Iconic BBC Radio 1 Premiered 50 Years Ago Today

This Month in Electronic Music History, Vol 7: September

Electronic music provided listeners with a diversity of experiences for decades. Exploring the history of electronic music helps us further appreciate genres we love today. Join us for Volume 7 as we celebrate the anniversary of one of the most regarded radio shows and more!

September 1967: BBC Radio 1 Airs for the First Time

That iconic intro, based on Jamie Antonelli’s Divine, is something most electronic music fans recognize. BBC Radio 1’s Essential Mix, celebrating its 24th anniversary in October, is just one of the many podcasts by a station hosting a vast amount of diversity. From pop, hip-hop, rap, rock, to electronic music, BBC Radio 1 has made an imprint on our scene.

“It was deep, it was soulful, it was techno, it was disco. A  kaleidoscope of sound that was truly underground. [New York, Ibiza, and Miami all wrapped up into one]. It was the essential mix in the clouds, where we could dance and sing out loud. . . I must have gone to house music heaven because nothing is that divine. . .”

In 1967, there was a peak in pirate radio shows, consisting of broadcast stations outside British jurisdiction from unlicensed ships in Europe, aiming signals at Britain. To combat this, British Parliament established the Marine Broadcast Offenses Act to dent the movement.

This caused many artists to move back to land, which prompts BBC to start a new “pop channel.” Borrowing the style from the pirates, BBC employed many of these “ex-pirate jockeys” for their new channel. On September 30th, 1967, Tony Blackburn kicks off the first show of Radio 1, Daily Disc Delivery, with the track Flowers in the Rain by The Move.

The Marine Broadcast Offenses Act, plus Performance LTD. “needle-time” restrictions that reduced the amount of recorded music allowed during a 24 hour time period, caused setbacks for BBC.  In addition, the station was also the only of four networks to not receive allocation for Stereo FM frequency for 21 years. Despite these hindrances, BBC Radio 1 doubled its audience from their previous broadcast, Lighte Programme, within the first month.

Now, BBC Radio 1 is a staple channel for some of the most influential artists. It’s the home to some of our favorite artist residencies, live mixes, label takeovers, and more!

September 1997: BT Releases Second Studio Album

Following the success of BT’s debut album Ima in 1995, he was developing as a driving force in the trance music scene. BT began his passion for music at a young age and started to play the piano at the age of four. Due to his diverse musical talents, he experimented further on his second album.

BT releases ESCM (Electric Sky Church Music) on September 22, 1997, with a similar epic style to Ima.  Although it was much more diverse, the album had a continuous mix style that reflected his debut. ESCM features the 1997 hit Flaming June with Paul Van Dyk, which would emerge as the highest rated track off the album.

In contrast to the epic trance feel of ImaESCM incorporates additional vocal samples and various genre styles including, hip-hop, drum and bass, live and classical instruments. BT would go on to have many successes, including multiple studio albums and film scores. His shutter editing style received “Most Vocal Edits Within a Song” (6,178) for Somnabulist (Simply Being Loved) in the 2003 Guiness Book of World Records.  Later, he broke his record again (whether or not he made it into Guiness is unclear) with 10,000 edits in 2015.

With much more history to explore, we’re looking forward to volume 8 of “This Month in Electronic Music History.” What are some of your favorite BBC Radio 1 shows? Is there a track you love off ESCM? Do you have additional topics you want to see us dive into? Share your thoughts, favorite shows and tracks in the comments!

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