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Gambaccini at Oxford University in 2010
April 2, 1949
Bronx, New York, United States
The Great Gambo|
The Professor of Pop
|Christopher Sherwood (m. 2013)|
|Awards||Radio Academy Hall of Fame, 2005|
Paul Matthew Gambaccini (born April 2, 1949) is an American-British radio and television presenter and author in the United Kingdom. He has dual United States and British nationality, having become a British citizen in 2005.
Known as "The Great Gambo" and "The Professor of Pop", Gambaccini was a BBC Radio 1 presenter for 16 years, including 11 years at the helm of a Billboard Top 30 countdown show. A regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's long-running arts programme Kaleidoscope, Gambaccini was a long-time TV morning show correspondent for British television, and makes regular appearances on other British TV magazine shows. He was the host of the 12-part Classic FM series Paul Gambaccini's Hall of Heroes, and chairs the Radio 4 music quiz Counterpoint. Inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame in 2005, Gambaccini is the author of more than 15 books.
He then migrated to the United Kingdom and attended University College, Oxford, where he read for a degree in politics, philosophy and economics. He has since returned to Oxford, where he delivered a series of lectures in January and February 2009, as the News International Visiting Professor of Broadcast Media. In February 2010 he was invited by the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Andrew Hamilton to deliver the inaugural LGBT lecture Out on Monday to the university's LGBT staff, students and faculty.
Gambaccini's broadcasting career began at Dartmouth College, where he was music director of WDCR, a former student-operated Top 40 radio station. Gambaccini may have first achieved wider prominence when his tips for playlisted songs likely to see greater chart action were published in the 11 May 1968 issue of the international trade publication Billboard, alongside similar tips from radio programming talent at major commercial stations across the United States.
Having left Oxford, Gambaccini was considering further study in law at Harvard or Yale but had the opportunity of writing for Rolling Stone magazine as British correspondent. He attributes his broadcasting career to this post--especially an interview in 1973 with Elton John which brought him to the attention of BBC Radio producer John Walters who arranged for him to present on BBC Radio 1.
Gambaccini then started broadcasting in the UK on BBC Radio 1 September 1973, which he did for 13 years, first as a music reporter on the John Peel Saturday show, Rockspeak. He started his own U.S. chart show on 27 September 1975. He was the presenter of the Billboard US Top 30 singles chart in the UK every Saturday afternoon until his last show on 8 February 1986. Thereafter, he moved to independent radio to host American Countdown. In 1990, he returned to Radio 1 but was removed by controller Matthew Bannister in 1993.
In 1992, Gambaccini became a founding presenter on the UK's classical music station Classic FM, where he presented the weekly Classical CD Chart show. He left for BBC Radio 3 in 1995, where he presented an hour-long morning programme, in a slot formerly used for Composer of the Week. Gambaccini increased the audience share, but came under attack as an example of the reforms that the Radio 3 Controller Nicholas Kenyon was trying to introduce but which did not go down well with the existing audience. Some listeners welcomed his presence, according to Kenyon, as their musical tastes had developed from Radio 1's content. He returned to Classic FM in 1997.
For 13 years Gambaccini reviewed films for breakfast television, first on TV-am and then GMTV. In the early 1980s he presented The Other Side of the Tracks on Channel 4, which ran for three series. His other television appearances include Pebble Mill at One, Call My Bluff, Music for the Millennium, and The South Bank Show.
In 1998, he joined BBC Radio 2. His first show was on 18 April 1998, once again opening the first of his weekly shows America's Greatest Hits with "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen. In 2002, he quit his role at Classic FM, to present a weekly chart show on London's Jazz FM until 2004. He was also a contributor to the London station LBC when it was taken over by Chrysalis.
He has worked widely across the BBC and the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) as well as contributing to many television shows, mostly related to music, film, and the arts. He narrated the BBC Radio adaptation of Espedair Street, the Iain Banks novel.
Gambaccini has presented the annual Ivor Novello Awards since 1990, the Parliamentary Jazz Awards since 2005, the Music Industry Trust's Man of the Year Dinner since 1999, and the Radio Academy Awards for a ten-year stretch from 1998 to 2008.
