Ever wondered what the first ten tunes on Piccadilly Radio were? Your questions have been answered
On this day in history, Piccadilly Radio began broadcasting 44 years ago. The first voice on Piccadilly Radio was Roger Day. As for the first record, that was The Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations. What company may you ask had the first advert on Piccadilly Radio? It was the North Western Regional Gas Board. With the tagline “The North Loves Gas Best”.
As with many firsts, few people reflect upon seconds, thirds, or fourths. Or they seldom go beyond the Top Ten of any list. In a bid to celebrate Key 103’s and Key 2’s iconic predecessors, East of the M60 has – for your perusal – the full playlist. Yes, the full playlist of Roger Day’s show.
The First Ten Songs
- Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys (1966);
- A Walking Miracle, Limmie and the Family Cooking (1974);
- I Need You, The Temptations (1973);
- Long Live Love, Olivia Newton-John (1974);
- Ma-ma-ma-Belle, Electric Light Orchestra (1974);
- Jennifer Eccles, The Hollies (1968);
- Remember Me This Way, Gary Glitter (1974);
- The Golden Age of Rock ’n’ Roll, Mott The Hoople (1974);
- Clear Day, Rab Noakes (1974);
- Everyday, Slade (1974).
In our first ten songs we got a good grounding of Piccadilly Radio’s music policy. That of the year’s chartbusters as well as the odd golden oldie, something local, and a healthy bias towards soul music.
Roger Day couldn’t have put a foot wrong in choosing Good Vibrations. Apart from transporting Mancunians to sunnier clines (yes I know the Rainy City cliché is hackneyed), it was also a link to Roger ‘Twiggy’ Day’s era as a pirate radio DJ.
The second piece was Limmie and the Family Cooking’s only other hit in the UK (You Can Do Magic was their first). The Temptations’ I Need You was Piccadilly Radio’s third song. This came from their 1973 LP entitled 1990. An underrated gem.
The fourth was that year’s Eurovision Song Contest entry for the United Kingdom (won by a rather obscure Swedish group – we didn’t know what happened to them). This was followed by what has been regarded as ELO’s heaviest song. Ma-ma-ma-Belle sees Jeff Lynne and Co. giving its listeners a more heavy metal sound.
Though The Hollies had returned to the charts in 1974 with The Air That I Breathe, the charms of Jennifer Eccles held sway. The single from 1968 was among the last to feature Graham Nash.
Just to spoil things, this was followed by one of Gary Glitter’s lesser known works, Remember Me This Way (no comment). Then Ian Hunter and Co.’s reminiscences of The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The real obscurity for some listeners was the ninth song to have been played on Piccadilly Radio. That of Clear Day by Rab Noakes. The song featured on his 1974 album Red Pump Special. He also worked with Gerry Rafferty.
Anybody with a GCSE level knowledge of 1970s music will have heard of Slade. The tenth tune was Everyday, a lovely ballad which featured on the album Old New Borrowed and Blue. In 1991, Neville ‘Noddy’ Holder ‘returned’ to Piccadilly Plaza – as a presenter of Piccadilly Gold’s 1970s show.
The Next 29 Songs
In the full three hours, Roger Day’s first programme had 39 songs on its playlist – 13 per hour. Further to its playlist this included adverts and news bulletins every half hour. This would seem stingy to today’s listeners used to non-stop music.
- Only For The Children, The Stylistics (1973);
- Baby I’m A Want You, Bread (1972);
- Seven Seas of Rhye, Queen (1974);
- Mighty Love, The Detroit Spinners (1974);
- I Shall Sing, Art Garfunkel (1973);
- Year of Decision, The Three Degrees (1973);
- Last Time I Saw Him, Diana Ross (1974);
- W.O.L.D., Harry Chapin (1973);
- Boogie Down, Eddie Kendricks (1974);
- The Last Time, The Rolling Stones (1965);
- On The Run, Scorched Earth (1974);
- Mr. Natural, The Bee Gees (1974);
- The Cat Crept In, Mud (1974);
- Homely Girl, The Chi-Lites (1973);
- For Your Love, Fleetwood Mac (1973);
- Gimme Some Lovin’, Spencer Davis Group (1966);
- You Are Everything, Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye (1974);
- Hooked on a Feeling, Blue Swede (1974);
- Sugar Baby Love, The Rubettes (1974);
- The Whole Town’s Talking, Billy Paul (1974);
- Remember You’re A Womble, The Wombles (1974);
- School Love, Barry Blue (1974);
- (It’s Like A) Sad Old Kinda’ Movie, Pickettywitch (1970);
- I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe), Genesis (1974);
- Seasons in the Sun, Terry Jacks (1974);
- Life Ain’t Easy, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show (1973);
- Thomas The Rhymer, Steeleye Span (1974);
- Shanghai’d in Shanghai, Nazareth (1974);
- You’ve Got Your Troubles, The Fortunes (1965).
Throughout the rest of his programme, listeners were treated to a diverse playlist. Whether you liked prog rock or chart music, there was something for everyone. For example, Bread followed The Stylistics. After The Stylistics came Queen – whom at the time were a year away from super-stardom with Bohemian Rhapsody.
Filed under “How Did They Know That 1974 Would Give Us Two General Elections” was The Three Degrees’ tune, Year of Decision. Which had nothing in its lyrics about Messrs Heath, Wilson, or Thorpe.
Going into self-referential mode was Harry Chapin’s excellent W.O.L.D. – a song about a morning DJ played by Piccadilly Radio’s first morning DJ. Filed under “Before They Were Famous” was Scorched Earth’s On The Run. Their vocalist? Billy Ocean, soon to be a well known solo artiste in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.
Soon to be a UK Number One single at the time of its transmission was the 29th song on the playlist. That of The Rubettes’ Sugar Baby Love, most noted for Paul Da Vinci’s falsetto vocal work. The song was pitched to Showaddywaddy by Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington without success. Instead they offered it to some demo musicians and formed a group. Showaddywaddy’s loss was The Rubettes’ gain.
The 31st song was – incredibly – heard in the very first episode of Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights. The Wombles’ Remember You’re A Womble (well, Mike Batt and a few folks in Womble suits) was played in a scene where Max went to get some chips. After missing his 8 bus to Bolton (the chippy was in Kearsley), Max dashed to The Phoenix Club (in Farnworth!) and tripped up at the end.
When I said Roger Day’s playlist had something for everyone, the 33rd and 34th songs offered a real contrast. Firstly with Pickettywitch’s tune (It’s Like A) Sad Old Kinda Movie. Then some Genesis. Peter Gabriel era Genesis courtesy of I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe). This was the prog rock group’s first chart single, which came from Selling England By The Pound.
Marking the end of his first stint at Piccadilly Radio, Roger Day’s last tune that morning was You’ve Got Your Troubles by The Fortunes. Like his first tune, that too would have been played by the pirate stations – from Philip Birch’s Radio London to Swinging Radio England.
With the exception of BBC’s radio stations you wouldn’t see a playlist as eclectic as this today. On community radio stations you might. As for personalities like Roger ‘Twiggy’ Day, less so. A station without DJs is just a glorified jukebox.
S.V., 02 April 2018.