Sunday, 18 February 2018

Tommy Vance

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Tommy Vance

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Tommy Vance
Tommy Vance 2005.jpg
Tommy Vance on holiday, January 2005
BornRichard Anthony Crispian Francis Prew Hope-Weston
11 July 1940
EynshamOxfordshire, England
Died6 March 2005 (aged 64)
DartfordKent, England
Cause of deathStroke
Other namesRick West
OccupationRadio hostpresenterdisc jockey
Years active1960 - 2004
Known forFriday Rock Show
TelevisionTop of the PopsDumber and DumberThe 11 O'Clock ShowThe Nightfly and The Friday Rock Show (VH1)Voice acting
Spouse(s)1. Ferne Johnson (divorced)
2. Susan Hanson (divorced)
3. Stella 'Cookie' Bursa (divorced)
Richard Anthony Crispian Francis Prew Hope-Weston (11 July 1940[1] – 6 March 2005), known professionally as Tommy Vance, was an English radio broadcaster, born in EynshamOxfordshire. He was one of the first music broadcasters in the United Kingdom to champion hard rock and heavy metal in the early 1980s, providing the only national radio forum for both bands and fans. The Friday Rock Show that he hosted gave new bands airtime for their music and fans an opportunity to hear it. His radio show was a factor in the rise of the new wave of British heavy metal. He used a personal tag-line of "TV on the radio".[2] His voice was heard by millions around the world announcing the Wembley Stadium acts at Live Aid in 1985.[3]



Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Born Richard Anthony Crispian Francis Prew Hope-Weston, his father was an electronics engineer. His first job was at the Hyde Park Hotel as a trainee manager. He then left home at 16 to join the Merchant Navy as a caterer[4] (discharged 1 October 1956), and began his radio career in the US under the name 'Rick West'. He took the name 'Tommy Vance' at the radio station KOL in Seattle from a DJwho had failed to turn up after the station had heavily promoted and paid for expensive jingles which were already recorded. He also spent time in Canada, where he married his first wife, Ferne Johnson.[5]
While at KOL, Vance was recruited by the Top 40 programming consultant Bill Drake, to join his team of "Boss Jocks" at the emerging West Coast KHJ radio in Los Angeles (aka Boss Radio). Vance held the evening airshift at KHJ for several months in late 1965. During this period, he abruptly returned to the UK after running into an unresolvable problem with the U.S. immigration authorities.[6]

Offshore (Pirate) Radio[edit]

Upon his return to the UK, he joined Radio Caroline South, where he used Jack Costanzo's version of the "Naked City Theme" as his signature tune, subsequently working for Radio Luxembourg and the off-shore radio station Wonderful Radio London.

BBC World Service[edit]

In the late 1960s, Vance presented the popular weekly programme "Pop Club" on the BBC World Service. Each instalment of the programme started with Cliff Richard. Members of the "Pop Club" got special badges and membership cards. Every week Vance read listeners' letters and played requests.

Radio 1[edit]

In 1967, he was part of the original line-up at BBC Radio 1, presenting the "progressive" show Top Gear along with John Peel. He stayed at Radio 1 into the early 1970s. During the late 1960s he was briefly married to actress Susan Hanson.[7]

Commercial radio[edit]

Vance was part of the original line-up at the London station Capital Radio – the first legal commercial pop station to broadcast on land in the UK — in October 1973, initially co-hosting the morning show and then playing reggae and soul music on a weekend show. By 1976, he was also on the Portsmouth ILR station Radio Victory. One of the highlights of his career at Capital Radio was a long interview with Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols in 1977, in which the latter talked at length about his love of reggae music, at a time when the group were given very little media exposure elsewhere.[8]
He played a pirate radio DJ in the 1975 film Slade in Flame.[9]

Back to the BBC[edit]

He returned to Radio 1 in November 1978 to begin a 15-year stint hosting the show for which he is best remembered — the Friday Rock Show. He was to become associated with heavy metal and rock music; his deep, resonant, booming voice and catch-phrase 'classic cuts' have been much imitated. The first record which he played on the show, and with which he finished on his final programme in 1993, was 'Rock 'n' Roll Damnation' by AC/DC.[10]
He also had a two-year stint (10 January 1982 to 1 January 1984) hosting the Sunday-afternoon Top 40, where he showed knowledge of and enthusiasm for a wide range of music, and displayed a similar keenness when he hosted Top of the Pops around the same time. He was a daily presenter on BFBS from 1976 to 1987, so that he became known in Germany as well, where BFBS was popular among a civilian audience despite being aimed officially at British military personnel. He also presented a weekly chart show for BFBS as well as other programmes such as Soul Bowl. As well as presenting the best-selling singles chart of 1982 and 1983, he also presented the equivalent show in 1991 despite not presenting the weekly chart at the time. He also deputised on the Top 40 for Richard Skinner (in 1984 and 1985), Bruno Brookes (in 1987) and Mark Goodier (in 1991 and 1992).
In 1984/5, Tommy Vance hosted a Thursday night AOR programme on Radio 1, "Into the Music." This was in place for about a year, before being taken off in favour of Andy Kershaw. At a similar time, the "Friday Rock Show" gained an extra hour on MW only, during which the rock charts were played.
When the BBC's new radio station for London, Greater London Radio (GLR), was launched in 1988, Vance presented the drivetime show mixing album-oriented rock and current affairs dubbed "rock and rolling news". Vance departed Radio 1 in March 1993.

Later years[edit]

He subsequently joined the soon-to-launch Virgin Radio, for whom he initially presented the weekday drivetime show and later the Friday night show on Virgin Classic rock. Soon after Vance's voluntary departure, similar veteran DJs were forced out of Radio 1 by new controller Matthew Bannister. However, he regretted making the move as the new station was swift to abandon its short-lived more adventurous policy and revert to a lacklustre playlist. He said he should never have left the BBC, although technically he hadn't as he continued presenting Rock Salad for BBC World Service for many years.
Vance continued to broadcast regularly, notably a revived Friday Rock Show for VH1 in the UK, which ran for some years until 2002, and a much-quoted appearance on Brass Eye. He co-founded the internet broadcaster TotalRock with his former Radio 1 producer Tony Wilson and music promoter Andy King, and was presenter and voiceover for the Channel 5series Dumber and Dumber. In addition, Vance had a feature in series 2 of Channel 4's late night show called The 11 O'Clock Show. The spot was called Tommy Vance's News Slam in which he took a minute to read out news headlines.[citation needed]
In 2004 he took part in ITV's Hell's Kitchen but left after 24 hours, stating that he felt the environment was "dangerous" and that he was a risk to himself and the other contestants due to his age.[11]


Vance died at Darenth Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent in the early hours of 6 March 2005, three days after suffering a stroke at his home.[12]


On 11 March 2005, just a few days after Vance's death, TotalRock ran Rock On, Tommy Day, a 15-hour live broadcast celebrating his life and work, including lots of music, numerous testimonials from artists and colleagues, and also from people who wrote down their thoughts on Tommy at a special Forum, In Memoriam: Tommy Vance, put up at the TotalRock website. As a finale, after the actual live broadcast had ended, the last Friday Rock Show Vance recorded for BBC Radio 1 in 1993 was re-broadcast.
On 31 March 2006, a Tommy Vance Tribute Night, in association with the Teenage Cancer Trust foundation, was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Judas PriestScorpions and Ian Gillan all performed to pay tribute. There were also special stage appearances by Roger Daltrey and Bruce Dickinson.

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