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Sir Leslie Ronald Young CBE (21 September 1921 – 7 November 2016), known as Jimmy Young, was an English singer, disc jockey and radio personality.[1] Early in his career in the 1950s he had two number ones, Unchained Melody and The Man from Laramie, both in 1955, and several other top ten hits in the UK chart, but he became better known for his long-running show on BBC Radio 2.

Jimmy Young
Born Leslie Ronald Young
(1921-09-21)21 September 1921
Cinderford, Gloucestershire, England, UK
Died 7 November 2016(2016-11-07) (aged 95)
Nationality English
Occupation Singer, DJ, radio personality
Known for "Unchained Melody", "The Man from Laramie"


Early lifeEdit

Young was born in Cinderford, Gloucestershire. The son of a baker and a dressmaker, he attended East Dean Grammar School. Young nearly died from bronchitis, double pneumonia and pleurisy as a child.[2][3] He excelled at boxing and rugby, playing for Cinderford RFC and later turning down a place with Wigan’s rugby league team.[3][4]

After his parents divorced in 1939, he left for South Wales to work as an electrician.[5] Young later joined the RAF staying until 1949, becoming a PT Instructor.[6]

Singing careerEdit

Young signed to the new Polygon Records in 1950,[7] joining Petula Clark , Louis Prima and Dorothy Squires. All his recordings on the label were conducted by Ron Goodwin. Goodwin later said he always liked working with Young "because he was always so enthusiastic. He thought everything we did was going to be a hit."[8] The most popular was "Too Young" (1951), a big sheet music seller at the time; it was a cover version of the Nat King Cole original. There were also two duets with Petula Clark that year, "Mariandl" (b/w "Broken Heart").

During the early 1950s, while singing on radio in Manchester with the BBC Northern Variety Orchestra (later the Northern Dance Orchestra or NDO), he struck up a friendship with announcer Trevor Hill with both men trying to put off the other live on air by pulling faces.

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 both number one hits. He returned to the UK Top 20 after a lengthy absence in 1963 with "Miss You" and continued to release singles until the late 1960s. Although after the success of Elvis Presley, he became anxious, depressed and increasingly dependent on sleeping pills. In February 1960,[9] he started to have thoughts of suicide, and one friend told him to see an astrologer, Katina Theodossiou.[9][3] Young said later, that "She said I was going to be a great success...there is absolutely no way with your chart you can commit suicide. In actual fact you're going to be around so long they're going to have to take you off the field and shoot you". Young later credited her with saving his career. Young said "She forecast that my future lay in interviewing people, not singing".[3][9]

Disc jockey and radio broadcasterEdit

After a period with Radio Luxembourg,[10] Young joined the BBC. He became a host of Housewives' Choice, on the BBC Light Programme,[11] and later he became one of the first disc jockeys on BBC Radio 1, presenting the weekday mid-morning show from 1967 to 1973.[12] 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.[6]

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.[13] He continued to write a weekly column for the Sunday Express newspaper until he retired from this role in November 2014.[citation needed]

Young returned to BBC Radio 2 in 2011 with a special one-hour programme in celebration of his 90th birthday.[14] 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, and a CBE in 1993. At the beginning of 2002, he was knighted for services to broadcasting.[12]


His first autobiography, J.Y.: The Autobiography of Jimmy Young , was published by W.H. Allen in 1974. His second autobiography, Forever Young: The Autobiography, was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2003.[15]


According to a family spokesman, Young, 95 died "peacefully at home" in the afternoon of 7 November 2016, with his wife Alicia by his side.[16]




  1. ^ "Veteran broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young dies". Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  2. ^ "Farewell friend: Sir Jimmy Young's last interview with the Sunday Express". Daily Express. Retrieved 2018-01-30. 
  3. ^ a b c d "How Sir Jimmy Young only turned to radio after being saved from suicide by a psychic: Tragic past of Maggie's favourite and voice of Middle England revealed as he dies at 95". MailOnline. Retrieved 2018-01-30. 
  4. ^ "Jimmy Young obituary: Chart-topping singer and Margaret Thatcher's favourite broadcaster". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-01-30. 
  5. ^ Rawlinson, Kevin (7 November 2016). "Broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young dies aged 95". Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "BBC NEWS - In Depth - Newsmakers - Jimmy Young: Too old?". 2 November 2001. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  7. ^ "Veteran broadcaster and singer Sir Jimmy Young dies at the age of 95". 7 November 2016. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  8. ^ Kutner, Jon (26 May 2010). "1000 UK Number One Hits". Omnibus Press. Retrieved 9 November 2016 – via Google Books. 
  9. ^ a b c "Sir Jimmy Young: You Ask The Questions". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-01-30. 
  10. ^ "Sir Jimmy Young: I've forgiven the BBC for sacking me". Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  11. ^ "Obituary: Jimmy Young". BBC. Retrieved 30 January 2018. 
  12. ^ a b Allmusic com biography
  13. ^ "Entertainment | Sir Jimmy vents anger in column". BBC News. 5 January 2003. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  14. ^ "Press Office – BBC Radio 2 welcomes back legendary broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young CBE". BBC. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  15. ^ "Sir Jimmy Young: You Ask The Questions". 30 October 2003. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  16. ^ "Broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young dies aged 95". 7 November 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016 – via 
  17. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 615. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

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