Charlie Gillett

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Radio presenter, musicologist and writer (20 February 1942 – 17 March 2010),  noted for his book The Sound of the City, his promotion of world music, and for discovering and promoting Dire Straits, Graham Parker, Elvis Costello and Ian Dury.

Charlie Gillett

It wasn't until I started reading the obituaries that I realised how many things associated with music that I really enjoy have some link to Charlie Gillett, who passed away after a long illness on 17 March 2010, aged 68. 

I did, however, have a fair idea of who he was, though that came through his writing and musical anthologising rather than his work as a radio presenter.

He was also, as the photo accompanying the obituary in Britain’s Telegraph suggests, the inspiration behind the CD shelves in Hughesy's office. Having gazed enviously at Charlie's set-up, I decided against a similar multilayer sliding arrangement because

(a) I didn't have that many CDs,

(b) Constructing something that would hold that many CDs would be viewed as a waste of money by certain co-residents of the Little House of Concrete and

(c) Had I attempted to acquire enough CDs to fill those shelves I'd be getting it in the neck for buying too many CDs. 

Still, a man can look on in envy and dream....

Charlie Gillett first rose to prominence with The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll which mightn't have been the first book written about the history of rock & roll, but was one of the first to tackle the subject from an academic viewpoint rather than a fan or critic's perspective. 

Hardly surprising, as the published version was based on his MA thesis at New York's Columbia University. 

I knew of The Sound of the City long before I owned a copy. 


B© Ian Hughes 2012