My Radio Archive & Genius Musical Kids

Tommy Vance
Below, my compilation of snippetts from Tommy's 1970a broadcasts.

Tommy Vance2.mp3

Early life

Born as Richard Anthony Crispian Francis Prew Hope-Weston, Vance left home at 16 to join the Merchant Navy (discharged 1 October 1956), and began his radio career in the USA under the name 'Rick West'. He took the name 'Tommy Vance' at the radio station KOL in Seattle from a DJ who had failed to turn up after the station had heavily promoted and paid for expensive jingles which were already recorded.
While at KOL, Vance was recruited by the Top 40 programming consultant Bill Drake, to join his team of "Boss Jocks" at the emerging West Coast KHJ radio in Los Angeles (aka Boss Radio). Vance held the evening airshift at KHJ for several months in late 1965. During this period, it was alleged that Tommy decided to return abruptly to the UK, after running into an unresolvable problem with the U.S. immigration authorities, regarding being drafted for the Vietnam War.[citation needed]

Pirate radio

Upon his return to Great Britain, he joined Radio Caroline South (where he used Jack Costanzo's version of the "Naked City Theme" as his signature tune, subsequently working for Radio Luxembourg and Radio London.

BBC World Service

In the late sixties, Vance presented the hugely popular weekly programme "Pop Club" on the BBC World Service. Each installment of the programme started with Cliff Richard. Members of the "Pop Club" got special badges and membership cards. Every week Vance read listeners' letters and played requests.

Radio 1

In 1967, he was part of the original line-up at BBC Radio 1, presenting the "progressive" show Top Gear along with John Peel. He stayed at Radio 1 into the early 1970s.

Commercial radio

Vance was part of the original line-up at the London station Capital Radio — the first legal commercial pop station to broadcast on land in Britain — in October 1973, initially co-hosting the morning show and then playing reggae and soul music on a weekend show. By 1976, he was also on the Portsmouth ILR station Radio Victory.
He played a pirate radio DJ in the 1975 film Slade In Flame.[3]

Back to the BBC

He returned to Radio 1 in November 1978 to begin a 15-year stint hosting the show for which he is best remembered — the Friday Rock Show. He was to become associated with heavy metal and rock music; his deep, resonant, booming voice and catch-phrase 'classic cuts' have been much imitated.
He also had a two-year stint (10 January 1982 to 1 January 1984) hosting the Sunday-afternoon Top 40, where he showed knowledge of and enthusiasm for a wide range of music, and displayed a similar keenness when he hosted Top of the Pops around the same time. His shows were syndicated on the BFBS, so that he became known in Germany as well. As well as presenting the best-selling singles chart of 1982 and 1983, he also presented the equivalent show in 1991 despite not presenting the weekly chart at the time. He also deputised on the Top 40 for Richard Skinner (in 1984 and 1985), Bruno Brookes (in 1987) and Mark Goodier (in 1991 and 1992).

In 1984/5, Tommy Vance hosted a Thursday night AOR programme on Radio 1, "Into the Music." This was in place for about a year, before being taken off in favour of Andy Kershaw. At a similar time, the "Friday Rock Show" gained an extra hour on MW only, during which the rock charts were played.
When the BBC's new radio station for London, Greater London Radio (GLR), was launched in 1988, Vance presented the drivetime show mixing album-orientated rock and current affairs dubbed "rock and rolling news". Vance departed Radio 1 in March 1993.

Later years

He subsequently joined the soon-to-launch Virgin Radio, for whom he initially presented the weekday drivetime show and later the Friday night show on Virgin Classic rock. Soon after Vance's voluntary departure, similar veteran DJs were forced out of Radio 1 by new controller Matthew Bannister. However, he regretted making the move as the new station was swift to abandon its short-lived more adventurous policy and revert to a lacklustre playlist. He said he should never have left the BBC, although technically he hadn't as he continued presenting 'Rock Salad' for BBC World Service for many years.

Vance continued to broadcast regularly, notably a revived Friday Rock Show for VH1 in the UK, which ran for some years until 2002, and a much-quoted appearance on Brass Eye. He co-founded the internet broadcaster TotalRock with his former Radio 1 producer Tony Wilson and music promoter Andy King, and was presenter and voiceover for the Channel 5 series Dumber and Dumber. In addition, Vance had a feature in series 2 of Channel 4's late night show called The 11 O'Clock Show. The spot was called Tommy Vance's News Slam in which he took a minute to read out news headlines. In 2004 he took part in ITV's Hell's Kitchen but left after 24 hours, stating that he felt the environment was "dangerous" and that he was a risk to himself and the other contestants due to his age.


Vance died of a stroke at Darenth Valley Hospital near Dartford, Kent in the early hours of 6 March 2005.


On 11 March 2005, just a few days after Vance's death, TotalRock ran Rock On, Tommy Day, a 15 hour live broadcast celebrating his life and work, including lots of music, numerous testimonials from artists and colleagues, and also from people who wrote down their thoughts on Tommy at a special Forum, In Memoriam: Tommy Vance, put up at the TotalRock website. As a finale, after the actual live broadcast had ended, the last Friday Rock Show Vance recorded for BBC Radio 1 in 1993 was re-broadcast.
On 31 March 2006, a Tommy Vance Tribute Night, in association with the Teenage Cancer Trust foundation, was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Judas Priest, The Scorpions, Boned and Ian Gillan all performed to pay tribute. There were also special stage appearances by Roger Daltrey and Bruce Dickinson.