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Jimmy Young

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Biography

Jimmy Young, whose real name is Leslie Ronald Young was born in Cinderford, near Gloucester and is one of Britain's best loved radio broadcasters, hosting his own morning show on BBC's Radio 2 between 1973 until his retirement in 2002. Before that however, he had enjoyed a successful singing career, even achieving two number one singles. There is confusion surrounding his birth date, even his autobiography stating that it was the 21st of September 1921, but those extra couple of years were probably added in order to allow him to serve in the Air Force during the war. After the war, he was signed to the Polygon label and released his cover of the Nat King Cole song Too Young which was a massive seller in the UK, the year before the pop charts began. He moved to the Decca label and had a couple of minor hits with Faith Can Move Mountains and Eternally before his easy, relaxed style really took off and he enjoyed two number one singles in 1955, Unchained Melody (despite massive competition from no fewer than four versions of this same song in the top 10 simultaneously) and The Man From Laramie, from the film of the same name. He never recaptured the form of 1955, and the following year produced only two top 10 hits, Chain Gangand More, his final appearance in the upper regions of the charts. Moving to the medium of radio, he became the host of the show Housewife's Choice on the BBC's Light Program, a station devoted to easy listening and safe MOR sounds among the beat generation of the mid 1960s. When the BBC launched their own pop music station, Radio 1, in 1967, he was one of their first disc jockeys, taking on the mid morning show and when Radio 1 appeared to want to appeal to an even younger audience, he transferred his show, the JY show to Radio 2, a more sedate station and the successor to The Light Program. His show was a mixture of music, chat and current affairs and over the next couple of decades, he interviewed every British Prime Minister on the show as well as royalty, Prince Philip, The Princess Royal and Princess Grace Of Monaco. His easy, laid back style became the voice of Radio 2, but the demographics of that station were changing too and by the late 1990s, they also wanted to appeal to the baby boomer audience who were now in their 40s and 50s and had grown up with the music of the 1970s onwards, certainly not the old fashioned crooning style of the mid 1950s which was still his speciality. Despite a campaign by listeners and even MPs, his show was cancelled in 2002 and Jimmy Young, rather than accept a weekend spot, moved into retirement and now lives with his third wife, Alicia. He has been awarded with many honours over the years, an OBE in 1979, a CBE in 1993 and at the beginning of 2002, he was awarded a Knighthood for his services to broadcasting. ~ Sharon Mawer

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'00s