is the legendary DJ Diddy David Hamilton.
And now David is giving other people a chance to enjoy a flavour of the Swinging Sixties too - by lifting the lid on goings-on in the pop world through the decade and beyond.
It was an age of rampant inflation, three-day weeks and the miners’ strike. “We were there to cheer people up,” says David. “In bad times, entertainment becomes even more important.”
He recounts much of what was happening in a new book - The Golden Days Of Radio One, Hotshots, Big Shots and Potshots - which has been brought out to mark the 50th anniversary of the launch of the BBC radio station.
In it, David - who lives near Billingshurst in the farmhouse where he spent much of his childhood - recalls how he first started in the business, along with tales of the antics of fellow legendary DJs including Tony Blackburn, Noel Edmonds, ‘Fluff’ Freeman, Dave Lee Travis, Ed Stewart, John Peel, Terry Wogan - and more, including Britain’s first nude DJ who broadcast to the nation wearing nothing but a pair of earphones.
Despite on-air good humour, a lot of the DJs didn’t like each other, reveals David, and there were a number of petty jealousies.
And Dave Lee Travis, along with others, hated the Smashey and Nicey send-up created by Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse. “Travis got quite shirty about them and failed to see the joke,” says David.
As for Jimmy Savile - he gets a chapter in the book entitled ‘Savilgate’ - David says he was a loner who didn’t mix with fellow DJs. And although there were rumours about him, no-one knew the extent of his wrong-doing until after his death.
Radio 1 itself was launched on September 30, 1967, following a legal ban on the old pirate radio stations, with Tony Blackburn at the helm of the first show.
Diddy David himself - 5ft 6ins tall and so nicknamed by Ken Dodd - did not get his own daily show on Radio 1 until 1973.
“I’d waited for it a long time,” he says. “I was hardly an overnight success. It came 14 years after my first radio show, and after years of interviewing pop stars on Radio One Club and standing in for people like Jimmy Young and Terry Wogan.” David was among the elite ranks of the top DJs who were feted as superstars themselves, especially as the BBC agreed that only Radio 1 DJs would be featured on TV’s Top Of The Pops. They were adored by audiences of millions, with their faces as well known as their voices.
David recalls how surprised he was when he first joined Top Of The Pops to discover how small the set was. “We would have something like 100 teenagers in one corner dancing round David Essex, then they would be herded to another corner to dance around Rod Stewart.” And although the programme was being watched by millions, the DJs were not well paid.
“When I did Top Of The Pops I don’t think I earned more than £100,” said David. “Afterwards I used to do a disco in the Old Kent Road where I got paid twice as much. In those days the BBC were very careful with their money.”
David, now 79 - whose father was a journalist on the County Times - is still a regular contributor to BBC Radio Sussex and is currently on his second live theatre tour - Rock ‘n’ Roll Back The Years - and will be performing with his five-piece, three-singer band The Fugitives at Epsom Playhouse on October 11.
“I like working to a live audience,” says David, “Having done about 40 shows now, I’ve grown in confidence. I put on my gold lame suit and ham it up a bit.
“I compere the show and sing a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll at the end - Great Balls Of Fire.”
The sixties and seventies may have been the golden days of Radio 1, but the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll lives on forever.
The Golden Days of Radio One is published by Ashwater Press, price £9.95.