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Blog: Twenty Years Of Lammo

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Today is Steve Lamacq's twentieth year as a broadcaster, and Music Week have done a rather MARVELLOUS tribute to him in which lots of Successful And Popular People say how GRATE he is. This is all well and good, but it's not JUST Successful And Popular People who owe a lot to Lammo - he's helped a lot of us Unsuccesful And Unpopular types too!

I first came into contact with Mr Lamacq when we sent some "I Like Voon" stickers to the Melody Maker when he worked there. The phrase "I Like Voon" appeared in the gossip column, and Dr Kneel spoke to Lammo about it on the phone (for the rest of this LONG story, which involved us pretending to have an Australian Covers Band, ask me in the pub). Later on he did a big piece in his column about my booklet/fanzine "The Curse Of Voon", and I THRUST a TAPE (young people: it's like a solid mp3) at him in the Bull & Gate at a John Sims gig. He was, I recall, very nice about it.

My first PROPER contact with him, however, was about 10 years ago, when I'd just moved to London and he was starting his 6Music Sunday show. I'd sent him a copy of This Is Not A Library, he listened to it, and got his producer Henry to ring me. They were going to be playing a track from it next Sunday, he said, and would I like to go into the studio the week after and be on the show?

He'd rung me at work, so I had to go outside and LEAP ABOUT and SQUEAL a bit - I couldn't BELIEVE it! As promised they played You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor on the next show and then the following weekend I went into the Broadcasting House for a LIVE appearance. As a Studio Assistant took me up to the actual studio he said, in awestruck tones, "the great thing about Steve is that he really does listen to everything people send him." I was surprised - surely ALL DJs listen to everything they get sent, don't they?

But, as I came to discover, that really IS one of the things that makes him special. Very few DJs and/or Producers bother to listen to ANY of the unsolicited tapes/CDs/mp3s/brain holograms (delete as time goes by) they receive - ESPECIALLY when they've got over two decades of ROCK HISTORY behind them - unless it's handed over by a PLUGGER or something, but Steve TOTALLY does - I've seen the BULGING SACK he has to go through every week! So, when people ask me now how I first got to know him they always seem surprised that the answer is "I sent him a CD", without any other contacts, DEADLY SECRETS or SUBTERFUGE. That's just not the way it's usually done.

Anyway, that appearance was the start of quite a LOT of activity on the Sunday show - they asked me to write them a CHRISTMAS song, so I wrote The Advent Calendar Of FACT and I got a large posse of PALS to come along with me to sing it on their Christmas show. During the European Championships 2004 I acted as FOOTBALL CORRESPONDENT and wrote four different versions of The Fair Play Trophy (again), popping into the studio every week to record it. Then, when he moved to DAILY DRIVETIME, I wrote Good Luck In Your New Job and played it live on air on his final Sunday as a SURPRISE.

It was a lovely time, just nipping in every few weeks to do something, and I was always AMAZED about how easy going it all was. One week, mid-way through Euro 2004, Steve was broadcasting from Glastonbury, so I ended up doing my bit all alone in a little room at Broadcasting House. It struck me that I'd been given COMPLETE CONTROL of a national radio station - they'd just trusted me to get on with it!

After the Sunday show finished he continued to support us, including on his Radio One show, Lamacq Live. One day I got another call, from Steve himself. Radio One were cancelling Lamacq Live, so, he said, he'd decided to give us one of the last sessions. I got the distinct impression that this was an act of SCREW YOU THEN devilry, giving a huge chunk of radio time (with MILLIONS of listeners) to the least likely band going, but HEY! I wasn't going to complain. Thus we ended up going to Maida Vale where so many LEGENDS had been before, and performing three songs to the ENTIRE NATION. It's one of the absolute high points of my entire life in ROCK, and it still feels weird to think that it actually HAPPENED. Steve could easily have got in any one of HUNDREDS of managed, promoted, record company approved bands to whom it would have been just another step on their Proper Career, but I think he knew that it would mean a WHOLE LOT MORE to a bunch like us, who were unlikely to ever get the chance to do such a thing ever again. It was MAGIC - especially when, a few weeks later, he played our session version of The Lesson Of The Smiths as his last EVER song on Radio One.

He's continued to be a PAL to us ever since - I bumped into him at St Pancras once and that led to him doing a VOICEOVER for THIS:

As before, there was no need for him to do something as NICE as that, there was nothing at all in it for him, he did it in his own time, it was all his idea, and he never asked for any CA$H nor nothing, he just thought it would be a GOOD IDEA. Shortly afterwards Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez was Album Of The Day on 6Music - he never said anything about it but I very much suspect The Hand Of Lammo in making that happen, possibly again with a hint of NAUGHTINESS to it. I don't think I'll ever forget George Lamb HAVING to play Do The Indie Kid and TAKING IT OFF because he couldn't stand The Music Of The Future any more!

And these, of course, are just MY memories of being helped along by Lammo. He does this sort of thing for all SORTS of bands, ALL THE TIME. He seems to ALWAYS be out and about at gigs in London, ALWAYS looking out for something ACE and you'll OFTEN find him at some point having a chat with people in bands, EITHER giving advice OR talking nonsense OR both. He sometimes gets slagged off for discovering/favouring popular, straightforward bands like Coldplay, but that's just the ones people have HEARD of. I can testify personally that he does exactly the same for a lot of bands that hardly ANYBODY else likes, just because he thinks it's a good idea!

In summary then: I'd like to wish him at LEAST another twenty years of ROCK, and thank him very very much INDEED for everything he's done for us, and that he continues to do for all sorts of bands, popular and otherwise.

Thanks Steve!

posted 12/4/2013 by MJ Hibbett

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