Gary Davies is still pinching himself. His childhood dream to work for BBC Radio not only came true, but it teed up a 40-year career in music. That career came full circle in 2018 after an amazing audience response to him sitting in for both Sara Cox and Steve Wright on Radio 2. In May of that year, he was asked to take the helm of the BBC Radio 2’s coveted Sounds of the 80s Show full time. It had been 23 years since he left his Radio 1 show, but his passion and knowledge remained undimmed.
The perfect choice to host Sounds of the 80s, Davies’ star was at its peak in those heady days when he discovered and championed many of the acts that he now plays out on the show. He was one of the first to offer mainstream support to the likes of U2, Chris Rea, Deacon Blue, Tears For Fears and Simple Minds. Gary Davies and his show in some ways defined the sounds of the 80s as he constantly sought out new music. As well as playing the huge hits, he also found space for more unusual acts; discovering the Gypsy Kings whilst on holiday in Ibiza and playing them on his radio show which led to them getting a UK record deal.
Beginning his career at Piccadilly Radio in Manchester, Gary’s reputation blossomed, and he go this big break at Radio1 in1982. He started on a late-night weekend show but before long had taken over the lunchtime show, which he called ‘The Bit In The Middle’. There was plenty of freedom around the playlist and he was in his element in those high octane, innovative years seeking out the brightest and best music for his audience. His popularity surged and he was soon gigging most nights of the week across the country on top of his presenting duties. As well as being heard daily on the nation’s radios, he was a regular presenter on the iconic Top Of The Pops, hosting the TV show more often than any other DJ in the 80s. A true household name, his ‘Woo Gary Davies’ jingle was known universally and his self-coined catchphrase, ‘Young, Free and Single’, captured his carefree and easy rapport with the audience, the stars and the music.
By 1992, Gary had moved to the weekend breakfast show on Radio 1, but changes were afoot and by the following year his time at the BBC was over. He started his own music company, Good Groove, which specialised in what he always did best, finding great undiscovered new music and connecting the public with it. He discovered Corinne Bailey Rae and many more successful songwriters. Good Groove continues to be a success, but in 2017 everything changed. A guest appearance on Simon Mayo’s show, led to him sitting in for Sarah Cox on Sounds of the 80s and then for Steve Wright. Gary’s own love of radio had been reignited; he had the radio bug again. Back in the thick of it, he’s loving being a DJ again, not only through hosting Sounds of the 80s on Radio 2, but also, once again taking his own DJ sets out on the road, just like he did before. There’s a real love for the decade’s music and for him it’s truly personal. “The 80s were the most memorable days of my life. I helped pioneer so many 80s records and still have huge love for the most creative decade in music.”
The dream continues.
Gary is available for DJ sets through Insanity Live.