In This week in a tribute to the late Sir Jimmy Savile, Doncaster man Ray Nortrop gives us just a brief taste of his encounters with the legendary DJ including the time he first met former South Kirby Colliery Bevin Boy just plain Jimmy Savile when they both attended a wrestling match as spectators at the Windsor Cinema in Balby which is long gone now,
Jimmy was also occasionally seen at Doncaster Corn Exchange with Yorkshire wrestler Les Kellett when he appeared on ITV’s World of Sport, he was friendly with ringside wrestling commentator Kent Walton (who like Jimmy was also a Radio Luxembourg disc jockey), local referee Chic Booth also joined them now and then.
Long before the BBC originated “Jim’ll Fix It” which first went out on May 31 1975, the deliciously eccentric Mr. Savile fixed it for Ray as a struggling, fledgling disc jockey, aged 20. It is a story that Ray remembers well and was forever grateful
One of Jimmy’s former Mecca management associates, Jack Allison, who in the autumn of 1964 was managing the Majestic Ballroom (Top Rank) in Leeds as well as being responsible for engaging a resident disc jockey for Doncaster’s 2,000 capacity Top Rank Suite on Silver Street which opened in October 1964.
It was Jack who informed Jimmy that The Rank Organisation had scoured the Doncaster area for a disc jockey and had drawn a blank.
Up steppedJimmy who then promptly sent Ray a handwritten note informing him about the job vacancy.
Following a number of auditions which also included ballet dancer/hilarious wrestler Ricki Starr and press photographer Roy Ingram (Danum Press Agency), Ray ended up with what was to become the plum DJ job of that era in South Yorkshire.
Then in spring 1966 the Lincolnshire Chronicle newspaper organised what eventually came to be acknowledged as Britain’s first open air pop festival on May 30 1966 at Sincil Bank home of Lincoln City Football Club. It must have been quite a show.
What a line up it was too, The Who, The Yardbirds, The Small Faces, The Kinks, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, The Alan Price Set, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich and The Barron Knights were just a few of the big names to appear, all presented by Jimmy Savile and his former Radio Luxembourg disc jockey colleague Keith Fordyce.
Jim stepped in again to fix for the Doncaster DJ and the event promised to be so enormous that he persuaded the promoters to hire a third compere and due to Jim’s personal insistence Ray got the job, sharing equal billing with Jimmy and Keith Fordyce. All three pop pickers hosting the event found it a rather daunting and nervous prospect, nothing quite like it had ever happened before but all went well.
On a final note, as a disc jockey, Jimmy Savile only made one professional appearance in Doncaster and that was at the Top Rank Suite when he invited Mr. Nortrop to appear with him on stage - but Ray was away on holiday and couldn’t make it!