21 September 1921
Cinderford, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom
7 November 2016 (aged 95)
Sir Leslie Ronald "Jimmy" Young CBE (21 September 1921 – 7 November 2016) was an English singer and radio personality. Early in his career he had two number ones and several other top ten hits in the UK chart, but he became better known for his long-running show on BBC Radio Two.
Young was born in Cinderford, Gloucestershire. The son of a baker and a dressmaker, he attended East Dean Grammar School. After his parents divorced in 1939, he left for South Wales to work as an electrician. Young later joined the RAF staying until 1949 and attaining the rank of sergeant PT Instructor.
Young was signed to the then new label Polygon Records in 1950, alongside Petula Clark. He released numerous records on the label, all conducted by Ron Goodwin, the biggest seller of which was "Too Young" (1951), a big sheet music seller at the time. It was a cover of Nat King Cole's American recording. There were also two duets with Petula Clark that year, "Mariandl" and "Broken Heart".
In 1952, he signed a recording contract with Decca. Young enjoyed Top 10 successes with "Eternally", "Chain Gang" and "More" (with which he surpassed Perry Como's American original in the British Singles Chart listings). His most successful year as a recording artist was 1955, when "Unchained Melody" (from the film Unchained) and "The Man from Laramie" (from the film of the same name) were successive releases and both number one hits.
After a period with Radio Luxembourg, Young joined the BBC as one of the first disc jockeys on BBC Radio 1, presenting the weekday mid-morning show from 1967 to 1973. In 1973 he joined BBC Radio 2, where he presented a regular programme (which he referred to as 'The JY Prog'), until his retirement from broadcasting at the end of 2002.
He developed a popular approach to current affairs and regularly interviewed Margaret Thatcher while she was prime minister. He broadcast from around the world, including several live shows from Moscow, the first in 1977, and interviewed every British prime minister from 1964 to 2010. His theme music was "Town Talk" by Ken Woodman & His Piccadilly Brass. BFN ('Bye for now') was one of his catchphrases.
Although he was offered the opportunity to present a weekend current affairs programme, he turned it down. His radio slot was taken over by the former Newsnight presenter, Jeremy Vine. Shortly after leaving the BBC, Young wrote a newspaper column attacking his former employer for instances of "brutality", and making clear that it had not been his idea to leave.
Young returned to BBC Radio 2 in 2011 with a special one-hour programme in celebration of his 90th birthday. Sir Jimmy Young at 90, broadcast on 20 September 2011, heard him in conversation with his friend and former sparring partner Ken Bruce, looking back over his career. In March 2012 Young returned to presenting on BBC Radio 2 after over nine years when he joined Desmond Carrington on a weekly show entitled Icons of the 50s. Young received an OBE in 1979, a CBE in 1993, and, at the beginning of 2002, he was knighted for services to broadcasting.
Young continued to write a weekly column for the Sunday Express newspaper until he retired from this role in November 2014.
"Too Young" – (1951)
"Faith Can Move Mountains" – (1953) – UK Number 11
"Eternally" – (1953, music by Charles Chaplin, words by Geoff Parsons) – UK Number 8
"Unchained Melody" – (1955) – UK Number 1 (with Bob Sharples and His Music, Decca: F10502)
"The Man from Laramie" – (1954) – UK Number 1 (with Bob Sharples and His Music, Decca: F10597)
"Someone on Your Mind" – (1955) – UK Number 13
"Chain Gang" – (1956) – UK Number 9
"Wayward Wind" – (1956) – UK Number 27
"Rich Man Poor Man" – (1956) – UK Number 25
"More" – (1956) – UK Number 4
"Round and Round" – (1957) – UK Number 30 (with the Mike Sammes Singers)
"Miss You" – (1963) – UK Number 15
"Unchained Melody" (re-recording) – (1964) – UK Number 43 (with the Mike Sammes Singers)
According to a family spokesperson, Young died "peacefully at home" in the afternoon of 7 November 2016, with his wife Alicia by his side.
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