Page last updated at 11:15 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Hate radio jingles? Blame this man

By Nick Serpell
BBC Obituary Unit

Our regular column covering the passing of significant - but lesser-reported - people of the past month.

The world's first radio jingle was created by Tom Merriman

Not many successful 54-year-olds throw up their careers and cycle around the world but head teacher Anne Mustoe did just that in 1983 after watching a lone cyclist in the desert while on holiday in India. She admitted to being unfit, slightly overweight and had not sat on a bicycle for 30 years. When she finally got on board a bike she nearly fell off. Undaunted, she quit her job and, in 1987, set off from London, arriving back 15 months and 12,000 miles later. A keen historian, she made a point of retracing ancient routes such as Roman roads in Europe and the tracks of pioneers in the US. She followed this with another circumnavigation before a series of rides in India, Africa and South America, all of which she recorded in a series of travel books. She set off on her last ride in May 2009, at the age of 76 but was taken ill in Syria where she died.

Tourists arriving in the small village of Seborga on the Italian Rivera may not have realised that they were actually crossing an international frontier. Giorgio Carbone a local flower seller, declared the village a sovereign state in 1963 after discovering documents which showed it had never been part of the Kingdom of Italy. In a move that paralleled the Ealing Comedy, Passport to Pimlico, Carbone took the title His Tremendousness, and set about getting his new state recognised across the world. His tenaciousness paid off with no fewer than 20 nations recognising Seborga's independence. Unfortunately the Italian Government was not one of them and declared that it was all a ploy to encourage tourism. Carbone graciously declined any salary but did have the right to free cheese and ham from the village shop. He left no heir.

Malcolm Laycock
Laycock had a legion of loyal fans

When DJ Malcolm Laycock quit his Radio 2 show, Sunday Night at 10, a host of angry listeners wrote to the BBC and petitioned their local MPs demanding his return. A former teacher, he joined Radio London in the late 1960s where he presented jazz programmes and a nightly programme for black listeners called Black Londoners. He also presented music programmes for BBC World Service. In 1990 he helped launch 102.2 Jazz FM, becoming the new station's controller. Two years later he formed his own production company to take advantage of the new BBC policy of opening its airwaves to independent producers. He took over Alan Dell's Dance Band Days show on Radio 2 in 1994 and remained with the station for 15 years.

If you have ever been annoyed by those seemingly incessant radio jingles then Tom Merriman is the person to blame. Merriman began his career producing artistes of the calibre of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington before moving to Dallas where he wrote and recorded the first ever radio jingle for KLIF. He formed TM productions in 1967 which became just one of a host of Dallas-based companies producing jingles for radio stations around the world. His work appeared on the pirate stations broadcasting off the coast of Britain in the 1960s as well as their shore-based commercial successors. He moved on to develop automated radio play-out systems which could be programmed with the mood and genre of each record, taking away the need for any human intervention. It was once said of Merriman that "he writes musical arrangements like Lincoln did the Gettysburg Address… on the back of an envelope… and they are equally historic."

Jeanne-Claude was behind some innovative art installations

Together with her husband Christo, artist Jeanne-Claude produced some of the most ambitious artworks of the 20th century. The couple specialised in wrapping fabric around buildings and other architectural features as well as more ambitious projects involving complete islands. Their works were a combination of art and engineering and included wrapping Berlin's Reichstag and the historic Pont Neuf in Paris. One of their most ambitious, and costly, projects involved surrounding eleven islands off Miami with more than 600,000 square metres of pink polypropylene. More than 400 workers were needed to complete the project, which was dismantled just two weeks later. The Peanuts cartoon creator, Charles M Schultz, once produced a drawing of Snoopy's kennel, wrapped in fabric, as a tribute to the two artists.

The term "larger than life" can certainly be applied to Irish supermarket pioneer Pat Quinn. His mother ran a pub and grocery store in Co Leitrim and Pat eventually became a store manager with an Irish chain. After his employers declined to open a store in a town Quinn believed was promising, he quit, and built his own supermarket on the same site. By 1971 his Quinnsworth chain was turning over £6 million and he had acquired all the trappings of wealth including racehorses and a Rolls Royce fitted with a telephone, an unheard of accessory in those days. A flamboyant character he became famous for his trade mark polo neck jumpers and was often found in one of his stores announcing that week's special offers over the public address system. He once opened one of his own new stores himself rather than pay George Best the £1,000 the footballer had demanded, on the basis that he was as well known as the Manchester United star.

Among others who died in November were actor Edward Woodward , star of Callan and The Equalizer; dialect expert Stanley Ellis; journalist and travel writer Geoffrey Moorhouse and BBC broadcaster Max Robertson .

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