Farewell to Fluff: Alan Freeman dies aged 79

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The Independent Online

Broadcaster Alan Freeman, the man who coined the phase "Greetings, Pop Pickers", has died.

The 79-year-old died peacefully at his Brinsworth House home in Twickenham, London, yesterday, after a brief illness.

Freeman, who was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1927, and came to Britain in 1957, enjoyed almost 50 years in the industry.

The Radio 1 DJ coined the phrase Pop Pickers in 1961 and described rock music fans as "music lovers".

His final broadcasts focused on his beloved world of opera, presenting Their Greatest Bits for BBC Radio Two from 1997 until 2001.

Broadcaster Chris Tarrant once expressed his amazement that any man could build an entire career on three phrases, "All right", "Stay Bright" and "Not 'Arf".

Nicknamed "Fluff", Freeman was described by a BBC spokeswoman as self-effacing.

She added that he enjoyed the friendship of colleagues throughout the industry including John Peel, Robert Plant, Noel Edmonds, Paul McCartney and Chris Tarrant

His personal manager for the last 20 years, Tim Blackmore, said: "Alan was a naturally warm man who never quite understood the nature of his appeal.

"He cared passionately for music of all kinds, for his family and for his friends. Yet through all his professional success, he still retained a total bewilderment that so much success and affection should have come his way.

"His was the creation of the chart countdown, his was the stunning combination of rock music and classical music, and his was the creation of minimalism in the art of the DJ.

"We will not see his like again, and our debt in response to his contribution is without equal."

Lesley Douglas, controller of BBC Radio 2 said: "The words unique and iconic are overused, but in Alan Freeman's case, they are absolutely appropriate.

"He was a great broadcaster who was loved by listeners and colleagues."

Born on July 6, 1927, Freeman came to Britain on holiday in 1957.

Unimpressed with UK radio, he joined Radio Luxembourg as a summer relief disc jockey.

By 1960 he was on the BBC's Light Programme (the precursor of Radios 1 and 2) with a show called Records Around Five.

On September 23, 1961 he introduced his first Pick Of The Pops as part of a Saturday evening show called Trad Tavern on the Light Programme.

Then in 1962 Pick Of The Pops assumed its regular placing at Sunday teatime. Freeman presented the show on Radio 1 until 1972.

He moved to London's Capital Radio and by 1982 his Saturday morning Pick of the Pops Take Two was the station's second most popular programme.

In 1987 the Radio Academy gave him their award for An Outstanding Contribution to UK Music Radio and in 1988 he was honoured as the Sony Awards Radio Personality of the Year.

In January 1989 Freeman returned to BBC Radio 1 to host a Saturday night rock show and Pick Of The Pops on Sundays.

At the end of 1993 he moved back to Capital Radio, this time on their Gold service where until the end of 1996 he continued to present Pick Of The Pops every Saturday morning.

Between March 1996 and late 1997 he presented his Friday night rock show for Virgin Radio and in April 1997 began presenting Pick Of The Pops for Radio Two as well as Their Greatest Bits show, a Tuesday night opera and classics show that he hosted until 2001.

In October 1996 his contribution to the British music industry was recognised when he was awarded the music industry's Man Of The Year award.

In the 1997/98 New Year Honours list he was awarded the MBE for services to music and in 1999 he received the lifetime achievement award at that year's Sony Radio Academy Awards.

As well as his radio work, he appeared regularly on the now defunct TV show Top of the Pops and film appearances include Absolute Beginners and Just for Fun.

Towards the end of his career Freeman's health deteriorated and in December 1999 he was taken to hospital with what doctors suspected was a mini-stroke.

In February 2000 he moved to Brinsworth House and the same year handed over his Pick Of The Pops show to Dale Winton.

On March 9, 2001 he recorded his last Their Greatest Bits show as his jaw developed osteomyelitis, a bone infection.

In October this year he was treated in hospital for lack of nutrition and chest infection and earlier this month discharged back to the care of Brinsworth House.