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
BBC Radio 1 presenter for 16 years, including 11
years at the helm of a Billboard Top 30 countdown show. A regular
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.
1.2 Broadcasting career
Comic book fandom
1.5 Personal life
Operation Yewtree arrest
1.7 Charity work
4.2 Sources consulted
5 External links
Born in the Bronx, Gambaccini studied at Dartmouth College, from
where he obtained a degree in history in 1970.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Alongside his work in music radio, he contributed regularly to BBC
Radio 4's long-running arts programme Kaleidoscope between 1975 and
For 13 years Gambaccini reviewed films for breakfast television, first
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
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
Ivor Novello Awards since 1990,
Parliamentary Jazz Awards since 2005, the Music Industry Trust's
Man of the Year Dinner since 1999, and the
Radio Academy Awards
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
Alastair King and Jane Edith Wilson, and produced at the
Bridewell Theatre in London in 2000.
Comic book fandom
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
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
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.
A character introduced in The Flash #141 named Paul Gambi, a tailor
specializing in super-villain outfits, is an homage to Paul
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
In 2013, Gambaccini revealed he had been highlighted as a potential
security risk by the
BBC earlier in his career due to his
He lives in the
South Bank area of London.
Operation Yewtree arrest
On 1 November 2013, it was reported that Gambaccini had been arrested
on suspicion of historical sexual offences as part of an investigation
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
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
1995 – Philanthropist of the Year by the National Charity
1996 – Outstanding Contribution to Music Radio Award from the Radio
2003 – Sony Radio Academy Award for Music Broadcaster of the Year
2005 – Sony Radio Academy Silver Award for a Weekly Music Programme
2005 – Inducted into the Radio Academy Hall of Fame
A Conversation With
Elton John and Bernie Taupin – Putnam Publishing
Paul McCartney in his own words – Omnibus Press 1976
The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles with Tim Rice, Jo Rice and
Mike Read – Guinness, first published 1977: several subsequent
Paul Gambaccini presents The Top 100 Albums – Pavilion Books 1987
Rock Critics’ Choice: The Top 200 Albums – Music Sales Corp 1979
Masters of Rock – Omnibus Press 1982
Track Records – Elm Tree Books 1985
Radio Boy: An Adolescent DJ’s Story – Elm Tree Books 1986
United Kingdom Top 1000 Singles (with
Tim Rice and Jo Rice) –
Gullane Children’s Books 1988
The Guinness Book of British Hit Albums (with
Tim Rice and Jo Rice)
– Guinness First published 1983: several subsequent editions
Hits of The 80s (with Jo Rice,
Tim Rice and Tony Brown) – Guinness
Top 40 Charts (with
Tim Rice and Jo Rice) – Guinness 1992
Television’s Greatest Hits (with Rod Taylor) – Network Books 1993
Love Letters – Michael O’Mara Books 1996
The McCartney Interviews: After the Break-up – Omnibus Press 1996
Close Encounters – Omnibus Press 1998
The Complete Eurovision Song Contest Companion (with Tim and Jo Rice
and Tony Brown) – Pavilion Books 1998
The Eurovision Companion (revised edition), Pavilion Books 1999
Complete Book of the British Charts (with Tony Brown and Tim Rice)
Omnibus Press 2000.
Love, Paul Gambaccini: My Year Under the Yewtree - Biteback Publishing
^ Burrell, Ian. "Paul Gambaccini: Here, there and everywhere," The
Independent (09 April 2007)
^ Topping, Alexandra. "RIP rock'n'roll? Professor of pop reads the
last rites: Rock songs in the charts fall to lowest level in 50 years,
with only three tracks appearing in the top 100 best-sellers," The
Guardian (10 January 2011).
^ a b c d e f g h Schelly, Bill. Founders of Comic Fandom: Profiles of
90 Publishers, Dealers, Collectors, Writers, Artists and Other
Luminaries of the 1950s and 1960s, (McFarland, 2010), pp. 176–177.
^ "Programming Aids". Billboard. 11 May 1968. pp. 20–24.
^ Rosser, Michael (25 June 2009). "Paul Gambaccini,
BBC Radio 2".
Broadcast. (Subscription required (help)).
Paul Gambaccini (August 16, 1973). "Elton John: The Rolling Stone
Interview". Rolling Stone.
^ Thistlethwaite, Felicity (22 May 2014). "
Paul Gambaccini hosts Ivor
Novello awards six months after arrest under Operation Yewtree". Daily
Express. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
^ Gardner, Lyn (11 May 2000). "The Ultimate Man". theguardian.com.
Retrieved 14 August 2014.
^ "With a Little
Help From His Friends...," Alter Ego vol. 3, #25
(June 2003) pp. 14-19.
^ Schelly, Bill. "Jerry Bails' Ten Building Blocks of Fandom," Alter
Ego vol. 3, #25 (June 2003), pp. 5-8.
^ "Media Monkey + Jonathan Ross: The Guardian's blog on advertising,
marketing and the media industry," The Guardian (9 January 2013)
^ Urchin, Zoe. "Top Ten Soho comic book store 1989-1993". Wolfshead.
Wolfshead Promotions. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
^ Founders of Comic Fandom: Profiles of 90 Publishers, Dealers,
Collectors, by Bill Schelly
^ Paul Gambaccini: The
BBC singled me out as a ‘potential security
threat’ for being gay. Pink News. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 27 April
^ Youde, Kate (13 May 2012). "Paul Gambaccini: Ivor & me –
celebrating a 25-year relationship". London: The Independent.
Retrieved 23 October 2012.
^ a b Grice, Elizabeth (23 July 2013). "Paul Gambaccini, interview".
London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
^ Paul Gambaccini: The
BBC marked me out for being gay. The Daily
Telegraph. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
Paul Gambaccini arrested in
Operation Yewtree inquiry",
BBC News, 1
BBC News - No charges for broadcaster
Paul Gambaccini in Yewtree
BBC News. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
Paul Gambaccini backs 28-day bail limit after Operation Yewtree
BBC News. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
^ Peck, Tom (2 April 2017). "Police bail for suspects capped at 28
days". The Independent. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
^ John Clarke (5 October 2015). "Love,
Paul Gambaccini by Paul
Gambaccini - book review: An absorbing account of a year of
injustice". The Independent. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
^ a b
Paul Gambaccini (2015). Love, Paul Gambaccini: My Year Under the
Yewtree. Biteback Publishing. ISBN 9781849549943. Retrieved 8
^ "Hardiman questions methods of UK sex-claim inquiries". Irish Times.
13 February 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
^ O'Neill, Sean; Hamilton, Fiona (14 February 2017). "Victims of abuse
inquiry blunders sue Met for £3m". The Times. Retrieved 15 February
Radio Rewind biography
Pick of the Pops at
BBC Programmes (
BBC Radio 2)
BBC Programmes (
BBC Radio 4)
And The Academy Award Goes To ... at
BBC Programmes (
BBC Radio 4)
Paul Gambaccini personal page
ISNI: 0000 0001 0987 8176
BNF: cb133322044 (data