Sunday 24 February 2019

Eddie Rowley: 'Much-loved DJ Larry Gogan has been soundtrack to all our lives'

Larry Gogan in 2010.Photo: Mark Condren
Larry Gogan in 2010.Photo: Mark Condren
Eddie Rowley

Eddie Rowley

Stars from the worlds of music and radio, as well as the general public, queued up yesterday to pay tribute to king of the airwaves Larry Gogan, on RTÉ's 'Liveline'.

Fortunately, Larry himself was alive and kicking and sitting in the studio with fellow broadcaster Joe Duffy, mortified as ever at the praise and plaudits being heaped on him following the announcement that he's leaving pop station 2fm after a staggering 40 years. The good news for his fans is that evergreen Larry has no intention of retiring anytime soon, and from the end of this month his velvet voice will find a new home when he takes over a lunchtime show on the RTÉ Gold digital radio channel.

There's hardly a person in Ireland who remembers a time when Larry Gogan wasn't on the radio. The best-loved DJ has been the soundtrack to all of our lives for an incredible six decades.

What a tonic he's been for the nation.

Larry's bubbly, upbeat personality and smooth as silk tones always brought the sunshine into our daily lives and lifted our spirits on dark days.

You simply couldn't help yourself being swept along by his enthusiasm, chirpy demeanour and the passion he exuded, whether it was hosting his 'Just A Minute Quiz', spinning a 'Golden Hour' disc, or announcing the latest chart hit.

Larry Gogan and singer Joe Cuddy in 1972. Photo: Part of the NPA and Independent Newspapers Ireland
Larry Gogan and singer Joe Cuddy in 1972. Photo: Part of the NPA and Independent Newspapers Ireland

Larry has always lived in the present. He is just as excited today when he announces a new Ed Sheeran or Ariana Grande hit, as he was when he played Joe Dolan and The Drifters' first top 10 smash 'The Answer To Everything' on Radio Éireann back in 1964.

He genuinely loves pop culture, new music and still follows the charts like a teenager.

While it sounded like he effortlessly presented a show, Larry put in meticulous preparation and research for each broadcast. Every moment on air was timed to perfection.

Larry was also a great supporter of Irish music talent and back in the day when radio had the power to launch careers he generously played newcomers on his show, with the fledgling U2 among them.

The Irish supergroup never forgot Larry's support and always invited him to their shows, including Croke Park two years ago when they organised wheelchair access for him because he suffers from arthritis in his knees.

Larry told me recently that he couldn't live without broadcasting and that he will go on as long as his voice allows. "You'd go mad doing nothing," he said. "Sure all I'm doing is spinning a few records on the radio, and I'm very lucky that I have a career that can go on forever."

His mind is still razor-sharp and he's totally in touch with what's hot in the charts today. "My grandkids and their friends are amazed that I know all about people like Justin Bieber, but I just tell them that it's my job," he said. "I read up on them so that I know what I'm talking about."

A father of five with 12 grandchildren, Larry lost his beloved wife Florrie to cancer in 2002 at the age of 60. "It's sad that Florrie missed out on their lives," he told me. "We only had three grandchildren when she died and she would have loved having them all around her. And there were weddings that she wasn't around for, so it's very sad when you think about it."

Personally, I've been fortunate to have had Larry as a friend and mentor since the 1980s. One great piece of advice he gave me for surviving long-term in any organisation was to "go in, do your job well, go home and stay out of the office politics".

Larry followed his own advice and it served him well.

Irish Independent

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