Friday, 25 April 2014

Something for the Weekend

Last summer I posted a record by one of the few stars of the 70s who had avoided having his name dragged through the mud in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, David ‘Diddy’ Hamilton.

David has been broadcasting now for 55 years. Born in Manchester in 1938 he began his career in 1959, starting out with Forces Radio before becoming an on-screen announcer for ABC-TV. In 1962 he began his long association with BBC radio, starting out with The Beat Show for the Light Programme and moving on to present family Choice on the fledgling Radio One in 1967.

It was while he was appearing on the ABC-TV show Doddy’s Music Box that Liverpudlian comedian Ken Dodd gave the height-challenged Hamilton the ‘Diddy’ nickname, which has stuck ever since. Hamilton was a regular foil to Dodd on the show, which featured many of the biggest pop acts of the day plugging their latest releases. Sandie Shaw, Tom Jones, Peter and Gordon and the Scaffold were among the dozens of acts who appeared on the programme, which ran for just 18 episodes, broadcast in two series January-March 1967 and January–March 1968.

Since then he has had regular shows on national and local radio in the UK and is still a regular face on TV, with recent appearances on Pointless Celebrities, Cash in the Celebrity Attic, Sport Relief, Loose Women, the One Show and many others. He’s also one of the few presenters of vintage episodes of Top of the Pops that the BBC can still broadcast without fear of giving airtime to a sex offender.

The record I featured last June, Just Like That – is an aural abomination which may as well have been purpose-built to be a bad record, with a dreadful, out-of-tune kiddy choir, stupid lyrics and banjo and euphonium accompaniment. The B-side, Have You Heard the News, is little better, a naïve anti-nuclear song where David is once again accompanied by those pesky kids.

What I didn’t know at the time was that this wasn’t the first record that David had made. Oh no: I soon discovered that there had been an earlier audio nightmare, and it’s that disc that I present for your enjoyment today: A Special Goodnight to You and its B-side Just For the Weekend.

But enough from me; I’ll let David explain in his own words. “The record came about like this,” he told me after I contacted him recently to try and find out a little more about the disc. “I was appearing with Ken Dodd on the series Doddy`s Music Box on ABC TV. On one show I sang a few bars of a song and girls ran on and screamed and pulled at my clothing. I hasten to add that they were not fans, but extras! Some people based in Liverpool suggested I make a record which they thought might sell on the popularity of the TV series. I think the year was 1968.”

“Two songs were hastily written by Ricky Woodruff, the pianist with the ABC orchestra and Fred Lloyd who produced the record,” David adds. “A Special Goodnight To You (was) based on the phrase I used as an announcer to close down the station at night; Just for the Weekend was the time that ABC was on air in the North and Midlands. It was the first – and possibly only – release on Spectre Records.

“At their suggestion, we promoted it hard, visiting record shops and bingo halls where it sold very well.  Sadly, being an independent record company, Spectre had poor distribution and this success was not repeated in other record shops around the country. Although I sold a lot of records across the counter, I didn`t receive a penny in royalties.” David recalls that the tracks were recorded at the fabled Abbey Road studios which, at the time, were home to the Beatles, Pink Floyd and countless other major acts. “It just shows that not everything that came out of Abbey Road was a smash,” he laughs.

Thanks for sharing your reminiscences with us David, and thanks too for being such a good sport. 



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