John Walters, broadcaster and music guru, dies

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The Independent Online

The radio producer and BBC broadcaster John Walters, who helped to shape a generation's taste in pop music, has died at his Surrey home.

Among those who paid tribute to the comprehensive school teacher-turned-wry music guru was John Peel, whose groundbreaking Radio 1 show was produced by Mr Walters during the 1960s and 1970s.

Mr Peel, a long-standing friend who went on a joint honeymoon with his producer, said: "I feel as though an exceptionally talkative and much-loved brother has died."

,Mr Walters, 63, who was also a talented jazz musician, died at his home in Oxted, Surrey, on Monday morning. He is understood to have died in his sleep.

He joined the BBC in 1967, and shared an office with Mr Peel where they discussed play lists and ideas for programmes. Their professional partnership lasted 12 years.

Andy Kershaw, a broadcaster and protégé of Walters, said: "When I went to Radio 1 in 1985 and I started working with John Walters, it was genuinely life-changing. He was one of the funniest and most down-to-earth men you could meet."

"I used to go into our 8ft by 8ft office at Radio 1 on days when I had no work to do just so I could chew the fat with him," he added.

Mr Walters presented a number of his own BBC programmes, including Walters' Weekly on Radio 1 and Idle Thoughts on Radio 4.

His reputation as a dry and uncompromising wit, along with his strong Derbyshire accent, won him fans on both radio and television. He had recently appeared in guest-presenting slots for BBC1's current affairs programme Here And Now and The Heaven and Earth Show.

During his time as a fine art student in Durham in the 1960s, he had exhibited his paintings alongside those of fellow student David Hockney. He reviewed records for his local newspaper in Newcastle and lectured in jazz history at evening classes before devoting himself full-time to his music.

As a trumpeter in the jazz band The Alan Price Set, he once appeared on the same bill as The Beatles. Before retiring from full-time work with the BBC in 1991, he was a familiar figure among staff through his lunchtime performances with an in-house trad jazz outfit.

Underlining his close alliance with Mr Peel, the last appearance Mr Walters made on radio was as a guest presenter on Radio 4's Home Truths – the DJ's show about everyday lives.

He leaves his wife, Helen.

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