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Alan Freeman tribute

3 December 2006 3,003 views No Comment

I was very saddened on Wednesday to learn of the death of the legendary DJ Alan Freeman.

Back in the 1970’s, Alan Freeman did more than anyone in the broadcasting media in the UK to bring the music of Led Zeppelin to prominence via his Radio One shows – at a time where there was little outlet for rock music on the radio here.

”Fluff” as he was affectionately known, was for many years the presenter of the Sunday Pick Of The Pops chart countdown. Alan combined a flamboyant quick-fire catch phrase ridden style with a real passion for what he played. In my early teens I was an avid listener to that weekly pop chart show. One late autumn afternoon I tuned in to hear if ‘Sugar Sugar’ by The Archies was going to hold off the challenge of The Hollies ‘He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother’. That particular chart battle paled into insignificance when Alan slipped in an album track beforehand. The track was Whole Lotta Love. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before. Some months later his airing of tracks from the forthcoming Led Zeppelin 3 album cemented my obsession. This was what rock music was all about and thanks to Fluff’s enthusiasm for the band, a whole new world had opened. It was Led Zeppelin’s world and I and thousands of others wanted to live in it …

His influence continued to loom large as the years went by. His mid 70’s Saturday afternoon Rock Show programme was the stuff of legend and the only way to hear the likes of Zep, Jethro Tull, Free, ELP, Purple and countless others. Alan was also a deft programmer, often mixing up the rock tracks by cleverly inserting famous classical music pieces into the show. His exclusive previewing of tracks from Physical Graffiti and the whole of the Presence album remain unforgettable memories for me. Equally memorable was his introducing of the band on stage at Earls Court on the night of May 25 1975.

”We are here tonight because you and I have great taste…”

I met him backstage after that show and he was very gracious in giving me his autograph.17 years later, when it came to putting together the first ever UK Led Zeppelin Convention Celebration Days in 1992, it seemed very appropriate to invite Alan as one of the guests of honour. As it turned out he was unable to attend, but he did take time to write the opening introduction in the Convention programme. He rang here one night when I was out, to pass on his best wishes for the event to my wife who recalls how in true flamboyant Fluff style he referred to her as ”My darlings”

He contributed a typically forthright introductionary foreword for the programme that read:
”Whenever we engage ourselves on the subject of pop and rock music, we inevitably return very swiftly to the swinging sixties and I guess for very profound musical reasons!
We’d found our own musical identity…The Beatles had invaded our world, and waiting in the wings to launch another world invitation was that other fab four identified as Led Zeppelin!!
Even in the 90’s they are still hailed as the greatest rock band ever and with a mountain of justification!
Enjoy the Celebration Days to the full Music Lovers, and can I suggest you climb that magical mystical Stairway To Heaven united as one to savor yet again the staggering achievements of the ever present and quite mighty Led Zeppelin!!”

I can almost hear him saying all that in his unique over the top style.

As he most famously stated on that final Earls Court night, he did indeed have great taste. Alongside John Peel, Bob Harris, Johnnie Walker, Nicky Horne and Tommy Vance, he was a pioneering broadcaster from an era when the music was everything.

Alan Freeman’s contribution to bringing Led Zeppelin to the people in the UK via his various radio shows can never be understated. Rock fans of my generation in the UK owe him an enormous debt – and the world is a poorer place without him.

”Not arf….”

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