From Beatles to Elton John, Hong Kong’s oldest DJ looks back on his rich career

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HONG KONG >> Ray Cordeiro considers himself the luckiest radio DJ in the world. During a rich career spanning more than 70 years in Hong Kong, Cordeiro has interviewed superstars, including the Beatles and Elton John, and even received an MBE – an order of the British Empire for outstanding achievement or service. to the community – from Queen Elizabeth.

Cordeiro, who holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s oldest DJ, retired last month at the age of 96.

“I’ve been talking all my life about music and everything, and I never thought I would retire. I never thought I was getting old, ”he said.

Cordeiro was born in 1924 in Hong Kong and is of Portuguese descent. As a child, his musical tastes were influenced by his brother, who was 10 years older and collected records by groups like the Mills Brothers and the Andrews Sisters.

At the time, records were broken, Cordeiro said.

“When he wasn’t home and I was playing his records I had to be very, very careful because if I broke him he would get terribly angry,” Cordeiro said. “I grew up with his music.

In his youth, Cordeiro worked as a guard in a local prison and as an employee in a bank. His love for music eventually led him to pursue a career in radio, where he joined public broadcaster Radio Hong Kong, now known as Radio Television Hong Kong.

It was during a three-month study course in London with the BBC in 1964 that Cordeiro landed the interview that launched his career – with The Beatles, the biggest band in the world at the time.

He had some free time after class was over before he had to go back to Hong Kong and didn’t want to “sit for two weeks doing nothing.”

“So I said, why don’t I take the chance to find some friends, pop groups or singers that I can interview, and bring (tapes) back to Hong Kong?” he said.

During those two weeks Cordeiro visited places where the bands performed and then interviewed them.

The Beatles had become very popular and Cordeiro especially wanted to interview them. Armed with a notebook and a pen, he goes to the offices of the group’s label, EMI, to request an interview with the group.

Luckily, she was told to come back the next day for an interview, EMI lending her a tape recorder for it. He bought a magazine with a picture of the Beatles on the cover and took it with him to the interview, and asked everyone for the autograph.

“In total, I have some 26 signatures from all of the Beatles, and it’s probably worth a fortune,” he said.

The interview was short as he didn’t have much tape in the tape recorder, but Cordeiro managed to hang out with each member of the Beatles. He said John Lennon recounted the Beatles’ beginnings in Hamburg, Germany, where they lived in relative poverty and played in clubs.

He then interviewed The Beatles again during their visit to Hong Kong. Interviews made him famous and he quickly became Hong Kong’s top DJ, armed with interviews he conducted in London with popular music groups of the time.

“I had a career before that because I was interviewing local pop stars, but when you compare them to the Beatles, it’s something very different,” he said.

As the city’s most recognizable DJ, he also met other stars, such as Elton John and Tony Bennett.

Known for his deep, calm voice, flat cap, and easy-to-listen repertoire, Cordeiro drew a loyal following of listeners who tapped into his weekday radio show “All the Way With Ray”, which ran for 1970 last month.

“I did my job as a DJ, I did what I had to do, and the audience followed me, grew with me, and they’re all over the world now,” he said. declared. “They’re all over, and they’ve always listened to me on the Internet.”

When asked if he would have to start all over again if he would choose to be a DJ as a career, Cordeiro didn’t hesitate.

“I don’t think I have to think about it. The answer is yes, ”he said.


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