We were all rookies once. Beginners, starter-outers, dangling our hopes on the dangers of the remote unknown. Taking chances, sticking our necks out, scrounging favours, looking for a leg-up. Where would any of us have got, were it not for a hand from those who'd tiptoed the tightrope ahead of us? Charles Armitage, David Mindel, Jonathan Morrish, Judd Lander, Dave Cash, Bob Harris, David Stark, Chris Wright, Hyacinth Daniels et al, et al: looking at you. I owe so much to so many that the names elude me. I hesitate to write 'mentor', which seems flaunty and disingenuous. None of these gems would ever dream of using the word.
No one will mind me saying that Roger Scott was the D's Bs, the DJs' DJ. When I went to Capital Radio as an 'intern', post-Uni, he had already been at the station for ten years. To the millions of Londoners who grabbed a little piece of heaven from three til seven daily, who cruised with him on his Oldies show every Friday night, he was as good as it gets.
He took me under his wing. Nurturing my ambition to write rather than broadcast, he devised an unofficial role for me as an assistant on rock star interviews - in the days when lovely record companies coughed generously for us all to fly places. I'd transcribe the tapes for the Capital Radio archive, which I was later able to use to write newspaper and magazine profiles that would promote the station. Perfectly legit, as, thanks to him, I'd met them all. I know only now that I didn't come close to appreciating the enormity of this favour, nor to understanding the privilege that it conferred. Thanks to Roger I met Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon for the first time, and David Bowie for the second (I'd already encountered him as a child, with Hy Money) at Mountain Studios, Montreux, where they were working on 'Under Pressure'. We interviewed Bowie again at the Birmingham NEC, and also Lionel Richie. Kate Bush at home, Prince at the Roof Gardens, Spandau's Gary in a room above the Groucho, John Taylor of Duran, Mick Jagger. In Los Angeles, where Roger signed a coast-to-coast contract with Westwood One Radio to syndicate his all-American shows - coals to Newcastle or what - we hung with his great hero Bruce Springsteen and conducted the last-ever interview with Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson. Perhaps the most musical Boy of the lot, Dennis confessed that the greatest love of his life had been Christine McVie. He drowned at Marina del Rey shortly afterwards, in December 1983, drunk out of his skunk. His 1977 solo album 'Pacific Ocean Blue' was a Roger favourite.
In Florida, we rendezvous'd with flat-capped, born-again Dion diMucci, the 50s/60s teen idol who'd found his calling a capella-ing on street corners of the Bronx. Roger idolised him. Dion & the Belmonts' first hit 'I Wonder Why' had made them rock&roll pioneers. Dion survived the 1959 tour that killed Richie Valens and Buddy Holly. He also survived heroin addiction, and opened up about both. His solo hits 'Runaround Sue' and 'The Wanderer' were Roger Scott classics.
In New York, we ambled with Billy Joel over to 142 Mercer Street, SoHo, where they'd shot, on the front doorstep, the cover image for his rock heritage tribute album 'An Innocent Man'. In New Orleans, we immersed ourselves in the Neville Brothers. Keith Richards had introduced Roger to the group: he'd played on their 1987 album 'Uptown'. In 1989 they released 'Yellow Moon', which was perhaps the album, notably its tracks 'Healing Chant' and their cover of Bob Dylan's 'With God On Our Side', featuring brother Aaron's haunting vocal, that turned Roger inwards and most lifted his soul when the oesophageal cancer took hold. By this time he was at BBC Radio 1, prevailing in great style over the Saturday afternoon and late-night Sunday shows. He had hung up his passport, quit the relentless globetrotting and was hoping against hope, taking half a day at a time, along with the painkillers.
He didn't take long to die, having tried everything not to. His final birthday party, at a Wembley Park restaurant for his forty-sixth, was always going ahead, with or without him. As it happens, he was there, but only just.
He would have turned seventy one last Thursday. The only consolation in dying young is that it allows you to remain that age for eternity. He once told me that his whole life had been a 'con': he'd 'conned his way into the States as a 'Beatles expert' during the Sixties, talking himself onto the airwaves as a personal friend of the Fabs. Flaunting his British accent, his sardonic humour and his tongue-in-cheek, he got away with it. He'd 'conned' himself into the Montreal hotel bedroom where John and Yoko recorded 'Give Peace a Chance' in 1969. There is footage of him talking about that, on YouTube. He'd 'duped the lot of us,' he said. Yet Roger was anything but a con-artist. He was the most honest fan of music I have ever known.