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Last Updated: Monday, 7 March, 2005, 12:02 GMT
Obituary: Tommy Vance
Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Tommy Vance, who hosted the Rock Show on the station for 15 years, has died aged 63 after a stroke.

Tommy Vance in BBC Radio 1 T-shirt
Vance hosted the BBC Radio 1 chart show for two years in the 1980s
Tommy Vance's gravel voice and slick presentation ensured a successful career that spanned several decades.

His style, heavily influenced by his time in the United States, was far removed from his origins.

He was born Richard Anthony Crispian Francis Prue Hope-West in Oxford during World War II.

But if his name seemed a passport to the establishment, his ambitions lay elsewhere.

At 16, he joined the Merchant Navy and, while at sea, heard US radio and was instantly attracted to the idea of becoming a disc jockey.

He secured a DJ job on KOR Seattle in 1964 as Rick West, but had the name Tommy Vance thrust upon him when a broadcaster of that name, whose arrival had been heavily-publicised, failed to turn up.

Tommy Vance
He joined the BBC after pirate stations were banned in 1967
Sticking with his new name, he worked for a Los Angeles station but, anxious about the possibility of being sent to fight in Vietnam, returned to Britain in 1966.

Joining the best-known offshore pirate station, Radio Caroline, he coined the slogan "TV on radio".

He had spells at Radio Luxembourg and on pirate ship Radio London before the offshore stations were closed down in 1967.

But the pirates had proved there was a demand for pop music and the BBC's new Radio 1, which adopted a similar approach, hired Vance and several other popular names.

Vance tried to exploit his popularity by releasing several records, including a cover of the Herman's Hermits hit Silhouettes.

But like Tony Blackburn, he had to acknowledge that his talents rested with the day job.

Tommy Vance (right) interviewing Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts
Vance's big-name interviewees included The Rolling Stones
He moved to Capital Radio in 1973, becoming one of the station's stars, but rejoined the BBC in 1978.

For the next 15 years, introducing the Friday Night Rock Show, he proved a source of encouragement for the heavy metal bands he championed.

He also presented the Sunday afternoon radio Top 40 show for two years during the 1980s and was also a regular host on BBC One's Top of the Pops.

In 1993, Vance moved to Virgin Radio and also worked for television stations VH1, Channel 4 and Five.

Last December, he was the featured DJ at a concert at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London and his distinctive voice brought him regular voiceover work on commercials.

Last year, he took part in celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's reality show Hell's Kitchen - but walked out after a few days, saying he could not bear the constant abuse.

Vance is survived by his former wife, Stella, and an adult son and daughter.


SEE ALSO:
DJ Tommy Vance dies after stroke
06 Mar 05 |  Entertainment
Stars walk out of Hell's Kitchen
26 May 04 |  Entertainment


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