If, like me, you’re too mean to pay for music via iTunes, you’ll know that one cost-free alternative is to listen to YouTube, which nowadays has nearly ever pop song ever recorded.
As well as modern studio tracks, there is a wealth of obscure footage that had previously gathered dust in film archives. The Clash being interviewed on regional television, for example, Toyah doing Germany’s answer to the Old Grey Whistle Test, and Japanese school bands doing AC-DC covers. And for those textbook nostalgia performances, there’s always YouTube clips from Top of the Pops – although as I discovered recently, these have their own unique reminder of how times have changed.
For at the start of many of the TOTP clips is a brief appearance from none other than Jimmy Savile, who was a presenter on the show for decades, and whose zany preambles now live on cyberspace. Click on a clip, and you will get a few brief seconds of him rambling manically before the camera cuts to the band.
It’s a sign that no matter how hard it might try, the BBC will never quite exorcise Savile’s ghosts from its past. But reminders of his presence aren’t just limited to re-runs on YouTube.
How many thousands of Brits, for example, are wondering what to with that old Jim’ll Fix it Medal stashed away in a drawer somewhere? And given the extent of his charity fundraising work, how many thousands more have been pictured with his arm draped round them in their local newspaper?
Savile, of course, isn’t the only celebrity whose fall from grace has left its mark in this way. In my own family photograph album, there is a photograph of my grandfather, a successful baker in Manchester, sitting at some gala dinner with Stuart Hall, the former sports presenter. I used to be rather proud of the photo, given Hall’s cult-like status as a sports broadcaster and all-round star of the North. Now, with Hall serving a 30-month jail term for sex attacks on young girls, I’m forced to think rather differently.
Yet one question continues to perplex me about the Savile scandal, and all those caught up in Operation Yewtree and its associated inquiries. Why is it that nearly all of the celebrities arrested – including those who have subsequently been exonerated – appear to be in the “naff” or “zany” end of the market, à la Savile and the Hairy Cornflake?
After all, nearly all British entertainers, mainstream and alternative, have their share of groupies and star-struck followers. Rock biographies from the 70s and 80s are packed with lurid anecdotes about debauched goings on – often with fans in their teens, and sometimes with scant regard to modern-day conventions of consent.
Surely, then, the potential for allegations of sexual misconduct should be huge? Yet to this day, no pop star who enjoys any remote degree of acclaim has had the finger pointed at them.
Is it because they are all completely innocent? Or do those who bring these accusations simply fear that they will believed in some cases, and not in others?