Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Go well Radio Driver, Peter Johns

By John Matinde

Peter Johns or more affectionately PJ’s professional factual story has been recounted and circulated widely, and my role in it is humbling.

Peter Johns
Peter Johns

For a few decades, along with other colleagues past and present, we provided the soundtrack to everybody’s lives. We also had a blast doing it.

Long creative chats behind closed doors will forever linger in my mind. Music was the bond that bound us tightly good and proper.

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We were joined at the hip like that, woven of the same yarn and cut from the same cloth. And PJ’s love of it was palpable.

Even when we had both relocated to the UK, music and media were all we talked about. Some of the longest phone conversations I have ever held in my life, have also been with him.

For all the fun we used to have behind the mic and the decks, my radio family quite possibly had more fun off the mic, behind the scenes. We all became each other’s best friends, always looking out after each other and also we got to intermingle with each other’s families.

We were our own support group and it helped because each one of us understood the pressures of being in the public eye, which many people may never realise.

If there is one regret I will forever have, it is the last dinner PJ and I was supposed to have. He was moving from one place to another and I had offered to help him come move all his music gear to a new place, and leave the younger guys to heavy lift the other less important stuff.

I mean, who needs a cooker, a fridge, a bed, or even the odd widescreen smart TV, over a bag of CDs, huh? Seriously! But on promised day, PJ never called back, only for him to advise that his move had been brought forward and his London friends had beaten me to it. So the dinner we were going to have afterwards was going to have to be rearranged.

I live out in the country, a bit distant from him, and he always quizzed me on how I got on, out in the sticks. I had promised that one day, I would write about my “Life in a Northern Town,” to which we would collapse with laughter because it was a take on the title of a song by The Dream Academy, known by both of us.

And where had I bought that music all those years back again? Tower Records, Piccadilly Square most probably! It was PJ who’d introduced me to all these music shops in London! Virgin Mega Store, Our Price on Oxford Street, and also a local favourite.

Body Music just outside Seven Sisters Tube Station, where I bought the bulk of my specialist soca music that also included Dancehall/Calypso, Reggae, Highlife and so forth. It was local because whenever I visited London in the 80’s, I’d usually live in Tottenham.

Those of you who remember my shows will remember how heavy -rich in stings and jingles they were, sometimes pretty similar or in the same vein to his. Well, the secret is because we shared the same jingle recording company in Frinton-On-Sea here in the UK, which PJ had introduced me to.

People used to say we sounded ‘spookily’ similar!

I was to return the favour in kind years later, when I handed the baton to him, to present most of my radio and TV programmes when I left for these shores. It is a poor pupil that never becomes better than the teacher! Nuff respect!

Treasured memories.

It is said words are mightier than the sword, but where words fail, music speaks. Even in battle, the shotgun sings its song. Music was my first love and so was it Peter’s. If no one minds very much, I’ll just let it speak for me here:

Like a comet

Blazing ‘cross the evening sky

Gone too soon

Like a rainbow

Fading in the twinkling of an eye

Gone too soon

Shiny and sparkly

And splendidly bright

Here one day

Gone one night

Like the loss of sunlight

On a cloudy afternoon

Gone too soon

Like a castle

Built upon a sandy beach

Gone too soon

Like a perfect flower

That is just beyond your reach

Gone too soon

Born to amuse, to inspire, to delight

Here one day

Gone one night

Like a sunset

Dying with the rising of the moon

Gone too soon

Gone too soon.

(As sung by Babyface with Stevie Wonder)

Heartfelt condolences to the family. Fans will miss you immeasurably. Am gutted. Rest in Peace — PJ, The Radio Driver.

John Matinde is a veteran Zimbabwean radio and television personality who now lives in the UK. The Herald