PIONEER RADIO DJ Tony Williams, who once had his own reggae show on BBC Radio London between 1977-1987 and was also the creator of the British Reggae Industry Awards which highlighted the talent of many UK reggae artists, has passed away in London on Monday, April 30 after he had been ailing for some time.
Tony Williams took over the Reggae Time show on BBC London from Steve Barnard in 1977 and after renaming it ‘Reggae Rockers’, he made it one of the most popular reggae shows on the airwaves in London on a Sunday afternoon with a special emphasis on British talent.
He later went on to recognise the work of these artists by establishing the British Reggae Industry Awards which catapulted many UK artists to international success, with some still referring to the industry awards as their most coveted. Among the iconic places the award shows were held are The Royal Albert Hall, Café Royal and the Indigo O2 in Greenwich.
Tony Williams was always pushing for reggae music to be played on the radio airwaves and he did this by running his own stations including Rockers FM and Rhythm 365 – they did not have commercial licences but nonetheless served community-based listeners and supporters.
Among those paying tribute to him was close friend and fellow DJ Garth Vassell also known as Master G. Garth said: “Tony was always driving for reggae music to be played on the national airwaves, he tried so many things to bring reggae to the forefront and allowing artists to get the recognition they deserved. He was all about bringing the music, whether it was on the radio or in the clubs.”
Also paying her tributes was radio personality Elayne Smith popularly as DJ Elayne who worked with Tony on Rockers FM. She said: “Tony and Spencer Williams were mentors of mine. From the time I met them in my 20s, they encouraged me and even gave me an award. We became great friends and colleagues. May their work and memory live on.”
Tony’s older brother Spencer Williams who was a popular nightclub entrepreneur as well as beauty and talent show impresario of the 1970s and 80s, only passed away two years ago in October 2016.
Tony Williams is survived by his wife Sharon and children.