No Off Switch – Andy Kershaw

Andy Kershaw

Whilst chatting in the coffee room at work at the end of the 90’s we got into a conversation about how you choose a childs name. The story of how Marisa got her name was that I had a tape by Marisa Monte and excitedly told a Brazilian friend Sergio “I’ve got a tape by Maris-sa Montey” to which he said with disdain (he never forgave me for not learning Portugese) “Is not Maris-sa Montey, is Mareeza Mont!” “Oh…….Mareeza is it…..that’s a lovely name!”

This story prompted Josie to talk about how Andy Kershaw had come to call his Son ‘Sonny’ “Wasn’t it on the side of a van” I chipped in “Do you know Andy?” she says “No, I’m just an avid fan of his radio shows” “He’s a good friend of me and Al. He comes and stays with us and we stay with him when we go to London. He has a radio going in every room even the loo!” Turns out Al used to work as part of Leeds Ents crew, booking/putting on bands at the Uni when AK arrived and started his illustrious career in music.

For my 40th I asked people to do photos’s of themselves with their favourite LP – this was Josies….


About 5 years ago Andy brought Wreckless Eric and Dan Reeder to The Wardrobe for a free gig – to be recorded for his Radio 3 show. Lee and I had not long since got married hence the signed CD from Dan.

Dan Reeder

We went for a curry afterwards with Josie and Al, Andy and his crew, which was highly entertaining – stories of his recent encounter with Lou Reed when Andys smoking offended Lou “I was on a hill top that was blowing a bloody gale!” and his love for Radio 3. “When I moved to the Isle of Man I had to have all my records shipped over and guess how many I’ve got..7 tons worth!”.

He remembered a letter I’d sent some 8 years earlier when I was going through a distressing divorce. I’d written a letter explaining the whole sorry business, photocopied it and sent it to friends and family in an attempt to circumnavigate a lot of soul destroying phone calls. I used to write to Andy and Peel on a regular basis so it seemed natural to send them a copy too.

Knowing how loopy divorce can send you, I watched the public unfurling of his marriage and subsequent trials with alcoholism with a heavy heart. Having Marisa for half the week is one of the things that kept me sane, I can only imagine what no access to her would have done to me….

Josie kept me informed about his rehabilitation and that he was writing an autobiography. He was back on Radio 3 with ‘Music Planet’ doing what he does best, finding those remarkable musicians in far-flung parts of the world who youd never have heard if it wasn’t for him. The most affecting song I’ve heard in years was by Suu Kyi who’d been imprisoned in a Burmese jail and made up a protest song with his inmates. They all remembered a line each and put it back together again when they were all released…..some 10 years later!

I picked up a copy of his Autobiography ‘No Off Switch’ from the Songlines stall at this years WOMAD Festival. It didn’t disappoint. It reads like he’s chatting away to you like an extended version of the curry we went for. Laugh out loud funny with anecdote after anecdote. Hopefully the rehabilitation of him back into the bossom of the Beeb will see him back with a weekly show on the Radio where he belongs.

Go buy his book – A bargain at any price

Bob the Chiropodist

PS managed to catch him talking about his book here

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1 Response to No Off Switch – Andy Kershaw

  1. Pingback: Personal Histories: In Search Of A Decent Haircut – Surfin Dave and the Absent Legends | QUIMS

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