In August 2008, Gambaccini returned to Classic FM, to present a 12-part series Paul Gambaccini's Hall of Heroes on Sunday evenings between 9 pm and 10 pm. In March 2008, he took over as chairman of the Radio 4 music quiz Counterpoint from Edward Seckerson; he was temporarily replaced in 2013 by Russell Davies. He returned to Radio 2 with America's Greatest Hits on 15 November 2014 and hosted it until 2 July 2016 when he took over Pick of the Pops from Tony Blackburn, the following week, he started his final America's Greatest Hits' with Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen and ended it with Justin Timberlake.
Trevor Nelson took over the Saturday timeslot that was allocated to Gambaccini's America's Greatest Hits programme for many years.
Gambaccini was co-author of The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles and related titles, with Tim and Jo Rice, alongside Radio 1 colleague at that time, Mike Read, between 1977 and 1996. Gambaccini's own books include Love Letters, Radio Boy, Top 100 Albums and Track Records. The Ultimate Man, a musical about a comic book superhero, was co-written with Alastair King and Jane Edith Wilson, and produced at the Bridewell Theatre in London in 2000.
Gambaccini was active in the realm of comic book fandom. As an American teenager in the 1960s his missives were regularly published in the letter columns of titles such as Justice League of America and The Amazing Spider-Man. Gambaccini claims to have invented the term "Brand Echh", which later became widely used by Stan Lee.
While still in high school, Gambaccini began contributing to comics fanzines, including the publication Rocket's Blast Comicollector. In 1964 he succeeded Jerry Bails (the so-called "father of comic book fandom") as executive secretary of the Academy of Comic-Book Fans and Collectors, an umbrella organization for the burgeoning world of comics fandom. As part of his involvement with the academy, Gambaccini helped organize the comics industry's first awards, the Alley Awards.
Gambaccini and television presenter Jonathan Ross co-owned Top 10 Comics, a comic shop in London which opened in 1989 and closed in 1995. Gambaccini has been an official guest at many British comic conventions, including the United Kingdom Comic Art Convention (where he co-presented the 1990 Eagle Awards and the 1997 National Comics Awards), and Comics Festival UK.
Gambaccini has always been openly gay, asserting in 2013: "I was never 'in'." In June 2012, he entered into a civil partnership. One year later, he married Christopher Sherwood, in New York Botanical Garden.
In 2013, Gambaccini revealed he had been highlighted as a potential security risk by the BBC earlier in his career due to his sexuality.
On 1 November 2013, it was reported that Gambaccini had been arrested on suspicion of historical sexual offences as part of an investigation by Operation Yewtree in the United Kingdom. He was released on bail and his spokesman said that he denied the allegations. It was announced on 10 October 2014 that no charges would be brought. Giving evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee on 3 March 2015, Gambaccini said he believed he was used as human "fly paper" to encourage other people to come forward and make allegations against him and that he had lost more than £200,000 in earnings and legal fees. The BBC reported that he also "said he suspected his bail was repeatedly extended until the end of high-profile cases involving other celebrities because police did not want juries to hear a former Radio 1 DJ had been cleared of sexual wrongdoing". Gambaccini also argued in favour of a 28-day bail limit; Home Secretary Theresa May had announced in December 2014 that she was consulting on such a limit in all but exceptional cases. However, Gambaccini's allegations of a "witch-hunt" were denied by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The 28-day limit came into effect in April 2017.
Gambaccini wrote an account of his experience in his book Love, Paul Gambaccini: My Year Under the Yewtree, which was published in 2015. In February 2016, the Irish Supreme Court Judge Adrian Hardiman used a review of this book to criticize what he described as the radical undermining of the presumption of innocence, especially in sex cases, including Gambaccini's case, by the methods used in Operation Yewtree (among other instances). In February 2017, Gambaccini sued the Metropolitan Police, citing a loss of £200,000 during his time under investigation.
Gambaccini has been a supporter of gay-related charities. In 1995, he was named Philanthropist of the Year by the National Charity Fundraisers for his work on behalf of the Terrence Higgins Trust. He is a patron of the London Gay Symphony Orchestra. In 2010, he won an episode of celebrity Mastermind, with his chosen beneficiary charity being Stonewall.