Charlie Gillett meant so much to the people who met him, read him and above all heard him on the radio, the medium where his disarming warmth came across best of all.
He had the gift of conveying all his many enthusiasms with a freshness that was infectious. He loved musicians and artists with an unforced passion, and was a great interviewer because he used his knowledge, rather than just displaying it. He was a fundamentally gentle man, but he could be wickedly funny when he sent up pretension. Charlie loved the directness of early rock ‘n’ roll, and as he found out about African and Latin musics, he kept the excitement of a man forever making precious new discoveries.
At Serious, we were lucky enough to work with him many times. He introduced us to Mariza’s music when she first came over to play a tiny club for his BBC London radio programme, and delighted in her success as she went on to reach large audiences across the world. Mariza never forgot his support, and was delighted that he was still playing her music on one of his very last radio programmes. The last live show that we did with Charlie was last December’s Aurelio Martinez concert at Union Chapel. He’d been ill for a while, but that night he rallied, and he was in his element, playing music for people to dance to, and enthusing about the first UK show by Aurelio, one of the hundreds of artists he’d championed on the radio for many years.
We feel honoured to have worked with him and he will be greatly missed by all of us at Serious.