Saturday, March 20, 2010



Photo: Philip Ryalls

Not since the death of John Peel, has the passing of a DJ been so widely mourned. The tributes to this man have poured in from literally the whole world - such was his reach. Just check Google News. A massive outpouring. He has left us a huge legacy of broadcasts and recordings, of books, of memories. Charlie was one of the good guys who had impeccable taste above all, huge enthusiasm and a gentlemanly anarchic spirit. I am listening to one of his broadcasts as I write these words. He was a champion of 'world music' and introduced countless artists from many cultures to the fresh ears of a listening public hungry for new sounds. I join with numerous others around the world in celebrating his memory.

Charlie Gillett: The Sound of the World. Radio Archive Charlie Gillett. Wikipedia

Charlie Gillett: broadcaster and journalist. Obituary The Times

Charlie Gillett's legacy is his absolute love of records - Caspar Lewellyn Smith

World Famous

It’s 20 years since a bunch of activists labelled a box to help sell records. Elizabeth Kinder looks back on two decades of runaway success and waves a couple of fingers at the whingers. Happy birthday, world music!( fRom fRoots 289, July 2007).


Photo: Judith Burrows. Some of the World Music creation gang, reunited 20 years on… left to right: standing Chris Stapleton, Jonathan Rudnick, Robert Urbanus, Joe Boyd, Ben Mandelson, Philip Sweeney, Roger Armstrong, Simon Coe, Ian Anderson, and seated Amanda Jones, Charlie Gillett, Mark Kidel and Thomas Brooman

'One of those very few broadcasters who could claim - though he wouldn't have done, far too modest - to actually change the musical landscape. Him and Peelly, actually. Go into any substantial record shop and go to the section entitled World Music. That was his doing. Before Charlie Gillett you would have to go to one basement record shop in Soho, mostly folk music, and hunt in there. Now, a familiar sight on every High Street. Heard on Radio 3, Radio 6, and occasionally Radio 1 when they're feeling adventurous. An ingredient at every Music Festival worth attending. Others followed him and became more obvious proselytisers for the area - Ian Anderson at Folk Roots as was, Peter Gabriel at WOMAD, Andy Kershaw...but it was Charlie who led the way. I can point to a couple of feet of shelves of vinyl that was from artists I heard from him first...thank you for that, Charlie, there are thousands of little monuments like that, to you, all over the country.'

- Penfold. Posted on

'Charlie Gillett's The Sound of the City, published in 1970, was the first serious and comprehensive history of rock & roll, and remains one of the best. Other important rock histories and reference books had began to appear in the late '60s, most notably Nik Cohn's Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom (aka Rock from the Beginning) and Lillian Roxon's Rock Encyclopedia. The Sound of the City, however, was the first to detail the music's roots and evolution in a rigorously researched fashion, though it was still accessible to the general reader. Although much of what Gillett discussed would be expanded upon by subsequent research, which sometimes clarified controversies or uncovered inaccuracies, it remains an important reference tool for the serious rock scholar several decades on -- a remarkable achievement.'

- Charlie Gillett entry on


Radio 3 Presenter: Charlie Gillett

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