Remembering PY

We learnt of the death, from the effects of his Diabetes, of the radio DJ Peter Young on November 1st. The genuine outpouring from fellow radio presenters and fans alike over the next 24 hours proved what a massive influence he was on so many of us.

His knowledge was immense and his personality and sense of humour just made you warm to him.

I used to spend hours and hours listening to his Capital Radio ‘Soul Cellar’ show in my formative years, taping onto C90 after C90 all the great music he played on the programme. Track after track opened my ears to new music to explore and new names to check out.

Stax, Motown, Chess, and Philadelphia all became familiar labels to me through the music he played. I discovered tunes by Bobby Bland, Jackie Wilson, James Brown, Martha Reeves, Joy Lovejoy, Chuck Jackson, The Isley Brothers, Bobby Womack, Doris Troy, Esther Philips and so many others, the list just goes on. This is some of the music I still love to this day.

I would edit the tapes as the show went along, fast forwarding and rewinding to get the songs in the right place. As a result, on many occasions, I would cut off the intro or outro to the tune and therefore not know who sang it. Nightmare!

Gradually over the years of listening back to the tapes – yes loyal reader I’ve still got them – I’ve managed to find out by using the modern tech of Shazam, who sang what.

Listening to Peter, or PY, as everyone knew him, was an education. It is as simple as that.

Upon hearing the news of his death I instantly dug out a few of those tapes and was soon laughing along to the jingles and daft comments in between the tracks just as I did 30 years ago.

I’ve read over the past few days, that Peter bought his first soul record –  ‘Fingertips’ by the then Little Stevie Wonder – in Edgware in 1963 and after that, he was then off on a journey soaking up as much Soul, Blues, Funk, Jazz and Gospel as he could, that he later delivered to young, eager ears like my very own as his career developed.

He started his DJing on the United Biscuits Network of all places and then joined Capital Radio after a brief stint on BBC local radio. He spent 15 years at Capital in total, leaving in 1984, before joining Jazz FM at its launch. His show there moved around the times and days of the week, finally ending up on a Sunday slot.

Peter retired from Jazz FM due to ill health in the summer of 2017, and I heard regularly from good friends of his, that he wasn’t too well and it didn’t look good in the long run.

He once said‘the role of a DJ is to put the music first and never hog the show with meaningless drivel. A DJ should shut up and get on with it!’

Well, I for one would love to have one last couple of hours listening to not only the great music he would undoubtedly play but to Pete himself. Alas, that is not to be.

At least I’ve got my treasured tapes.

So, rest in peace, PY the Pork Pie.

I can only say thank you so very much.

The Mumper of SE5