World Music DJ Charlie Gillett dies

Pioneering DJ Charlie Gillett has died aged 68 after battling a long illness, it emerged today.

Best known as the discoverer of rockers Dire Straits and as a champion of world music, the broadcaster died in a London hospital yesterday, his family said.

He contracted a disease of the autoimmune system, and suffered a heart attack last week.

Gillett, who was born in Morecambe, Lancs, stepped down from his regular slot on Radio 3's World on 3 for health reasons two months ago.

He is credited with discovering Dire Straits in 1976 after playing Sultans of Swing from the band's demo tape on his influential BBC Radio London show Honky Tonk.

Gillett also championed world music stars like Youssou N'Dour, Salif Keita and the young singer of Portuguese fado music, Mariza.

During the past decade he entertained millions of listeners through his World Service programme, Charlie Gillett's World of Music.

World Service director Peter Horrocks said he would be sorely missed.

"Charlie Gillet was an inspiration whose spirit of adventure and passion for the rich diversity of global music opened the ears of the world," he said.

"His broadcasts brought together music and radio fans from far flung corners of the globe. His postbag was one of the biggest, most affectionate and diverse in Bush House which confirmed his special place in listeners' lives.

"He was a very special broadcaster and he will be sorely missed."

Gillett presented Honky Tonk between 1972 and 1978.

He then moved to commercial station Capital Radio with a show called Undercurrents which also featured world music. He was sacked in 1983, but brought back by public demand and stayed until 1990.

The DJ started his World Service shows in 1999.

Gillett also wrote an acclaimed history of rock'n'roll, The Sound of the City, in the 1970s.

He is survived by wife Buffy and children Suzy, Jody, and Ivan.