25 years of Jazz FM


It all started with a letter from our founder David Lee to the IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority): "Dear Sir, I hereby apply for a licence to open a jazz radio station in London."
 
He'd been inspired by listening to jazz radio stations in America - "I was staying in Beverly Hills, making advertising jingles for television. The high points of my day were shaving in the morning and driving to and from the studio, because that's when I could listen to KKGO, the Los Angeles jazz station. It kept me sane, and I thought 'why not in London?'"
 
10 years later on Sunday 4th March 1990 - Jazz FM launched with the track 'Early in the Morning' by Joe Williams. Our original presenter line-up included some names who are still with us today such as Chris Philips, Peter Young and Helen Mayhew. Plus some little lads who were just beginning to make a name for themselves - Jez Nelson and Gilles Peterson.  There were also two celebratory launch concerts at the Royal Albert Hall from Ella Fitzgerald and the Count Basie Orchestra on 7th and 8th March 1990, plus a gala dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 5th with a performance from Ella.
 
Our first month's interviewees included Hugh Masekela , Ella Fitzgerald, Courtney Pine, Eddie Harris, Tommy Smith, Mark Murphy, Gil Scott Heron, Curtis Mayfield, Harry Connick Jr, Maynard Ferguson, Larry Adler, James Moody and Bruce Lundvall.
 
25 years on… and we are still playing ‘jazz of some kind at any hour of the day or night.’
 
Below, you can see a video created at the time about Jazz FM, whilst you can see presenter photos, some pages from the programme diary stating the guests appearing that day and some press cuttings.  Keep coming back throughout the year as we will be adding to this page throughout with special programmes etc. to really help you enjoy what is now the world's greatest Jazz radio station!