Bates bids a sincere farewell to Radio 1: Rhys Williams listens in as a veteran disc jockey bows out with a syrupy tribute show from New York

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The Independent Online
OLD DJs don't die, they just stop working for Radio 1. Simon Bates, 46, yesterday broadcast his final 'thank you' from a back room at the Carnegie Deli on Seventh Avenue in New York. New York? 'I wanted a weekend in New York, it's an excuse to be with people I like,' he explained.

Bates resigned from Radio 1 last month after sensing that he might not fit in with the plans of the new controller, Matthew Bannister, to 'restore to Radio 1 a core youth audience'.

The prime 9.00am to 12.30pm slot, which Bates had for 16 years, and its 9 million listeners a week go to Simon Mayo, a 33-year-old upstart from the Breakfast Show.

It could have been like the last-day rituals of a long holiday - one final trip to the pool and then into the bar for that cocktail which will not somehow taste the same when you mix it at home.

But no. Where was the perky jingle which announced: 'Simon Bates, the Golden Hour'? Or the soaring strains of the opening to Franco Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet, the cue for 'Our Tune'?

Instead, Simes (as he is known to close friends) ditched his regular features in favour of holding court at 5am local time with his showbiz chums, the singer Cyndi Lauper and Jim Steinman, Meatloaf's songwriter and producer. Many expected cross words for his former employers, but in the event he restricted his trademark baritone voice, thick with large helpings of syrup and sincerity, to a long list of 'thank yous', which included Prince Charles, Madonna and Phil Collins five times.

Following his resignation announcement last month, he played Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive'. About the only fitting passages yesterday were Sting's 'Englishman in New York' and a conversation with the deli owner, Joe Levine, about how to get rid of folk who have outstayed their welcome. 'We whip away their plates and give them the check.'

Recorded, and apparently sincere, tributes from the Bee Gees ('Thanks'), Michael Bolton ('Thanks') and Take That ('Thanks mate') rolled out.

Trisha Wilson had flown specially to New York from Reading to bid farewell to the man who had soothed her through the long dark hours of her divorce.

'You were my only constant companion through the whole time, I don't know what I would have done without you,' she said. 'Er, sorry, I've forgotten your name,' the great man replied.

(Photograph omitted)

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