Stars celebrate the career of true music inspiration

SHE regularly plays festivals and clubs around the world, but when it came to celebrating her 40th anniversary at Radio 1, the legendary Annie Nightingale returned home to Maida Vale.

The 68-year-old has made history several times over as not only the first female DJ at the BBC station but also its longest-serving presenter.

And as might be expected she marked her four decades as a broadcaster in style with a three-hour invite only gig at the historic Maida Vale studios, located less than 10 minutes from where she lives.

Not one to wallow in musical nostalgia, Ms Nightingale – wearing her distinctive dark sunglasses – was joined by today’s hottest young music talents including Sting’s daughter Coco Sumner and rappers Tinchy Stryder and Professor Green.

Another local celebrity, supermodel Kate Moss, also made an appearance at the tribute concert (see picture, right), taking to the stage to introduce Primal Scream. In the run up to her big night, the veteran DJ spoke with warm affection about her time at Radio 1.

“The last four decades have flown by and it’s been the best job in the world,” she said. “Being able to bring exciting new music to listeners every week is a joy and Radio 1’s role in discovering and championing new music continues to be crucial to bringing enjoyment and appreciation to our listeners and maintaining the UK’s reputation of nurturing some of the most innovative exciting and original new music in the world.

“I’m always looking forward, planning the next show, the next guest mix, the next festival broadcast. So this night will be a chance to celebrate some awesome milestones and the truly amazing musical soundtrack of my life at BBC Radio 1.”

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Since starting her broadcasting career in 1970, Ms Nightingale has been a champion of new music and often compared in her pioneering ways to the late John Peel.

She was fearless in challenging her bosses by playing banned Rolling Stones records and went on to be a fully paid up member of the Punk rebellion. These days she’s continuing to get grimy with the drum and bass and dub step massive.

Her best-known show was the Sunday night request show which lasted for 12 years up until 1982, on which she was famed for allowing the intro of the first song to play uninterrupted before saying ‘Hi’ at the very last second before the vocals started.

Her work has taken her all over the globe and on the road with bands such as The Who and The Police. Outside of radio, Ms Nightingale fronted the music TV series The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Her status as queen of the airwaves was cemented with an MBE in 2002 and her induction into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame in 2004.

Paying his own tribute to Ms Nightingale, controller of BBC Radio 1 Andy Parfitt said: “I have been a long-term fan of Annie’s since I worked with her as a Radio 4 producer many years ago.

“She has prodigious energy and enthusiasm for music making that grows stronger over the decades – truly open minded and never puts herself as DJ above the music or the artists – she is an inspiration to many of our DJs and a much loved member of our BBC family.”