I had the blues when Charlie Gillett came on the radio last night. Charlie Gillett, the World of Music presenter, who died a few days ago. He was 68. The BBC World Service was replaying one of the programmes he presented last year about Mountain Music. And one of the songs he played was Muleskinner Blues by Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys — the one here on this video.
Here's the complete playlist of songs he played from charliegillett.com. There was music from Ukraine, Kurdistan, Kyrgyzstan, Peru and, of course, American bluegrass. Music full of abandon and a certain wildness with singers straining to be heard above plangent strings and pulsating beats in rousing songs that evoked wide open spaces and the sheer joie de vivre of being on top of the world. It was typical Charlie Gillett, wild bursts of music punctuated by his laidback introductions to the artistes and the songs.
With my love for rock 'n' roll, however, I will always remember him first and foremost as the author of The Sound of the City, a history of rock 'n' roll published in 1970. It's a must-read for anyone who loves that music. The Telegraph has more about how he became a DJ after writing that book. He was treated for Churg-Strauss syndrome, a rare auto-immune disorder, a few years ago, it says.