EXPIRED: 03/17/10 – Charlie Gillett, 68, was a Brit who got his degree in economics, got married and then took off for Columbia University in NYC to get a Master’s degree, writing a thesis on the history of rock and roll.
Not too odd really – except that rock and roll hadn’t had much of a history back then – it was only 1965!
Back in London he taught school for a while, and then turned his thesis into a book, The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll, which got great reviews from Time magazine and The New York Times. It was touted as “the first serious and comprehensive history of rock & roll.”
From then on, Gillett was known as a musicologist.
He followed with a second book, Making Tracks, and started music columns for Rolling Stone and NME. His growing readership got him a radio gig which got him into the musical nooks and crannies of London’s nightlife and he started to discover acts that never received airplay on most British stations.
Credit Gillett for ‘discovering’ Ian Dury, being the first DJ to play demo recordings by Graham Parker, Elvis Costello and for almost single-handedly breaking Dire Straits (personally, I could have done without that one). In fact, when he played Dire Straits first single “Sultans of Swing” on the air, dozens of record company executives called Gillett before he had finished playing the song. Their fate was sealed.
In my opinion, his most amazing task — besides hosting a great half-hour radio show every Friday night called Charlie Gillet’s World of Music (I wonder what will air tonight?) – was producing “Lucky Number” Lene Lovich’s first dingle from her debut album. God I loved that record.
Rock on Charlie!
Rest – and Rock – In Peace.